How to upload GIF files?

Not something I’m making a habit of, but every time I’ve tried to upload rather small .gif files (e.g. <5 mb), the site will not accept the files. It provides no error message, just appears to process the image but then give up. If I try and do so during the observation edit page itself, it just gives a 504 Gateway Time-Out page.

I’m fairly sure I’ve seen people upload .gif files before? Or am I imagining things?


Finding no documentation on this, I assumed I was mistaken and was about to delete this topic. However someone just showed me that there are in fact examples of “animated” observations, e.g.

So then the question is how does one do so, if the normal upload means reject this file type?

Alright, so after playing around with a lot of versions, I finally got the site to accept one. I am not sure if this is because the server was busy before now, or because I hit some “magic number” of file size or file resolution. If anyone can advise, it would be good to know for future.

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There’s an entire project of them:

I’ve also had issues with uploading GIFs in the past, but could never figure out what the exact problem was. In all cases, I just brute forced it until it worked, so not much help explaining things, but corroboration that there do seem to be some issues


Interesting note. I’ve just revisited the observation, and found it has in fact uploaded one of the past versions and placed it at the front of the observation. So one of the earlier uploads must have succeeded, and it just took a long time to show it.

Could be file size?

possibly some cases, but the ones that I’ve uploaded, I didn’t try making them smaller when it didn’t work; I just kept trying to upload it multiple times until it worked lol


I thought GIF files where unsupported. Wow!

I have about 8 uploaded and from what I can tell their were some that were about 10mb at the time of upload.

The two things I’ve learned after more than two hundred GIF observation uploads, here, is file size and how/when you upload.

  1. First I dumb the video down to 320p, its not always necessary but success rate is higher. I do this using Imovie on my iphone but there are probably other options available.Then I keep the video clip below 5 seconds especially if you don’t go down to 320p. Sometimes a longer gif works over 5 seconds at 320p, (trial and error here until it works if you’ve got to go over 5 seconds for some reason.) I then use an app to turn the video clip into a gif.

  2. Upload gif first, before anything other observation, and let it finish loading and be accepted before uploading any other observations or upload gif last after everything else has finished loading. I guess in other words, let it load by itself.

Even after doing all this, sometimes it still doesn’t work. :(


I had this uploading a couple GIF observations recently as well. They wouldn’t upload at all in the normal website uploader, so I just uploaded still image previews and tried to upload GIFs to the observations after they were submitted. It showed the loading icon for a bit and then it disappeared, and then sometimes a few minutes later the GIF would show up.

I’m uploading a lot of GIFs recently from snorkelling videos earlier this summer, and it’s quite frustrating. Probably half the GIFs I try upload successfully the way I described above first try, but the rest don’t upload no matter how many times I try. They’re mostly higher file sizes (>17MB), but sometimes a 18MB file will work and then a 9MB file won’t work.

Trying to upload any GIF through the Edit page of an observation always give a Whale Shark error.

Sometimes iNat adds random “twitches” to the GIF. For example this GIF has two of them (there’s three but the middle one is in the original GIF). They show up at the same times in the GIF even if I re-upload it. Strangely the first “twitch” doesn’t appear if you view it in medium or original sizes.


Will anyone from staff comment on this? I can’t upload even a 7mb GIF file, why nothing changes in the way of resolving this issue?

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The iNat staff don’t tend to fix issues with or develop improvements around gifs:

@kueda (here): The goal is to remove animated GIFs across the system. The reason, in addition to the fact that they are an extremely annoying hack around the fact that we don’t support video at present, is that it makes our photos a lot easier to manage if we only have a single file format, e.g. if we’re doing something like training our vision model we don’t have to add a check to make absolutely sure the file format is what we think it is and perform a conversion if not. If we want to support moving images, we should support actual video file formats. For the record, I’d love to do that, but it’s a heavy (and potential expensive) lift.

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