Animated GIFs

It appears Superlab doesn’t support GIF format files. I think that support for GIF-based animation might be a useful way to allow users to specify certain visual stimulus manipulations. That is, based on the parameters in the GIF, sequences of visual stimuli could run in parallel with the flow of the Superlab scenario. Superlab could disallow certain GIF options, for example, delays that are not an integral multiple of the current frame rate.

Once GIFs are supported, you could also treat a GIF as an archive of frames and frame-sequences, similar in some ways to the stimulus list concept.

You would also have to be able to terminate the playing of a GIF prematurely such as at the end of a trial or when a response is received.

And, if you really wanted to get fancy, Superlab could make changes in the screen while a GIF is running, for example, other images or even other GIFs.

There is also the possibility of Superlab using GIF extensions such as commands embedded in comments, for things like conditional looping or branching based on variables and/or responses. But that might be going too far.

There are readily-accessible, free tools out there for putting animated GIFs together, such as gifsicle.

Greg Shenaut

I’m assuming you’re referring to Windows. On the Mac, SuperLab goes directly through QuickTime for both pictures and movies. Animated GIFs would therefore work through the Movie event type. This is an assumption I have not verified in SuperLab, but I know for certain that animated GIFs will play in the QuickTime movie player.

On Windows, the image formats supported are those supported by wxWidgets, the underlying API we use, and this does include GIF images. Movies are played using DirectShow (specifically the VMR9 video renderer), so format support there is dependent on the filters you have installed.

Animated GIFs will never be supported under the Picture event type, as it’s contradictory to what that event type represents.

Interesting. I tried playing a animated GIF in Superlab (Mac) both as a picture and as a movie, and as a picture, you just see the first frame, and as a movie, you get one repetition of the animation regardless of the programmed loop count (the same as with QP, which makes sense I guess).

After I posted the above note, I realized that you could get basically the same effect with an external program for setting up complex sequences of single frames and saving the result as a movie file. You can sort of get there even with Quicktime’s Pro functions.

The only think you can’t simulate with that approach would be infinite looping.