Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Show HN: GIF Directions (gif.direct)
127 points by jack_riminton 4 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 67 comments

The problem I was trying to solve is the difficulty/speed of finding places relying on 2D tech of maps and GPS.

For some scenarios (unmapped areas, indoors, congested environments, no address system) a gif makes finding a place much easier.

Future improvements: multiple gifs for each place (for different approach directions), unique links for specific deliveries e.g. gif.direct/redhouse/123456

Its my first coding project I've shipped so any feedback greatly appreciated

Stack: Rails, a bit of JS for maps (leaflet), python AWS Lambda for video processing (MoviePy, FFMpeg), S3

Suggestion: allow the creator to control the play speed at specific places in the gif. Eg play it faster along a long stretch of straight road, but then slower when making turns. In first example on the site, I find it difficult to see where that last turn into the diveway happens because it happens so fast.

Yeah great suggestion. My aim is to automate this using a simple computer vision algo that detects the lateral movement of objects in a frame and slows down those specific parts

Until that point I'll have to persuade people to slow down the recording on those parts. Still, I think the sample video is understandable at least

I'm honestly completely mystified what this service is. You say:

"Upload a video" - upload a video of what? "Set a target location" - a target location of what?

Then you give a sample gif which does nothing but confuse me more.

Who is this for? What does it do? Why is it better than the alternative? Is the video generated automatically? If so, how? If not the why am do I need your service at all?

From what I can tell, you upload a video and then create a link for it? Why not just upload the video to YouTube or streamable? It also displays a map with a pin. Why would I not just sent a link to Google maps? You also ask me for my location - why?

I get that it's your first product but I really think you need to look at this from the point of view of someone who knows nothing about the service.

I hear your concerns and thanks for taking the time to respond. I will try to work on the messaging

edited: flippancy

Your reply is flippant. I came here to express almost the exact same list of concerns.

Upload a video of what? I believe the answer is of the path between an easily located starting point and the actual final destination, but I'm not entirely clear. You mention unmapped or indoor areas in another reply, but your page needs to make this more clear.

Set a target location of what? I'm actually puzzled by this one. If I'm correct on the first guess then it's presumably either the starting or ending point. However, neither of those makes particular sense. The starting point is easily reached, by definition, and the ending point can't be targeted on a map, by definition.

Your page needs to actually answer the Who, What, Why, and How questions the unfamiliar user will be wondering.

In particular, "we do video magic" is entirely uninformative and is the only explanation of what you're actually offering that might be new. I can already upload a video and provide a map with services I already use.

Something that seems to be a main feature - "let the owner know you're on your way" is hidden in the 'sample' page and unmentioned on the first. From it, I deduce the problem you're solving is last-100-feet for deliveries or visitors.

And why does the 'see a sample' page ask for my geolocation?

Edit: I am actually curious - this might be interesting - and I hope you'll answer these questions here!

Perhaps you should add some extra information below-the-fold:

1) help visitors or deliveries get from an easily-mapped location (the front gate) to their final destination (your door)

2) simply film a video walking or driving the path, and let us adjust its speed into an easily-reviewed guide

3) provide a single, short url with the map, video, and a button to notify you they've arrived

4) perfect for business plazas, college campuses, parks and tourist sites, and unaddressed areas

Take a look at how https://plus.codes pitches itself, since there are plenty of similarities.

This is very helpful thanks!

It might be a bit too wordy. My experience is that people will avoid reading anything. But I will try to get your sentiments across in a video. People like videos :)

Regarding wordiness - that's why you put it below the fold. People who prefer reading know to scroll down to get the textual version instead of having to watch a video.

And that's not saying you have to do pure text without graphics.

You're right in many respects; I'm requiring the users to make a leap from the title of the page 'Gif Directions' to uploading a video, which will become the directions.

I had to strike a balance between short, pithy explanations which make an impact and drowning in waffle.

But as its a v1 I have lots of time to improve, thanks for your commment :)

Same. I skimmed through all comments in this thread and still have no idea what this service does.

From the intro video it seems to be a service that converts a video to a gif.

That's basically it!

Then what's up with the whole "directions" part?

In an answer to another comment you wrote:

> I'm requiring the users to make a leap from the title of the page 'Gif Directions' to uploading a video, which will become the directions.

Maybe you should clarify what you mean with "directions".

It looks really good: the idea is cute, and your intro video is great.

Would you be open in adding Sign in with Apple?


I don't have an active Google account, and with Apple's service in I can opt-out of giving my direct email away.

Ah, the problem. I have started using my custom domain and a random username for each service, derived from the service's domain. Pretty easy way to not give away your email.

I do this as well, but it's a lot nicer (and actually private) to have a random @privaterelay.appleid.com.

> (and actually private)

It's private, assuming we trust Apple. For now Apple is privacy friendly, but this might change in a couple of years.

Thanks for the kind feedback! Yes I'm looking into a few of these options at the moment

One I've just been given is metomic.io/alias which looks to solve that

Seems like an interesting idea, but I'm still not quite clear what it does exactly (other than speeding up an uploaded video). And only showing it in a video isn't great - IMHO you should expand on the text on the page, link a live example, ...

I also can't replay the demo video without reloading the page.

One of the few marketing uses of a pun where I'm not groaning immediately ;)

Very helpful feedback thanks

Changes made!

At first I was assuming this was using streetview. I realise not everywhere is included on streetview, but when it is, it would be nice to have the option of using that instead of having to shoot your own video.

That was one of my first thoughts too when making this. I'll have a go and see if I can hack something together :)

There used to be this cool demo(?) called Hyperlapse few years ago, basically stitching multiple street view images https://thenextweb.com/google/2013/04/09/hyperlapse-crazy-hi...

I would imagine that use of streetview imaging would not meet the api agreement for google maps. They have little incentive to allow it to be reused in something like this.

When you get things polished, please display attribution for the map. See https://www.openstreetmap.org/copyright

Ah yes, couldn't have done without it, will add now

Thanks for sharing this; it looks neat! The text currently says "Its free" (rather than "It's free").

Thanks! changed :)

Honest question here -- why would anyone want to use a GIF for this -- or anything really -- compared to H.264?

I feel like even the cat GIFs would look so much better if they were using H.264.

GIF is an 8-bit lossless format and it just seems to be that for any kind of photorealistic video content you probably want 24-bit and lossy.

The term "GIF" is used in a very broad sense nowadays. I'm sure the actual image encoding they're using is a proper video format, not the GIF format itself.

Interesting, ugh, I hate that kind of broad sense usage. It should be called a "short animation" or "short video" not "Graphics Interchange Format".

Facebook still uses actual GIFs for the video stickers in chat and they look horribly degraded, like websites out of the early 90s. I was very surprised they added support for GIF in 2015 when that's the time I thought they should be deprecating GIF in favor of newer, better algorithms.

You're correct, I'm using mp4s instead of actual GIFs. Much more compressed.

I think most people understand GIF to mean a short, possibly sped up video

Wrong. A GIF is an image format. It literally means “graphical interchange format”. A gif displays single image frames in sequence with timings between each frame. When the frames of the gif end, the frames restart from the beginning and so they are often seen to loop. Technically a gif can play indefinitely. It’s just annoying to see people ascribe gif as basically video.

Just because short videos aren't all technically GIFs, doesn't mean that people don't commonly understand "gif" to mean short video.

I think this is similar to how the public has mistakenly understood "HDR" to mean a software local contrast enhancement effect and dialing in highlights/shadows, whereas true HDR doesn't refer to software and requires either advanced sensor hardware or multiple exposures.

I have a use case that might be interesting:


Showing people proper routes to get to a hiking spot, then the path to go down. Some times hiking trail-heads are obscure to find.

So tagging a Gif-Dir with #hiking #hike-marin and such would be nice...

This would be interesting in places like the Sequoias as sometimes you get lost on Endor trying to find that particular grove of redwoods that are desired.

Hiking, biking, walking, running, beach going, even experiences like wine tasting....

I love it!

hashtagging is a really interesting idea. One feature that I plan to do soon is to offer a search function, so as well as people being able to search by area perhaps I can add tags to these so that people could search by trail names etc.

Where are you based... i have something i have been working on which would dovetail nicely with your app


Contact info?

Put an email in your profile?


So this is for situations where 'normally' I would take a video of me walking from A to B and then send it to someone so that they know the way from A to B.

The benefit this service offers in these situations is that it speeds up the video and allows me to put a map next to it.

Do people actually use first person video to give directions?

I envisage it would primarily be used by people who live or work in a place that people have problems finding.

This is normally a big deal for businesses who deal with a lot of deliveries. An especial problem for places that have specific entrances and possibly need forewarning that they're arriving

Yeah this is a new idea, I've seen people upload directions on youtube though

Yes. A friend rents a ski apartment, a few minutes walk away from the train station. He sends guests a short video clip of how to find both the unit and the keys.

I've been given directions to short term rental apartments with a series of photos. This would be much nicer as less chance of taking the wrong turn.

The sample is a 404

Fixed :)

> signup with Google

You lost me there. I won't use 3rd party auth systems like Facebook, Google. There's no reason they should know i use your service and how frequent i use it.

That's fair. Someone just pointed me to use metomic.io which protects a user's email so I'm currently looking into spinning that up

If the intention is to send it to phones, then gif downloads are going to explode your user's data caps. It also seriously limits the quality of the resulting video.

I'd suggest relying on the <video> tag in browsers. It will be a lot easier to encode for your servers too (though may require some retooling).

Good suggestion, already on it ;) all 'gifs' are actually mp4s

I'm glad to hear it. Proper video formats will work significantly better.

This is nice. A lot of Airbnb places could use this.

Thanks! yes they'd be great first B2C users

Later I'll be creating an API and marketing it to delivery companies in a kind of B2B2C

Japanese Airbnbs all have it like this. It’s very complicated and something like your solution could simplify it further.

The hosts send these pdfs with pages of arrows to go left, right, straight with landmarks to get to your Airbnb.

One issue is since the guest is in a new Country, they might not have Internet connectivity at that moment.

Ah interesting, thanks

Yes, connectivity is always a risk. Although perhaps mitigated by checking the gif before you depart. The one thing I've found by creating these gif directions is that they tend to leave quite an indelible impression and are fairly easy to remember

Japan was an immediate thought when I saw this..

From past experience, Google maps can get you to the general vicinity pretty well, it's usually the last 80 meters of multi-storey electric mazes that confuse the hell out of you.

This would be really helpful in Sweden to find the many summer houses that are off main roads.

Yes that would be perfect use of it

Also in Sweden no flats have numbers (like the rest of the world) only the person surname on the flat door. Thus finding the correct flat in buildings with different parts and courtyards is difficult especially when people have the same surname

One more also, I bumped into a food delivery guy at our building yesterday and he didn’t know where to leave the delivery… a simple system like this could help him to find the correct drop-off point especially in these times of social distancing

Why are people asking "what is it?" with next level passive-aggressive polite ranting?

1-Make a video from point A to point B.

2-It gets converted to a gif.

It's about the clutter free experience for the user, the wonderful experience of "it shows you the way, nothing else, and it just works."

Good work jack_riminton

Thanks! I have tried to keep it as simple as possible, which means leaving stuff out.

Some people don't get it, that's fine, they don't have to :)

Your demo is giving me a 404. Can you provide another one? Looks interesting.

Fixed :)

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact