An extended stillness | cinemagraph tests.

I think I first heard of cinemagraphs about two years ago, through an article about the two photographers who coined the term (and process): Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck ( I remember being immediately intrigued by the idea and drawn to the fashion images they had created. In case you’ve never heard of it, a cinemagraph is a still image to which minor movement is added; typically a short looping video or an animated GIF. The idea is to keep most of the image still but add a selective mask in which motion will appear. Actually “added” isn’t the right term — revealed is more appropriate, the underlying source needing to be either a video or a series of images.

There’s certainly something of the flavour of the month in the current explosion of these types of images in various ad campaigns and designs, the word “fad” inevitably coming to mind. But I’m still fascinated by the idea, by the uber contemplative nature of the results in which movement appears to accentuate the stillness of the image. The loop, the repetition… The sense of time being “stuck” on a moment… It triggers a sort of uneasiness that draws me in. The final objects occupy a space that seems to exist in between states.

So I’ve started dabbling with the concept with an app called Cinemagraph Pro, from a company called Flixel. It’s available on the Mac App Store and currently discounted at $14.99… From it’s usual $199 price tag. No, that’s not a typo and yes, I’m with you that this is a very peculiar situation. But whatever their strategy, the app itself is very well done, turning what would be a long and tedious process into a seamless, almost ridiculously easy experience.

The quick tests below were shot with the X-Pro1 and the limits of the codec quickly come through in the still portion of the images, with visible artifacts that affect the final quality I’m able to achieve. I’m now anxiously waiting for my X-T1 to arrive (!!!) so I can experiment with sustained bursts instead; it’ll force certain compromises but there may be potential there. Btw, the videos below are hosted on Flixel’s own servers and you can see larger versions by clicking any of them.

Baby steps… This is very much a brainstorm at the moment.

Patrick La Roque

laROQUE, 311 Lorncliff, Otterburn Park, Canada