Spin Me Right Round: An Interview with Flixel Wizard Rocky Montez-Carr

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Sometimes the best cinemagraphs are the result of spontaneous thinking. We came across one a few months back from one of our Flixel wizards, Rocky Montez-Carr, who found inspiration on a day out and pursued it immediately with an empty parking lot, a spinning car, an iPhone and the carsick-prone but enthusiastic participation of his creative partner and wife, Helen.

Since his first encounter with cinemagraphs at Photoshop World a few years ago, Rocky’s excitement for the medium gradually morphed from a curiosity to a near-obsession. “Every time I am shooting, I am trying to think of a way to make it more interesting as a ‘living photo’,” he said. “It’s gotten so bad that no matter where I am, be it walking somewhere or driving around, I am looking at everything and thinking, “That would make a great Flixel!” Well, now we know we’re not the only ones.

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Rocky’s eye for opportunity may have brought him and his wife into a dizzying cinemagraph shoot that eventually involved reshoots, a Sony DSLR and some compositioning, but he didn’t quite foresee the reaction to his spur-of-the-moment output. “I woke up to my phone going crazy,” he described. “On Facebook alone it had an organic reach of over 12,000 people, with over 5,000 views, over half of them viewing it twice and over 2,000 that watched it for more than 30 seconds.” That kind of engagement shows that cinemagraphs create more value for online audiences, and the implications are both creative and profitable.

As an owner of his own creative studio in Las Vegas, Rocky collaborates with clients like Hard Rock Café, Adobe and Cirque du Soleil over retouching, art direction, design, photography and video. Cinemagraphs are now a part of his business offering as well. “It just adds another element to my creative arsenal that has proven results for my clients. They love them.”

Naturally, we were curious to know how Cinemagraph Pro factors into the toolbox that he uses to serve his clients every single day. “With Photoshop, a beginner would have no idea where to start if they wanted to create a cinemagraph. With Flixel’s Cinemagraph Pro, it’s laid out so simple. The tabbed sections at the top of the screen move you along through the creative process effortlessly,” Rocky said, finding that the software led to timesaving efficiency and the integration with Adobe apps and Creative Cloud beneficial.

While software and equipment are important parts of the cinemagraph equation, at its core, cinemagraphs rely on deeply cultivating a passion for the medium and transforming how you see the world. The way to do that is to just simply go out and do it. “The worst thing that can happen is that it doesn’t work as well as you planned. You’ll learn from your mistakes and you will know what to do different or better next time.”

Emphasizing the importance of community, Rocky recommended that newcomers to cinemagraphs should connect with fellow creatives. “If you see something you like, tell them. Pick their brains on how they created it. Most creatives I know are the nicest people and love to collaborate and help out. There are so many resources available now a days. Your only roadblock is your imagination.”

That wide-eyed ambition is exactly what we love seeing from our community members, including Rocky. His passion for transforming the ordinary into vivid experiences comes through each one of his pieces. But ultimately, he has one piece of advice for anyone thinking about starting or are already well on their way in their cinemagraph journey. “Just have fun with it!” Sounds like a great excuse to make figure 8s in empty parking lots – we’re game!

(Marketing Specialist at Flixel)

Mehek crafts words, content, events and more for Flixel. She firmly believes that life is not life without a little spice, which is why she adds Sriracha to everything.