Images play an especially important role in engaging social media audiences, as people’s attention spans shorten and more companies jockey for recognition in the digital landscape. Businesses need new ways of standing out, and moving picture images, known as cinemagraphs, are coming to the forefront in that regard. We even demonstrated in this space how tech giants like Microsoft and other companies, big and small, have seen the power of using cinemagraphs in their digital advertising.
So how can you create cinemagraphs to use for your brand? Plotagraph is a common service used to make them, but the results aren’t quite cinemagraphs. We explain why in detail here, but in brief, they’re simply still images cleverly manipulated to create the illusion of motion. In contrast, true cinemagraphs are actually created from videos. The real motions are then selectively frozen within a frame so that you distinctly see a difference between what’s moving, and what isn’t.
Plotagraph isn’t necessarily the best choice for making cinemagraphs – or the only one, for that matter. To help you better create and use cinemagraphs for promoting your company, we’ll cover the following in this article:
- The 3 best Plotagraph Pro alternatives
- How cinemagraphs are different (and better) than GIFs
- Tips for creating the best cinemagraphs for your medium of choice
Best Plotagraph Pro Alternatives
1. Cinemagraph Pro
Our Cinemagraph Pro app is the best Plotagraph Pro alternative. It’s a powerful cinemagraph app that you can use on both your iPhone and macOS devices. Cinemagraph Pro allows you to import high-definition (even 4K) video, trim it to the section that contains your ideal movement, select your still frame, and then simply paint over the areas where you want to show motion. Voila! You have a cinemagraph.
You can use advanced color adjusting tools to give your cinemagraph a unique mood, or just select a preset style for a quick change of look in Cinemagraph Pro. Then crop, rotate, flip, or straighten your cinemagraph so that it fits perfectly wherever you may use it. Finish by exporting your cinemagraph as an MP4 video that can be used on social media and digital displays, or upload it to our online gallery and embed it on websites and blogs.
Zoetropic is one of the most popular apps like Plotagraph for Android. However, similar to Plotagraph, it isn’t a true cinemagraph app – it just allows you to select areas of a still image to blend (or not) in order to create motion-like effects. It does, however, have a neat feature where you can set up animations in a particular order.
Another Android-based app, MotionGraph is a true cinemagraph app, unlike Zoetropic. It has some advanced camera controls that let you adjust settings in your video such as focus, white balance, exposure, and playback speed. Sony’s Image Stabilization Technology also helps reduce the jitters that sometimes result from holding your phone in hand instead of a mount.
With all of that said, though, MotionGraph has a very limited video capture time of about 2 seconds. Its export functions aren’t the most intuitive, either, forcing you to share your creations to other apps before you can upload them to social media.
How cinemagraphs are different (and better) than GIFs
“Hold up,” you might say. “Why should I go to all of the trouble of creating one of these fancy newfangled cinemagraphs? Can’t I just use a GIF animation?” Well, you could. And in some cases, that’s the correct choice (we’ll get to that later on). But most of the time, you’ll be selling your company’s brand image short. And there are two major reasons why.
First is the obvious one: GIFs don’t look all that impressive compared to cinemagraphs. They are an ancient file format with shallower color depths and lower graphics resolutions, which is why they look less realistic. They also have lower frame rates, so their animations don’t look as smooth. Presentation is important, folks.
[image comparing cinemagraph and GIF]
Second – and this is the one that may surprise you – GIFs are typically bulkier and more cumbersome than cinemagraphs. That is to say, they usually take up more memory and load slower. Yeah, we know what you’re thinking: “How the heck is that possible when cinemagraphs are made using high-definition video with faster frame rates and deeper color schemes? That has to make them more memory-heavy and slower-loading, right?” Well, there’s an explanation for that.
The reason cinemagraphs are commonly more lightweight than GIFs is because they can be presented in multiple file formats. For example, they can be directly embedded into websites, or converted to video types like MPEG-4 and MOV. And most of these formats use better file compression technology than GIFs, so they can keep the image quality while cutting down on memory use and load times.
So now that you know why you should (usually) be using cinemagraphs instead of GIFs, where should you use them and why? The next section will give you a few hints.
Tips for Creating the Best Cinemagraphs For Social Media, Digital Signage, Websites, and more
1. For personal websites and blogs:
If your website has a landing (“splash”) page, that’s a great place to use a cinemagraph. You can have a cinemagraph act as your landing page, grabbing the user’s attention before they click through to the rest of your website. Adding other interactive elements beyond a simple click-through, such as choices or hidden surprises, can have an even greater impact. As long as it’s on-theme, even simply adding a cinemagraph as a header image can spice up your site a bit.
An “About Me/Us” page is another good place for using a cinemagraph. Think profile or team photos. You can use it to illustrate what you or your co-workers specifically do, or what their personalities are like. You can also use it to showcase your product or service in action, including animated testimonials from clients accompanied by quotes about you or your business. Any of these can easily be directly embedded into a website or blog.
2. For social media and sharing:
The easiest way to share a cinemagraph on a social media post is to export it into a video file. The reason for this is a lot of social networks support video, and have auto-play and auto-loop features that make it easy to display video. That means your cinemagraph will just do its thing as soon as it loads, and the user doesn’t have to click anything in order to be captivated! Your cinemagraph video will also display in HD quality on social networks.
3. For digital signage:
Digital signage is another good place to use cinemagraphs to grab people’s attention when they’re waiting at a bus stop, or wandering around places like Times Square. When advertising food, for example, you can emphasize subtle motions, like liquids pouring or sauces dripping. You can also use cinemagraphs to emphasize how something is made, such as showing how a cooking appliance works, how a recipe is prepared, or how a toy or piece of furniture is assembled.
4. For email:
Remember how we said earlier that using a GIF to market your brand is, in some occasions, is what you should be doing? This is one of those few times. You see, cinemagraphs can be presented as GIFs, among other file types. And currently, for email campaigns, GIFs are one of the few viable options. Cinemagraphs can’t be directly embedded in emails just yet, and exporting one as a movie file will usually make it take up too much memory to fit in the email.
5. For PowerPoint and Keynote:
It’s time to freshen up those presentations. Cinemagraphs add punch to your Keynotes and Powerpoints, and make sure that your main points are remembered. All you need to do is export 1 loop of your cinemagraph (to keep the file size down) as an MP4, import it into PowerPoint or Keynote, and then set it to play and loop automatically. That’s it!
6. For retail marketing:
Cinemagraphs are a great way to show off the products on your website, especially if you mix them in with static photos to create a sense of contrast. They’re also easy to embed on many e-commerce shops, such as Shopify. Many retailers choose to have models wear or use products for cinemagraphs, and then add subtle motions such as clothing fluttering in the wind or a tool in action.
There you have it! We shared a few Plotagraph Pro alternatives that can make cinemagraphs, and some of the situations in which you can use them to boost your brand power and storytelling. If you want to see and learn more about how cinemagraphs are used for both personal and professional brand marketing, check out our favorite cinemagraph Instagrammers of 2017, or these 10 branded cinemagraphs used in digital marketing in 2017. May your photos be vivid –and the stories they tell, even more so.