Cinemagraphs for a Cause

  • “Artivism- where edges are pushed, imagination is freed, and a new language emerges altogether.” -Eve Ensler.

Art has always been used in activism, capturing the cultural expressions of each social movement. New media and social media are changing the way social activist organizations connect with their audience. Just as film, photographs and posters have been used to spread awareness for a cause, now, cinemagraphs are being used to shed light on issues such as migrant workers and the pollution of our oceans. Cinemagraphs allow the creator to carefully choose moments in a scene to bring to life, pulling the viewer’s eyes to a specific area. This works perfectly with pinpointing an issue that needs attention. Thanks to the work of our community, cinemagraphs are now a new form of artivism. Here are 2 recent examples of organizations using cinemagraphs for a cause.

Heal the Bay

Heal the Bay is a non-profit environmental group working to restore the Santa Monica Bay. Heal the Bay has driven attention to their cause by showcasing cinemagraphs of the ocean.

McGann | Zhang is building the Los Angeles Coalition for Water Conservation to help fight the drought along with Heal the Bay and all other organizations that see the importance of preserving LA’s precious water. So far, they have developed two campaigns for Heal the Bay to get the word out and bring in more support for the organizations efforts to protect LA. The first, Soul of the Ocean, is already launched and an upcoming 2nd tier campaign will be launching in early August that will also use cinemagraphs.


Chase Grammer, Art Director for advertising agency McGann | Zhang, is helping to create a series of cinemagraphs for Heal the Bay. Raised in Nova Scotia, Canada, now living, working and studying in San Francisco, 21 year old Grammer spends his down time acting, singing and playing the ukulele. Grammer says that,”keeping a playful and imaginative mind allows a person to free themselves from the minute details of life that pile on stress and keep us from reaching our full potential. These passions feed my designs, my drive to move what’s in my mind onto a physical medium that everyone can see. More than anything, it feels amazing to create. I do believe that we all have the passion to build and to see something come to life from nothing.”

Why cinemagraphs? Cinemagraphs have exploded in popularity on social media, especially by big brands like Doritos, Heineken, Apple Music and Toyota. Co-founder of McGann | Zhang, Geoff McGann, pushed the use of cinemagraphs for the Heal the Bay’s campaign, and Grammer gladly complied. “We needed a quick and effective way to produce lots of cinemagraphs in preparation for a large media launch in July, so we did some digging. It was co-founder Yichi Zhang that suggested Flixel to us. Once we got started with Flixel, there was no doubt that this would be the software we would use to launch our media platform.”


You can see some of the video spots for the campaign here: SOUL OF THE OCEAN. Geoff Mcgann wrote a poetic voiceover to accompany slow motion shots of LA’s beaches. Shot with drones and GoPros, the videos incorporate up close and personal footage of the ocean. The tricky part that the team at McGann | Zhang faced, was that though these types of shots are great for video, cinemagraphs require precision and a steady surface, as only some aspects of the frame moves while the rest is still. Grammer notes that they had to face challenges giving some of the shots “that seamless, eternal loop with a body of unpredictable water. But, in the end, we were able to pull some good shots out of the footage and we plan to make more.”

Cinemagraphs are visually stunning, and take a viewer by surprise, says Grammer. “There are not many images like cinemagraphs floating around in the mainstream social media so it is still fresh.  There are so many ways that you can approach photography and video when working in this style.”

Heal the Bay is using the cinemagraphs on their website, as well as sharing them through email and social media. This has all lead to recognition from online magazines, positive feedback and engagement, as well as an increase in followers on their social accounts. 

Grammer concludes with, “we greatly appreciate this software [Flixel Cinemagraph Pro for Mac] to help us make these beautiful images. We can’t wait to see where the medium grows and how it will change with the visual market as cinemagraphs become more widespread.”

The Exhibition on Migrant Worker Lives

Exhibition: 30th July – 5th August at National Art Gallery, Maldives

We are the others, we are watching over you!

This Exhibition is a platform provided by Transparency Maldives for local artists to showcase their thoughts and perceptions on the issues faced by migrant workers in the country. Their hope is that the exhibition will raise interest in and awareness of the plight and conditions of migrant workers.

“As soon as we land on the country of our choice, we (he /she) become a vessels of the employer.

But as we look through the community, we are the people who you employ. We do your dishes, clean your rooms, your homes, cook your meals, feed your babies, act as your security guards, accountants, advisors, health experts, care takers and even caretakers of your kids.

We are part of you and we will always be a part of your family. We need your kindness and all that you require for yourselves. You cant live without us so be a part of of us. We are human too!”


By showcasing the blinking faces of migrant workers, projected onto big Sony TV’s, Millzero’s cinemagraphs speak louder than words. Check out more of Millzero’s work here.

Millzero describes,”Where I live (Maldives), 1/3 of our community consists of Migrant workers, and I believe they need the same rights as every human. That’s why the title of my work is, We are the others, we are watching over you!” Solemn, yet calm faces stare blankly at the viewer, breaking the trance with a simple blink. Ergo, the portraits seem to literally be watching over the viewer. A spectacle, the migrant worker-the others- seem to be acknowledging and standing up to the oppression of their people.

Millzero is a self-taught artist working as a portrait and a (ISPWP) wedding photographer in the Maldives. In the past, Millzero did photojournalism for a local daily newspaper, and other photography assignments for Thomson Reuters, The Associated Press and more. Having been active with UN agencies on various social projects, creating cinemagraphs to shed light on migrant workers falls in line with Millzero’s talents and passions.

Introduced to the art of cinemagraphs by a previous client, it wasn’t until he discovered Flixel that Millzero began creating cinemagraphs. Why cinemagraphs? “It always gives life to the images we produce. Also on a social project it can give a wow factor to the art work when on display,” says Millzero.

Cinemagraphs are a diverse medium. Whether you’re using them for social activism, an ad campaign, personal promotion, or for fun, engage audiences by creating living photos with Flixel Cinemagraph Pro.

(Flixel Marketing Manager)

When Cassandra was six, she was asked to share a story with her class…and hasn’t stopped telling them since. Now she does so through photography, video and writing, but with the same sense of wonder - and love for glitter - as her inner kid.


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