thoughts and decisions for a creative edge

Have you met Cinemagram yet?

If you been reading my blog, you’d know I love creating cinemagraphs. It’s basically a still picture laid in front of a short frame of video looped behind an area of exposed mask. Not too sure if you can make any sense out of that. But if you Google on the subject on creating Cinemagraphs you’d probably understand the lil painstaking process of creating this modern-day gif animations. But not until recently..

New life from an old bike..

Pink Project shot with 550D in HD then frame selected in PS CS5 Ext

Now there’s an app to feed myself further into this subtle art of emphasizing motion within a momentary period. Cinemagram allows you to create gifs right out of your iPhone. Yep. No computer needed. The app has yet to be polished but its basic function works a charm. It’s so awesome that by the time you read this there’s almost 400,000 cinemagrams created within a week from it’s date of release with version 1.

Below are examples of cinemagrams I was able to create in matter of minutes. Compare that to possibly an hour spent for one like above using a DSLR camera and selected frames processed in Photoshop. Oh btw, they call it Cinemagram to compliment the ever famous and successful Instagram iPhone App. The developers are not related in any way. I think.

Basic fundamental of cinemagraphs uses a sequence of moving images kept at a minimum 15 frames for ideal playback when inserted to the web. Keeping the file small is key. Thanks to today’s fast processors and lightning fast internet speed, this modern-day GIF revelation is making a come back with a BANG!

Cinemagram seems to select up to 44 frames of the video that you shoot within the app. But the primary frame that you want to choose as the masking source is not selectable. I hope this would be updated soon in future updates. On default it uses the first frame of the selected video selection. Creating these cinemagrams is pretty simple:

  • Shoot the video of the subject you want to animate as steady as you can. I have my iPhone 4 in a KUNGL thus it’s always easy to set it up on a tripod of any sort. You can also use snapmountforiphone adapter or equivalent. From this video capture, only 2-3 seconds of the video would be used. Select the the In and Out point of your animated frames that’s to be used in the loop. Tap and Hold to zoom in. Press Play to preview the loop. When happy click SAVE and the video loop will be compressed for editing. I think Cinemagram compress the video into approximately 15 frames per second. But I’m not gonna do the maths..
  • You now can pinch zoom and finger paint (draw a mask) on the area that you want exposed, this selected space will reveal the looped video in background.
  • Once happy with your mask, you’re given the option to COLORIZE. The options currently available are : Raw, Xpro, Toaster, Redscale and B&W.
  • Let it render couple of seconds and you’re presented with the animated gif which is defaulted to play in Auto Reverse mode. This aids to create a smoother animation. If your video crop is smooth enough to be played in a continuous cycle like the bicycle wheel above, then you can turn off the Reverse function.

It’s tricky to make a seamless continuous cycle in cinemagram, the option to choose the specific 1st and last frame is still not made possible. Most I made have default Reverse mode turned on. I do have a looped example below with the Towards Europoort cinemagraph. But it’s a shame that this does not even show who created it, when, or how many people have liked or viewed it. These are key features on how to raise users (and developers) awareness and satisfactions I think. Below I’ve made the animation bigger as the ones used in Cinemagram browser link are pretty small at it’s original resolution. Bigger = Better 🙂 Right?

towards europoort Can you spot the 1st and last frame? Compare this with the seamless GIF of the bicycle wheel above.
Try viewing it in the Original Link. Bigger is better right? 🙂

coca colaWith REVERSE mode ON: You barely see that the drink is pouring OUT.. and then pouring IN. Original Link.

Do Not Disturb My sleeping tiger. Original Link

Pros

  • Easy to create short cinemagraphs.
  • With 3G network or WiFi, you can share links to Twitter, Facebook & Tumblr.
  • Great way to discipline and focus on details you want emphasized while shooting video / picture.
  • HTML EMBED code to help share your Cinemagram in a blog.
  • Cinemagraph tool in your pocket. Hard to beat that.
  • Costs $1.99 with compatible iPhone. No need for external frame editor / computer.
  • Induce creative fun. Totally addictive.

Cons

  • Cannot import from video from Camera Roll Library
  • Cannot add Hashtags or add Comments
  • Limited to sharing on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr
  • You don’t get notified if anyone Liked or Shared your Cinemagram 😦
  • There is no FOLLOW or SUBSCRIBE option
  • No search option via Title or Tag for cinemagrams already created

Cinemagram App costs $1.99 on iTunes and brings further addiction and anti-socializing when you have your iPhone with you in public. But yea, they’ll understand why when they see your masterpiece. Mail me your’s when you’re done!

For an interesting PBS short about GIFs and its modern uses in Cinemagraph check this video.

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6 responses

  1. This is awesome – it took me a second to realize they were moving and then I was like OH CRAP – like it was some sort of ghost or something. I’m also jealous of your bike.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm

  2. Hi there,
    Thx for the review. We appreciate it. And we want you to know that some of your CONS have been addressed and are now in the PROS category.

    What’s new:

    ★ You can now follow your friends to see what they are creating and liking.
    ★ Import from Library
    ★ Full support for comments within the app
    ★ Revamped UI, unified fonts, colors, etc
    ★ Added user profiles, pictures, description
    ★ Find friends on FB and Twitter
    ★ Activity feed (know when you get likes & comments on your cines)

    In the next update, we’re adding push notifications and we plan to further improve the social experience.

    Oh and best of all, there is now a FREE version 1.3 for all to enjoy!
    http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/cinemagram/id487225881?mt=8

    We love our users,

    Cinemagram

    March 12, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    • Thanks for the amazing update Nikoo. I noticed that I lost some of my old GIFs created within the app. Is there still no way to SEARCH for Users post by Name or Subject? That would probably help to find my lost animations created before the new update. That’d also help to see who I want to follow via subject matter. Guess a newer update is inevitable sometime soon. Great stuff putting cinemagraph on iPhone though! Congratulations to the team!

      March 29, 2012 at 9:46 am

  3. Art

    Can i save the one i created into my iphone library?Hope it can soon

    March 28, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    • The app that allows you to safe GIF files is called iTim but its pretty pricey at $2.50

      March 29, 2012 at 9:26 am

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