We’ve written about Plotagraph before (1, 2, 3), they make amazing software that allows you to turn a photo into an animation. Not the zoom and pan effects or hokey wipes of slideshow apps, but rather subtle and often hypnotic looping motion. The water can flow, the sky can drift, background elements can repeat. The effect is closest to a cinemagraph, but unlike the format, no video is required. This workflow means you can animate any photo that you’ve ever shot.
If you have an iPad, stop whatever you are doing and go here – http://bit.ly/ppipadpf and download the app. Plotagraph Plus is $4.99 USD, as a one-time purchase, buy it once, use it forever. If you own an iPhone, that version is expected to release shortly (we’ll post an update once it has). The app lets you export to your camera roll, which means the content can be easily shared to any website or social network.
Not on an iPad? No worries the team also launched Plotagraph Social (www.plotagraphs.com). This site dedicated to dynamic looping content that will auto-play and auto-loop on all devices. If you join the site, you can get access to a version of their software that lets you post to Plotagraph Social.
Why Should You Care?
These days, static photos are often not given the attention they deserve. The wave of content in both the online and real worlds causes them to get often overlooked. Plotagraphs can have a subtle, engaging animation applied. Whether you’re posting to a social media timeline, adding to your portfolio, creating digital signage or crafting advertisements, the content works better. People stop, they look, they engage, they watch, they share. For those of you needing math, various test campaigns have shown that cinemagraphs and photographs get 5-12 times more engagement.
Now, do you care? You should…. as a photographer, you need your images to be seen, and this is one more way to do so in an engaging way.
Back to the App
I’ve had a lot of time with this app in hand (full disclosure, I was part of the testing team giving feedback as it took life). The app is easy to use and super fast. The Plotagraph Plus app takes full advantage of the processing power in newer iPads. It will also work with 64Bit processors and up that come with newer iPads and iPhones. The app was built on the new Apple Metal platform for maximum performance.
Creating animation is very easy
Step 1: Launch the App
Step 2: Click the Create Plotagraph button (plus symbol) at the bottom of screen to load a photo or the Take Photo button (camera icon) to take a new
Step 3: Click the Mask tool and loosely draw over the area or areas that you want to stay static. If you have a bad stroke, use the Eraser tool to remove from the selection.
Step 4: Choose the Animate tool, then click and drag to add an animation path. You can add multiple points to a scene where you want it to animate.
Step 5: Click the Play button to preview your work so far.
Step 6: Choose the Anchor tool to click and add anchor points to pin down areas you don’t want to move.
Step 7: Refine your mask as needed or use the select to move or delete an Animation or Anchor point.
Step 8: Click the Speed button to adjust the rate of animation.
Step 9: Click the Crop button if you need to reshape your content. There are common social media presets and free crop controls.
Step 10: Click the Share button to save to your camera roll as an MP4 file or Animated PNG (the new replacement for animated GIF).
Note: The Animated PNG format is designed to work in Messages on iOS devices, but browsers and others are adding support for it quickly. If you need a GIF now, the MP4 can be easiy converted using many free, shareware, or pro apps.
Having watched the Plotagraph technology develop, I am amazed at the gains in speed and ease of use. The iOS app is not as full-featured as the desktop software but is still amazingly robust. Its speed with everything working locally on the device is amazing.
For those using the newer iPads with support for the Apple Pencil, you’ll enjoy the ease of use on the tablet. But I found that adjusting the brush size smaller; I could still get precise results with my large fingers.
In about 5 minutes, you can create fun and unique content from your photos. The inventors of the app Troy Plota and Sascha Scheider are both artists and photographers, and this app is clearly born out of their love for creativity. I highly recommend the app and that you give it a try.
Rich has published over 100 courses on Lynda.com. Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.