I just had an opportunity to experiment with Plotagraph Pro, which adds motion to a single image. I used the desktop app of Plotagraph Pro to animate parts of my night photos. Here’s how the process went.
I began masking the parts that I wished to remain still. I quickly found that many of the key prompts, or shortcuts, that are used in Photoshop are the same in Plotograph Pro. I could zoom in easily, although because there’s a lot more going on under the hood than a static photo, the zoom feature took longer.
For the first photo, I chose a long exposure night sky photo of star trails from Trona Pinnacles in California. I brushed the unusual tufa rock formations red, so that they would not be affected by the animation.
I then used the feather feature to soften the edges and foreground. I experimented with this and selected the one that looked the best.
What is going to move? You get to choose! You also choose the speed and direction by placing red animation points around the image and dragging the blue arrow to indicate speed and direction. Fun! This can require a lot of detail work, so relax and have fun!
I like to press the “play” icon every once in a while to see what the animation is doing. I did find that when I pressed “play” and then stopped it, I would have to initiate the animation tool again. Placing lots of animation points seems to give you more precise control, especially if doing something that is circular in motion.
There are several animation modes. My guess is that for most people, they will want to stick with “Infinity,” which is the default.
I created many animation points to create a circular sort of motion of the star trails. I tend to prefer precise control, so I added quite a few. I found that I could even add animation points beyond the image, although with this image, this had little discernible difference.
I found I could not stop some of the animation from “bunching up” around the edges, likely due to a “lack of information” when getting to the sides or the areas that were masked.
If you wish, tools on the right side offer options for altering the final animated image further, including adding layers, adding text, color and brightness adjustments, as well as crop adjustments. The crop adjustments allow you to choose from a variety of presets as well as freely cropping.
When my star trails were swirling and I was satisfied with the result, I began to look at the upload functions. You can choose the frame rate, which will affect the perceived smoothness of the motion. The higher the frame rate, the smoother the function. Then you can upload this as prompted. You may also download the file onto your hard drive, which downloads as a short MP4 file.
Plotagraph Pro is fun!
I had a lot of fun, especially when I figured out how to do this. It’s certainly a lot of fun to share with people and is rather engaging. I look forward to further experiments with different kinds of photos.