Cinemagraphs

If you asked me yesterday about animated Gifs, this would have been what came to mind:

psycho gif animation

funny frog gif animation

Now I love a drumming monkey as much as the next guy but, as hard as I try, I can’t seem to justify these as serious research. However these are the predecessors to the collaborative cinemagraphs of photographer Jamie Beck and motion graphics artist Kevin Burg. Cinemagraphs present themselves as photo’s with moving elements. The results can be subtle and captivating.
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Somewhere between a photograph and a video I think what makes these cinemagraphs so effective is that it maintains photography’s innate ability to capture a moment, freezing it in time. The introduction of movement to these images seems to enhance this rather than dispel it. I believe this is in part down the the looping of the animation, whether the effect is hilarious or relaxing there  is something satisfying about seeing it over and over.

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Animated gifs have been around since the late 80’s, and are a way of combining multiple frames played in sequence into a single image file. Previously seen as a bit of an internet novelty, their ability to capture your attention and question what you are seeing could have a large impact on an area as saturated with imagery as online advertising.

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I can see this as a potential way of re-animating some of my Super 8 films, by reintroducing a small amount of repeating movement into the frames this will enhance their ‘stuck in time’ quality. here are a few of the stills I am thinking of using from a documentary film of WWI depicting soldiers in the trenches and a bombing raid on an airfield.

Still from WWI film showing Soliders in the trenches

WWI film still showing soliders going over the top into shell fire

A WWI film still showing a soldier running across an airfield

More film stills can be found on my website.
For more info see this video by PBS arts’ Off Book.

Cinemagraphs from Inspiration feed, check them out for more examples and useful links.

Also worth a look of your into  films: IWDRM (but not if you want to do anything useful with the next hour of your day!).

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4 thoughts on “Cinemagraphs

  1. […] it in the way that zoetropes, flickbooks and shadow puppets have done and digital methods like cinemagraphs do now. Presenting imagery derived from film in a book is a way of placing it back into a […]

  2. Spencer says:

    Hey Ben,

    I’m directing a music video and am eager to try this cinemagraph technique on Super 8 film. How did your experiments with the WWI frames turn out??

    • Hi Spencer,

      Technically it work fine but stylistically I don’t the grainy, flickering quality of film really lends its self to cinemagraphs. It makes the distinction between the moving and static part of the image too obvious. I think it needs the consistency of digital footage to be really effective illusion. That’s just my opinion though, I’d be interested to see any results if you do decide to use super 8 it in your music video!

  3. […] little while ago I did a post about Cinemagraphs, animated gifs that look like living photographs. I loved how, by introducing a subtle amount of […]

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