Awaiting the Arrival of Cinemagraphs
If I keep writing about “long photograph” startups (Glmps, Lightt) I’m going to have to start using one of these apps regularly, just to stay credible. That hasn’t happened yet. I’ve experimented with a bunch of them but I use none frequently. One entrepreneur, Nick Alt, creator of Echograph, says general, wide-ranging adoption of cinemagraphs (as they’re more properly called) might not happen for years. But he’s betting it will, and he wants to be there when it does.
There are two components to Alt’s Echograph. First, it’s a tool that makes it easy for photographers to create still images in which a portion (or the whole thing) moves slightly and repeatedly: A flower waving in the breeze; or a portrait of a person clearly animated and alive. The method Alt uses for creating his cinemagraphs is simple, intuitive, fun to use, and similar to another cinemagraph utility, Cinemagram. On the iOS app, you take a short video clip, scrub your finger over the part of it that you want to loop, and you’re done. The un-selected part of the image stays static.
The effect can be gimmicky and clownish, or subtle and quite beautiful. However, casual or amateur applicability is limited since you really need to lock the camera down to create workable raw material you can turn into a cinemagraph.
The second aspect of the Echograph business is the embeddable link-building component. An Echograph’s native format is an HTML5-embeddable MP4 file. But only a few apps (Chrome and Safari) support this format natively. For Firefox, Echograph has to serve .OGV files (I’ve never heard of the format before, either). For email or some content systems like Tumblr, it creates animated GIFs (“a horrible format,” Alt says). One Echograph value is that it automatically serves the right format based on the browser or the app calling up the image.
Alt says that the “idle images,” as he calls them (since they’re of things or people resting but “on”), are more engaging and sexier than standard flat photos, and he thinks that they will become part of the standard visual landscape, going where many still images now go, until eventually they stop being the novelty they are now. The inflection point is when cinemagraphs become part of the wedding photographer’s toolkit, Alt says.
“It’s the steady turtle that will win this race,” Alt says. He thinks it’s professionals that will drive Echograph forward. At the moment, the consumer market for cinemagraphs does appear to be stuck in neutral.
Audio version of this column:
A message from Evernote
Try our beautiful app for remembering people: Evernote HelloBack to Top