Cinemagraph, Plotagraph and Video Composite - Differences and Similarities

cinemagraphs, plotagraphs, video composites, what is cinemagraph -

Cinemagraph, Plotagraph and Video Composite - Differences and Similarities

An idea for this article came straight out of a real life situation. 

I was discussing a project with my client and I noticed that we kept misunderstanding each other; almost as if we were talking about different things… and actually, we were!

Let me explain: my client kept talking about creating a seamless looping animation in Photoshop, explaining that he wanted certain parts of the image he provided to be made to move - and he referred to it as “cinemagraph”. I finally caught the misunderstanding and explained to him, so we were on the same page from then on, but it gave me an idea that this common misconception is, well… common.

Let me elaborate.

There are types of still photo animations that are quite similar in some aspects, but very different in others: cinemagraphs, plotagraphs and video composites.

  • Plotagraphs are made out of a single still image, with some elements made to move. There is no compositing in it, just a part of an image (like water, flame, etc - something that’s “flowy” in nature) is turned into an artificial motion. Therefore, plotagraphs do not feature “natural” motion, but rather something surreal and out of a dream, which has a very nice and “out of this world” effect. Example:.
    • Cinemagraphs can be made in 2 different ways: out of an image or composite or out of a video clip. Due to the way it is created, cinemagraph features more natural motion in the elements that are meant to be animated. You can also use overlays like smoke, fog, fire, water waves and many more, to add additional, natural motion effects. Example:
  1. Video composites are more of a “free hand” type of creation. They can be made out of an image as a basis, then have still elements moving (example: a car on the road going from one side to another as a separate layer on an otherwise still photograph). The can have video elements composited into a still image via masking (example: a clip of a flower nodding on a wind added as a separate layer on a still image of a meadow and masked accordingly) - etc. Example:

  2. Finally, you can always use a combination of all 3 and that is what I prefer myself on many occasions. It gives you a truly “free hand” and utilizing those different tools and techniques, allows you to unleash your imagination and accomplish desired effect. Example:

  3. If you want to try to create your own cinemagraphs, here are a few tips on how to do it:

    1. Learn Photoshop :-) I know, it seems very difficult and a long process - and it kind of is, but it is so rewarding once you get to the spot where you can start to create your own pieces of art freely! If you know the basics and are looking to polish your skills, you can find this course very helpful!
    2. You can create plotagraphs fairly easy, using https://plotaverseapps.com/ desktop apps set. For a small monthly fee you get access to all apps that will help you create cinemagraphs online (or rather, plotragraphs in this case).
    3. If you are more of a tablet person, check Pixaloop, which is designed to use solely on mobile devices. For $19 / year, you can have all the fun you want! Pixaloop is available for Android devices, as well as Apple devices.

    If you are looking for professionally done pieces though, I’d recommend hiring professional photo editing artist. You can start by checking this website out - we sell ready works as well as accept custom orders!

    Thank you for reading this and I hope I’ve managed to clear out some of the terminology confusion :-)

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