CINEMAGRAPHS - a new content class

David Vaassen - Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Heard about Cinemagraphs?

Cinemagraphs are Gifs that combine a still image with a small area that is animated.

There's something mysterious and odd about these images. They engage you in a way that a still image  or a video doesn't.

Developed by artists Jaime Beck and Kevin Burg, cinemagraphs have been around since 2011 but are just now picking up steam as advertisers clamor to make good use of the technology.

What makes Cinemagraphs really interesting for Marketers now, is that recent changes in social networks to automatically play video and gif content in a users feed.

For instance both Facebook and Twitter now autoplay video and gifs.


So, Why use Cinemagraphs?

1. They're curious and catch the eye.

What’s so striking about cinemagraphs is the surprise movement from only one area of the frame. Unlike a standard GIF, which is effectively a short video on loop, cinemagraphs depict static imagery with only a few animated details, what Burg and Beck call “isolated movement.” The result is an image that’s hard to pull away from.

Cinema graphs tease us with a small glimpse of something deeper.

Such as this cab in the window. Without the movement it could be a cafe in any city. However the movement of a yellow cab subtly in the background - tells us that it's probably a New York - or is it?


2. They Invoke Glamour

For luxury brands, cinemagraphs can invoke luxury and a sense of mystery.

Top fashion brands are using Cinemagraphs such as Christian Louboutin with this glamorous looking pair of blue heels sparkling under lights. You could imagine walking onto a stage or into an exclusive club wearing these.     

Louboutin blue heals cinemagraph

3. They bring the viewer closer

Cinemagraphs tease us with a small glimpse of something deeper.

The small subtle details cause you to take a second look. What's intriguing is that it's not the whole story, there's still much left to the imagination.

Like this promotional Cinemagraph for the movie Seven Psychopaths. 

A scene from Seven Psychopaths Cinemagraph

4. They inform as well as inspire

We love story telling with images. A Cinemagraph has the power to enhance an image with movement - to demonstrate a function a process in a simple focussed way.  Like this Cinemagraph that demonstrates how to prepare a drink.


5. They convey mood/ambience

Sometime all we want to do is convey a mood and emotion that is not always possible with a static image.

Take this morning coffee cinemagraph. The rising steam suggests it a cool, brisk morning and the coffee is hot and warming.

Saltbox Cookies and hot coffee


6. They are much smaller files than a Video

While Cinemagraph's are typically created from a video - the resulting file is smaller than a video. Meaning users get a much better experience with faster load times for the image and the image (a Gif) is far more transportable and flexible about where it can be used with a very simple playback process. No video controls required. It just loads like an image and loops forever (typically).

For example the Seven Psychopaths image above is only 495kb.


It's not easy but worth it

Don't underestimate the effort to create a Cinemagraph. It take time to get right and it's important that you attempt to tell a story or enhance your story with the it. Avoid using it as a gimmick.

Here's a how too article for creating Cinemagraph's in Photoshop.

No Photoshop, no time, no skills? try a software solution like Flixel.

Save to your brand kit and re-use it.

At the end of the day you'll have a brand asset that can be reused again and again. A real jewel in your Brandkit.

Where to use them?

Basically anywhere that supports a Gif.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Vine
  • Brandkit
  • Your website
  • Your Email


So why not give it a go?

Cinemagraph's can be used in many many places, in fact anywhere the good old gif could be used. They are compelling and can enhance your story telling.

They're also still relatively un-used - so there's an opportunity for early adopters to stand out with Cinemagraph's.

Happy Branding :)

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