Friday 5: Cinemagraphs

After a short hiatus, Friday 5 is back, and this week we’re looking at my newest obsession…cinemagraphs.

Relatively uncommon but gaining popularity, cinemagraphs combine both photos and video to give the impression of a moving image (think the newspapers in Harry Potter). This unique format is quickly becoming the new medium for both artistic expression and alluring advertisements.

Although cinemagraphs have been around since 2011, they’ve been slow to catch on, probably due to the large amount of time required to edit and make the image come to life. However, tools like Flixel’s Cinematograph Pro editing software have made the process a breeze. As a result, photographers like myself are able to spend more time shooting and less time editing.

So far, we’ve been able to use cinemagraphs as a fun way to connect with our audience on social media. Instagram is the perfect place to feature them since videos loop automatically.  Below, we’ll look at five cinemagraphs featured on OU’s social media and a few from my own personal account.

1. Ooooooo U Kickoff

Part of my job entails me capturing the atmosphere of OU’s beloved football games. Candace (our social media maven) and I tag team the whole thing. While I’m off shooting, she’s uploading, editing, posting and maintaining a presence across all our social media channels. It’s actually a pretty cool system and you can read about it in Candace’s “GameDay” blog post. While we’re usually on the sidelines, this particular night we found ourselves at the highest point of the stadium. There I was, freezing, straddling two chairs and a tripod, and waiting patiently for all the fans to raise up that number one sign in unison, as is the tradition before every kickoff. The trick with this shot was framing. I had to use our super wide Canon EF 11-22mm to get the fans, stadium, fireworks and sky all in the same frame.

2. Autumn’s Arrival on Campus

Cinemagraphs give you the ability to highlight motion, and figuring out which motion to highlight is dependent on what you’re trying to accomplish. In the cinemagraph above, I could have frozen the surroundings and had the students walk across the screen. While that might have turned out alright, I think too much movement in a cinemagraph can ruin the effect. Subtlety is key.

3. Fashion Shoots

From what I’ve come to understand, cinemagraphs got their start with fashion photographers Kevin Burn and Jamie Beck back in 2011. Their work is incredible.  The first time I saw a cinemagraph myself was during an episode of America’s Next Top Model (my wife’s love language is quality time). I remember doing a double-take when I saw this cinemagraph of a model lying next to a huge snake and then realizing the snake was moving. I didn’t know what I was looking at but it grabbed my attention for sure.

Kayleigh (pictured above) was one of our Instagram Student Takeovers this semester. She’s a full-time student who runs her own fashion blog. After her takeover, we were able to collaborate and make some fashion-style cinemagraphs, albeit without the snakes.

4. Street Photography

I love street photography. It’s something I rarely do but have always admired. My hope is that cinemagraphs will eventually gain popularity in the realm of street photography. There’s so much potential for documenting those “in the moment” shots with a mix of still and moving imagery. The challenge will be marrying the two very different mediums. Street photographers can often be defined as minimal, fast-paced and responsive. Catching those “in-the-moment” shots requires a great deal of flexibility and fluidity. Cinemagraphs are often pre-planned, require a considerable amount of setup and recorded over a period of time as opposed to a single still shot. It isn’t till later that the photographer (cinematographer?) chooses which frame will be the still image. Despite the differences, I’m curious to see how this new medium will morph into all aspects of still photography.

5. Day Of The Dead Festivities

This year, OU hosted the Day Of The Dead Street Festival at the Llyod Noble Center. The festival had all sorts of games and events going on and I wanted to capture some of the fun via cinemagraphs. The spinning ride is a perfect contrast juxtaposed against the still crowd. Cinemagraphs like this are fun ways to promote events that stand out from the rest of your news feed.

As marketers, we are always looking for new ways to show off the university and highlight our students. Cinemagraphs are an exciting new way to do just that. For advertising, documenting and story-telling, it’s an eye-catching and unique medium that encapsulates the best of both photography and videography. Cinemagraphs don’t require the investment that a youtube video requires, yet it arouses more interest than a typical still image might. At the University of Oklahoma, we use this medium to develop affinity from our audience, and as a photographer, it’s another way for me to stand out as an artist.

What cinemagraphs would you like to see done on campus? Let me know and keep an eye out for cinemagraphs on OU’s social media. There’s always more to come!



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