Plotagraphs – Trey Ratcliff
What is a Plotagraph?
It’s a moving photograph, kinda. I suppose that’s the best way to say it! Even better, it’s incredibly easy and fun! You can simply upload any photo you like and then use some really fun options to animate it. And no, it’s not a cinemagraph — all you need is a single JPG and no additional image or video files.
You can grab it on the Plotagraph Pro site.
Pretty sweet eh?
That photo above is from Burning Man. It was made from a still photo that I shot during one of the burn nights. You can immediately see the amazing potential for this Plotagraph tool. The situations in which you can use these truly organic animations are limitless.
By the way, if you’d like to know more about Burning Man, here’s an extended article I wrote about it. I also have a portfolio of many “non-moving” Burning Man photographs in my portfolio.
This is a great way to breathe new life into any photo you’ve ever taken. It works great in so many conditions… clouds, moving water, grasses, hair, flowers, water, fire, etc. When you look at the new portfolio above, you’ll see how fun it is. Note that because these are all multi-framed, it may take a moment or two for the whole thing to load before you see it flow smoothly.
Works on any computer/OS
It’s completely web-based software, so it doesn’t matter if you are Mac / Windows / Linux, whatever. It’s also extremely fast because everything is happening on remote blazing servers.
How does it work?
You upload any photo then you use the online software to define the areas that you want to keep static and the parts you want to move. After that, you use cool directional arrows to describe where and how you want the motion to flow. There’s also options to set the speed, smoothness, and more. You can get a live preview in the web browser and then export it as an GIF, MOV, or MP4. Easy as pie and supa fun!
Easy to use
This is a good example of a JPG I uploaded. You can see how I masked out most of the tree and ground and added animation vectors to the sky. This one is very simple in that I have everything going in the same direction. As you can imagine, you don’t always have to make it this simple and you can have animations go in many directions and different speeds in various bits of the picture.
Here’s a bit more complex of an example with many vectors. This one may look a bit more complex because I turned on the “Mesh” layer that shows all the triangles and interconnectedness. I’m working on some tutorials now to talk more about how it works!
Quick Tutorial Video
…is right here!
More of Trey’s Plotagraphs
I have a whole portfolio dedicated to Plotographs over on Squarespace. Remember, these sometimes take a little while to load because these are animated GIFs (you can also make MP4 or MOV files), but after they do, they will flow like Owen Wilson’s hair on a jog.
For now, here’s a handful more that I have made. If you think this kind of thing is cool, share with your family and friends!
Here’s one of my favorite photos from Paris, brought to a new kind of animated life!
This is a fun one from Mount Cook here in New Zealand. One of the smoothest things about this program is how you can barely see the animation “looping”. I don’t know about you, but I just kind of stare at it, mesmerized.
Again, more examples over on my animated Squarespace portfolio.
To see more, check out my Animated Photos on Squarespace. Remember, it takes a moment to load the whole flow based on the speed of your internet connection!
Q: How do you get the GIF on Facebook?
A: First, I export the GIF at about 750 pixels across. That seems to be just about right for Facebook. Then, go to Giphy.com and upload it there. Then go to the Advanced tab and get the URL for the GIF. Paste that into Facebook.
Q: How do you get the Plotagraph on Instagram?
You have to take the video and get it on your mobile device where you have Instagram. Inside Plotagraph Pro, I currently export an MP4 with a loop of 20. This results in a video file that is 40-70 seconds long and loops the ~3 second animation multiple times. Make sense? Then, I download that then use Airplay to get the video to my iPad and then upload that with Instagram.
Q: How do you get the GIF on Twitter?
Oh that’s an easy one. You can upload the GIF right to Twitter like a JPG… no issues!
Q: How do you say “GIF” out loud when talking to other humans?
Hard G. The G in GIF is short for Graphics, which is a hard G, unlike, say, Giraffe or Gacking off to webcam jirls.
Q: Any other Social Media sharing tips?
Yes! Funny you should ask!
1) I’ve learned that Plotagraphs look “different” when smallish on Facebook/Insta/Twitter versus full-screen on your computer. Because they are smaller, the more subtle animations you create may not even be noticeable. So, to combat that, I go to the animation settings and speed up the animation (by dropping the default “3” to “2” or lower) so that it looks silly-fast full screen. But, when seen smaller, it looks good.
2) Export the social media GIF at 25 FPS. It looks the same and makes the file size smaller.
3) Hashtag #Plotagraph to help other plotagraphers discover you!
4) When I post on my WordPress blog at StuckInCustoms.com (example page), I upload a GIF that us under 15MB right into WP. I’ve found that hosting the GIF other places doesn’t really work.