Marrying Stills and Video: Flixel Promises a Long Engagement

Moving still photos, known as cinemagraphs, are gaining popularity with publishers, advertisers and creators looking for new ways to engage their viewers. Guest post by Jain Lemos.

Capturing—and then holding—the attention of online viewers becomes more challenging every minute. For some time now, a site without decent visuals is quickly deemed a dud. That’s why cinemagraphs are finding homes on sites looking for that extra stickiness.

Based in Toronto, Canada, Flixel Photos has been around for a few years and they are leading the charge in the living photo software and application space. Their development team has a long history of building products for Apple platforms and they’ve just won an Apple Design Award and an Apple Best of 2014 for their software.

Philippe LeBlanc, Flixel co-founder and CEO, is passionate about making their tools accessible and easy to use for everyone. “We’ve blended technology and art into a new form,” he says. “Even at the pro level most Flixels can be created extremely fast with our software.” Certainly, animated photographs have come a long way from the silly animated gifs of days gone by.

Cinemagraphs highlight and loop small movements within a scene. For example, models with blowing hair and flowing gowns make for great subjects. Supermodel and business mogul Tyra Banks (her mother is a professional photographer) was an early backer of Flixel. She embraced the technology and featured it on last year’s edition of America’s Next Top Model. Banks says Flixels create that, “Oh my gosh, wow factor.”

Perhaps more alluring is LeBlanc’s claim that cinemagraphs have a five times higher click-through rate than ordinary stills plus viewers typically spend seven times longer looking at a living image. This type of engagement is exactly what online content producers are looking for on a web flooded with visuals. Flixel has developed two basic ways for creating living images.

First is the application for Apple iPhones and iPads called Flixel Cinemagraph Pro ($19.99). As you make living photos, you can share your creations on Flixel.com, add them to your own sites and post to social media accounts. The app uses live-masking so after shooting a short video the photographer can simply finger paint any part of the image to reveal parts of motion. The files are rendered in HD (1080) resolution.

Professionals will want to use Flixel’s advanced suite of editing tools that comes with the software Cinemagraph + for Mac ($49.99) or Cinemagraph Pro for Mac ($99.99) which gives the ability to export files in Ultra HD (4K). The Pro version is the choice for photographers who really want to supercharge these frozen-time effect photos or render large files for billboard-type graphic displays. Some shooters will spend hours in the studio or on location to finesse every detail, only to spend more time in post to perfect their living photo creations. But LeBlanc emphasizes that smart and stimulating cinemagraphs can be produced using the software in ten minutes as well.

Flixel recently introduced FlixelCloud, a new delivery system subscription service designed to help photographers make money from their cinemagraphs, with creators being in full control of licenses and fees. Images are hosted on Flixel’s servers allowing photographers to share and stream cinemagraphs at the highest possible quality. Users can also control the destination link, meaning the images can be linked anywhere giving publishers and advertisers more options for tying the visuals into sales. Cloud plans run from $5 to $150 per month. LeBlanc also reveals that a stock venue for licensing Flixels is under consideration for the future.

Living photo creations are taking photography beyond stills and are promising new ways to make online content impactful… and hopefully more profitable. To see more Flixels, view their online gallery of cinemagraphs that can be shared and embedded into your own websites for free.

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