Like magic, Plotagraph Pro software creates animation from a single photo

Cinemagraphs are highly engaging – and highly time-intensive. But a new program developed by a professional photographer and an artist could just change that, turning a single image into an animated GIF in anywhere from five to 30 minutes.

Traditional cinemagraphs are created from videos, but Plotagraph Pro can achieve a similar effect with only a single image, eliminating the cost (or time investment, for DIYers) of a video shoot, as well as allowing existing images – and even historical shots – to become animated.

The web-based desktop program allows users to mask out a stationary object, then add animation points. By moving those points, the user tells the program how those areas should move in the final file. That gives the software the ability to customize the motion, unlike a traditional cinemagraph that simply copies the movement within a video. Plotagraph Pro could be used to animate things that are stationary (like a bowl of soup), create movement in the opposite direction, or simply create cinemagraphs from objects that are difficult to capture in a few second video because they’re moving too fast (or too slow).

Troy Plota, co-founder and CEO, said the program has already been put to use for several large companies, including Chevrolet, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Airbnb. “Dynamic content is very relevant right now,” he said.

In a demonstration for Digital Trends, Plota created a surfing cinemagraph in just a few minutes. The platform’s masking tool is fairly intelligent – for example, drawing a line on the surfer’s arm selected almost the entire limb. A paintbrush allows the user to fine-tune the mask selection (like selecting the surfer’s fingers or deselecting any background areas that were picked up). Feather settings also help make the masking process simpler.

Users can select multiple animation points at once for a uniform movement or adjust them individually. A layers view depicts the animation in triangles while a track preview shows the animation while still in the editing mode.

While the terms and a few tools will be familiar to Photoshop users, the software appears to be fairly simple and intuitive enough to learn quickly. Once the animation work is finished, users can choose the frame rate, duration and blend mode. Plotagraphs can be exported in GIF, MP4, or MOV formats, with the ability to adjust the file size and final dimensions.

Plota said he was adding animation to his images for years before he figured out a few algorithms that would make the process simpler. Plota’s portfolio includes shots for several big names, including shooting the Donald Trump clothing line and an underwater shoot with Heidi Klum for Germany’s Next Top Model. While Plotagraph Pro is his first software, he also has several patents for 3D photogrammetry.

Credit: Troy Plota

The co-founder, Sascha Scheider, is a painter with a background in fine arts. Coming from a family with an acting background (her grandfather is the actor Roy Scheider, who played police chief Martin Brody in Jaws), she will be heading up tutorial videos for Plotagraph Pro.

The developers are close to introducing a pre-release beta download to a limited number of subscribers, with a full version to follow after the testing. The company is also discussing a stock option for users within an existing rights-managed platform.


Get Nindie with it and check out these awesome indie games for the Switch

The Nintendo Switch's portability makes indies feel at home on the platform. Luckily, there are plenty of great titles to choose from. Here are our picks for the best Nintendo Switch indie games.

Wage war on a budget with these fun and free first-person shooters

We all know about Halo and Call of Duty by now, but what about quality titles that won't cost you upward of $60? Check out our picks for the best free first-person shooter games from Paladins to Quake Champions.

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.

The 10 best keyboards for the iPhone, from Gboard to Bitmoji

Apple first allowed third-party keyboard integration with iOS 8, and now there are scores of alternative keyboards on the market. Here's a rundown of the best keyboards for the iPhone, from SwiftKey to Fleksy.

Digitize old photos and film with the best photo scanners for 2019

Got a box of old photos to scan, or a batch of fresh film to digitize? The best photo scanners offer high-resolution, colorful scans along with features to make the scanning process less tedious.

The magic hour creates magical photos. Here’s how to capture dreamy stunners

The golden hour, aka the magic hour, is a special time for photographers that happens twice a day. Here are some simple tips for making the most of this time to capture stunning portraits, landscapes, and the like.

The Google Cardboard of scanners, this Kodak takes film from attic to Instagram

The Google Cardboard of film scanners, the Kodak Mobile FIlm Scanner uses a piece of cardboard and the camera that you already have in your pocket to get film in the attic on Instagram without a major investment.

Get a new perspective with the best mounts for your camera, from GoPro to DSLR

Mounting your camera is a great way to get new perspectives. From suction cups that can safely secure a heavy camera to a speeding vehicle to lightweight handlebar mounts, here are the best mounts for your GoPro, mirrorless camera, or DSLR.

Special-edition Hasselblad 907X honors the 50th anniversary of the moon landing

Hasselblad has announced a special edition of the CFV II 50C digital back a 907X camera body before either is available to buy or has even been priced. The camera offers a striking matte black finish, but is technically identical.

Fujifilm’s newest medium-format lens is lighter than a can of soda

Medium format is notorious for both image quality and bulk, but Fujifilm is continuing to press the advanced cameras into smaller sizes with the launch of the Fujinon GFX 50mm F3.5. The lens is the lightest Fujifilm medium format lens yet.

A.I. photo filters use neural networks to make photos look like Picassos

Artificial Intelligence apps put a novel spin on social network-style photo filters. Instead of just overlaying an effect, these photo filters use machine learning and neural networks to transform an image into a predetermined style.

With 6 stops of stabilization, the Fujifilm XF 16-80mm F4 focuses on versatility

The new Fujifilm Fujinon XF 16-80mm F4 lens is designed for versatility. The stabilized 5x zoom lens packs in a close focusing distance, autofocus designed for stills and video, and weather-sealing.

Amazon Prime Day glitch saw pricey camera gear given crazy discounts

It seems like a few lucky photography enthusiasts had the best time during this year's Prime Day(s). Thanks to an apparent glitch on Amazon's site, some pricey camera gear ended up being sold for a fraction of the usual price.
Buying Guides

Zoom, prime, wide, or telephoto? Here’s how to pick your next camera lens

Want to upgrade your camera lens, but not sure where to start? Our camera lens buying guide takes you through the world of interchangeable lenses and helps remove a little of the intimidation that comes with buying cameras lenses.