Hello and welcome, William Martin here.
Today, we have the unusual situation of two different products that do exactly the same thing hitting the market at the same time.
So the question is: which is better?
I have been road-testing both to bring you the answer.
But first, a bit of background…
In an increasingly crowded marketplace, you need your content to stand out.
More engaging content means more clicks, more optins and more sales.
Initially, marketers tried to create more engaging images.
But, soon, everyone was doing that.
So they moved onto video.
Video is definitely more engaging than static images and video in ads is also enjoying a honeymoon period of cheaper ad costs.
But even video is now becoming commonplace.
What can you do next to be unique and innovative?
One answer lies in ‘cinemagraphs’.
You have probably seen these before, maybe without realising what you were looking at.
A cinemagraph is a hybrid between a static image and a video.
Most of the cinemagraph is static, like an image.
But one area of the cinemagraph will be moving, like in a video.
For example, you may have a static image of a woman sat next to a river, with the river flowing.
Or you may have a static image of a man looking out of an apartment window with traffic moving along a road in the distance.
Here is a video with a compilation of some very effective cinemagraphs…
Pretty impressive stuff!
These work because of this unusual and unexpected mixture of the static and the animated.
The viewer initially sees this as a typical image.
But then realises that something is not quite right with it.
Part of the image is moving whilst everything else around it is stationary.
When done well, the effect can be truly mesmerising.
And it certainly does the job of getting attention because very few people will have come across this yet.
Which makes them more ‘shareworthy’, increasing the chances of a viral effect kicking in.
Cinemagraphs are being used by some of the biggest brands in the world, including Coca Cola, Microsoft, Mercedes, Gucci and Netflix.
All of these businesses report that cinemagraphs have led to significantly higher click-through rates and lower ad costs.
And that’s simply because this is something new and exciting that people haven’t seen before.
If this is working so well for the Big Boys, then it’s certainly something that video producers and marketers should be considering too.
The time to get on board with these new marketing techniques is at the beginning, before everyone and his dog is using them.
We saw this with whiteboard animation videos.
Early adopters of two to three years ago saw a huge increase in engagement and conversions but, although still very effective, the novelty value has worn off considerably now that they are relatively commonplace.
I would expect a similar thing to happen with cinemagraphs.
Now is the time to gain the maximum advantage from using them, while they are still rare and fresh and the ‘next big thing’.
But how do you create these cinemagraphs?
Until recently, it was a pretty complicated process.
You can certainly use off-the-shelf software such as ‘After Effects’ and ‘Photoshop’, but these are expensive and, if you haven’t used them before, involve a steep learning curve.
But now, like the proverbial buses, two pieces of software have come along at the same time that claim to offer simple and cost-effective solutions.
I have had a good play around with both.
The first is ‘Graphitii’.
This is new and comes from the people behind ‘Viddyoze’, the video special effects software.
That is a big plus, because Viddyoze is an excellent, long-established, piece of kit with responsive and effective customer support, proven over a number of years.
Like Viddyoze, Graphitii is cloud-based software.
This has advantages and disadvantages.
On the plus side, you can use Graphitii anywhere you have an internet connection and you do not need to worry about the processing power of your device.
Hence, you can even use Graphitii on your phone or other mobile device using the provided mobile app.
The main negative, of course, is that you need that internet connection to use the software.
Also, your project will be queued up with other people’s projects when it comes to rendering your cinemagraph.
That said, during testing, rendering has never taken more than 90 seconds.
Plus, I have never had an issue with queuing times for Viddyoze and so I would not expect this to be an issue with Graphitii moving forward either.
The software is very easy and intuitive to use with just a handful of simple steps…
(1) Upload your video
It is important to note that not all videos are going to work as cinemagraphs.
Most of the visible area is going to be a static image.
Hence, you can usually only create a sensible cinemagraph from a single video scene shot from a fixed camera position, from which your static image will be taken.
Once uploaded, the video will be shown on a timeline with snapshots taken from regular points.
This is very similar to the timeline you see in Camtasia of any other video editor.
(2) Select a ‘thumbnail’ from the video timeline
This thumbnail will provide the static element of your cinemagraph.
You can either click anywhere on the timeline or drag the cursor along the timeline until you find the scene you are looking for.
(3) Crop your video
It may be that your video consists of multiple scenes.
This is where you select the part of your video (if it isn’t all of it) that you want to provide the moving part of your cinemagraph.
Just as with a video editor, you use sliders on the timeline to select the exact start and end points for your clip.
(4) Make the magic happen
This is where you define which area of the cinemagraph you want to be animated.
You are presented with the thumbnail you selected in step (2) and your cursor becomes like an ‘eraser’.
(If you have used a graphics editor, this will be very familiar.)
You can vary the size of the eraser using a slider.
You simply rub away at parts of the thumbnail, revealing the video clip you selected in step (3).
When you start, the whole of the image is tinted. The tinting is cleared on the bits you erase, so you can see which areas you have worked on.
As the image is erased, the moving video behind it is revealed.
If you make a mistake at any point, you can click a button to reset the image to its starting state.
I have found that this stage of the process is very straightforward because you do not have to worry about being ultra-precise with your brush strokes.
At this stage, you can also add text to your cinemagraph.
There is a large collection of fonts, split into categories such as ‘handwritten’, ‘serif’ and ‘sans serif’.
You can choose the font size and colour and move and re-size text once created.
You can also draw on the cinemagraph.
Here, the cursor becomes a brush tool (as with graphics editors) and you are given various brush sizes and a colour palette to choose from.
Text boxes and drawings are created on their own ‘layers’. You can edit or delete them by selecting the layer.
(5) Press Go
You now create the cinemagraph, which you can choose to export in either MP4 or GIF format.
MP4 is the standard video format and can be used anywhere that accepts video.
GIF is the animated image format (or very short video format) that can be used on websites and platforms that don’t accept video.
Between these two formats, you can use your cinemagraph pretty much anywhere online.
When finished, the file is automatically added to your cloud storage.
From here, you have options to download it, share it on the usual social media sites with one click or share it using a provided link.
You can also edit or delete existing cinemagraphs.
I should also mention that the base product includes a commercial license, so you can use Graphitii for personal use and also to create cinemagraphs for other people and clients.
So that’s the base product.
It’s very simple and effective.
There are – refreshingly – only two.
The first is the ‘Graphitii Club’, which is a subscription for $37 a month.
This gives you 50 professionally produced ‘cinemagraph ready’ videos each month, plus a ‘welcome pack’ of 100 more.
Whether you opt for this will depend on how many cinemagraphs you intend to create and how regularly and also on whether you intend to create them for clients.
It also depends on how wide or narrow the niches you work in are since, even with 50 videos a month, not all of them are likely to meet your needs.
(STOP PRESS: I have found what could be a much cheaper alternative – details in the Update at the end of this post.)
The second upsell is the ‘Graphitii Store’ for a one-off $97.
The content of this had not been finalised at the time of writing, but I suspect it will be an offer for a bundle of cinemagraph-ready videos.
The second – and competing – product is a re-launch of ‘FlickGraph’, which was originally released late last year.
It comes from the people behind the ‘Explaindio’ video creation software.
So this is also from a well-established business that produces tried and tested software.
This re-launch is described as a ‘St Patrick’s Day Special’, with 50% off the normal price in the run up to St Patrick’s Day.
However, I’m pretty confident that the timing, which sees it arriving on the same day as Graphitii and at a discounted price, is unlikely to be a coincidence.
Unlike Graphitii, which is cloud-based, FlickGraph runs on your computer, with the converse advantages and disadvantages that brings.
Hence, you will not need an internet connection but you will not be able to run this on your mobile phone, should that be important to you.
The process of creating a cinemagraph is very similar to that with Graphitii.
(1) Open a video
(2) Select the part of your video you want to provide the animated aspect of your cinemagraph
Unlike Graphitii, you are not presented with a timeline.
Instead, you get a bar representing the play time of the video and a preview window in which the video plays.
You make your selection using a start and and end point slider.
The Graphitii approach here is an advantage, particularly for videos with multiple scenes.
(3) Select the static ‘thumbnail’ you want to use
As with Graphitii, you move the slider to the point in the video you want to use.
(4) Make the magic happen
As with Graphitii, you use the cursor as an eraser and erase parts of the static image to reveal the moving video behind it.
However, Graphitii does have an advantage here.
Before you start erasing, the whole of the image is tinted in Graphitii.
When you erase, the revealed video is not tinted, so you can easily see which areas have been erased and which haven’t.
There is no such tinting with FlickGraph, so you have to judge which areas you have erased by whether there is motion present.
For videos with subtle movement, that can be fiddly to do.
FlickGraph also has a different way of tackling mistakes.
Instead of the ‘reset’ button in Graphitii, you switch from ‘erase’ to ‘unerase’ and then use the cursor to restore parts of the image you want to be static.
Neither of these approaches is entirely satisfactory.
I would have much preferred that both options were available to cater for small mistakes and big ‘start again’ mistakes.
As both aren’t available, it is really a matter of personal preference which you find more effective.
FlickGraph does have a few more options in the editing stage that Graphitii doesn’t…
You can vary the ‘alpha’ of the underlying video so that progressively more of the motion is apparent in the whole image (not just the part you select).
In other words, it makes the static image progressively more ‘see-through’.
Conversely, you can vary the opacity of the parts you have erased, so that the movement is less pronounced.
Since the whole impact of cinemagraphs comes from the stark contrast between its static and moving parts, I am not sure why you would want to use either of these features.
It feels like they were something that was easy to do, so they did it.
Another option is to change the way the underlying video plays.
The default (and the only option in Graphitii) is to have the video play, get to the end and repeat from the beginning.
However, here, you can also play the video in reverse or have it ‘bounce’, where it plays forward to the end and then in reverse back to the start, and so on.
I can see uses for this feature.
For example, you could have traffic moving backwards or bouncing forwards and backwards on a road.
Or you could have water flowing the wrong way up a waterfall.
This could well add to the intrigue of the cinemagraph as a whole.
On the negative side, unlike Graphitii, FlickGraph does not offer the ability to add text or drawings to your cinemagraph.
Hence, if you wanted to add a call to action or highlight an area of your image, you would have to do that in a separate video editor.
This would be a frustrating and time-consuming extra step if it’s something you would want to do regularly.
(5) Press Go
As with Graphitii, FlickGraph allows you to export your finished cinemagraph in either MP4 or GIF format.
So that’s the base product.
As is typical of the Explaindio team, there are a few!
Five, in fact.
The first is subscription to a ‘club’ that gives you 100 videos each month.
These videos are ‘cinemagraph ready’, in the sense that they all consist of a single scene shot from a static camera position and contain elements that are obvious candidates for the static and animated parts of a cinemagraph.
(One could ask why they didn’t just go the whole hog and provide the finished cinemagraphs.)
There are various different pricing options, starting at $49, depending on how many months worth you want to buy in advance.
Whether you opt for this will depend on how many cinemagraphs you intend to create and how regularly.
It also depends on how wide or narrow the niches you work in are since, even with 100 videos a month, there may be few that meet your needs.
(STOP PRESS: I have found what could be a much cheaper alternative – details in the Update at the end of this post.)
The second upsell is the commercial license at $97, which you will need if you want to create cinemagraphs for other people.
Graphitii includes commercial use with the base product, so this puts FlickGraph at a significant price disadvantage if you want to use it commercially, or may want to in the future.
The third upsell is a separate piece of software called ‘Graph Player’.
This is a video player that does most of what you would expect a video player to do, with a couple of extra ‘wrinkles’.
You may know that you cannot get videos to autoplay on mobile devices. This can seriously reduce your view rate, since it requires people to click ‘Play’.
One of the key selling points of Graph Player is that you can set it up so that it autoplays a video when viewed on a desktop and switches over to autoplay a GIF file when viewed on a mobile device.
The fourth upsell is the commercial license for Graph Player.
The fifth and (thankfully) final upsell is for another piece of software that allows you to build such things as social media surveys, giveaways and the like.
Neither of these additional products add directly to the functionality of FlickGraph, so it’s up to you whether they will add value to your business.
Well, both do what they say on the tin and do it in a simple and straightforward manner.
If price is an issue for you, it depends on whether you want the software for purely personal use or you want to create cinemagraphs for other people, as part of your business.
Both products have a headline price of $67.
However, you get 50% off of FlickGraph using the special St Patrick’s Day discount.
This makes it the cheaper option for personal use.
But the base Graphitii product comes with commercial use included, whereas that will cost you an extra $97 as an upsell with FlickGraph.
So Graphitii is significantly cheaper if you want to use the software as part of your business.
Beyond price, it boils down to relatively small differences that are largely a matter of personal preference.
Graphitti is cloud-based, whereas FlickGraph is computer-based.
This could have a bearing if internet connection or the spec of your computer are issues.
For me, Graphitii has some nice little extras that combine to give it the edge.
I like the fact that it provides the visual cues for which areas of your image you are editing.
And, as a marketer, the ability to add text and highlights from inside the software is potentially a big time-saver.
Finally, having used both products, Graphitii has more of a feel of being professionally-designed software.
I was very impressed with Viddyoze, the video special effects software from the makers of Graphitii.
That has been well-supported and continues to be enhanced and developed and I expect the authors to have the same long-term objectives for Graphitii.
So, for what it is worth, Graphitii is my preferred choice and that is what I will be using moving forward.
You can get full details and see the software in action here…
There is also a selection of bonuses to sweeten the deal.
(1) Viral Video Box
Viral Video Box is a WordPress plugin that is a fully-functioning audio and video player for your website.
As well as the usual player features, you can also add things such as your business logo as a watermark, date / time stamps, calls to action and even popup optin forms.
It’s a video player designed by marketers for marketers.
(2) Video Marketing Blueprint
This step-by-step course shows you how to harness the power of video in your marketing.
Learn how to structure your video for maximum engagement, how to create professional videos without technical skills or equipment and how to maximise conversions (whether optins or sales) and minimise ad costs.
(3) YouTube Video Mastery
With this training, you’ll learn how to create engaging videos for YouTube and then how to monetize them to create a growing passive income.
(4) Smart Video Sales Letters
This course is based on video sales letters that have been responsible for six figure profits online.
You will be given the proven, simple to implement formula that successful marketers are using to create compelling sales videos in record time.
(5) Video Rank Alliance
The best traffic is free highly-targeted search traffic.
In this training, you will learn the simple step-by-step process for ranking your videos on YouTube quickly and easily.
This is designed to be completely newbie-friendly, with no prior experience or skills needed. Just follow the simple steps provided.
All of these bonuses will be available inside the JVZoo Customer Portal after you have made your purchase.
(1) Panorama Photo Stitcher
This clever piece of software will take a set of images you provide it with and ‘stitch’ them together to create a panorama effect.
(2) 2D Animation Studio
Add images in vector or bitmap format and this software will allow you to link them together to create simple animations.
(3) Easy Web Builder
This desktop app creates web pages with drag and drop ease, no HTML or coding knowledge required.
If you can use a word processor, you can use Easy Web Builder.
(4) SC Video Editor
This simple video editor will allow you to add multiple video clips with transitions to produce a composite video.
(5) Screen Marker
Load up this desktop software and you can make notes over most applications running on your computer.
It’s great for presentations or training where you want to highlight things or add explanatory annotations.
(6) Compositor 2.0
This simple composing tool allows you to quickly compose and produce video projects without having to resort to more complicated alternatives.
All of the bonuses will be available inside the FlickGraph member’s area after you make your purchase.
That was pretty epic.
I do believe that cinemagraphs are going to be really big in the next couple of years.
Effective marketing is all about getting and holding attention and cinemagraphs certainly do that.
And now is the time to think about getting involved, while they have the ‘wow’ factor and before the whole world and its dog starts using them.
Here are the links again…
*** Update ***
Clearly, you will need videos to create cinemagraphs, whether that is using Graphitii or FlickGraph.
A massive collection of more than 3,000 HD video clips called ‘Stock Footage Ultimate’ has recently been released on a dime sale.
(It also includes a whole bunch of other stuff I won’t go into here.)
These video clips tend to consist of a single scene shot from a fixed camera position. making them ideal source material for cinemagraphs.
And this is a much, much cheaper option that taking the upsells offered by Graphitii or FlickGraph.
You can check it out here…
(If you have need of stock footage in your business, it’s also a good investment even if you don’t see cinemagraphs as the way forward.)