If you know how to layer mask, you know how to use Plotagraph Pro.
This month I was approached by Plotagraph to demo their software which adds animation to a photo using only a single image. The program itself is a bit pricey coming in at $349, but the cloud based system is a lot of fun and incredibly easy to use. We are so saturated with images in our daily lives it's hard to get your photography to stand out of the crowd amongst the endless scroll of funny memes in your Facebook feed. I believe moving pictures will be a great marketing tool in the future to grab the attention of your viewers. Plotagraph is at the forefront of this technology.
Unlike a Cinemagraph that requires clips of video turned into a gif, Plotagraph takes a single photograph and brings them to life allowing you to go back into your archives and produce motion in photos you've taken years ago. My first photograph I choose was one of my favorite shots of a waterfall in Kauai because it was such a precious memory for me I never took a video of. It was nice to be able to experience it again a year later. Although I was given a demo of how the software worked, the functions are incredibly easy to use. There are really only three tools you need to worry about to create realistic motion: animation point tool, brush tool, and feathering.
The process is relatively simple, if you are familiar with the basics of Photoshop CS series, this software will be no problem for you. I liked to start with the animation points placing them where the water would flow often following the natural lines in the photo. The space between the animation points dictates how fast the motion will be with a longer distance being faster. For speed, I found less is more in regards to getting natural movement opting to use less points with shorter speeds in most of these images.
After you set your animation points, click on the brush tool to specify where you would like the movement contained, much in the same way you would use a layer mask in Photoshop to affect only the targeted area with adjustment layers. Unfortunately there isn't a way to change the opacity or hardness of your masking brush to be able to blend it out evenly, but there is a feathering tool that gives an overall softening to the masked edges. Preferring the dreamy look, I liked to use the foreground feathering brought almost at the end of the slider which was usually enough to make for wispy waterfalls and smoky fires.
You can export your final project as a gif or MP4 depending on your usage. It was recommended to export as MP4 with at least four seconds for use on Facebook or Instagram as the autoplay feature will activate and loop for a continuously flowing image. I exported as gifs for Twitter and blog posts on my website.
Coming from a background in photography and post processing, I wish there are a bit more selective control for blending but overall I found the program to be successful in mimicking motion. But I also really appreciated the ease of use because honestly, sometimes it's hard to keep up to date with all these programs to begin with.
For more information on how the software works, below you will find a speed edit of my screen while using the program to edit a conceptual portrait from 2015.
Please note, as always all opinions expressed are my own. This post was not sponsored and I received no compensation. All reviews are an honest conclusion I've made from my experience using the product.