Skill Level Intermediate
- [Instructor] Hey, everybody, welcome back to another episode of Mobile Photography Weekly. I'm Sean Duggan. And in this episode, we're going to take a look at a very interesting app for iOS called Plotagraph+. And Plotagraph lets you animate still images. And the results are pretty cool. It's kind of a blend between an animated GIF and a cinemagraph and something else entirely. But before we dive into the app, let's just take a look at a few Plotagraphs to give you a sense of what they are, in case you're not familiar with them.
So this first one is a winter landscape in Iceland, and you can see how the clouds have been animated to be moving across the sky. Next I have a composite that I made on my iPhone of these pages out in the forest that are burning, with the smoke rising up. And in addition to the rising smoke, I've also animated a little bit of the pages underneath, as well. Following along with the fire theme, this is a vent on a wood-fired kiln, and you can see that flame coming out.
Plotagraphs work really well with organic elements, such as moving water, clouds, smoke, fire, things like that. But they can also create really interesting results from things such as architectural subjects, as you can see here. So half the fun of playing around with the Plotagraph app is figuring out what types of images might work well and then coming up with interesting ways to animate them. So let's dive in to the app here, and take a look.
So if you're wondering about the name Plotagraph, it is derived from the name of the person who developed this technology, who is named Troy Plota. And Plotagraph is also available as a web-based application that you can use on the web, and a full-featured Plotagraph Pro version that you can use for higher res outputs that is available on a subscription basis. So when you come into the app here, if you tap on the little square in the lower right, it'll take you to a few sample images that are provided by the developer that you can use.
But what I'm going to do is I'm going to open up a new image here. And let me open up that winter Iceland landscape and we will animate the sky in this. So the first thing I'm going to do is place some animation direction lines down, and the animate tool is active when you enter this, that's that dancer icon down in the lower left. I'm going to zoom up closer here, using a two-finger gesture, and I'm just going to drag a line across the sky, just like that.
You can do longer lines, but it tends to create a faster and more exaggerated motion that is not necessarily that realistic. I'm going to use a two-finger gesture to move the image to the side so I can access other parts of it. And I'll just continue adding some lines in here. That looks pretty good. Now this last one that I added is kind of angled upward a bit, so I'm going to tap the undo button up above just to re-draw that.
All right, so that looks pretty good. So next what I need to do is tell it the areas that I don't want to be animated, because if I just press the Play button here, you see it's going to look pretty bizarre. So we don't want that. Now there are a couple of ways that I can tell it what areas not to animate. There's a masking feature and there's an anchor feature. The anchor feature works better in most situations, I feel, but I'm going to show you the masking feature just so you know how to use it. So I'll tap on mask. And I can adjust the size of my brush.
I'm going to use a smaller brush initially, and I need to use a two-finger gesture to zoom up close. And I'm going to just carefully paint over the parts of the image that I don't want to be animated. And by the way, this zoomed up feature here that we're seeing, that is an option that you can set in the preferences for the app, which you can access via the little gear icon up in the upper right corner of the screen.
So I'm just going to go fairly quick here with this. Again, I'm using two fingers to drag the image across the screen. And I'm only using the small brush here where I need to be accurate along the edges of that horizon. Once I get that all mapped in, I can go to a bigger brush. Oops, there you can see I accidentally didn't have two fingers down, and it's wanting to draw.
Okay, so this looks good. All right, so now I can tap the brush again and get a much larger brush and then come in and fill this in down here. Something just like that. Make sure that I get all of the edges there. All right, so that looks good. Let's press the Play button and see what we get.
Now one nice thing about this preview is that I can use two fingers to pinch and zoom in, and look at how that snow and clouds blowing off the top of the mountain is looking. That's looking really nice. That's looking pretty good. All right, so all in all, that's working well. I can scroll down here and choose speed. And I can speed that up if I want, or slow it down. I think slowing it down works a little bit better, a little bit more hypnotic and subtle.
All right, so now I'm going to tap Share. You can see I have a variety of pre-sets I can choose. These are based both on the length of the Plotagraph, as well as the size. So if I save it off to my camera roll, you can see the size down there is quite large, 1920 pixels wide, whereas if I choose to make it an animated GIF, it's much smaller, more suitable for web sharing. I'm going to make this a full-sized video that I save out to my camera roll that's 10 seconds in length.
The nice thing about this is that if I upload this to a service like Instagram, is that it's going to loop continuously, which looks pretty cool. All right, let's go and open up a different image and do something a little bit different. We get this waterfall, this is also in Iceland, this is the Skogafoss Waterfall. And I'm going to zoom up close. Go make sure that the animate tool is active. Yes, it is. And I'm going to start dragging out some downward lines to define the motion of the waterfall.
Again, longer lines tend to create more exaggerated fake looking motion. So I'm going to keep this in the shorter lines here. Now if I want to adjust some of these. Like, some of these I want to adjust. I'm going to scroll down here and choose Select. And then I can tap on the ends of these to extend them up, or I can tap on the tip to change the direction. And you have to tap on it to deselect it, otherwise you'll inadvertently get a couple of them selected.
Like there you go, you can see I've got two selected there. So let me just tap on that. All right, so that's good for now. Let's do something a little bit different here. Because I want to animate the mist on either side of the waterfall. So let's go get the animate tool, and I'm going to make some arrows that just kind of come up here and curve around, like the mist is roiling up from the bottom of the waterfall, something like that. Let's use a two-finger gesture to go over to the other side.
And do the same thing there, just like so. And of course it's going to look really bizarre if we just press Play, that's quite the bad dream. Let's stop that. So rather than use the masking tools, let's use a different method. We'll use the anchor tool. And to use the anchor tool, I just need to come in and put down anchor points that essentially encircle the motion of the water and the mist.
Let's get up over the woman, I don't want to animate her. And we'll just come around here, going through this fairly quickly. And something like that. Now I'm going to make a little adjustment here. I'm going to come and get the select tool, and I'm going to tap on these anchor points and make sure that they're not overlapping on top of the cliff, at all.
And again, you have to sort of deselect each one, because now I've got two selected. So let me get that. All right, so that looks pretty good. I think that'll work. Let's give it a go and see what we get. And that is looking pretty good. So let's zoom up close to look at some of this motion. A little bit odd up here at the top of the waterfall, but I'm not really going to worry about that right now.
The cliff is looking good. Let's press Stop, and let's just zoom up here again. Choose Select, and what I'm going to do is shorten these here and see if that helps. Yeah, that's looking a little bit better there. All right, so I can adjust the speed again. I'm going to slow this down a little bit.
I can crop it if I want, and there's a variety of different formats I can crop it to, even a Facebook cover, so you can have an animated Facebook cover, square format, whatever. So it's nice to be able to apply that crop. And then finally, I'm going to tap share, and we'll just save that out here as a full-size video to my camera roll. So Plotagraph is a really interesting app that allows you to add a little bit of pizazz to some of your photos, create these cool mesmerizing animations that you can share out on social media.
Give it a try. Half the fun is just coming up with ideas for how you might use it and what subjects will work good for the animations.