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Ever viewed a photograph that partially came to life with motion? These so-called “cinemagraphs” are a relatively recent innovation that typically require hours of painstaking effort for deceptively simple results, but can now be created within minutes.
Cinemagraph Pro allows Mac users to import QuickTime movies and turn them into a breathtaking “living photos.” While most of the frame remains motionless, the viewer’s eye is drawn toward one or more areas with movement, and the results can be quite striking. Any video camera or DSLR can be used to create cinemagraphs, but for best results, a steady tripod is a must.
Despite the pro-level price, the user interface makes the process effortless. Select up to 10 seconds of video and then mark a static frame, which can be exported to other applications should it require further touch-up work. In Mask mode, users paint areas that will be in motion; familiar size, hardness, and opacity options make it easy to fine-tune or erase selections. The resulting loop can be adjusted to bounce back and forth or repeat endlessly, and the app includes tools to adjust exposure and color, add vignettes, or apply nearly 30 Instagram-style filters to further stylize the image.
Cinemagraphs can then be uploaded to Flixel’s website (and optionally, Twitter or Facebook) for public sharing with others, or made private with just a click. While earlier versions were limited to lower-resolution H.264 or animated GIF exports, version 1.1 adds Apple’s ProRes 422 or 4444 to the mix, so cinemagraphs can finally be saved at full resolution.
Despite being fun and easy to use, the app tends to be a resource hog, consuming enough CPU time whenever video plays onscreen that it bogged down other applications running on our MacBook Pro with Retina display. We were also disappointed to discover Flixel-hosted movies exhibit an annoying black frame at the loop point, which is something of a showstopper for such an expensive application.
Speaking of price, Flixel recently made headlines by offering this app for $14.99 on the Mac App Store, an absolute steal for such an innovative tool. Unfortunately, at the normal price ($99.99 as of this writing; it has been as high as $199), Cinemagraph Pro becomes a more cautious recommendation, especially for novices and prosumers on a budget.
The bottom line. Cinemagraph Pro makes it a cinch to create living photos from videos, but the app’s processor usage is nearly as high as its price tag.
Cinemagraph Pro 1.1
OS X 10.9 or later; 64-bit processor; video-capable camera with tripod
Turns QuickTime videos into living photos. Simple yet powerful UI. Comprehensive effects and adjustment tools. Export to Apple ProRes files.
High processor usage while displaying moving video. Black frame glitch at loop point when uploaded to Flixel website. Expensive. Limited to 10-second loops.