Platograph App for iOS

Platographs are a style of photo that appear to have constantly moving parts. Inspired by cinemagraphs, which are created by taking a video and masking certain parts to remain static, Platagraphs use software to create the illusion of motion from a static photograph. I first heard about Platographs a few years back, but the subscription based service was over $300 a year without any trial versions. Recently, Platograph released an ios app for a much more reasonable price, so I thought I’d finally try it out.

The app is similar to many other photography apps, where you pick a photo and draw a mask on it, then you drop tiny arrows to indicate which direction you’d like parts of the photo to move. The masked area will remain static, while the rest of the image appears to move. Drawing these masks was the most frustrating part of the process. The mask shows up as a grey, which is often hard to see on images of skies or fog. It’s also really hard to really get in tight with your mask because the image doesn’t zoom in enough. I was hoping this app would allow you draw near an object, then the software would autodetect edges to speed up the process, hopefully this will come later. There is also no way to soften the edges of your mask, so there are often very clear areas where the static image hits the moving sets. For skies, trees, or fog, it sure would be fun to have those animations blend into the static parts of an image.

After you preview your image, there are several options for exporting your video to Twitter, Instagram, or whatever. Unfortunately, there are no gif export options. So I exported each of these as the “platograph” setting, which is the shortest video export, then emailed them to my laptop. I saved them to my desktop, converted them in Gif Brewery 3, then compressed them in Compressor.io. That’s a ton of work, but a 1.5mg video quickly becomes a 8mg gif, which can often get trimmed back down to 2mgs with a good compressor. I sure wish that whole process was a little more streamlined.

After seeing a bunch of Platographs online this past year, I already had a pretty good idea for what kind of photos would work best with the effect. Waves, fog, skylines, and clouds are all good candidates, but you still want to avoid images that might be hard to mask out. There were quite a few photos I expected to love, that never really looked right with the effect. There are a few photos, however, that really came alive with Platograph. As far as my own style goes, I really enjoyed using the app in subtle ways, like on a small wisp of clouds through the eye of an ice cave. The effect isn’t always organic, so the more subtle the better.

Enough talking, here’s a bunch of beautiful gifs, all shot on an iPhone then processed with the Platograph app. Which ones are your favorites?






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Pokemon Go run through neural networks

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A couple of weeks back, I shared some Poketography from the streets of NYC. These were all shots taken through Pokemon Go then cleaned up with some simple editing. This week I thought it’d be fun to take that same concept and see how it looks when run through Prisma, a new neural network image app that uses AI to recreate your images in the styles of famous paintings. Here are some of my favorite results.
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Yo-Yoing in Augmented Reality

My friend Allan Lavell let me play with a new build of his Hyperspektiv app. Allan has made many cool visual apps like Glitch Wizard, but the newest build of his Hyperspektiv app allows you experience a real-time effect while keeping your iPhone in a simple plast headset. So of course yo-yoing in augmented reality was the first thing I tried.

Yo-yoing through an AR headset was crazy hard, but really fun. I wonder what it would be like to organize a booth at the World Yo-Yo Contest where players could experience something like this. It’s an outerbody experience.
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Is this the death of Seene?

Whenever I’m giving a workshop on fun mobile photography apps, Seene is always at the top of my list, but today I learned that Seene has quietly been acquired by Snapchat. The deal actually makes a lot of since for both parties… Snapchat’s bizarre filters could get even weirder with Seene’s 3D mapping technology and Seene never really managed to get a critical mass of users to keep itself sustainable.

These news articles keep referring to Seene as a “selfie app”, but it’s face scanning mode is a relatively new addition to the app. It’s cool, but not all that useful. Plus it never really worked with my glasses on… The real great use for Seene was for having a unusual way to capture landscapes, architecture, or even food. Adding a slight element of depth to an otherwise static photo really made the image pop.

Aside from the 3D tech, the app was also built around a community aspect. Sort of like an Instagram for 3D images. Within the app, images could be viewed by moving your phone around to get a feel for the depth of the image. Though the community never really took off, it was a very close knit and supportive group of users at it’s core. Though my images went up in my Seene timeline, most of the time I would just export them as a 15 second looping video that I’d share on IG, Twitter or wherever.

For me, Seene was a great tool for creating unique images and I have a feeling that Snapchat is not going to maintain it for long. My hunch is they’ll shutter the app within the next three months and just use their face scanning tech within the existing Snapchat app. So my suggestion is to download Seene right now (for iOS or Android) and give it a try. Hopefully if the app does get shuttered, the 3D image capturing tech will continue to work.