Plotagraph has been on the photography scene for about a two years now, and has been making quite the wave; sometimes literally.
In 2017, I wrote an article for my Patreon patrons breaking down what was then a new and developing service called Plotagraph. Now, one year later I revisited that post and have updated it as in 2018 the service has grown and so has its features.
This app was going after a similar part of the photography market that Flixel was tapping into; bringing tools to photographers and videographers that can bring to life our photography in a nearly Harry Potter newspaper fashion. It is a creative grey-area between photography, video, and visual effects.
Where Flixel (or Cinemagraph) takes video and freezes a subject, while the rest of the frame plays around and behind it; Plotagraph takes a still photo and adds motion to it that was never there to start with. Both of these apps, or more importantly their service, can be seen as quite costly with their subscriptions. However in 2017 this changed as Plotagraph announced that they offer a free membership called “Social.” These free level user accounts got 720p resolution, 500gb of cloud storage to work on their Plotagraphs, and access to the basic Plotagraph tools, meaning anchor points and single effect motion points.
Enter the Plotaverse (2018)
Now with 2018 we have entered the Plotaverse, where there are now a series of apps (or services) that have a freemium entry points leading you to their pro subscriptions starting at around $10 (at the time of this post). Integrating now vfx overlay packs, you can add layers of particles like flower petals or fire to your Plotagraph. But inside the iOS app, users are now able to export their creations at 1920×1441 and in the web app exports can be exported at 1200×800 but some users report their once $5 purchased “Plotagraph+” version contains a watermark. I have not updated to the latest version, so I have not seen this yet.
The original iOS app used to $4.99, but is now free to download with the push to either purchase in app add-ons or a subscription,
For simple moving effects this might help get your creative toe wet in this style of photography. The starting place for anyone is with your iOS or Android device. With the app now free, making these motion scenes are as easy as tapping and dragging your finger.
The gif above shows how easy it pretty much is. You start by adding anchor points on your photograph that you want either animated or still. The anchor points (in red) act as “stabilizer points”. These freeze your subject from the blue and orange “animation points.” From there, you can preview your effect and once done, you can save to your Plotagraph portfolio online, or even export it as a MP4 and upload it to YouTube.
If you have an older iOS or Android device, all of this can also be done in your favorite web-browser of choice. No need for an app if you don’t want to.
Requiem for a Plotagraph
What I find unfortunate is the new wave of additions that have been added. What made Plotagraph (+) so great was its simple approach to make still photos a little more interesting with subtle motion. Now, I feel a lot of the new additions just add layers and layers of distraction to an already interesting photo. Adding humming birds and flames to a shot that has nothing to do to either won’t make it a better scene; but rather it will make it look like somthing that should have stayed with the MySpace generation with glitter and moving backgrounds. I would have preferred to see at least the iOS app stay at $4.99 to support the development of the app and offer an affordable avenue for photography enthusiasts to play around motion to their photography. The pro services are really geared toward active pros, needing a tool to create VFX with stills for productions.
Plotagraph can still be a useful tool, but only for the artist who uses it sparingly and creatively. Now set free on iOS and Android, it still is a useful tool for the photography enthusiast looking to try their hand with motion with their still photography. But remember, with any free services be sure to keep an eye on updates as features could be easily taken away with a simple “update.”