Are Cinemagraphs the Future of Porn Advertising?
LOS ANGELES — As the decline in support for Adobe’s once popular Flash format escalate, designers, online marketers and webmasters are seeking an effective alternative.
The issue is a pressing one, as a large portion of online adult advertising relies on the disfavored Flash format, which is increasingly being blocked by browsers and ad-stopping tools, and which is not used at all by Apple’s popular mobile devices — but what are the alternatives?
Whereas still images provide a static representation of a slice of our world, the motion and emotion that is conveyed by video, or short photo-realistic animations, is not only more compelling, but a great way to attract eyeballs that may be fixed on other compelling content — a necessary factor in today’s online advertising equation.
Standard embeddable video files are an option, but not an ideal one due to large file sizes that kill a page’s load time, and can pose their own compatibility problems in today’s mobile-centric environment.
Another solution is the use of old school Graphic Interchange Format (GIF) files, among the most widely supported cross-platform compatible image types available — but the limited 256 color palette that the GIF image uses is itself far from ideal for rendering realistic video, which is usually displayed in full 24-bit color, using more than 16 million colors.
A compromise can be found by using Animated Portable Network Graphics (APNG), an extension to the static Portable Network Graphics (PNG) file type, which provides superior results to the GIF format by supporting 24-bit images and 8-bit transparency. Backward compatible with non-animated PNG files, most browsers that support PNG will also display the first frame of an APNG animation, even if the full animation is not supported. For browsers supporting APNG, either natively or via a third-party plugin, such as Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari and more, video quality animation is achieved.
While APNG seems the perfect option, its uptake to date has been remarkably lackluster, leaving many to continue seeking viable alternatives.
Enter the team of Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg, the developers of a technique they call “cinemagraph,” which melds still photography and video to provide action to only part of an image — delivering the result as a traditional GIF file.
According to the team, cinemagraphs were born out of a need to tell more of a story than a single still frame photograph can, but without video’s overhead, all in a fast digital age.
Cinemagraphs begin life as a still photograph, but are then altered to capture the moments before and after a photograph is taken — a result that has been characterized as “more than a photo, but not quite a video.”
“An animated .gif is usually a sequence of stills pulled from video, animated art, or other imagery that is repurposed into a .gif,” explains Beck and Burg. “What we do is different because it’s a traditional still photograph with a moment living within it.”
“For us it’s less about the .gif format — that’s just the vessel by which it's best to deliver them on the web, although the limitations of the format have been very influential on the visual style of our images,” the team adds. “The .gif format itself is ancient by Internet standards but much like photography people are always finding interesting new ways to communicate within the confines of existing formats.”
Beck and Burg note that their cinemagraphs capture the essence of the subject through an action or moment in a way that a static photograph can’t.
“When we decide to take a still photograph, and make it into a cinemagraph, it’s when there’s more to the story than can be captured in a still frame,” the pair says. “We feel this is an opportunity to look at everything we know in the world and show it in a new way, which is an extraordinary opportunity as artists and visual creators.”
The effect, when properly used, can be stunning — with an eye-catching effectiveness that makes it ideal as an ad tool, as well as for content previews — but whether cinemagraphs are a passing gimmick or the next big thing in online advertising, remains to be seen.
To view a gallery of cinemagraphs, click here.