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The best of Cinemagram: Creative filmmakers worth following

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Cinemagram is most successful when "cines" are subtle.

Before there was Vine, there was Cinemagram.

And before there was Vine, Cinemagram was an entirely different app.

Ever since Twitter launched its bite-size video-recording and -sharing app, Cinemagram has expanded its feature set to compete more squarely with Vine: Press-and-release video recording, on-the-fly linear sequencing and audio recording.

Cinemagram also does a lot of things Vine can’t do. It lets you play clips (Cinemagram calls them “cines”) in reverse, import images and video taken from outside the app, apply Instagram-like filters and exposure-enhancements to your videos, fine-tune the in- and out-points of your clip, create manually edited loops, speed up and slow down your video, and output your projects as animated GIFs.

But unlike the dead-simple Vine, there’s a learning curve that gets in the way for some casual users, and that’s because Cinemagram is an incredibly full-featured video app. What’s more, Cinemagram’s animated-GIF output isn’t so great: If you’re viewing them on anything bigger than a mobile device, they can look like a muddled mess.

So even though Cinemagram is much more versatile than Vine in terms of features, Vine is the popular kid at the mobile-video-app party. And that’s too bad.

It’s also too bad that Cinemagram’s extra features have obscured its original raison d’être, which is creating video/still-image hybrids with selective animation. When done well, a “traditional” Cinemagram piece looks unlike any artform that came before it. It can be equal parts subtle, surreal, and serene, and they’re often mesmerizing.

If you scan your Cinemagram feed these days, you’ll see a hodge-podge of stop-motion animation clips, Vine-like hyper-montages and animated GIFs that could have been created with countless other programs. If Vine’s popularity is any indication, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it also pushes Cinemagram away from the unique creative tool and social network that it used to be.

So now, we’ll celebrate some of the best Cinemagram users who are still using the app as it was originally intended. Some of them also make the most out of Cinemagram’s newer features.

Yves Martin Allard

Allard’s cines alternate between experimental, time-lapse, and selective-animation clips. Regardless of the genre, they’re usually interesting.

Luka Aikani

Aikani blends traditional photography effects (tilt-shift simulation and shallow depth-of-field, for example) with selective animation.

Daniel

The Scandinavian master of subtlety. You’ll mistake many of his cines for still photos until you catch slight movements out of the corner of your eye. Brace yourself for eerie feelings of frozen-time alienation.

Alxn

A guru at selecting animated portions of otherwise-still portrait scenes, Alxn’s cines often bring up memories of those old backlit signs that used to simulate flowing water

A_Mansalva

This user dabbles in the art of the sped-up mini-loop, with a side order of selective animation throw in for good measure.

Jan Ziegler

Ziegler’s playful use of loops and selective animation is sometimes funny, sometimes surreal, and frequently both.

Michael Bernardi

If the animated sequences in Monty Python’s Flying Circus were filmed in real life, they might look like this feed. Bernardi plays with perspective and masking features, with ridiculous results.

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