New Tech: Flixel's Cinemagraph App

Flixel’s Cinemagraph app has finally (finally) lowered in price, which means it is now accessible on a month-to-month basis. I’ve had my eye on this app for a long time, but the $200 price tag scared me off. Now, at $15/month, I’ve been able to pull the trigger and put it to the test.


Easy Easy Easy

Cinemagraphs are basically short gifs that play on an endless, seamless loop, with one or two minor, repeated movements.

Since they combine elements of still photography and video, creating a cinemagraph frame by frame in Photoshop is extremely tedious. Flixel’s Cinemagraph app speeds up this process to a remarkable degree. I can capture a video, load it into Cinemagraph, and export my video within 5 minutes.

They’re Still Underused

I’ve been using Cinemagraphs in my PPTs and presentations since 2013. Internet wizards have created compelling works of art, in particular by using film/movie scenes.

via Reddit user Kornichon

I haven’t seen this level of polish applied to other mediums, such as video games, but I would expect that in the coming years we’ll see a lot more cinemagraph work in that genre.

I downloaded Flixel’s pitch deck and it confirmed a lot of my suspicions about cinemagraphs. In brief:

  • 75% increase in click-through rate in cinemagraph versus still photo ad

  • 51x the engagement

  • 34% life in ad recall

  • 6PT lift in brand favorability

Despite these impressive metrics, they’re still pretty under-utilized. As bandwidth increases and 4k camera phones become the norm, I suspect we’ll see a trend towards cinemagraphs, not only for business and marketing but also things like wedding and event photography, vacation rentals, corporate events, and school yearbooks.


Flixel’s software is a nice start, but anyone coming from the robust UI of Photoshop will undoubtedly feel a bit lacking. For one, there’s only a single brush, with size, opacity, and hardness options, respectively. It would be nice to have access to different brushes, and to be able to extend the hardness beyond the limits put in place by the developer.

Additionally, the color options available, while nice, don’t offer the same flexibility as other photo/video editors. The usual suspects are here (saturation, brightness, tint), but don’t expect much beyond what you’d find for color options in Instagram. Additional color editing will need to be done in a second app.

These are small nitpicks, and speak to the potential of this particular application. There’s something innately fascinating about cinemagraphs. They grab the viewer’s attention in subtle ways. Your mind recognizes that there’s something at work beyond just a still image, even in the endless scroll era of Facebook and Twitter, compelling you to stop and look, not only for the particular details of movement, but also to try and spot where the sequence begins and ends. It’s rewarding in a way that other internet media simply isn’t, in small part due to its novelty but also its subtlety.

If the .GIF is the rambunctious toddler of the internet, spazzing out in wide-eyed tantrums in the comments sections, then the cinemagraph is the elegant older sibling, whose posture is upright and whose shoes and belt are always coordinated. If the GIF is racetrack, the cinemagraph is a Möbius strip. It'll be exciting to see how the art form develops.