There are numerous apps for photo editing in the Play Store, most of which apply filters and other enhancements to give images a makeover. There are a few, however, that offer a combination of motion and still photos to create an intriguing animated image. These are popularly called “cinemagraphs”, a way of isolating a specific motion within an image and playing it repeatedly to create a moving photograph. One of the few apps for making cinemagraphs is fotodanz and it certainly can make your photos dance and bring them to life.
Creating cinemagraphs may seem complicated, but fotodanz succeeds in making it as simple as possible even for a novice user. All you need to do is take a few seconds of video from its built-in camera then edit it to pick the moving part. The process consists of three steps: capture, edit and preview.
A help button is visible on the top right corner of the screen in each mode with access to detailed instructions. Also, to exit any mode and go back a step to the previous one, hit the Back key.
The capture screen is where you take a video: aim at your subject and hold the camera steady for at least three seconds, use the camera button on the bottom to start taking the video. It’s important to hold the camera as steady as possible to get the best results.
The initial release of the app allowed for a maximum of three seconds for video capture, but an update now offers up to five seconds. If you want to enable the 5-second option, you have to tap and hold down the capture screen, you’ll see a pop-up confirming that it’s enabled.
If you’re satisfied with the video, tap on the check mark on the bottom right corner. Now you’re ready to edit.
Editing and Marking the Moving Parts
The editing screen is where you need to draw a circle around the areas of motion that you want to retain. This will be the only moving part and the rest of the image will be still, based on the video’s first frame. You can draw more than one circle to add more areas. Ideally, everything outside the edges of the drawn circle should be part of the image that’s not moving, otherwise the end result would look fragmented.
It’s a bit tricky to master this part and it will take some time. A circle can be deleted by double-tapping on it, after which you can re-draw another circle.
Previewing the Final Image
fotodanz lets you view your finished work on the Preview screen, but you can also choose photo filters from a choice of five: Sepia, Black and White, Normal, Cool and Warm. These effects are applied on the entire image, not just the moving part.
A small fotodanz watermark is also placed on the bottom right corner of the image. At the moment, there is no paid option to remove this watermark.
Other than that, there’s not much you can do but let the app work its wonders. Once it’s done, you can save your work and view it in the fotodanz gallery, or share it with your Facebook friends. The fotodanz gallery view is also where you can delete existing cinemagraphs. You can also see these in your default Gallery in static form — the animation will not show, although the file type is in GIF.
For an app that is so simple to use, fotodanz gives impressive results. My first try did not result in the perfect cinemagraph, but it was enough to convince me that this app does what it says it can do. Below is the finished product of a teddy bear cinemagraph I created with fotodanz. Of course there are tons of other ideas you can implement for your own cinemagraphs, from the simplest to the more complex ones.
Missing Options and Small Issues
Being new, fotodanz does have its quirks at this time. Some features such as being able to import a video from the gallery are not available at the moment, so you’re limited to using the app’s camera every time you want to make a cinemagraph.
Social sharing is also limited to Facebook for now, with Twitter and Google+ in the works. You can also send the cinemagraph file to cloud services like Google Drive, SkyDrive, Evernote and Skype. Interestingly, Dropbox was not in the list when tapping on the Share icon.
On more than one instance, the camera (both in fotodanz and the stock camera) showed skewed images after using the app and I had to close and open it again to resolve the issue. If this is a bug then hopefully it gets fixed on the next update as it certainly takes away from the overall usability of the app.
fotodanz is truly an interesting new addition to the long list of photography apps in the Play Store. Overall, it is a fairly impressive photo editing app with simple controls and high quality cinemagraphs. If you’re a photo enthusiast who’d like to try creating cinemagraphs for the first time, fotodanz is a solid choice. Not only is it super easy, it also makes great looking photos that truly dance.