Microsoft Cliplets Now Do GIF
Written by David Conrad   
Saturday, 07 July 2012

Cliplets are "Harry Potter" magic photos that look like still images, except for the fact that they move. Until now viewing the result of your creative skills was difficult, but now you can create an animated GIF which can be viewed almost anywhere.

It is difficult to define the Cliplet idea. You can call it "almost still photography" or "cinemagraphs". The best way to make it clear is to show you an example:




Still photography is an art form, but just occasionally you can't help feel that just a little motion would make things better. The impressive picture of the sea breaking on the shore might be even more impressive if one or two waves actually did some breaking. As the team from Microsoft Research puts it:

A still photograph is a limited format for capturing moments that span an interval of time. Video is the traditional method for recording durations of time, but the subjective "moment" that one desires to capture is often lost in the chaos of shaky camera work, irrelevant background clutter, and noise that dominates most casually recorded video clips. This work provides a creative lens used to focus on important aspects of a moment by performing spatiotemporal compositing and editing on video-clip input. This is an interactive app that uses semi-automated methods to give users the power to create "cliplets"—a type of imagery that sits between stills and video from handheld videos.

All you have to do is download the app and then drag and drop a video clip onto the work area. Next you simply outline areas that you want to be still or moving. The idea is that you can map which parts of the video display for which relative time periods in the finished cliplet. So you can pick out one part of the video to move against a frozen background, say, or you can create short loops of motion and other special effects. The clever part is the way that the images are processed to align the different parts and stabilize the image.

Until recently a minor problem has been that you put a video in and get a video "still" out. This is fine if you are happy viewing a video, or want to embed the results on a page that will be viewed with a modern browser. Now you can export the result to animated GIF which can be used in any web page and most photoframes. This is how the example at the top of this page is rendered and it should work on almost any browser.



This is the good news.

The bad news is that I still haven't seen any Cliplets that rise above the slightly strange or even creepy. It is a really good idea, of that I'm sure, but we seem to be still in search of a photographer who can raise the technique to an art form.


More Information

Cliplet Home



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Last Updated ( Saturday, 07 July 2012 )