I posted many posts recently edited with the Plotagraph Pro, and today I wills share with you my thoughts on it, and if it’s something you may consider purchasing.

Plotagraph Pro

Plotagraph ProSo what is Plotagraph Pro? It’s software, that allows you to animate your images, adding repeating movement into them. It’s more of a service, than software, as it completely works online. Plotagraph Pro can be accessed through your browser, or dedicated program (that also just shows the browser version), and while all editing is done locally, all calculations for the results are done on the companies servers. So everything you do is stored there. You first upload the photos, and then download the results as gifs or video files.

More information and examples on their official site here www.plotagraphpro.com

Ease of use & interface

Plotagraph ProPlotagraph Pro is focused whole on a single result, so the interface is quite simple. On the left side you have all the tools you need to start animating (and in a logical order) on the other side you have finishing touches, like brightness/contrast, crop, watermark and similar. Most of the editing is just switching between the brush and animation points anyway.

Plotagraph ProAll tools have their shortcuts, but to tell the truth, I can’t get over that Space is not pan, but it starts the animation. It’s just so learned from Photoshop, that I keep on triggering it each time I want to pan (and I can’t find the pan shortcut, just the switch to the hand tool :/)

One can get started really quickly. There is a tutorial video on first start (or from the menu) and that explains all the basics. Or you can check out my guide here. There is a bit of a learning curve between the first animation and the first good looking animation, but with a bit of experimenting it’s not so hard getting there.

Speed

Plotagraph ProIn editing process, the software reacts quickly, just the masks take a few seconds to redraw. As I mentioned, the rendering is done on the server. So when you hit play, it takes mostly around 10-20 seconds for the preview to start (at the highest quality). It is faster if you lower the preview quality of course.

When you want to export a result, it goes into a separate rendering list. Here it can take quite longer for your result to be ready. Depends a lot what format you want, how long the duration is and whats the resolution. Still, most of my exports were ready within few minutes.

Results

Here are few results I got from using Plotagraph Pro. It works wonderfully on clouds and water, or any similar organically occurring structures.

(if you are on mobile or use an older browser, you may only see static photos here)

Pricing

Plotagraph ProThis is the biggest gripe everyone has with Plotagraph Pro, because as it’s a service, you can’t just buy it outright. When they first offered it, they only had a full year price (297 USD), and that discouraged even me from giving it a try. But after few months they introduced also quarterly (79 USD) and later also a monthly pricing (29 USD), so now it’s much easier and cheaper to just pay for a month, to try it out.

Is this for you?

That’s a hard question to answer. It can create some were beautiful results with little work. The repeating videos look great shared, like I do here, or for instance on Instagram. On the other hand, it’s not really cheap, and you have to keep the subscription if you want to continue to use it.

But I would suggest giving it a try. The monthly subscription is affordable enough to try it out, to see if you find use for it.

Points, points and more points

sunset plotagraph, Plotagraphy ProIt’s quite fun to edit photos with Plotagraph Pro. It really reminds me of those newspapers in Harry Potter movies. The little bit of movement really changes how a photo looks.

And it’s not even that hard. Just check out the guide I posted few days ago. I will also do a video version, but that will be later, as I caught a bit of a cold, and my voice is quite horrible right now. And of course, a review is also in the works.

To the side you can see a screenshot of how this photo looked like when I finished editing it into a plotagraph. It all just about adding animation points. And many of them :)

A colorful sunset plotagraph

I think this is one of the photos that really fits for a plotagraph. Almost everything here normally moves, so adding the movement back just ads to the overall look of it.

(if you are on a mobile or use an old browser, you may only see a static image)

Today I’m going to show you how Plotagraph Pro works and what are the steps needed to create an animated photo in this software. So let’s get started.

Choose your photo and load it

So the first step is to choose your photo and load it into Plotagraph pro. You can choose any photo, the only limitation is that the file size has to be under 20Mb in size. I like to do photos of 4096 pixels across, as then I can export the result as a 4k MP4 file.

Ploatagraph pro how to

Mask your photo

The second step, is to mask out the areas you don’t want to animate. The easies is to start with automated mask tools. Here you choose either Area to Mask or Area to Animate and draw a red (green) line to define the area. Plotagraph Pro will then try to mask the photo based on your selection.

Ploatagraph pro how to
Ploatagraph pro how to

It does a quite nice job, but mostly you will still need to go in, use the mask brush and correct the edges of the selection. I did the same here.

Hide the mask

This is an optional step. You can choose layers and hide the mask and the quick selection. You just don’t need to see them once you done with the masking.
Ploatagraph pro how to

Feather the selection

The next step is to feather the selection. There are two feathers here, the background and the foreground. For the background, the stronger you choose, the further away from the mask is the area from where the program tries to pull from, fill in the mask. This is needed if you try to animate around object, like the roofs and towers here.

Ploatagraph pro how to
Ploatagraph pro how to

The other feather, is the foreground. The stronger you choose here, the softer the transition will be between the masked area and the background. I would not go too high here, as especially with object with hard edge, this will remove all of the edge sharpness and things looks a bit washed out.

Add animation points

Now you can start adding animation points. One can add them and directly drag them to where you want the animation to go, but I prefer a different method. First I turn off the click-and-drag, so I cant directly drag the photos. Then I start adding them to the areas I want to animate. Here I want to animate the water and I want to animate the clouds. So in the water, I will create one line from the points. In the sky, I create multiple lines, as I want to animate the clouds in different speeds.

Ploatagraph pro how to
Ploatagraph pro how to

You can add more points later, but it good to have a good start, to see a good preview of the animation.

Drag the animation points

Now you can choose the selection tool, choose groups of points and then together drag them to where they should animate. Like this the points in the groups will have the same animations. Here I had one group for the water, and few different groups for the sky.
Ploatagraph pro how to

If I tried to animate this right afterwards, I would get a result like this.


(if you are on mobile or use a very old version of a browser, you may not see the animation)
You can easily see that while the overall animation is already there, there are quite a few problems.

Add anchor points

So you see the problems. The animation is pulling in parts of the buildings, even if they are masked out.Here where the animation points come again. If you put a point down and don’t drag on it to make an animation, it will stay as an anchor point. That means that the area under it will not move at all.

You can have Ploatagraph Pro try and create these for you, just by dragging the generate slider. It will add points to areas it thinks are the borders, but you will probably still have to go around the photo, and add even more points right on the borders.

This changed a bit in latest updates. Now you have a separate selection in the menu under Animations points, called Stabilizer/Anchor Points. You still can do it as before, by creating and Animation point and not dragging it, but you can just use a Anchor point instead.

Ploatagraph pro how to
Ploatagraph pro how to

From here you just need to correct all the remaining problems. Play the animation and if you see some, go back into the photo, add more anker points to the area or mask it out. It sometime take a bit of trial and error to get it right. Also, if the problems are close to the corners, adding points outside the area of the photo can help. As the animation can extent also there, having a defined movement outside can give you a better result.

And for this photo, after few more tweaks, few more points and a bit of masking, I got to this result.


(if you are on mobile or use a very old version of a browser, you may not see the animation).

Contrast in videos

Lucerne waves in Plotagraphy ProI noticed that when I share plotagraphs as mp4 videos, they look differently depending on where I play them.

For instance, on Instagram or in Opera browser, they have much more contrast, while in my media player or in Edge, they look as they should. I tried to look if one can embed the color profile as in images, but no luck finding a way. Any of you maybe know one? For now I started to lower the contrast a little in the source images, directly in Plotagraph Pro, but thats not really a great solution.

The Lucerne waves in a plotagraph

I just love how the motion in the waves worked out. It just a perfect spot for adding movement into the photos. What do you think?

(if you are on a mobile or use an old browser, you may only see a static image)

VFFOTO

VFFOTO is a smaller manufacturer of photo filters, based in the Czech republic. They mostly specialize on circular filters, but offer also some square ones. They kindly provided me with two filters from their range for a test. The GS ND 1000, which is a 10 stop ND filter, and the GS ND 2000 which is a 11 (!) stop ND filter. Both circular, in the 77mm size.

You can see their products on their official Czech site www.vffoto.com.

VFFOTO filters
VFFOTO filters

I tried both on the Canon 24-70mm F2.8 lens with the Canon 5D mark IV. I also took the same shots with the Formatt Hittech firecrest 10 stop ND filter, for comparison.
VFFOTO filters

VFFOTO GS ND 1000

So let’s first start with the GS ND 1000 filter. This is a 10 stop circular filter. The build quality looks great and it has a very thin profile, to avoid vignetting. Here you can see how it performed compared to the Formatt Hitech firecrest square filter. All photos have the same ISO, aperture and white balance. The only change is the exposure time. The first one, without any filter has an exposure time of 1/30 of a second. The filtered ones are both at 15 seconds.

Here is the first series of photos:

No filter photoNo filter
Formatt Hitech photoFormatt Hitech
VFFOTO filters photoVFFOTO ND1000

And here a second one, focusing more on the water.

No filter photoNo filter
Formatt Hitech photoFormatt Hitech
VFFOTO filtersVFFOTO ND1000

As you can clearly see, there is quite the difference. Where the Formatt Hitech pushes the color quite a lot towards blue/green, the VFFOTO has a much smaller effect and the final color is more towards yellow/purple. The VFFOTO is also much more closer to the no filter exposures. On the other hand, the VFFOTO filter introduces more vignetting, but I presume that is due to the difference in filter types (square filter is bigger, therefore less vignetting).

When looking at sharpness and chromatic aberrations, I can’t really say I seen any difference between the no filter shots and the ones taken through the filters. It looks about the same in all of them.

Overall I think the result from the VFFOTO filter is quite good. It needs a bit of tweaking, as with all ND filters, but it’s quite close to how it should be.

VFFOTO GS ND 2000

This is a more unusual filter. Most companies darkest ND filter is a 10 stop, not a 11 stop one. One tends to stack the filters to get them as dark as this one. As I did not have a second one, I had no filter to compare it with. So what I did, I took the exact same shots as with the 10 stop filters, but of course with double the time. Here you can see both of them, both taken with a 30 second exposure. The results came out very similar to the 10 stop ones.

VFFOTO filters
VFFOTO filters

The color cast, sharpness and chromatic aberrations look all the same as with the 10 stop VFFOTO GS ND1000 filter. It is really impressive how much you can stretch the time with a filter like this. From 1/30th of a second, to full 30 seconds, without the need to change any other settings. It makes for some buttery smooth photos. And to show you that, I tried one at full 4 minutes. To be exact, I did it twice, one at ISO 100 and one at ISO 400 to get a +2 EV exposure. And here you can see the final blend. It was not a very colorful evening, but it does show how nice and smooth everything is.

VFFOTO filters, long exposure, Bratislava, Slovakia

Overall, both filters create some very nice results, and I can’t wait to use the more, once the weather get a bit better.

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