Photo Animation Options from Simple Apps to 777 Dashboard

Video is hot. Artists and photographers have more options than ever to animate stills, from free and simple to complex and expensive.

Animating stills to tell a story 

Because video stories are processed 60,000 times faster by the human brain, photographers and artists are using animation to tell their stories both as previews for social media and finished art.

New technologies to accomplish animation effects are exploding, and new videographers and animators have more options than ever to create stunning effects. This creates an opportunity and a problem: sorting through the vast array of new tools!

I’ve run a professional animation studio for decades (Shader Joes) and a common complaint I hear from new videography grads is, “I spent two years and $60,000 for a videography education on tools like After Effects, Zbrush, Cinema 4D and Maya, and the same compositing can now be done over lunch on a $9 phone app.”

Their lament can be our opportunity!

Years ago photographers and artists made fun of an overused technique called the Ken Burns Effect, based on a Bill Gates funded documentary that used a variety of zoom, focus, framing and other effects to “liven up” stills. Today, that same effect is available in many mainline compositing software programs as a plugin or even a native feature.

Facebook has numerous ads running for dozens of animation options. The trick is to avoid spending $400 USD for a complex After Effects level app, with a user interface that makes a 777 dashboard look simple, when an app like Enlight Pixaloop can create the same effect in minutes for pennies.

Just Google “top photo animation apps” then explore the top rated apps on your phone’s app store and you’ll find the very best, like RIPL, Pixaloop, GIF maker Plotaverse, Werble, and more. Then, DON’T BUY ANY.

At least, not until you SCRIPT your image! That’s right, story first, technology second! Once you have a story in mind for your images, audience and destinations, final format options will become clear. An animated slideshow in Powerpoint? An explainer video with music and captions? Scrolling type? Voiceover? A brief GIF?

This exercise will make one thing clear: Even if you’re a photoshop guru, adding AE and Premiere will soon become a must instead of a should, as editing in a professional timeline with a multi-view scrubber is the natural next step even with photoshop’s own animation tools.

In the world of phone apps, that means Photofox and Pixaloop are great options because they integrate seamlessly with their sister Videoleap app to add music, voiceover and captions.

A desktop program will still be needed for many final renderings, and Premiere, Snagit (with easy GIFS)/Camtasia, Movavi and Blender are favorites for Youtube and social media destinations.

BOTTOM LINE: Think beyond the still to the story, then SCRIPT IT! One piece of art, one photo, can be enhanced to slight motion, then a GIF, then a slideshow, then a video. The magic of scripting first, even for a single image, opens endless creative horizons, from the still cartoon, to the panel, to Pixar!

Read next: 4 Ways To Find Inspiration As A Beginner Photographer
Tom Halstead
See all posts by Tom Halstead