Reanimate

Some techniques for purposefully bringing still images to life

Everything old is new again.

Video isn't the only way to add movement to still images.

Sometimes video isn't available to suit the story you wish to tell. It's also not always the most effective way to get a point across.

If you wanted to show the progression of a place over a long period of time, a time-lapse -style effect can be achieved and be very effective, with just a couple of images in a Shorthand story reveal section, and there's some examples of that below.

Show off multiple angles

If you have more than a few images, then Background Scrollmation, or two-column scrollmation like the one shown here can produce some very interesting effects to engage and surprise your readers with movement they control.

The animated image here of French photographer, Nadar, is constructed from a series of self-portraits taken around 1865.

With each of the frames of his portrait placed in sequence, he appears to turn as the page is scrolled.

There's twelve images in the full set.

Of course, the same effect can be used, and very effectively too, on more modern imagery, but there's a little bit of magic in seeing such old images move. It's a little bit "Harry Potter-y".

Add expression

The following two images of children exercising are presented in a single Reveal section, with a fade transition between them.

The effect and understanding provided is greater than the sum of its parts as it can show how expressions and attitude change and goes some way towards answering the question of "what happened next?"

Give your readers X-ray vision

Seeing into, through, or behind an object feels like having a super power. See through the exterior of a building, product or anatomy to give a better sense of how things work.

Provide focus

Sometimes you'll want to draw attention to part of a picture. You could animate in some arrows and labels, but a selective blur, darken, lighten or enlargement of part of the image can draw attention with an effect similar to a more 'natural' an immersive shift of focus.

Add surprise

A simple fade-up from a pure black screen to a dark image produces an effective result for a very small file-size overhead.

Give a tour

If you have a considerable amount of text, you can achieve a pan or zoom effect across an image as your text scrolls over the top.

Creating this kind effect requires a considerable number of frames, so you do need to be conscious of where the section appears in your story.

The section also needs to contain considerable text so that the scrolling action is long enough to give each frame of the background animation some time on screen.

Beyond that, it's up to you how to treat the individual frames, there's no need to be limited simply to panning or zooming. Selectively blurring, darkening or lightening parts of the image along with the movement can help to add another sense of dimension to the scene.

Depending on your narrative flow, you may choose to start the animated sequence on the section of image of most interest, or slowly bring that section into view as the story progresses.

This image of a crowd of people at a country fair in Tasmania from the early 1900s makes for an interesting panorama.

Provide direction

The transition effects on Reveal sections of your story can be put to good use on images like maps, where the direction of the effect and what it reveals can provide a sense of more complex animation.

Compare and contrast

A transition can be a perfect way to show how things have changed over time.

Recreate a scene or location from the past and give your readers a chance to speed up, slow down, or reverse time at their own pace.

Let's go back to the future: