You’ve heard of cinemagraphs, the video/photograph hybrid which is technically a video though it looks more like a photograph with moving parts. Commercial and editorial photographer Derek Heisler has a new take on the combination which he’s calling “moving portraits”. Whereas cinemagraphs are stationary but have an element of motion – picture a cat’s twitching tail while the rest is still or beer being poured into a glass where all is still except the liquid stream – Heisler’s moving portraits are made using a virtual camera motion toward the subject with other objects in the scene changing perspective as they would similar to a dolly zoom in videography.
The technique is inspired by an old school animation method, Disney’s multi plane camera. It broke down a scene into layers on glass by the distance each element would be to the camera if it were real life so that a more ‘three dimensional’ motion effect could be created in cartoons. The video below is a fascinating look at early Disney animation and innovation, but if you’d rather cut straight to the point skip to 2:39.
To achieve this with a photograph, Heisler deconstructed the image into 3 parts: The subject, the counter behind him, the wall in the back, and used them to create a more authentic sense of depth than a simple zoom would have been. He added some scene and subject appropriate music and uploaded the short video to YouTube. I recommend viewing on a larger screen for the best effect – not a smartphone.
What do you think? Is there potential in this as a new medium?