Story Behind Those Stunning Cinematic Gifs

Here at theMET, we're always looking for creative projects that catch our eye. More than anything, we love posting about work that pushes boundaries, showing our audience something that has been changed, flipped or spinned into something magically different. Then, we see it as our job to find out the story behind such projects. What inspired the artist or photographer to start down that path? What do they hope others get out of their work?

A few days ago, when Met member Mark Huckabee put up a post called Astounding Animated Gifs, we knew we had to dig deeper. We got in touch with Jamie Beck and her partner Kevin Burg to ask them about their “cinemagraph” technique where they combine still photographs and video to create these magnificent mini films. (Did you know that the project is a combination of Kevin's background in motion graphics and Jamie's street photography?)

Before we go into that more, enjoy these lovely cinemagraphs that they sent directly to us.

What's been the response like, so far, on your animated gifs? How has the internet responded?
The online response has been really wonderful. When we first started creating these together we felt it was a new form of photography adapted for a digital age. You never know if people are going to feel the same way you do but with the incredible response it seems people also respond to this form of storytelling.

Which of them is your favorite piece and why?
We love Anna Sees Everything (last one in this post.) We feel that it captures a portrait of her in a moment that is the essence of what she does.

What do you hope others get out of these works?
We hope to transport people to the moment, to take you a step closer to the subject. We want people to feel like they get to linger and look at something, almost in a voyeuristic way. In life, when you catch a moment, it can be gone in an instant or you instinctively look away. Through our images, the moment lasts forever and you can look as long as you like.

Which gif has been the most popular and why do you think that is?
Our series with Coco Rocha was the most popular collection and the single most popular cinemagraph factoring in pageviews and Tumblr notes is Meet Me at the Bar. We think that there's a surprising aspect to it – it masquerades as a still photograph but then a car drives by. There's also a romantic element to the story the image tells… at least we feel that way.

Were you inspired by other gifs or anyone else before you started this more artistic ones?
For us it happened very organically out of a need to show something more than a photo but not quite a video, and to stay true to Jamie's photography. There have been a lot of really interesting things being done with gifs in recent years and since getting our work out there people have sent us links to other artists creating cool stuff within the gif medium. Our hope is that in the future there are many people creating original content in a similar way…in their own personal style.

What do you have next in store for us?
We hope to continually improve our storytelling abilities through our cinemagraphs. We're testing with better cameras, meeting talented people we can work with and hoping to do more editorial collaborations. We're also compiling an intimate look at New York City through this new medium. We're looking to explore other ways to utilize cinemagraphs outside of the web through devices like iPad and through forthcoming display technologies.

Thanks for the interview, Jamie and Kevin. Absolutely in love with your sweet and subtle gifs.

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