A new way to set your brand and product apart with an attention grabbing new form of photography for websites and social media by Plotagraph Pro. More than a .gif and more than an average high quality photo, these Plotagraphs combine the power of a photograph with a video.
We met this couple at CEO Space, our event that we teach at. Sascha Scheider and Troy Plota. They are just the coolest couple ever on top of the fact that they have the greatest invention ever. Troy has been a photographer for over 33 years. He really has developed this amazing dynamic photography. It’s mesmerizing is the only word that I could think of to explain. It goes beyond words. People are always, “What’s a GIF? It’s moving, yeah yeah.” This, it’s hypnotic.
Imagine taking a still photograph of anything you want. High, high quality still photograph. You want to take a high quality photograph but the point is it works with a still photograph. I don’t know if there’s minimum. I don’t think there’s a minimum pixel requirement.
You take a still photograph and then with their software, you take a portion of it or portions of it and animate them. Seeing is believing. You’re not going to believe the effects and the quality of this unless you can see them. I think we’re going to do this plotagraph, is what they’re called, these moving photographs. They’ve trademarked the name plotagraph. Which I love, which is great, which is an adaptation of their name and also a photograph.
There is one of a photo of a staircase on their website. A winding curved staircase taken from a bird’s eye view, from way, way above. Like you’re on the ceiling of a large building looking down on the staircase. Imagine seeing the stairs animated so they’re moving constantly. Almost as if it was a curved spiraling escalator or something but it’s actually wooden stairs. The stairs are animated. It’s looped, and it’s looped perfectly. You can never tell where the start and the end of this motion sequence is.
That’s just one very simple explanation or example of 3D photography and Plotagraph. They’re all over. There’s surfers going through a tube. It’s a still photograph remember. The surfer is static but they’ve animated the tube wave going over him and it looping. Again, you never see the end of it. This is serious, serious revolutionary stuff.
The reason why we’re bringing this to you is because it’s 3D photography. There’s a little bit of 3D printing tied in there. We really think that this moving 3D photography by Plotagraph a great way to increase brand awareness for yourself or design awareness for your beautiful designs and whatever it is you might be 3D printing. Because the idea of just showing a video of the time lapse of it being built, it’s a little passé already. It’s gotten old. I don’t really do it a whole lot anymore. People just aren’t that excited about seeing it.
What are new ways that we can raise awareness for our brands? I can tell you from having talked with Sascha and Troy multiple times now, the large brands out in the marketplace are going nuts over this. It is not just a way to do it on a professional level but to do it on a very personal brand level. Honestly, there’s literally opportunities in our own to use this for marketing purposes. 3D photography is so attention grabbing because it’s so different.
I think in the future this 3D photography by Plotagraph going to become so standard. You’re going to have to have this in your marketing tool bag as a business owner or whether you’re a photographer or a marketing company, a PR company. It’s going to become very common because you’ll need to keep up with everybody else that’s using motion and video to get attention in this world.
The thing is, I’m not a big video fan, I have to say. For me, video has been so difficult because it requires so much time, energy, set up, planning. Actually, photography is so much easier to me. Maybe it’s because I’m more comfortable in that realm personally. It just seems like a much easier, on both the budget and the time constraint, way to start marketing your business or marketing your products or marketing your designs. It’s an easier way to do that.
Now, being able to get some of the power of video and the power of photography and being, as Troy puts it in the interview, which we need to hear in just a moment, you got one foot in both worlds. I think that’s really powerful.
Listen to the podcast here:
3D Photography and Plotagraph Pro
Sascha and Troy, thank you so much for joining us. I cannot wait for us to talk about this 3D photography. I’ve seen your 3D photography images but let’s tell everybody a little bit about how you got started making plotagraphs.
Sure. Thank you. Thanks for having us on. We really appreciate it. I’ve been doing plotagraphs for years. Since 2009. I’ve had a production company for years. I’ve been a photographer for over 25 years professionally. We just discovered this process where you can take images through multiple softwares and feed them through and export this looping content that’s really cool.
A few years ago, I decided to put together a software that could do all this within one software. Make it simple and easy. That’s basically what we’ve done. Sascha and I combined forces and it’s been fun. It’s been a blast.
This is so much better quality. Some people out there have seen the video, a looping version of a video link. It’s not the same thing. Video is not the same quality as a plotagraph. Explain the differences.
There’s a process that’s called cinemagraph that’s been pretty popular for the past couple of years. That’s the process of taking a video, pausing it and then erasing different parts of the image to let it bleed through and play through. It could create an interesting effect. What you can’t do with the cinemagraph, it’s not backwards compatible to print.
What’s great about our process with our plotagraph is if a campaign, an agency or a brand wants to do a campaign digital but obviously there’s going to be a print component to that too, it’s backwards compatible because it starts with a still high res file. That’s one of the things that’s unique about plotagraph and this 3D photography.
Doesn’t that also make it a lot less expensive for someone who wants to create moving 3D photography like this, to do it? Because setting up for video, in my experience, that’s a very complicated, expensive endeavor as compared to setting up for a still photograph. Is that true?
Absolutely. We’ve actually talked to several brands who, as we introduced ourselves, they’ve been set up to do cinemagraphs or something kind of dynamic content. After seeing our process, they’ve actually switched campaigns and gone to plotagraph because it’s cheaper. The plotagraph has a very soothing, mesmerizing effect. It’s not jarring like a cenamograph can be. Once again, it is backwards compatible. There’s just so many reasons, especially within branding and agencies and even with photographers’ promotions, to use our process.
That’s where I think the real power of this 3D photography and Plotagraph is. Just the idea of how it might change the way … This is why we were so eager to talk about it here on the podcast. The idea of a lot of the 3D prints we do are dynamic. They move, they have a little bit of motion to them. They have a little bit of organic nature to them. There was something about the way the plotagraphs, they feel natural. The movement seems much more natural than it does if you were watching a looping video. It just seems like it goes on forever.
If you were to do a still life I guess and make it move in terms of us trying, or our listeners, trying to do that with their 3D prints?
To get an image of the 3D prints, it lends itself really well to that because there’s so many interesting textures and symmetry that happens within a lot of the designs and stuff. Sascha is actually really amazing at it. She has a background of painting. Just depending on the 3D print, it’s great because any image … You take a picture of a 3D print or you have the graphics of it in the back end or whatever you designed, and you can either add a very subtle movement. Or if it’s more organic, you can have that smooth movement going through. If it’s got a lot of geometric shapes, actually the plotagraph effect is really amazing with that because it can take each point and elongate that, making this continuous loop.
That’s really cool. Is it better to have some background going on behind it than silhouetting? That’s typically what we see a lot going on in so much photography of product today. It’s so plain in the background. We’ve all gotten Amazon-ified, if that’s a word. I think it brings back in, the background, it’s better to have that right?
I’ve been shooting campaigns for years and a lot of the times, you’ll actually leave negative space for copy. For the logo or whatever it might be. What’s cool about plotagraph is you actually want texture. I found myself even shooting differently now that we have this process really honed in and the software is just pretty much perfected.
We like texture. We like for something to be there so that way the still logo on top of the animated image in the background really pops off and almost gives a 3D effect. With the 3D images that we’re talking about from 3D print, there’s an example on the front of our website of stairs. I thought that was a really great example as far as taking something with geometric shapes and continuing it. With that architectural quality.
I’m thinking back to an episode we did a few months ago about the marble machines. Those marble machines. These 3D prints that these little Rube Goldberg sort of machines where they had motion involved with them with marbles. I could see a lot of those had videos that people shot to show them. You could just take a still photo and then create this looping effect with the animation portion of it. You’d be mesmerized. I think it’s the looping that is critical.
3D Photography is so applicable to so many people, especially the people listening to this podcast who are involved in 3D printing. They will take videos of certain aspects of what they’re doing. They do loop it but the loop is never really very well done. It’s choppy. It’s abrupt. You can tell. The smoothness. Your loops always are flawless, are they not?
Correct. That’s what’s so special about Plotagraph Pro Software. We’ve created it so it literally loops perfectly to give that beautiful blending motion. We also do have other qualities in the Plotagraph Pro Software. For example, if you wanted something to go back and forth, play from the beginning and then backtrack, you can also do that. That’s called end to end in our software. That’s really great. For example, this image by Scott Bourne of a humming bird, we actually had the wings fluttering back and forth.
Very cool. How easy is it to learn to use to make your own Plotagraphs and do your own 3D photography?? Whether you’re professional or even as is it different for an amateur photographer?
One of the things that we’re finding right now, is first of all it’s very easy. A lot of our customers are surprised at how easy it is. Some guys who’ve been working in Photoshop or After Effects for years actually have a harder time sometimes because it’s a little bit different than you would do for that process because you’re used to the same technique. We’re working right now on doing more videos to explain the process.
Once they get it, it’s pretty simple. For example, from my background, I come from the painting and the fine arts, more of the traditional background. I hadn’t really dived into the tech scene. Even with Photoshop and these big monster softwares, I didn’t have a lot of experience in. But I was able to pick up a master Plotagraph Pro Software in, I’d say, even within a half hour. I was like, “Wow, okay, I got this.”
I seriously don’t think I could ever master Photoshop no matter how much time spend on it. You’re right. That’s amazing. Everybody masters 5% of it. We all use a very small amount. You only need the 5% for yours, so that’s the awesome part. How is this? Is it web based or you actually downloading software? How does this work?
It’s a SaaS based software in the cloud. A lot of the processing happens behind the scenes. It’s really fast. If somebody were to work in After Effects, the rendering that it takes and the time. When we used to do these through multiple softwares, it took hours. Sometimes it would even take days to get the looping perfect.
Right now, I actually did one in less than a minute. We have a new algorithm. We actually have automated points that you could generate now. I timed myself and I did one in less than a minute. I would say anywhere on average from 10 to 30 minutes per image. Sometimes if it’s very elaborate, because you can get as elaborate as you want, it could take longer.
A lot of the processing is done in the cloud and it’s done for you. It makes it easy. It’s really simple. Once purchase your account and get signed up, you just register and log in and you’re good to go straight from the browser.
That’s really great. I want to touch on something you just briefly said on 3D photography. I was thinking about it from an advertiser’s or a content conversion standpoint and just starting to think about the idea that you’ve made photographs sticky. For lack of a better way to describe it. I don’t want to stop looking at it. If I don’t want to stop looking at it, there’s great power in that. Whether if you’ve put it on your website or on your social media account, wherever you’ve put it, you’ve given the stickiness to photographs again.
That’s what the brands and the agencies are all over. Because photographs themselves are losing their value. That’s part of my inspiration as far as creating this, is helping photographers monetize their business because a lot of the budgets have been moving to video. With this, it helps a photographer to play in that arena. The arena is directly in between a traditional still and traditional video. It’s this in between looping content that the Millennials are just loving. That’s the thing. Sometimes you can gauge it by age sometimes.
A lot of the brands are trying to figure out how to capture the attention. Through just a traditional still, it’s hard now because Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat. I’ve been a photographer for over 33 years and to see photography itself lose its value is somewhat disheartening. That’s why, once we again, we have this process snow that helps photographers. It’s new, it’s cool, it’s different. Any photographer who wants to compete, it will be a part of the future as far as how clients are going to want to see content.
I love that. I’m remembering I think maybe a year ago or two years ago, we were talking how I used to live in Rochester, New York where Kodak was based. Seeing a history, a timeline of photography from whenever in the 1800s it first started with the first daguerreotypes or whatever they were, and then the number of photographs over the years. Looking at the growth curve of that and when you got to digital, it went off like a rocket.
I forget how many photographs, less than a billion with standard photography over the first hundred and however many, 150 years or so. Then digital, it’s exploded so much more. I wonder if now we’re going to have a new plot in the timeline of photography that’s the beginning of plotagraph, this motion photography. That could be very cool. That would be very cool, it would be.
What I think is really interesting too though to think about that. This is why it really appealed to me, because of your story and your background from wanting to give power back to photographers, that’s really where we feel 3D printing falls for us. I know you have experienced 3D printing so I know you have a little background there. We’ll talk about that in a minute because I’d love to hear about that.
For us, 3D printing is bringing the power of design back to skilled designers. It’s not like anyone can use 3D printing and anyone can take photographs nowadays because of how good digital cameras are. The reality is that there’s a certain level of artistic and design skill that is a professional photographer, is a professional designer, that really adds to the quality here.
What you’ve done is up the game for them. Can you talk a little bit about when you had the skill, what kind of specialness can you really add to those plotagraphs?
As a professional, knowing how to shoot in light and get that texture and knowing what will be able to move. As far as the history of photography in itself, from what we’re seeing, it’s such a fast rate that, once again, photography is falling off somewhat. I’m putting this in the category of when film met digital and there was a lot of photographers who swore that digital will never, ever take film, “I’ll never shoot digital, it could never be as good quality.” They really held their line, and they’re gone. As fast as that goes. I’m putting this in the same category.
Jump on the bandwagon. The agencies are really looking at this and they’re all over it. I spoke a couple weeks ago in San Francisco at a branding conference. It was a 3 day conference. They had me come in for a day and they actually kept me for a few days to speak to the different brands. They were just like, “Please, give us something different. Give us something new.”
Most communications is done through digital. Once again, we go back to the Millennials. Even with art, everybody is so used to looking at a screen now. The acceptance of viewing an image on a screen is here to stay and print is falling off inevitably. We’re just there on that cutting edge of wanting to on the forefront of doing everything that we can to keep photography relevant and help create art too. There’s so many cool things you could do with this.
A lot of our customers are talking about their passion for bringing their older images back to life, reinventing themselves and then being excited about going out and shooting again. They’re creating images that they can animate.
That’s the same thing for us on 3D printing. It’s like all of a sudden, it energized us to be designing again because it had moved us out of the same old forms that were only injection moldable or whatever. It gave us new forms and new qualities of things that we couldn’t achieve before. It energized the creative process. I love that you’ve done that for photographs as well.
When 3D printing first came out, I was … In our studio, we were the first to have a MakerBot and we brought it in. Of course as you know, I am doing some 3D imaging and that sort of thing also. It’s just so much fun.
We know but we haven’t told our audience. I don’t know if there’s anything you’re able to say other than what you just did. You do have experience. It’s more on the 3D scanning side of things, isn’t it?
Yes. We have a process that we actually do photogrammetry. That’s moving into plotagraph 3D, which is something else that we’re working on too which is really exciting. I did a TED Talk a few years ago about the future of photography and we talked about how, when I was a kid I wanted to be a sculptor. Through 3D printing and 3D imaging, I’m actually able to create sculptures through photography. It’s just amazing with technology.
That is very cool. Our audience will have to stay tuned for that. I know it will be a few years because you’ve got your hands full getting plotagraph out to everybody. We definitely look forward to that in the future. I just want to go back to something. You said you were speaking at a branding conference. Really, brands are really struggling with getting attention. What kind of pointers did you give them for how to create more attention for their brands?
The looping content and how it’s able to be delivered. We’re just barely over a year that Facebook accepts GIFs. We’re literally almost just barely over a year into this looping content being able to be put on Facebook and now Instagram accepts MP4s. It’s the very beginning of this revolution. What we do as a company is we’re up on all the technology as far as which file formats are accepted, sizes to get the best quality. All that is able to be exported straight out of Plotagraph Pro and you don’t have to go to any other software to be proper with it.
That’s what we talked about. One of the days actually was based on marketing to Millennials. That’s where they brought me back in. “Oh my gosh, this is such a perfect thing to market to the Millennials.” I could keep going on and on.
I’m sure you could. This is awesome. The file formats, let’s make sure our audience understands that. It’s moving image. It’s created from a still but you have to save that in some sort of either a movie or an animated file format, right?
Exactly. Through our software, through Plotagraph Pro, you could export a GIF, MP4, .MOV file or JPEG sequence. Between any of those files, you have everything that you need. On top of it, to have a proper loop for let’s say an MP4 for Instagram, you could loop it, you could drag our bar across and you loop it up to 20x. You can go up to however many seconds you need it to be to have this continuous loop that you never see it hit back to the beginning again. We have little tricks that we do to perfect.
That’s why I’m referring to Instagram because now Instagram accepts 60 second MP4s. What we like to do is we’ll export our plotagraph MP4 to maybe 30, 40, 50 seconds. That way it just has that beautiful continuous motion.
Fantastic. I want to try to do this with one of our 3D prints. We got to do it. I have to try it. Maybe my necktie or we have some other prints that have really a lot of texture and pattern to them that I think would work really well with this. We’ll have to figure out which one will work the best. I think that would be really cool. Tell our listeners how they can find you and where they can see some of these amazing photographs besides our blog post, which we’ll put a few links in there as well.
Wonderful. You’ve trademarked that I hope?
Yes, we’ve trade marked the word plotagraph.
Wonderful. Thank you guys so much for joining us to talk about Plotagraph and 3D photography. Keep us posted on how things are going. We can always add comments into the blog post and also of course spread it out on social media.
Awesome, great. Thank you so much. You guys are awesome. We really appreciate it.
3D Photography and Plotagraph Pro – Final Thoughts
I have to do this now. At the time of this recording, I haven’t gotten the software. I haven’t tried it yet. We haven’t tried it yet. We’ve seen so many plotagraphs, we’ve seen 10 of them. In person, we’ve seen them. It’s absolutely amazing.
We’re buying the software. We are going to try it. I’m dying to do this. I’ve used Photoshop for a lot of years and I’ve used a lot of complex aspects of Photoshop. I think I can handle the technical side of this, besides having CAD experience and all the rest of it. I know it’s different, but still.
Even still, I think back to how many times have we used a GIF. We’ve done that a lot. It’s always very time consuming for us to even do that, to not have it look really jerky and still it ends up that way because you don’t put as many images into the GIF because you’re time constrained. It takes a really long time. To even be able to do this in minutes or a half hour, that’s really powerful to me. Like I said, I’m super excited. I want to go work with it now.
You did hear in the interview a little discussion about another one of the Plota’s projects. That also is related to 3D printing. I know you heard that, which is that Troy is a photographer for many years. He’s been in to 3D printing, used 3D printers. He’s a maker of sorts, like many of you and like us. He has been developing a much higher quality way to 3D scan very, very large objects. That’s about all I can say on that because there’s a lot of proprietary stuff in it. We can’t say too much about it.
We can’t wait for it to come out and for us to be able to really talk about that in the future. They’ve got enough on their plate right now because this is going to explode on them whether they expected it or not. The Plotagraph Pro, boy, that is a tongue twister, isn’t it? Plotagraph. It sounds like prototype and photograph. My tongue is tangled. The Plotagraph Pro software is taking off so well. I’m quite sure they’re going to be able to completely fund that next project, which is much more in the 3D printing world directly. We’re going to go up and see it. They’re in Sta. Barbara, right? That’s right. We’re going to go up to their studio and check it out here at some point soon.
Still, I think there’s enough relevance absolutely for any business and certainly I think businesses involved in 3D printing. What a dynamic and exciting way to get attention. We talked about trade shows recently, with Rock Your 3D Print Trade Show Booth. Do’s and don’ts and how to stand out if you’re going to go and sped that money.
I think the plotagraph 3D photography is another thing you have to consider. I could see a big TV monitor with it on it. It would be awesome. We showed at the SoCal Maker Con, we had a video loop running of a bunch of our videos. I’m embarrassed to say now that one of the parts of that looping video was a time lapse photography of a 3D print being done. People stood there and watched it. They did, I know. It’s also, it’s passé. It’s been done so much.
If you’re new to 3D printing, it’s really cool, you’ve never seen something like that before. But for those of us in the industry for a few years, we’ve seen that. To do something more dynamic and unique that would be shown on that screen would be amazing.
It’s not just that. I think that when you really look at it, this is really the power of it and the reason why I was excited to bring it on to our show here, is that there really is a level of artistic nature that is required. A photographer’s eye. As Troy said, putting that texture in the background. Smart artistic decisions. That’s why I think you guys, you makers out there have that sensibility and will be well adapted to being able to be successful using this and creating what really is so powerful in the image that you create, in the moving image that you create.
I agree, I think there are a lot of interesting parallels. I know at first, somebody listening to this episode might think, “Why is this on a 3D printing podcast?” I think if you’ve listened to enough of our shows by now, you know that we don’t just cover directly whatever is directly relevant in 3D printing today. We do try to cover a lot of that but we also cover things that are relevant in less literal ways or in tangent ways, things that are maybe relevant to your business. Business and marketing. Things that we want to try to offer you good content and information that can help you achieve your business goals within 3D printing. Sometimes that involves things that are not just strictly 3D printing. Or your artistic personal goals.
There is a parallel. Troy saw it too in the interview. There is a parallel between art and what’s happened in photography over the years and certain aspects of photography being maybe marginalized or minimized, or the importance of a professional photographer now that everybody has a camera on their smart phone. Also, how design of products that people buy and all that has been minimized by the wave of imports of companies that don’t have designers designing product for them. 3D printing is helping to change that. I think the plotagraph 3D photography may also help make photographers, professional photographers more important and more relevant again. That’s all very exciting.
I think that’s the thing, is if you can do anything to raise, as I was talking about it, the stickiness, the ability for someone to sit on your page, to sit on your social media account, to just sit there for a minute and look at something for seconds longer than they do on just some Snapchat or some of quick hit. That’s powerful today.
Instagram, that’s’ a wonderful thing. Another side note, I do want to give a shout out and a thank you to a distant relative of mine who works actually at Instagram, now owned by Facebook. He didn’t understand why I was trying to arrange a meeting between him … His name is Spencer Mandell in New York City. He didn’t quite understand why I was really insistent that he meet with Sascha when she was in New York.
It’s like, “You have to see this thing.” He’s like, “Oh, but I’ve seen things like it. It’s like this or it’s like that.” It’s like, “Yeah, okay. I agree, you’ve seen things. You need to see this.” I leaned on him enough. He had the meeting just because I asked him too. He was doing me a favor. But at the end of the day, I think they really understood. As I understand it, they went walking round, showing it off in everybody’s office in Instagram.
Even if someone at Instagram thinks that this stuff is powerful, that you guys should really check it out. You could check it out anywhere on social media @hazzdesign, @3dstartpoint as well. If any of you start to use it, hey, share those plotagraphs with us over social media. We’ll love to reshare them, retweet them, whatever. Tag them #plotographs and then be sure and tag either WTFFF or 3DStartPoint. We’ll make sure to get them shared out for you as well. We’ll push them back out for you. Hope you enjoyed the 3D print photography and plotagraphs as much as we did. Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.
Plotagraph Pro Software was created by Founder, CEO Troy Plota and Co-Founder, President Sascha Scheider. Troy’s 25 + years as a professional Photographer and experience in 3D Technology combined with Sascha’s Fine Arts background have created the software that is exploding in many areas of Photography, Art and Advertising around the world. This fresh new tech company was based in NYC has now moved their home base to Santa Barbara, CA. To find out more and to be apart of The Evolution of Photography visit https://www.plotagraphpro.com
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