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I've been toying with the idea of using cinemagraphs in my web design for a while. On one hand I love the aesthetics of full-screen video backdrops and I think they can become key in giving my users a "memorable experience", improving retention, but on the other hand they are very hard to implement without becoming a distraction from the content on the site.

So I started experimenting with videos where the visuals are mostly static videography - either a cinemagraph where the video has been edited so it is basically a still with just a tiny portion of the image being "live", or by taking a short segment of video, slowing it down and looping it seemlesly so there is only very subtle movement.

I think these approaches works really well. Besides reducing the distractions and risk of motion-sickness, they are generally smaller file-size wise (and I make sure that videos have a fallback image and are loaded asynchronously). But I still have not made any tests besides asking people about their general opinions.

Does any of you know of some larger-scale research investigating this problem or do you have some practical experiences that I may draw on?

The general opinion seems to be that videos look good but kill engagement and conversion. I think the truth is a little more complex than that. What do you think?

  • This is a really interesting approach. However, depending on how images are used, I feel like they will be really distracting and nobody will pay attention to anything else. Anyways, it's worth testing! (I 'm not aware of any research on the subject. ) – Devin Nov 16 '16 at 18:08
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This technique is used in film to provide cognitive and emotive time and space for reflection and consideration by the audience. As such, it's a very good idea for any kind of website confident about its content and the context within which it will be visited.

Give up on research in this area. You will have to do your own. It comes down to making creative decisions based on the emotive and reflective load you'd like to place on your audience. Effectiveness of communication starts with someone caring to communicate and isn't a purely numbers game, yet.

Boil it down to success and reverence, if you like. Gauge, for yourself, how significant the cinematic "pauses" are to the film, its story, reputation, reach and reverence of the European and Japanese grand masters of slow paced films. Then watch other films that do this from other cultures. The Russians make some extremely pared back films. Then begin to notice that even films like those by Michael Bay use these same techniques, too.

You have a good idea. Matching it with your content, messages and purposes will be art, not science.

  • I certainly plan to make my own research and I agree it is not all about the numbers. You would need a more qualitative approach. But I'm still curious to know about the experiences of others who have tread this path before me. But thanks for pointing me towards cinemagraphy in movies - that was not something I had thought about and a great place to look for inspiration. – funkylaundry Nov 23 '16 at 11:07

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