It's perhaps time to accept that cinemagraphs are wasted on social media alone! If you're a client and plan to use cinemagraphs for your brand... make it worthwhile and allocate a reasonable budget to not only producing good content but to delivering it across multiple mediums. Make a plan!
CRACK OPEN THE KOOL-AID!
Don't dive straight in without questions and without a plan. A lot of people are seeing how exciting cinemagraphs can be, they're finding them on social media and thinking "how can we use them in our social media too?" That's great and they are a perfect fit for social media due to the autoplay and autoloop which is now standard but you have to think beyond that. It's easy to spend good money on great content and then feel disillusioned when you don't have a plan in place for utilising it to it's fullest potential. Don't believe anyone who says cinemagraphs will be a magic bullet for your business... like any good content you have to make good use of it and then you will see good results.
To be quite blunt, if you contract some cinemagraphs to be produced for your brand and all you do is post them on Instagram & Facebook without boosting or ad spend at the very least... you're wasting your money.
The same content can be used on;
In-store digital display
Editorial content and blogs
Cut into other business videos
Paid ad campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat
Augmented Reality apps to bring printed stills/magazine ads to life
I say all this because the truth is that most professionally produced cinemagraphs are not cheap to make... they are a premium form of content. So how much should you pay? It all depends what it's 'Worth' to you.
WHAT'S YOUR TIME WORTH
Unfortunately there is no fixed formula for worth. Will an existing static image achieve the same result? More and more studies are showing they don't. Will an in-house video or stock video clip do the job? Sometimes yes... but what is your time worth and if it means putting in the time to learn new software and skills is it time well spent. Hiring a professional to produce content will often be better value for money and on-message than stock... but until you've worked out what your time is worth it's hard to see that. Experienced marketers know this and don't even flinch at costs which inexperienced marketers might freak at... because they've often come to learn it delivers better value for money in the long run, even if it's sounds more expensive up front.
The value of good content is also worked out by risk mitigation. The bigger a brand the more risk in getting it wrong and the bigger the losses if the content doesn't hit the mark. A professional will be more likely to deliver on the technical requirements and if they're experienced enough they can also guide the creative and offer valuable suggestions, with a new format like cinemagraphs there are a number of pitfalls to avoid so this can be critical. Risk mitigation is why a top designer will charge $10k to redesign a brands logo (sometimes much more!) over a novice who might charge $500. You pay for their experience... not their time.
THERE'S ALWAYS A CHEAPER OPTION
You might get lucky and find someone who will produce cheap cinemagraphs for you for $50 a pop and if you want some quick shots done on an iPhone and edited in the Flixel Cinemagraph Pro app for iOS you can actually produce some impressive results quite fast with some practice. Some brands are inclined to give it a go themselves too, if you have some creative talent within your team by all means give it a try. That level of content can suit regular posts to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat especially if part of your brand strategy is around fun & quirky content with a homemade mobile feel. That's totally legit and works well in some cases. However you'll soon realise that there's a large leap between that level of content and something shot on professional cameras with well executed lighting, professional talent, well designed creative and carefully crafted post production.
VALUE FOR MONEY
Lets' look at two scenarios:
1.) You pay $5000 for a series of 3 cinemagraphs, produced by a professional in 4K resolution. The finished work is perfectly suited to social media, both non paid posts as well as paid ad campaigns which will target people not familiar with your brand. The quality of the work also enables it to be used as a background on your home page or a webpage banner, it looks great on a digital display screen for in-store or trade shows right up to large format digital billboards. Because it's been shot on professional cameras and has the detailed finish it can even be used for TV commercials. Have you considered how captivating a Cinemagraph can be amongst all the other loud shouting TV ads, when suddenly someone thinks their TV has paused by mistake and they suddenly notice the subtle movement and take notice?
Of course this is a simplistic way to look at it because licensing is often based on usage so ion you want to use the work for TV you'll end up paying more. However the fact that the content is of a standard that can be used for TV or large digital billboards gives you the flexibility to deliver your campaign creative in multiple places.
2.) You produce 5 cinemagraphs in house on an iPhone or digital camera in HD resolution because your hardware won't quite handle 4K editing. You're proficient enough to learn the software (which comes at a cost) and have a few days to spare. You work out that 5 days spent on this is worth $500 based on your salary. Great you say... that's way cheaper. The finished work is great and your colleagues react positively to it. It suits social media posts perfectly because they target you're existing customers base and followers but may not be as suitable for a paid ad campaign which is potentially reaching tens of thousands of new potential customers... are you confident this will best represent your brand?
The moment you blow it up full screen you're seeing banding in the colours because you hadn't quite mastered the colour grading process. You also notice once it's full screen that the loop is a little bit jumpy because when you shot it the wind rocked your lightweight tripod a little bit... it's ok on social media because nobody will notice these minor faults at such a small size. You try it on the website as a background and the faults start to become a bit too obvious and doesn't quite suit the polished clean look of the website and you know that it won't suit digital display screens at your next trade show because those minor faults will be glaringly obvious. You spend another day trying to fix them up but realise you'll need to re-shoot some to properly fix them. So instead you post it on Instagram and revel in the praise of your boss just hoping he doesn't ask why it can't be used in the upcoming TV commercials... "How much time did you spend on this by the way... I noticed you missed a few meetings?"
Ok so I'm giving a deliberately negative and scaremongery in scenario 2! But believe me these are some of the issues people might face when they either do it themselves or get them done cheap by less experienced creatives. Again... it's risk mitigation, can those issues arise with professionally produced content that you paid $5000 for? Yes of course they can and they do... but much less likely.
Finally, stock cinemagraphs are a great option if you don't want to spend a premium on custom content. However finding the right content is a challenge. There's more and more stock Cinemagraphs becoming available on major stock sites but it's still very limited compared to still photography. Why is that? Because cinemagraphs are both a new format and they're actually a lot more time intensive to produce than stills or even regular video. Regular video clips can be simply graded and uploaded, as with still photos. Cinemagraphs are the equivalent of editing a short sequence of clips or creating a special effect, it involved editing on top of colour grading... time is money.
So where a stock photo might cost $150, the straight video equivalent might cost $250 and the Cinemagraph equivalent might cost $350 minimum (I don't charge less than that).
THE DIFFERENCE IS...
a.) The still photo as your webpage background is less impressive and in an ad campaign it won't get as many eyeballs and clicks.
b.) The standard video will jump every time it repeats on your webpage and is often too distracting from the content, in social ads a single short video clip feels unfinished unless it's edited into a longer sequence.
c.) The cinemagraph will work beautifully across all these mediums, as a webpage background it loops seamlessly and with subtle movement is not too distracting. For social media ad campaigns the movement gets more eyeballs and clicks and because it's a seamless loop you can use a single clip and it doesn't feel unfinished.
So is it worth paying more for a Cinemagraph? Of course it is!
"Selling Your Cinemaraphs" here on Cinemagraph.art
"How to Price your Cinemagraphs" by Flixel