One visual storytelling company is making it easy for modern-day marketers to create more entrancing visuals for a variety of campaigns.

Toronto-based Flixel Photos Inc. offers a relatively new service that allows consumers and creative professionals alike to turn run-of-the-mill photographs and videos into what company refers to as “living stills.”

In the fight to win (and keep) the attention of consumers, cinemagraphs are an attempt to capture their eye without the expense and difficulty of shooting high-production-value videos.

“Over the last two years, we’ve evolved our vision for cinemagraphs from a simple mobile app to a full product suite of creative tools for professionals,” said Flixel CEO and co-founder Philippe LeBlanc. “It’s exciting to see the rapid adoption of Flixel among top brands and agencies and we’re confident that cinemagraphs will take their place alongside video and still photography as a premium advertising medium.”

LeBlanc says the Cinemagraph Pro tool from Flixel has ability to transform a few seconds of video into a full-blown cinemagraph — a still image with selected moving components — within a few minutes. The program, which is compatible with iOS and Mac, uses a series of masking tools to select the area where the user wants specific movement and blends the video segments together with a preselected still shot.

“Flixels can be used for online digital ads, or used as a way to simply share one’s creative art,” LeBlanc says. “Our tool … allows you to create these cinemagraphs extremely easily and in a fun way.”

Both Flixel and cinemagraphs seem to be gaining traction in the ad world. A recent case study with one Canadian tourism organization illustrates how marketers can use these types of blended images across a variety of mediums. Christiaan Welzel, creative director at Calgary-based digital design firm Critical Mass, said the ease of use was one of the main draws for his agency to use Flixel in a recent Travel Alberta campaign.

“One of the asks from the client was to find new, insightful, technologically-advanced and more powerful ways to distribute [their visual] content and get it out there,” says Welzel.  

At first, the agency just used Flixel to create a series of breathtaking cinemagraphs exclusively for the Flixel platform. And Welzel says the shareability of the blended images and the direct feedback they received from social platforms like Reddit was a huge measure of success for them and Travel Alberta. And the stunning landscape shots worked so well in this medium that the team used these visual assets for use across social platforms, digital outdoor ads and even in ads in San Francisco’s airport.

In addition to the traction this service is seeing with creative professionals, the company also just celebrated its latest successful round of seed funding, raising $2.2 million via Toronto-based venture capital firm and technology accelerators Extreme Venture Partners with assistance from Cranson Capital. This latest round of funds came from pre-existing investors as well as a handful of new ones from Canada and Australia.

“Cinemagraphs have the potential to transform the creative and advertising world and we’ve been paying close attention to Flixel since they launched in 2011,” said Sunil Sharma, the managing director of Extreme Venture Partners, in a statement. “The company has captured the imagination of creatives everywhere with their suite of cinemagraph creation apps which presents huge potential for success among photographers, videographers and digital marketers.”

Welzel echoed this sentiment, and added his prediction about the future cinemagraphs, particularly in a marketing and advertising context.

“You can put photography [on social platforms]. That’s fine, that’ll work. But you’re in a sea of competition that gets pretty intense,” Welzel says. “That’s where cinemagraphs come into play. A moving image has power over a static image, at least in my opinion, for one thing. And when you bake in the layer of a cinemagraph, it’s hard for most people to decipher exactly what’s making it so enchanting.”

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