So you’re cruising the New York Times web site, checking out a great series of stories about the visual feast that is New York City. There’s a piece there — posted a couple of weeks ago — about the Butler Library of Columbia University.
The slideshow pictures — by the Times‘ Catherine Spangler — are just gorgeous.
But as you’re looking at it, something remarkable happens.
Passersby walk in front of the camera.
If you wait long enough, the same folks walk by again before the scene returns to normal.
And the same happens with the other pictures. Tree branches and bushes sway in the breeze. A long, darkened shot of stacks changes focus.
Clearly, this isn’t the still slideshow you thought it was. Count on the New York Times to apply taste and subtlety instead of the click-whoring the rest of us resort to every day.
I asked the Times‘ Tyson Evans if those were GIF files. He replied:
They’re actually movie files in the slideshow (GIF files can be incredibly large at high quality).
He — and everyone else I asked — referred me to Times multimedia editor Andrew DeVigal. Who tells us:
So they are NOT too new… though I would argue that these are slightly different from Damon’s Moments. Damon’s were more “editorial” in that it’s made for real good b-roll… where as these new ones are slightly more artsy and subtle… and lean towards the potential of these new-fangled “cinemagraphs” which is why they were confused as being animated GIFs. But I, too, enjoy the more subtle approach.
Drew points out that the Atlantic Wire wrote about these slideshows earlier this week, calling them “zen-like.”
The Atlantic Wire’s Adam Martin reports the technical details:
Times Culture desk Web editor Julie Bloom explained they’re actually short, looped videos, showing the movement of the water, leaves and sky in front of the statue. “They are HTML5 videos, not GIFs. They shot video using a 5DMkII and extracted sequences to look like photographs with a bit of motion. They are supposed to feel like moving photographs. They are looped silently and placed in a slide show player.”
Andrew tells us:
They were shot by Catherine Spangler and Leslye Davis. Presentation developed by Jon Huang. All three are multimedia producers.
We plan on doing this seven more times since the series will continue throughout the summer.
And this treatment isn’t for everything. In fact, I would argue we launched it for the perfect thing… something dreamy, arty and zen-like poetry.
Thanks to Pete Selkowe of the Racine (Wis.) Post for the tip.