Video and photos differ only in the time segment that they swipe. A new app blends them together, and video site Vimeo has just bought that app. 

The app, called Echograph, was released for iPhones and iPads by Clear-Media, and had been available for US$ 2.99. Vimeo said the app will now be available for free, and the app’s creator, Nick Alt, will move from his role as Clear-Media’s CEO to Vimeo’s Vice President of Mobile.

Deal specifics were not made public.


With the app, a user selects a video, picks a five second clip within it, and then picks one still frame within the clip. Then the user uses their finger or a stylus to paint over portions of the still images – essentially, erasing the static portion of the image to reveal the moving video underneath. This creates a photograph with short video elements within the image -- a kind of animated still image. Users can then share the result.

Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor said in a statement that the app helps people to “easily create beautiful high-quality video content,” and that, “with Nick’s proven track record of building innovative video apps,” the acquisition is “a perfect fit for Vimeo.”


Mini-video clips are emerging as a new take on media expression. One of the best known tools is the Vine app, acquired in 2012 by Twitter. It allows users to take six-second videoclips and then share them via social networks.


Just as Twitter’s 140 character limit created new modes of shortened expression, conventions and communications, these self-imposed limitations on video lengths are creating their own expectations for the emerging category of very short-form media.

Alt has told news media that, “when you start seeing professionals gravitate to a format, like we’re seeing with Echograph, it starts becoming less a fad and more about evolving a new storytelling medium.”

This is part of a back-to-the-future movement that has newly rediscovered one of the Web’s earliest forms of media, the animated gif, in which a series of images play back a very short motion clip, often on a loop. Animated gifs like Echographs are experiencing a resurgence in popularity as an art form and as elements in marketing campaigns.