Sixties City has some interesting flipbook-style examples of dance moves:

dance moves
dance moves 2 dance moves 3

The cool thing about the images above is they’re scannable at a glance. If these were videos, you would have to watch each one in order to know what’s going on. The multiple frame view, on the other hand, gives you an instant overview.

Small multiples
In Envisioning information, Edward Tufte discusses how small multiple designs answer the question “Compared to what?”

Small multiple designs, multivariate and data bountiful, answer directly by visually enforcing comparisons of changes, of the differences among objects, of the scope of alternatives. For a wide range of problems in data presentation, small multiples are the best design solution.

Illustrations of postage-stamp size are indexed by category or a label, sequenced over time like the frames of a movie, or ordered by a quantitative variable not used in the single image itself. Information slices are positioned within the eyespan, so that viewers make comparisons at a glance — uninterrupted visual reasoning. Constancy of design puts the emphasis on changes in data, not changes in data frames.

Getting to “Aha!” ASAP
While the sort of multiple frame technique shown above has many applications, online videos seem like a natural home for it. As the number of videos available grows, people will seek quicker ways to grasp what’s going on in a clip and whether it’s worth viewing.

So what if YouTube posted multiple frames instead of just picking one frame?

For example, the frame YouTube chooses to show for this Conan clip doesn’t prepare you at all for the clip’s actual contents.

conan real

Multiple frames do a much better job:

conan real

Update: Guba’s UI works this way. John Whittet writes, “We forget that YouTube is merely the elephant in the phylum of video sites. Check out Guba for an example of exactly what you’re talking about. They, in fact, display sixteen stills, giving you an even better glimpse of what the video contains.” Jamie Stephens follows up, “Guba does allow you to hover over clips in the search results to preview a series of stills or there is a button on the embedded player that gives them to you all at once.”

Small Multiples Within a User Interface [UXmatters]
The Gospel According to Tufte (search for “Small Multiples”)