A cinemagraph is a still photo with an isolated pocket of looping video. Create a cinemagraph that captures an interesting movement.
Repetition, time, composition.
Or, tablet with camera.
A cinemagraph is basically a video that plays beneath a still image, to create the effect of part of the picture moving.
The first stop is to create or find a scene for your cinemagraph. The scene must have a repeating movement, or a movement that has a clear beginning and end that you can repeat! Examples: an eye blinking, a door opening.
Record a short video (30 seconds – 1 minute.) that captures the entire movement. Make sure the camera stays still by using a tripod or other surface like a table or chair to keep the image stable.
Import your video into Photoshop by going to File > Open and selecting your video clip from the dialogue box that pops up. Your video should pop up with the clip displayed in the video timeline automatically.
If the video timeline does not show up automatically, you can find it by navigating to Window > Timeline.
Use the scissors button in the timeline box to cut your video so that the beginning of your clip is at the beginning of the movement and the end of your clip is at the end of the movement.
Delete the excess footage by clicking on them and hitting backspace.
Play through your video, and stop on the frame you want to be your final composition.
Select it with the rectangular marquee tool in your toolbox on the left hand side of the screen by clicking and dragging it over the image.
Copy it by going to Edit > Copy.
Create a new layer by going to Layer > New (or selecting the layer icon in the layers window on the right) on top of the one holding your video.
In order to line that layer up with your video clip, either click the film roll icon beside “Video Group 1” and in the drop down menu, select “New Video Group,” or click and drag your new layer above the video layer in the Timeline panel.
Drag the new layer into the timeline above your video file so it lines up on the timeline.
Paste your frame into the empty layer by going to Edit > Paste, or by using your computer’s keyboard commands.
In your layer panel, hide the video layer by clicking on the small eye icon next to the name.
In the layer with the frame, use the eraser tool to erase the section of the still image that covers the movement you want to show.
Select your video layer by double clicking on it and click to make it visible again.
Go to the layer box or Layer > Duplicate Layer, and duplicate the video layer 10 times into the same timeline to create a looping effect.
Extend the length of the still layer by clicking and dragging the end to the same length as the duplicated video layers.
If you want a smooth transition between the video clips, drag crossfades in between each clip.
You can find these by clicking the transitions menu button in your timeline panel, next to the scissors, and then by clicking, dragging and dropping the crossfade option over the two clip ends you want it to affect.
In the timeline panel, press “play” to watch your cinemagraph.
Are you satisfied? If not, make adjustments. For example, does the still layer line up with the video layer? If not, you can select the video layer using the “Move” tool at the top of your toolbox panel, and shift it to the right location in relation to the still layer.
Another example: if you erased too large or too small a section of your still frame, you can easily re-copy that frame from the video like in step 6, paste it back into the upper layer, and try again.
To export your cinemagraph as a video clip, go to File > Export > Render Video. To export your cinemagraph as a gif, see step 18.
To export your cinemagraph as a gif, go to File > Save for Web, and set the preset option to the file size of .gif that you want by adjusting the percentage size and amount of dither.
Don’t forget to set the looping to “Forever.” Then, press save.
I used to make gifs a lot when I was younger, but creating an infinite loop with video rather than with frames in Photoshop was something new to me. I realized while working on this project that making sure the main moving object in the video is relatively stationary was very important so that when creating the loop, there’s a point in which the moving object ends up in the same position as the start of the video.
It took me so long to make my cinemagraph look presentable, and as I got more and more frustrated that it didn’t look like the professional ones I realized that I really needed to relax and just enjoy the process. Although my piece didn’t turn out perfect, I learned what I needed to do for future cinemagraphs and also really felt the bittersweet pain of the artistic process.
I’ve never done anything like cinemagraphs before, so I’m really glad I got the chance to because this project was so inspiring! I would definitely recommend trying this project to anyone looking to dip their toes into video: since cinemagraphs are so short, and since they’re relatively new, the possibilities for experimenting are endless!
Slipping into the cinemagraph mindset got me thinking differently about the art I’m making now: I want to add cinemagraph details to every project. Note to self: Definitely remember this technique for creative blocks. Changing up your routine and trying something you’ve never done before, forcing yourself to think outside the box and learn something new always helps get the juices flowing!
Making a cinemagraph was something unlike anything I’ve done before. I expected it to be super difficult but it was actually very straight forward! What I struggled with most was trying to hold my camera really still without a tripod. I had to take several videos before finding one still enough!
I would love to keep creating cinemagraphs because there is something very surreal about them, they can be whimsical and humorous. I would love to include elements of cinemagraphs in my artwork. The idea of having one moving part is really interesting, and it was very simple to make!