Technically, a cinemagraph is just a GIF or a Graphics Interchange Format. Basically, a short, animated file that is everywhere online these days. You’ve probably seen them on Tumblr, Facebook or Instagram. Maybe you even remember them when they were blowing up on Myspace (or is that just this guy :).

The beauty of a GIF is that you can share more than a photograph, so you’ll often see them used in memes. This is what’s great about cinemagraphs, too. Except unlike GIFs, this new art form is more sophisticated, subtle and often mysterious.

It’s like GIFs have grown up, moved out of their mom’s basement, and are even trying to be sexy. Often, it works, too, as you can see below. Adding a subtle animation can make a photograph come to life.

Before we start, there are countless ways to make cinemagraphs, but this tutorial is designed for those using Photoshop with basic skills.

Also Read: ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture – A Beginners Guide to Photography

To start, you’ll need a:

  • Tripod
  • DSLR Camera
  • Photoshop (CS5 or Latest CC Version)
  • Video Player

1. Choose Your Video File

To make a cinemagraph, you’ll start with a basic video file. Ideally you would shoot the video yourself so it can be specific to your company and perfectly match your brand, but if you’re just experimenting, downloading a stock video will work just fine!

How to Make a Cinemgaraph- Techiliar

When choosing the perfect video for your cinemagraph, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • The camera needs to stay still the entire time. If you’re shooting the video yourself, dig out the old tripod to keep things as stable as possible. If you’re browsing stock options, look for as little movement as possible!
  • The movement you want to keep should be easy to isolate. If objects are crossing in front of each other or moving all over the screen, it’ll be harder to isolate the movement you actually want while keeping the background still.
  • The video should loop. To keep the cinemagraph timeless, it’ll need to loop. While Photoshop can definitely help smooth things out, it’s easiest to use a video that can easily loop, or has a reversible beginning and end.

Once you’ve got your video file, you’re ready to load it into Photoshop.

2. Import The Video File

With Photoshop pulled up, head to File > Open. Select your file, and then you’ll see the video appear as a Layer. If it doesn’t show up automatically, make sure you can also see the Timeline by going to Window > Timeline.

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3. Clean Up The Timeline

Play your video file a few times – do you need the whole thing? If there’s extra footage either before or after the section you’d like your cinemagraph to focus on, go ahead and trim the file so it’s out of your way. You can do this by clicking the edge of the file in the Timeline and dragging it to the desired timestamp.

Also Read:Low Light Photography- Best Tips for Low Light Photos

If your video file is long and you’re having trouble viewing the whole thing or getting to the exact spot you want, you can use the scale at the bottom of the Timeline window to zoom in and out.

Note: The part of your file that you trim will still be saved, so don’t worry about losing data here! You can always click and drag the edge back out, if you decide you need a certain part later.

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My original video file ended with the Jenga tower falling over, which wouldn’t be easy to loop. So I cut that part out and trimmed some from the beginning as well, just to simplify the time I was working with!

Once you’re done cleaning up the Timeline, it’s time to hide the movement you don’t want.

4. Create The Masking Layer

Now you’ll create the “photo” aspect of the cinemagraph. Pause the video on the “image” you want to create, and then select the entire area. Copy and Paste this into a new Layer.

How to Make a Cinemgaraph- Techiliar

If you hit play, you’ll notice that now you can’t see any of the video, because the still later is on top. Now it’s time to add a mask, which will allow us to choose the exact movement we want to show!

Go ahead an add a Layer Mask, either from the option at the bottom of the Layers panel or by going to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All.

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5. Isolate The Movement

Make sure you have the Layer Mask selected (instead of the layer itself) and then grab the Brush Tool. Just like any mask, brushing with black will conceal the mask (revealing the content from the layer underneath) while brushing with white will reveal the mask (hiding the content from the layer underneath).

For this example, I wanted the movement of the Jenga tower to show while the hands stay static. To accomplish that, I painted the mask black over the top of the tower and left the rest white.

How to Make a Cinemgaraph- Techiliar

6. Export as a GIF or Mp4 Video File

Once you’re happy with your cinemagraph, it’s time to export it! Simply go to File > Export > Save for Web (Legacy). There are lots of options you can experiment with here, but the two most important ones are:

  1. Save as a gif (located near the top of the dialog box)
  2. Set the looping options to Forever (located near the bottom of the dialog box)

There’s always a little bit of a balance between file size and quality, so I definitely recommend experimenting with the settings to make sure you’re getting exactly the export you need.

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And that’s it! You’ve just created your very own cinemagraph to share with the world. How’d it turn out? We’d love to know in the comments.

Also Read: How to Make Money with Blogging in 2018


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