May 05, 2015

How to Create a Cinemagraph in Photoshop

Phlearn Phamily, you are in for a real treat!  In today’s episode, we show you how to create a cinemagraph in photoshop.  We don’t stop there, we also give you some tips for creating a cinemagraph in camera.  Sit back, grab some popcorn and enjoy the ride!

What is a Cinemagraph?

Cinemagraphs are commonly produced by taking a series of photographs or a video recording, and, using image editing software, compositing the photographs or the video frames into a seamless loop of sequential frames. This is done such that motion in part of the subject between exposures (for example, a person’s dangling leg) is perceived as a repeating or continued motion, in contrast with the stillness of the rest of the image.

Capturing Footage for a Cinemagraph

At first we planned on just teaching you how to create a cinemagraph in photoshop.  Then we realized that it’s just as important to know how to shoot a cinemagraph with your camera before taking it into photoshop.

Here are some things you’ll need in order to capture footage for your cinemagraph:

  • A camera that can record video (Anything from a DSLR to an iPhone)
  • A sturdy tripod (You’ll need your scene to be relatively still in order to really achieve this effect.  A sturdy tripod is one of the best ways to ensure your framing is consistent.)
  • A subject (Something or someone that is doing something with a continuous movement.  In our case we used a record player.  As long as there is a distinct starting and stopping point.

It will take a little practice to find the perfect subject, but get out there and have fun trying to create your own cinemagraph!

Using Photoshop to Edit Your Cinemagraph

After you’ve went out and shot your footage to create your cinemagraph, it’s time to bring it into Photoshop.  That’s right, Photoshop does also offer video editing features!

We start by importing our footage into Photoshop just like we would with any other still image.  Once you’ve brought your footage into Photoshop, it should pop up with your video timeline.  If you don’t see your timeline, just go up to Window, and down to Timeline.  The editing of your footage for a cinemagraph revolves around one concept.  Your end frame needs to be the same as your beginning frame.  That way it will create a continuous loop that looks completely seamless.

Once we have our clips set up how we want, we need to use keyframes to adjust the visibility of the layers, or the Opacity.  We set up our top clip with the opacity set at %100 and we gradually fade it out to %0.  This will cause your top clip and bottom clip to blend together perfectly.

Next we use a Stamp Visible Layer and paint black over the areas we want visible.  In this case with the footage we are using, we painted black only over where the waves are.  This is what really helps sell the effect.  Sometimes everything in your scene won’t work for a continuous motion, so creating a Stamp Visible Layer is a great way to control where the motion is coming from.

Saving & Exporting

Now that you have finished editing your Cinemagraph in photoshop, it’s time for the export.  You want to make sure you go to your menu and click “Save for Web”.  After that make sure that the file type is a GIF.  PNG files and JPEG files do now support motion so it won’t work if you don’t export your file as a GIF.  One of the cool features is you can simply click and drag your export Cinemagraph file into google and see how it would look on the web.




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  • user image

    Are there any digital frames that would support a gif like the one in your tutorial?

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    Barnia Scruggs

    Sweet. Thanks, Aaron. Is it possible to put a mask on a video clip? If so, could you have placed a gradient mask on the top video layer that would have faded to the bottom video layer?

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    You said there’d be bonus points if our camera set up included a Phlearn shirt… But you don’t sell them. Shirts aside, I’d love a Phlearn mug. Big coffee drinker! Big Phlearn phan! Any way you’d be willing to make them available?

  • user image

    WOW!! wow… Outstanding! I can not wait to try this!! THANK YOU!!

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    Jacky Hansen

    Great video, Aaron as always. I have to try it out, so please send a Phlerar t-shirt for best result 🙂

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    Don’t you need to trim off one frame from the bottom footage so you don’t have two identical frames in sequence at the beginning of the loop?

  • user image

    Thanks for the lesson. But what brand is that sweet boom in the background?

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    I have been practicing after learning this technique. My result is fun 😛

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    Thanh Hai

    Really cool Aaron. the tutorials just get better & better.
    Thank you so much.

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    Is the blending of the two video frames the technique that should be used when creating any type of cinemagraph and not specific to the video you used in your tutorial?

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    Bill Young

    Loved your video!! Just made my first cinemagraph – lots of fun. Do you have any suggestions for sharing strategy. I found out twitter will take the .gifs and “play” them in the feed, but Facebook doesn’t support moving .gifs. Any quick ways around this on Facebook? Love your videos, I’ve bought you pro ones also..

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      Actually I believe as of a week or so ago, facebook has started to support GIF’s. We’ve not tested it here yet but we’ve seen a few articles out there detailing how to use it there 😀

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    Thanks! I couldn’t wait to try this after watching your video, but only had low res videos on file so had fun experimenting… now to go out and try it in high def minus the pixelation!

    The Pixel Train…

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    Hello Phamily

    I am so excited to show you my creation. Always wanted to try and yesterday the inspiration came to me. Thank you for he information in the video. Have a merry christmas and a prosperous new year.

  • user image

    Thanks for the tutorial. I’ve been making my own, but continue to struggle with getting acceptable quality with the final gif out of Photoshop. Resolution is nowhere near as good as samples that I’m seeing made with Flixl and other software. Would be great if you posted a follow up tutorial on how to maximize resolution.

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    Thank you so much. This is a great tutorial! Thanks for posting it, I have been wanting to make these for a year or so and this is my first attempt.

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    Kirk Marsh

    Hey Aaron! And Phlearnites! I can’t stop making these thing. I love them. Here is one from today even though I made two of them.