No doubt you’ll have heard of the term Cinemagraph since it exploded onto the Internets. Originally coined by Photographers Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck, a cinemagraph is a clever revival of the classic animated GIF. It combines features of video and photography to create a the illusion of a still image but with cool motion effects. Let’s take a look at how to create your own animated GIF cinemagraph by playing around with Photoshop‘s animation tools.

What is a Cinemagraph?

Original Cinemagraph

Some of the best cinemagraph examples can be found on the creators’ own website. Their original cinemagraphs from New York Fashion Week capture moments just like an ordinary photograph, but also preserve that living moment in time to re-experience endlessly.

As the popularity of the cinemagraph grew we began to see mobile apps such as Cinemagram emerge, which allows the easy creation of amateur cinemagraphs using the device’s built in camera. These apps provide a quick and easy cinemagraph solution, but as always you can achieve the best results when you have fine control over the whole production process, so let’s take a look at how to create our very own cinemagraph from scratch.

How to create a Cinemagraph

Cinemagraphs require some kind of motion, so while the final image looks much more similar to a photograph than a video, we need to begin with actual video footage. Not all videos are suitable though. A cinemagraph is made from a loop using specific portion of the image, so the scene must feature both stationary and animated objects. Here’s a few tips to keep in mind when filming your own cinemagraph footage:

  • Use a tripod. The background of your scene must remain perfectly still in order for just a specific subject to be animated.
  • Feature a scene that includes some kind of continuous or looping motion. Cinemagraphs of subway trains or escalators work really well because they move consistently and predictably.
  • Sometimes subtle effects result in the best cinemagraphs. A visually intense scene might just work better as a video, whereas the subtle animation of grass blowing in the wind or an intermittent blink of an eye can create a really impactful image.

Cinemagraph

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25 Comments

  1. Found this on stumble upon and loved the techniques used. Though I agree there are lots of apps out there but I think this tut is for people who want to learn photoshop techniques. Again thanks for posting. :D

  2. OS SUM articles i really appreciate through in this article i improve more knowledge Photoshop.
    thank u to sharing me this knowledgeable tutorial.

  3. Very cool!

    I did a post a couple of weeks back on some of the coolest animated GIFs on the web and obviously had to include the Cinemagraphs from Jamie & Kevin. It’s really informative to be able to witness the process behind these timeless creations.

    Cheers to you!

  4. Great tutorial. Is there any vintage cinemagraph tuts, so that we can make animated .gif just like Harry Potter poster animation…?
    Excellent Tuts. Thanks

  5. Nice tutorial, interested to try it out. the examples on cinemagraphs.com are awesome, some took a bit of time to load but they look excellent

    • Cinemagraph apps are on android as well as iOS so you wouldn’t have to buy that horrendous phone.

  6. Go ahead, make creativity fun! WoW!
    How is this different from making a Gif?
    Don’t laugh.
    I know that tut. is around here somewhere.

  7. I use Photoshop just for few days and I still try to learn how it works. I hope to make an animated banner using your tutorial and maybe a logo. Thanks for it, now I don’t waste time to search about animation :)

  8. You have to purchase quicktime PRO to do this. No thanks.

    I can edit a video with editor of my choice but the problem is that quicktime doesn’t recognize it unless it’s in quicktime format.

    But then when I try to use QT to trim video I cannot unless I purchase QT Pro.

  9. Great tutorial!

    For those of you with iPhones, you could also achieve this in a few seconds using the Flixel app :)

    (disclosure: I’m the design cofounder for Flixel)

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