How to make a cinemagraph

How to make a cinemagraph using Cinemagraph Pro

Cinemagraph Pro is a piece of software available only for Mac & iOS devices, and it also allows you to easily create cinemagraphs. If you prefer to use this over Photoshop, follow the step-by-step guide below. 

Cinemagraph Pro for Mac users

Step 1

The process of making your clip is exactly the same as the method mentioned earlier. 

Once you have your video clip you will need to open it in the software. Cinemagraph Pro will automatically select a still image and overlay it over a short clip of the video. You’ll be able to see if there is much movement from the start to the end. If you’re not happy with the placement you can easily move the purple line and the selected area to a preferred place.

Click the top-right-hand corner to enlarge the image

Step 2

Trim the clip down so it’s a lot shorter than the original to save on file space and time. As with the previous technique, it will be looping continuously.

Click the top-right-hand corner to enlarge the image

Step 3

Now we need to mask out the areas where you don’t want any movement to happen, and this is very similar to using the Mask tools in Photoshop. 

I find it’s best to do a rough mask first just so you can see the movement of the video layer and then zoom in by pressing the Command and +/- keys to refine the edges so that there isn’t an obvious difference between the two.

Click the top-right-hand corner to enlarge the image

Step 4

The next panel is Loop; here you can set how you want the GIF to play. Repeat is the same as the looping style we did in Photoshop and will just keep playing the clip until the end of time. Bounce is quite interesting; when the clip ends it will then play it backwards and then start again. Very similar to the Boomerang option currently found in Instagram.

Click the top-right-hand corner to enlarge the image

Step 5

In the Loop panel you can also play around with the speed, delay and also the crossfade. Crossfade is great for hiding the jump between the end of the clip and the start, and using this will give the illusion of an endless loop.

Step 6

Next up is the Adjustments panel. Unless you already edited the video before you brought it into Cinemagraph Pro (which I would recommend) this is where you can use sliders to edit your clip to your desired look.

Click the top-right-hand corner to enlarge the image

Step 7

After this you’ll be taken to the Effects panel, which I never touch due to the pre-edit I give my clips. Still, if you like, you can use this to add an Instagram-esque filter to your cinemagraph.

Click the top-right-hand corner to enlarge the image

Step 8

Now it’s time to export your clip. After clicking the Export icon, a dialog box will pop up with different options depending on where you would like to post the clip. 

For most places a GIF file will work great but some social media platforms don’t accept this file type so it would be best to export this as an H.264 video file with around 20-30 repetitions. 

Click the top-right-hand corner to enlarge the image

Also, uploading to Flixel is great option as the quality of the file is a lot better than the GIF file, and you can then share or embed this file anywhere you want.

Here is the finished result.

Cinemagraph Pro for iOS users

Using this software on your iPhone or iPad is basically the same as the process I described above. The only difference here is that you can create the original video in the app itself and start editing it immediately. It’s a great way to quickly test to see if shots would work or if you want to shoot with your phone or tablet rather than carrying around a heavy camera. 

Final thoughts

Cinemagraphs are a great new feature to the world of photography, and they seem to be getting more popular. Just remember to keep your shots as simple as possible when you get started. Once you get used to the editing process, you can be more experimental. 

The Cinemagraph Pro apps come with free trials, but they are ultimately paid-for services. As such, if you're just getting started and you already use Photoshop, I would highly recommend trying this first.

Read more: Crash course: Adobe Lightroom for complete beginners