How to Make a Cinemagraph

So maybe you’ve come across this blog in hopes to learn how you could make a plain old photograph more interesting. Whether it was that you just so happened to be watching a Harry Potter movie and realized that they have moving pictures in the Wizarding World and wanted to emulate something like that. Or maybe it was just that you were mindlessly scrolling through your insta and saw a cinemagraph. Whatever brought you to this blog, consider yourself lucky because you will learn how to make a moving picture in the most simplified way possible (because who doesn’t love taking an easy route to achieve things).

So to get technical, what you will be making today is a cinemagraph, which is basically a picture with a minor, repeated movement occurring within it. So lets get to it!

Step 1

The very first thing you’ll need to do is to take a video of what you want to animate. In this tutorial, I’m going to be using a hand me down watch and animate the second hand (the part of the watch that moves every second) as if it were stuck/glitching. Feel free to do something more artsy like water falling out of a cup or steam blowing through a kettle. I’d use Pinterest for some inspiration because it’s always handy to have reference photos. Be sure to use a tripod pod or some sort of stand to take your video because it’ll make your life so much easier if it was as still as possible.

Step 2

Right, so now that you have your video to make this cinemagraph, we are going to use Photoshop. You can never go wrong with an adobe classic. Go ahead and open it up, click Window and then Timeline. Drag in your video to where it says timeline and clip your video to edit where you want your GIF to begin and end. Do this by using that little black selection option (as seen in the picture below in red) and drag it.

Step 3

Next you want to add a new layer and make sure it’s placed on top of your video layer. This will be your masking layer, where you’ll mask out the part you want to move for your video. You do this by clicking the brush tool (or ‘b’ for brush) and tracing the moving pieces. For example, I chose the seconds hand so all that I’ll be masking out is each time the hand moves (clicking throughout the video to do so). Keep in mind that while doing this, you need to make sure to mask ALL of what you want to move, it’ll come out much cleaner if you do this.

Screenshot (5)

Step 4

Now that you have your masking done, go ahead and hide the masking layer, scroll all the way to the end of your video and select Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E (if your using a Mac it’s Command + Option + Shift +E) to create a flattened image for your video so that any part that’s not moving will be static. Then take that new layer and place it below your masking layer (but above the overall video layer).

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Step 5

Go ahead and unhide the masking layer and Ctrl + click the layer thumbnail so that everything you mask is selected. Then click your flattened image layer or whatever you named that layer (where it says Layer 3 in the image below) and click “add vector mask” which is the little rectangle with the black dot in the middle (found in the lower right corner under all your layers). This will probably create a layer mask that’s white on black, so go ahead and click on that layer mask and click Ctrl + i to convert it to black on white. At this point hide your first layer mask since you created a new one.

Screenshot (9)

Step 6

So if you didn’t realize already, you just created your cinemagraph. Feel free to skip this step if you feel that it looks just the way you want it to but if there are a few mistakes that you want to clean up, follow this. So as you can see below, the watch has a few glitches I want to clean up so I’m clicking my layer mask and using the eraser tool (you might need to alternate between brush and eraser), and erased some of the glitching. You can scroll through your GIF to find any errors in the movement.

Step 7

You’ve reached the end! Yay! Now it’s time to export your work. Click File, Export, and then Save for Web. Make sure you save it as a GIF and where it says Animation – Looping options it says “Forever.” Then go ahead and click save!

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Now go and share your work of art to everyone and be proud of what you created!

Da finished product 🙂