Step-By-Step on Creating a Cinemagraph

Ever  noticed one of those stunning cinemagraphs while you visited a site or scrolled through your newsfeed? We have Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck to thank because they first created the first cinemagraph in 2011. A cinemagraph is a photo where some parts in the photo are moving while the rest are “still” or static like this example from Nike and this font with a 3D effect added to it.  I’ll guide you through a step-by-step process on how to make one. The key part in creating cinemagraphs is to have a steady hand, so a tripod is your best friend.

Difficulty Level: Basic knowledge of Photoshop
What you need: Tripod, Camera (iPhone works great as well) and Photoshop

Step 1. Choose your subject and film it.

You want your subject to continuously loop like water running, records playing or someone waving. For this example, we have Rio, our Social Media Manager, pouring coffee into a mug. When you film, we highly recommend using a tripod.

Tip: If you don’t have a tripod, you can get creative using whatever you have to prop your camera or your phone so it stays stationary at all times while your subject is being recorded.


Step 2. Open your video into Photoshop and select your 2-4 second clip.

Once your Photoshop is open, make sure your Timeline is visible, by going to Window > Worskspace > Motion. Now, open your video file and carefully choose a clip from your footage where the last frame will become the first frame so the looping is seamless. You’ll only need about 2-4 seconds. But don’t worry if it doesn’t loop perfectly, I will go over duplicating and reversing your clip in the next few steps.


Step 3. Create and mask your still image.

Once you’ve selected your 2-4 second clip, copy that layer and rasterize it. This will be your static image where you will create the mask. Once you create the mask, use your eraser tool and erase the parts in the image where you want the action to take place. The red hue that you see in the example below is the only area I want to see movement. Test out your mask and play your video and ensure there are no unwanted jumps in the video.

Tip: Use a soft eraser brush, and if you erased too much, simply use your brush tool. Zoom in and brush the parts you want the image to stay static.

Step 4. Render your video to .mp4.

If your video loops seamlessly, skip to Step 7 to export your video into a .GIF file. If not then your next steps are going to help create a perfect loop. Start by going to File > Export > Render Video.  A pop-up window will appear and you can play around with the Format and Preset to your liking, but for our video example, I have chosen the following:


Step 5. Import your video to frames.

Go to File > Import > Video Frames to Layers.  A pop up will appear and make sure that you have “make Frame Animation” checked like the example below. The reason we are doing this is to create the looping perfectly so that the last frame is the first frame.

Step 6. Duplicate all frames and reverse order.

Select all the frames in your Frame Animation window and duplicate them by copying all frames and pasting them after the last frame. Now, select all of your duplicated frames and “Reverse Frames.” This ensures that your last frame is the first frame, creating a seamless loop.


Step 7. Export to .GIF

Go to File > Export > Save for Web.  When you are exporting your cinemagraph into a .gif, be sure to choose “Forever” in the Looping Options dropdown. Click “Save” and there you have it! You can now post your cinemagraph on your blog, website and pretty much anywhere that supports .gif files.



“Oh but wait! Facebook and Instagram don’t support .GIF files! What should I do?” you ask.

If you want to post your cinemagraphs on social media, simply render your final cinemagraph to an .mp4 file by going back to Step 4. The great thing about Instagram is that it plays and loops your video automatically, so even if your video is 2-4 seconds long, it will seem as if your video is 15 seconds long. However, Facebook  does not loop videos, so you will need to go back to Step 6 and duplicate all your frames (existing frames and already reversed frames) 3 or 4 times until you end up with at least a 15 second video. Then select Render Video to an .mp4 file.


You now know how to create stunning cinemagraphs. And, with video being on the rise on social media and on the web, I think that cinemagraphs will definitely make you stand out since it is an interesting hybrid between photo and video, requiring your audience to do a double take.