Cinemagraphs are photos with motion. Usually subtle repeated motion. If you remember “Harry Photos” movies, then you probably remember photos with moving portraits and the pictures inside newspapers were also moving. These are Cinemagraphs.
Cinemagraphs are still photographs in which a minor and repeated movement occurs, forming a video clip. They are published as an animated GIF or in other video formats and can give the illusion that the viewer is watching an animation. A variation is a video snapshot (clip composed like a still photo, but instead of a shutter release it is captured using the video recording function with its audio track and perhaps showing minor movement such as the subject’s eye blinks). Another variation is an audio snapshot (still photo linked to an audio file created at the moment of photo capture by certain cameras that offer this proprietary function).
The term “cinemagraph” was coined by U.S. photographers Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck, who used the technique to animate their fashion and news photographs beginning in early 2011.
How To Make A Cinemagraph?
There are three methods I am familiar with:
- Several applications mimic Cinemagraphs. For example by adding rain/snow or some other moving effect to an existing picture. After adding the effect, this is no longer a jpeg. It is either a movie format or an animated GIF.
- There are also applications that help you to capture and create the Cinemagraph using the smartphone.
- The last method is using the software on your desktop computer. It can be Photoshop (yes, Photoshop can manipulate videos), After Effects or other video manipulation software.
As I mentioned above, the first option to create a Cinemagraph is by mimicking. There are many different options, and Lumyer, Werble, VLLO, and InShot are among the popular apps. For example, you can use these apps to add falling snow or other effects to animate your photos.
Another interesting option is Plotagraph.
If you have an Instagram account, then you have probably seen Plotagraph Pro in action. Here is what PetaPixel says about them:
Plotagraph Pro is an incredible new photography tool that can take any still image and animate it into a beautiful looping GIF or video file. No need to shoot a video or capture multiple frames, a single JPEG is all this Web-app needs.
Plotagraph Pro was created by photographer and artist Troy Plota, and it’s being marketed as a simple alternative to time-intensive Cinemagraph creation.
“Cinemagraphs originate from video footage and requires specific video production which adds considerably to the costs. This also greatly limits the amount of available footage,” it says on the Plotagraph Pro website. “Plotagraphs are free from the constraints of video which makes Billions of images available to bring to life at a fraction of the price of any other process.”
Any single JPEG can be turned into a flowing animation and exported as a GIF, MP4, or MOV file through a patent-pending combination of specialized imaging algorithms.
Though the results of Plotagraph Pro look impressive, usually you can distinguish between a real Cinemagraph and a simulated one. Want to see the difference? Here is an article by Flixel where they compare Cinemagraphs and Plotagraphs.
Create Cinemagraphs Using Phone
Flixel is one of the more known players in this field. And they have Cinemagraph Pro for macOS and iOS. But there are many other apps as well. For example PICOO Camera and Loopsie, that have apps for both iOS and Android.
Create Cinemagraphs Using Software
I have used this method. And before our vacation in Austria, I have watched several tutorials on YouTube and decided to go for it. Here is one of those tutorials:
How To Shoot A Cinemagraph?
Capturing technique is quite simple. I looked for a nice frame with repetitive motion. The repetitive motion can be the wind that is gently moving something (flowers, flags or even your wife’s hair 😉 ), moving water, candles or something else. Then I put my camera on a tripod and captured a still image and a short video (with the same aperture and white balance settings). You can create Cinemagraphs without the still image, but I preferred to have it since the dynamic range in photos is much bigger. Thus, when merging both, I will have more data to work with.
Travel Cinemagraphs Examples
Now I want to present the result. Hopefully, you will like it, and it will inspire you to create your Cinemagraphs.
Note: these files are pretty big, thus depending on your internet connection, it may take a while till you see them. Therefore, I have created a movie from all these Cinemagraphs and attached it at the bottom of this post.
The first two were made in Melk:
Next two were made in Salzburg. The first one is a window view from our hotel and the next one I took at Hohensalzburg Castle.
And here is a short video presenting all of them:
Note: all posts from the trip to Austria can be found at 11 Days in Austria.
Can I use a Cinemagraph from your site?
If you would like to purchase a commercial license then please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And in case you want to use one of the (watermarked) Cinemagraphs on your website, then you can download the files freely. Just give credit and link back to my website.
What type of file is a Cinemagraph?
Cinemagraphs are either animated gifs (.gif) or videos that autoplay and loop infinitely (.mpeg and other film file formats).
Most social platforms do not support animated gifs, but they do support infinite looping videos. Thus I use animated gifs for my website, and videos for Instagram and Facebook.
Note: you can find other creative outlines, like 2.5D Parallax Photo Effect – Animating Photos, Combo Photo – Series Of Merged Photos Showing Israel, From Day to Night in Israel, Hyperlapse of Bahai Gardens in Haifa and others, under personal projects category.
Have you ever created a Cinemagraph? Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comments.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!