What's a Cinemagraph?
What's a Cinemagraph?
Cinemagraphs are a style of imagery where an otherwise still photograph shows minor elements moving in a seamless loop. They have a mesmerizing, almost magical quality to them that makes them feel like a living photograph. This style of moving imagery was popularized by photographers Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck in 2011 for a series they created for NYC Fashion Week. Since then, cinemagraphs have become a popular medium for artists, marketers, and Instagrammers looking for unique ways to tell their stories.
Is a cinemagraph just a fancy version of an animated GIF?
Well, yes and no. You can create a cinemagraph and save it to the GIF format, but many find the format to be too low quality and opt instead to produce them as HD video. What makes cinemagraphs unique is the isolation of the animated element that repeats in a seamless loop, which has the effect of capturing an endless moment in time. Most folks use GIFs to express an emotion or to provide a comedic reaction, a kind of communication shorthand for the digital age. Cinemagraphs, on the other hand, are composed for more aesthetic purposes to elevate visual storytelling.
Wow! These things are really cool! How do you make one?
It all starts with what kind of story you want to tell. A fashion brand may focus on an element of the clothing they wish to avertise, while a travel company may want to capture an idyllic vista that makes it feel like you’re on an everlasting vacation. An artist may use the medium to promote an idea or evoke a particular emotional response.
Determine what you want to convey and what impact you wish to make on your audience. Then compose the shot. What is the subject? Which elements will be moving and which will remain still? And remember, cinemagraphs are all about subtle, repeated movements, so keep the animation focused and limited.
Next, you need to create the assets that you will use to build your cinemagraph. You can make cinemagraphs from either still photographs or video clips, depending on the effect you’re trying to achieve. In either case, high quality imagery or footage is paramount. Like the saying goes, “you can’t make chicken salad out of chickensh**.”
Once you have your concept and photographic/video assets figured out, you’ll need an application through which to create your cinemagraph. Traditional tools for creating cinemagraphs include Adobe Photoshop and After Effects, however, there are now several desktop and mobile apps out there specifically created to make cinemagraphs. If you’re interested in trying your hand at this style of visual storytelling, here are a few apps to consider:
- Cinemagraph Pro – Mac, iOS
- Vimage – iPhone, Android
- Fotodanz – Android
- Graphitii – Mac, Windows
- Gifzign – Mac, Windows