Tips on how to create a seamless cinemagraph

Create top-notch and seamless cinemagraphs with these pro tips.
Tips on how to create a seamless cinemagraph

Ever been scrolling through your feed and your thumb was stopped mid-scroll as you come across what appears to be a moving image?


No, you’re not hallucinating, it’s a cinemagraph! An image that combines a photo and a video to create a shot that has a small moving element to it. They’re almost like ‘living’ images and the movement is repeated in a loop so that image never ‘dies’. According to Vamp creators, they’re amazing for storytelling and can increase your video views and engagement.

I create cinemagraphs because they’re unique and help my content stand out from the crowd. I often turn popular photography locations, such as Marina Bay Sands and Merlion park, into cinemagraphs as they tend to bring in higher engagement. By adding motion to these popular locations, it creates a ‘wow’ factor as people are seeing these well-know spots in a new and interesting way. My followers are then more enticed to like and share it, further boosting my engagement.

Vamp creator, @arianteo

I want my photos to offer more, which is why I love creating cinemagraphs. They ‘wow’ my audience and aren’t hard for me to create, or for my audience to digest. I like to keep them simple yet engaging enough to catch my audience’s attention. I know I only have a few seconds before they scroll past my content! I also get a lot of positive feedback when I post them, which boosts my engagement and views.

Vamp creator, @huxsterized

If a picture can tell a thousand words, I can tell even more with a cinemagraph. I enjoy creating them because it allows me to express the emotions and moods more cohesively. There is an element of extra views and engagement with the ‘wow’ factor in these, but what’s most important is the inspiring feedback you get when the content really resonates with someone.

Vamp creator, @jamtuna

In order to get that ‘wow’ factor and capture your audience’s attention before they scroll on, your cinemagraphs needs to be top-notch and seamless. So we asked Vamp’s cinemagraph professionals how it’s done.

#1 Plan out the scenario before shooting it


Without a clear plan of action, you’ll risk wasting your time and your cinemagraph could end up a hot mess.@lifestylesydney explains, “Before getting started it’s super important to plan the whole scenario out. Ask yourself: Which actions do you want to create? Which element should be moving? And does the background work for it? Think about the looping options – does a bounce loop or repeat loop work best?”

With those questions answered, create a timeline or storyboard to map out how your finished product should look. This will help you understand what props and equipment you’ll need to achieve these goals.


#2 Look for moving elements already present in your shot


When figuring out what element of your shot you’ll edit to move, @arianteo suggests looking for movement that’s already present. “If there’s already some existing motion in your picture, such as clouds, waterfalls and rivers, make those elements of your shot move in a way that looks as natural as possible.”

But if you haven’t, don’t worry, @arianteo has a tip for you too. “If there aren’t any motion elements in your picture, you will have to think of how you can creatively incorporate that motion. Often, I like to digitally paint frame by frame and compile it into a motion.” Think along the lines of a blinking light bulb, book pages turning in the wind and a candle flame flickering.

#3 Go from amateur to professional with a little extra research


A professional and well-executed cinemagraph has a better chance of standing out in the feed and a bit of photography research can help. “Knowing visual photography fundamentals will carry your work a long way. Researching and using different concepts in composition, lighting and colour is what will make your cinemagraph pop.” Says @jamtuna.

To take your cinemagraph to the next level, @jamtuna suggests ”Adding an additional element of movement.” So instead of having just the waves crashing down, make those palm trees sway too. And @arianteo recommends you, “Explore different techniques that allow you to add motion to a picture in a different way. Such as digital paint, time slices and stop motions.” These little extra touches will be sure to engage your audience, who won’t want to stop watching your cinemagraph play.


#4 Record more than what you think you need


Just like when you’re shooting transitions, the more footage the better. You’ll thank yourself later when it comes time to editing. “It’s always a good idea to record multiple options before committing to one.’ Says @lifestylesydney. “In post-production, the aim is to make the loop look as seamless as possible, and having the option to pick only the best takes will help you get there.”

Just as a photographer shoots a model in different positions and expressions, so they have multiple options to choose from, when shooting the movement for your cinemagraph, play around with how else the props could move. You may choose the footage you hadn’t initially planned.

#5 A tripod is your best friend


There’s nothing worse than finding out your image was blurry because you couldn’t hold the camera still. And when you’re shooting a cinemagraph, you don’t just have the still image to think about. If the footage of your moving element looks blurry or glitchy because the camera wasn’t stable, you’ll ruin the ‘wow’ factor and seamless look of your cinemagraph.

This is why @jamtuna can’t stress enough to “Use a tripod! Although phones and cameras these days have built-in stabilisation, nothing can replace the sturdiness of a tripod.” This doesn’t need to be anything fancy or expensive, but it does need to have the functionality to hold your camera of choice and the ability to change its height.


#6 Don’t be afraid to use ‘helpers’


When @lifestylesydney was shooting this cinemagraph for our Huawei campaign, she used a secret helper to create that floating, spinning phone. “I taped a plastic string to the phone screen and twisted it right before hitting record to get its movement.”

Sometimes the equipment you’ll use to get that end product isn’t glamours or anything high-tech. A little bit of Blu Tack here, and some fishing line and tape there is all you’ll need to create the illusions you’re after – no magic powers required. 


#7 Pick an editing software that you enjoy using


According to @huxsterized, “There’s no right or wrong way to achieve the end result.” There’s plenty of great editing apps and software out there you can use to create your cinemagraph. And @arianteo says, “Don’t be afraid to use mobile apps!” Try using Adobe After Effect, Flixel, Photoshop or Premiere Pro.

“For most of my cinemagraphs, I use a stop motion technique. I add elements layer by layer using Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop, then I merge them all together to create the final video in Premiere Pro.” Says @huxsterized. The most important thing to remember when you’re editing is to enjoy the process and deliver the end result. Keep your process as simple as possible to help you save time and if you’re not liking the way an app or software works, try experimenting with a new one.

Don’t stop now! For more videography techniques, here’s a beginner’s guide to shooting stop motion, and learn how to shoot smooth video transitions with these tips.

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