How to Create a Cinemagraph in Photoshop

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Phlearn Phamily, you are in for a real treat! In today's episode, we show you how to create a cinemagraph in photoshop. We don't stop there, we also give you some tips for creating a cinemagraph in camera. Sit back, grab some popcorn and enjoy the ride!

What is a Cinemagraph?

Cinemagraphs are commonly produced by taking a series of photographs or a video recording, and, using image editing software, compositing the photographs or the video frames into a seamless loop of sequential frames. This is done such that motion in part of the subject between exposures (for example, a person's dangling leg) is perceived as a repeating or continued motion, in contrast with the stillness of the rest of the image.

Capturing Footage for a Cinemagraph

At first we planned on just teaching you how to create a cinemagraph in photoshop. Then we realized that it's just as important to know how to shoot a cinemagraph with your camera before taking it into photoshop.

Here are some things you'll need in order to capture footage for your cinemagraph:

A camera that can record video (Anything from a DSLR to an iPhone)
A sturdy tripod (You'll need your scene to be relatively still in order to really achieve this effect. A sturdy tripod is one of the best ways to ensure your framing is consistent.)
A subject (Something or someone that is doing something with a continuous movement. In our case we used a record player. As long as there is a distinct starting and stopping point.
It will take a little practice to find the perfect subject, but get out there and have fun trying to create your own cinemagraph!

Using Photoshop to Edit Your Cinemagraph

After you've went out and shot your footage to create your cinemagraph, it's time to bring it into Photoshop. That's right, Photoshop does also offer video editing features!

We start by importing our footage into Photoshop just like we would with any other still image. Once you've brought your footage into Photoshop, it should pop up with your video timeline. If you don't see your timeline, just go up to Window, and down to Timeline. The editing of your footage for a cinemagraph revolves around one concept. Your end frame needs to be the same as your beginning frame. That way it will create a continuous loop that looks completely seamless.

Once we have our clips set up how we want, we need to use keyframes to adjust the visibility of the layers, or the Opacity. We set up our top clip with the opacity set at %100 and we gradually fade it out to %0. This will cause your top clip and bottom clip to blend together perfectly.

Next we use a Stamp Visible Layer and paint black over the areas we want visible. In this case with the footage we are using, we painted black only over where the waves are. This is what really helps sell the effect. Sometimes everything in your scene won't work for a continuous motion, so creating a Stamp Visible Layer is a great way to control where the motion is coming from.

Saving & Exporting

Now that you have finished editing your Cinemagraph in photoshop, it's time for the export. You want to make sure you go to your menu and click "Save for Web". After that make sure that the file type is a GIF. PNG files and JPEG files do now support motion so it won't work if you don't export your file as a GIF. One of the cool features is you can simply click and drag your export Cinemagraph file into google and see how it would look on the web.
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27 Responses so far.

  1. adarkerlight says:

    14:49 The answer to the age old question: “How long is a still photograph?” Well, about five seconds! 😀 This tutorial was *incredible*!! I’d completely forgotten you can edit video in Photoshop. I can’t wait to do this, thanks so much Aaron.

  2. adarkerlight says:

    17:59 Steve Wilhite (one of the developers of the GIF format) says it was always supposed to be pronounced with a soft J sound, like the peanut butter 😀

  3. HighView Aerial Photography says:

    This is fantastic, I’m going to try creating a loop of my drone hovering on a still background.

  4. Arnil Ragdnath says:

    Love this, thank you guys I’ve been searching all over for how to make a GIF look continuous.

  5. Roman Feliz says:

    Hey man, I want thank you for taking your time and pass it on… “Knowledge”

  6. hotttdog96 says:

    Aaron, you’re the most engaging Youtuber I’ve seen, it feels like you’re really talking to me. Keep doing what you’re doing man, love the stuff you guys put up!

  7. Sabir Ali says:

    Brilliant I Love phlearn Tutorial . i remember few month past you teach same Tutorial in  CreativeLive live classes . i was watching you there also. Thanks Arone such a amazing work keep it up and god bless you.

  8. Oozywolf says:

    Dang, I don’t think I’ve learned so much from one episode :O! The only thing I knew beforehand was using a layer mask (which I also learned from Phlearn) haha. Awesome job guys 🙂

  9. Lady Chanel says:

    lol this guy is freaking amazing 
    Learned more from this guy than expensive art school classes 🙂

  10. ironchefmarc says:

    Thanks so much Aaron! Man I owe you so much for all I’ve learned from you!

    There is an easier way to do the loop if I may say so. Once you’ve got your clip simply cut anywhere in the middle move the 2nd half at the front (then the first frame and last frame will match) and drop a cross fade between the 2 clips (tool beside the scissors) and adjust the crossfade duration to taste.

  11. Arkan Elric says:

    Thanks for the tutorial, but i have one question : the shortcut for seeing the brush (in red, at 15:30 ) is not working for me (maybe because I’m on PC). Is anyone knows how to do it ?

  12. Simon Fuhrmann says:

    For the fast learners: Skip right to 20:41.

  13. Trudy van der Werf says:

    i also have a question mark when I try to preview my image in the browse? do you know what the problem is? I already made my file smaller dan 2 mb but that doesn’t solve the problem. thanks

  14. Amila Ben says:

    Jeeeze Its Been 25 years and I Just Knew About The “Cinemagraph”
    Thank You. Liked and Subed

  15. Jackie Fede says:

    This is a great tutorial! I was able to create the Cinemagraph in Photoshop, however, do you have any advice on how to minimize gif file sizes without decreasing clarity?


  16. Chadwick Estey says:

    This was a great walk through – thank you! This was much easier to make once I knew the right process and steps. I look forward to learning more from your channel.

  17. Selah Avery says:

    THIS IS DOPE! and to think i just saw a action kit advertised for $500+— but it was given a promo “discount” and ended up being $49….. nope — i didn’t buy it! THANKS FOR THIS!!!

  18. Krystal Pistol says:

    I’m so amazed that I watched from start to finish, did not feel like 24 minutes. Thanks for teaching me this with such ease!!

  19. E-man Juthr says:

    So how do you do this with a moving camera like from moves

    Example: last scene of Dunkirk with he burning Spitfire

  20. Genuine Gratitude says:

    I’m so grateful for your tutorial, this has helped me with my Uni assignment to create a Cinemagraph.

    Genuine Gratitude to PHLearn