How Did They Do That? Brathwait Watch Cinemagraph

We’re trying out this new thing where we feature one cinemagraph that really made us say, “HOW DID THEY DO IT?”

First up in the series is none other than the #1 cinemagraph of 2015, Virgo Haan’s Brathwait Watch Ad. You can even test out the technique with his source files.

So here’s Virgo to explain how he created this cinemagraph, from start to finish.

In this tutorial I am going through the planning, shooting and post-production process and explain how this Cinemagraph was made. You can download my raw footage and image to follow my steps in Flixel Cinemagraph Pro

STEP 1. PLAN

My main idea with this image, was to imitate a situation where a cyclist is looking at his watch during his bike ride. To achieve this look, I wanted the bicycle and cyclist to be completely still, while the road beneath him was moving in an endless loop.

I decided to create this Cinemagraph with a combination of two different shots. One, the video of the moving road, and the other, a photo of a cyclist looking down at his watch.

STEP 2. THINK ABOUT THE LOOP

There are three kinds of loops:

  1. Bouncing loop
  2. Repeating loop
  3. Repeating loop with crossfade

My hope was to find some road markings that would appear in a constant interval so I could use them to sew a start and end together in an endless loop. In order to create this effect, I used a repeating loop with a crossfade. The crossfade helped me to hide the “jump” in the loop.

STEP 3. SHOOT

Now, I needed to figure out how to film a road so that the footage would be very stable.  At first, we had an idea to rent a Gimbal Stabilizer, but it felt dangerous to run with it on a motorway. So, instead of using a stabilizer, I decided to mount my camera on the back of my friend’s car. As we didn’t have a special car mount, we used a regular tripod and duct taped it onto the roof rack.

TIP: avoid this method if possible. It’s not the most secure way of doing this, so I recommend to find a suitable camera car mount for the job.

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My Sony a7rii was connected over wifi to my tablet so I could easily control my camera while we were driving. All of the settings were on manual (this is important, there should never be anything automatic during shooting Cinemagraphs. I sometimes forget White Balance on auto and that always makes me very sad in Post-production).

On our final image, the watch should be the sharpest thing, so I manually focused to a foreground, using my hand as a guide.

STEP 4. THINK ABOUT THE LOOP DURING THE SHOOT

We were looking for a road with some autumn leaves and distinct road markings, that would help me later combine the footage into an endless loop. We tried to drive at a constant speed and hold the same distance from the curb the whole time.

In a same day we also made photo of a cyclist looking at his watch. It was important to do both shots in similar light conditions so it would be easier to combine them in post-productions.

STEP 5. FILES AND SOFTWARE

If you do not have your own material to work with you are welcome to use mine, but remember, it’s only for your personal use.

For post-production we are going to use Flixel Cinemagraph Pro. You can try the app for free forever (with Flixel watermark). Or, to remove the watermark, you can purchase /subscribe to the the software. Find my discount code here.

STEP 6. FIND THE BEST FOOTAGE AND IMAGE

I started with the road footage. I was looking for a section in the video where there was some interesting markings on the road, as well as some leaves, so it wouldn’t be just a plain plank of asphalt. Using a media player, I made marks on paper where in the timeline there could be a potential perfect loop. I used Adobe Bridge to browse my camera raw files to find the best image of the watch and rider.

 

STEP 7. TRIM YOUR CLIP

Import road footage into Flixel Cinemagraph Pro. The first thing that we did, was find the best section of our clip where the start and the end looked as similar as possible. I trimmed my clip so that the middle part had some short and thick road lines and at the start and end, they had similar long and thin lines. This step takes a some patience and a lot of attention to detail. Once you’re finished the trim, it’s time for the next step. You can always return to the trim if you ever need to modify the timeline.

STEP 8. IMPORT STATIC IMAGE AND CUT OUT SUBJECT

On a bottom left side of trim window there is popup menu, from where you can import a static image. Find it from your computer and press import button.

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Now, we need to mask out everything what should be moving on our final Cinemagraph. For that, we will select the Mask section where we can find a few simple options for our mask brush:

  • With the brush tool, you can paint an area to reveal the video behind your static image
  • With the eraser tool, you can paint your static image back

 

From the view menu, you can zoom in to create a more detailed mask. Start with a smaller brush, with a semi hard edge, and carefully cut out the hand and bicycle. Try not to leave any dark edges on your subject. You can use a larger brush to mask out parts far away from the subject.

This is probably the hardest part of Post- production so take your time. With detailed masks like this, it can easily take 30 min or even more.

STEP 9. FADE LOOP

In the loop section, there is a purple handle at the start of a timeline and green handle at the end. Use the green handle to adjust the length of the crossfade. If the fade is very long, you will see at the end of a clip a transparent ghost from the beginning, and this is OK for some cases, but not this time. Try to make this fade as long as it smooths out the jump between start and end, but short enough to avoid a long ghost effect.

 

STEP 10. COLOR GRADING

For color grading, there is a section called “Adjustments,” where you can make basic color correction. There is also a section called “Effects,” where you can find some ready made presets. Take your time and play with them! If you want, you can always export your work and color grade it in another app, for example, in Adobe Photoshop.

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STEP 12. EXPORT & UPLOAD

Once you’re finished your cinemagraph, upload it to Flixel.com for the chance to be featured, and export it to share with your friends, family, and clients.


 

I hope that you learned a lot from Virgo’s tutorial. See a more indepth version of this tutorial here, and check out more of his stunning cinemagraphs here.

Let us know in the comments if there’s any cinemagraph that makes you say, “HOW’D THEY DO IT?!”.

(Flixel Marketing Manager)

When Cassandra was six, she was asked to share a story with her class…and hasn’t stopped telling them since. Now she does so through photography, video and writing, but with the same sense of wonder - and love for glitter - as her inner kid.