How to Make a Great Cinemagraph with Flixel

Like the flixel above, when done properly, a cinemagraph can be a beautiful and magical work of art. Done improperly, it can lead to rips in the fabric of space, like the flixel below.

In this post we’re going to provide some tips to help your creations fall into the former category.

How to Capture Video for a

Find Your Scene

A good Cinemagraph starts with an interesting scene. In addition to standard photography and videography considerations like lighting and composition, the added element of motion introduces a whole new realm of creative consideration.

The key is to spot motion that can be looped in a seamless way. Cinemagraphs are a new art form and a new way of looking at the world – be sure to check out our showcase of flixels for inspiration for your own projects.

100% Stability is the Name of the Game

Stability is important in standard photography and videography, but it is absolutely crucial when you’re creating cinemagraphs. Without a perfectly stable capture of video, your areas of motion will seem like holes in your image (aka the “rip in space” effect). Using a tripod really is the best way to capture video for your flixel.

Recording From Your iPhone or iPad

Stability tip 1: Handheld captures don’t really work

With the exception of surgeons, the reality is that people have shaky hands. The stability meter on the capture screen of your iPhone or iPad doesn’t lie – if the indicator is not centred for the entirety of your capture, your Flixel won’t look its best.

Stability tip 2: Find a solid surface – or improvise

Part of the fun of Flixel is figuring out how to use the environment to your advantage. If you can’t find a flat enough surface to rest your device on, improvise! Windows are great for achieving stability; just press your device up against the glass. In a pinch any vertical surface will do – just line up your shot and firmly press your device against it. This works well with the next tip…

Stability tip 3: Use the timer!

Tapping the record button can introduce a small shake to your capture, which is why we added the delay timer. By holding down on the record button, you can “charge” the timer for a few seconds. When you let go, the timer will count down to 0, and then start recording. This is a great way to give yourself a few extra seconds to get your device in a stable position.

Stability tip 4: Trim it

Use use the Trim tool to eliminate shaky portions of your capture. Depending on the scene, you can create an effective Cinemagraph with just a few frames of animation.

How to Properly Frame Your Cinemagraph

Isolate Your Motion

Even with a perfectly stable capture, the “rip in space” effect can still happen if there is background activity behind your moving foreground subject, or vice versa. Adjust the angle of your shot so that the area you’re planning to animate isn’t interfering with other elements in the frame.

Also, if you’re attempting to isolate motion on a living subject (blinking eyes, flowing hair, etc), keep in mind that they’ll need to be perfectly still.

Cinemagraph Pro Editing Tips

Less is More

If you find yourself painting the majority or entirety of your scene…you’re doing it wrong. It may seem counter-intuitive, but small and subtle motions provide a stronger effect than fully animated scenes. Remember that the focus of your shot doesn’t always have to be animated – subtle background animations can have a mesmerizing effect.

Details Matter

When painting your animation, make sure you’re uncovering the entire range of motion, and that no pieces of the still part of the image are left out. Before you start editing, pay attention to the range of available motion that’s shown in the initial overlay.

This is especially important if editing on an iPhone or iPad; small mistakes are amplified when viewed on a larger screen.

HINT: on your iPhone and iPad, you can pinch to zoom in on the image to fine tune your mask.

Go Forth and Create!

Cinemagraphs are a new art form, and represent a totally new way of looking at the world. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be seeing potential cinemagraphs everywhere you go. It does take a little more effort than regular photography – but the result is well worth 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.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *