Cinemagraphs – Very Cool Hybrids

Cinemagraphs – Very Cool Hybrids

 Cinemagraphs are a clever marriage between stills and video. They are becoming more mainstream but you might not have heard of them.

 Essentially, it is a still image that has a portion of it “erased” to reveal a moving part of the video below.  Some call it an “Animated Picture App.” or Living Photos.

 It is a fast emerging platform. Tyra Banks invested $2.5 million in Toronto based Flixel (this is the software I use) back in 2013. Then Cinemagram became a Silicon Valley darling raising $8.5 million the same year. This year Flixel got another boost of $2.2 million in more seed money.

 Big names and companies are climbing on board too. Flixel has partnered with the Emmy’s, Facebook, Instagram, A&E, Ikea, Panasonic, Netflix, even Kraft plus car companies like Mercedes-Benz and Lincoln.  Matthew McConaughey has been cinemagraphed in the Lincoln car commercials.

 Tyra Banks created her own collection, on her Flixel Tyra Page, . Then she made a whole episode of America’s Next Top Model based on the Flixel Cinemagraph challenge.  I love the throwing paint images.

 Cinemagraphs have their own fascinating gallery.   You can see Flixel’s Gallery too.  With the hype-active push to video in social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. Cinemagraphs are a great way for your images to stand out. Of course you image still needs to be worth looking at. A cool effect may stop the viewer, then your image still needs to hold them.

 You can download a trial version of Flixel’s Cinemagraph Pro at the Flixel website.  They have earned the Apple design award with this technology. Yes, it only works on the Apple OS. It does work on iPhones and iPads though.

 Don’t feel left out if you have Windows. Microsoft created the Cliplets app  for free. A little research will reveal a lot more too.

 Your images can be very basic to pretty complex. It is video based so you will need constant lighting. Any video camera will work; naturally the better the video quality the better the resulting cinemagraph.

 These need to be short bursts of video, 3 to 10 sec long. This keeps your file size down. If it’s too short you lose some of the magic of the effect.

 When you set up the video shot you should have an idea of what your moving element will be. The obvious is blowing hair or fabric. In nature you have moving grass, smoke, flickering flames, moving cars, twinkling lights. Your image has to be taken from a fixed camera position. So your movement has to come from elements in the scene, not from panning or a subject moving across the screen.

 Import your video into the software. Your first step will be to select the frame that will be the “Still” or frozen image.

 I like that this image can be exported out to Photoshop for enhancements. Retouching skin along with other elements gives the image some polish. You should resist the urge to adjust color. It will clash with the color in the revealed video loop.

 Creating the Cinemagraph is really easy. With the enhanced still image imported in, you just erase away the parts of the image you want the video to show through.

 It works like a masking layer in Photoshop. You can always go back and refine the exposed video too. Once done your Flixel Cinemagraph can be exported to social media sites, be embedded in your websites or even emailed out. The social media sites altered their code so the cinemagraphs could run as a continuous loop rather than having to be triggered to start.

 Flixel, like most software, has made it very easy to create. That does not mean you should get lazy just because it is an unusual medium. To be very effective it should be planned out. For example one I plan to do over the holidays is a fish swimming. Shooting in a full fish tank I will be watching for the one fish that moves around the tank while the rest stay still.

 After the planning, it’s a quick production. You will have a blast delving into this emerging imaging niche.

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