Cinemagraphs: A Beginner’s Guide

What happens when a still photograph marries a video clip? They make a cinemagraph and it’s pure effing magic.

Celebration at The Lafayette Hotel, San Diego

This digital marketing trend is not only aiding in business recognition, but its rise to popularity doesn’t seem to be coming to a hault anytime soon. At least not in the year 2019.

Plus they are really really fun to make...

Making Cider @ Uncle Johns Cider Mill, St. Johns MI

And can be used for all sorts of content!

Although similar, Cinemagraphs are not GIFS.

So it's important to know the difference between the two.


  • Low quality
  • Looping is obvious/jarring/ can see where the clip begins and ends
  • Example – Memes + Movie clips often get “GIF’D” (ah ah ah)


  • High quality
  • Looping is seamless/endless
  • Example – Big Brands using for marketing campaigns. 



Select your subject + create storyboards. This will save you less time in post and help aid in a successful final cinemagraph.


Isolate your subject from the moving portion of the frame and be sure to record 20 -30 seconds. You’ll thank yourself once you get to post.


You will need editing software. I use the adobe suite (Photoshop + Premiere Pro), however, Cinemagraph Pro (a Flixel product) is also a great tool, especially for beginners.

Let's get Editing!

In a nut shell,  you want to mask out all the parts you want to move in your cinemagraph. How do we do this?

Step 1 : Open Photoshop

Bring in your video clip and find an In & Out point which allows for a seamless loop.


Step 2: Layer Up!

Duplicate your layer than take the bottom layer and bring the beginning of the clip to the end of the top layer. (This might sound confusing now but trust me it will all make sense) Add some extra frames to the beginning of the bottom clip and also trim down the end of the clip to match the top layer. Lost? Check the the video below.


Now add an opacity layer  to bottom layer keyframing it so that the clip starts at 100% and ends on 0%.


Step 4: Create a still frame

And make sure its above the two other video layers.


Step 5: Mask it

Create a layer mask. Make sure the background color is black.

Step 6: Brush it!

Use the brush tool to color in all the areas you’d like the moving pieces to shine through.



Export clip as a video clip and you’re done!

Finished Product

Made your first cinemagraph? I would love to see them. Post below!

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