So, what is a cinemagraph? In short, a cinemagraph is a moving picture, an incredible combination of video and still photography.
The term first came to popularity thanks to Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck back in 2011. They were the inventors of the cinemagraph, becoming well-known in the fashion world for creating fashion cinemagraph that caught your attention, had a little bit of whimsy, and made you wonder whether you just saw a photo move. Their work quickly caught the attention of marketing and advertising professionals around the world.
Why are cinemagraphs important?
Believe it or not, you're starting to see them everywhere. From advertising to instagram, people all over the world are having fun viewing and enjoying cinemagraphs.
In fact, Flixel.com, a cinemagraph creation software, found in their analysis that cinemagraphs increased engagement by 110%, had a 5.6x higher click-through rate, and had an overall 45% decrease in cost per engagement.
Given the effectiveness of cinemagraphs in capturing attention, they make an incredible tool in your digital marketing/advertising toolkit.
How do you make one?
There are several tools you can use to make a cinemagraph, ranging from the simple to the more complex. Effectively, a cinemagraph involves taking a video with some sort of repeatable motion. (Usually 10 seconds worth of video capture is more than enough.)
You then use your tool of choice (e.g., photoshop, premiere pro, after effects) to create a still photo and mask out the video. Simple in concept, a little tricky in practice.
For the casual cinemagraph creator, there are some mobile apps that can get the job done as well. The most refined ones are more expensive.
For the more advanced creator, or someone who creates commercial work, then tools such as photoshop, premiere pro, and after effects are the better choice. They provide more ability to refine your selection, clean up blemishes in the photo, and superior color grading options. And if you are a Photoshop user, that is where products like KinemaPhoto or KinemaPhoto-LITE shine.
For an example of creating a cinemagraph in Photoshop, I invite you to check out one of my tutorials here:
Cinemagraphs vs Plotagraphs
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention plotagraphs. While the concept is similar, the execution is very different and it is easy to tell one from another. Plotographs involve taking a still picture and adding some movement. The difference is pretty simple:
Cinemagraphs start from video that already has motion
Plotagraphs are made from still photos that have no motion
While the movement looks great, it’s not very natural. It is often easy to tell where parts of the image have been manipulated to simulate movement. (Click on the photo to see the detail better.)
On the other hand, the movement of a cinemagraph is very natural. You also don’t always know where it starts and where it ends. That’s a core part of its charm, and which makes it more effective for advertising than a still picture or a plotagraph.
If you are looking for an easy way to try creating cinemagraphs, then I definitely invite you to try KinemaPhoto, or KinemaPhoto-LITE, two great tools to help you create cinemagraphs quickly and easily in Photoshop.