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How to Create Cinemagraphs in Photoshop or Final Cut Pro X

GIFs have been given new life with the popularity of the cinemagraph image.  In this post we share two ways for creating quick cinemagraphs, either in Adobe Photoshop or Apple’s Final Cut Pro X.

What is a Cinemagraph?

For those unfamiliar, a cinemagraph is a “still photograph in which a minor and repeated movement occurs” (from Wikipedia).  Cinemagraphs are essentially GIFs that are frozen, with the exception being one area of the image that showcases movement. These ‘moving photographs’ make images dynamic and add visual interest and a creative touch.

Take a look at this example from the NYC based visual artists that have popularized this photographic technique, Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg:

Image from Cinemagraphs.com

How to Make a Cinemagraph

So at this point you’re surely wondering, how do I create my own cinemagraph?

Cinemagraphs are created from a short snipped of video or a series of consecutive still images.  By masking part of the image that you want frozen, you can reveal the area in the image where you’d like the motion to occur.

You can create a GIF cinemagraph using the Animation tools in Photoshop.  A recent blog post by SpoonGraphics walks you through the steps in order to achieve the cinemagraph effect in PS:

Cinemagraph Photoshop

If you’re more comfortable in a video editing application, this tutorial by Peter Wiggins from FCP.co will show you show to create a cinemagraph in Final Cut Pro and Motion:

Cinemagraph FCPX

Peter recently used the cinemagraph technique in a promotional video to impressive effect!  To get an idea of how to use cinemagraphs as a style choice in your own video editing work check out that video here:

What do you think of this effect? Is it just an Internet fad?
Would you use this in your own work?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!