Living pictures from “Harry Potter”, of course, are not embodied in reality, but humanity managed to come up with something very similar. Cinemagraphy is a hybrid of photo and video, “moving” or “live” photography. She gained particular popularity in social networks, with the help of this technique they do everything from meme gifs to real works of digital art. Today we will share life hacks that will save you from many mistakes and help you create beautiful cinemagrams even for beginners.
Use a tripod
Of course, this advice may seem obvious to many more advanced cinemagraphers, but for beginners, it will save a lot of unnecessary work. If you try to edit material shot without a tripod, you will immediately understand what it is about. Therefore, taking “live” photos is much more effective with it.
In this case, the tripod itself is highly desirable not to move even a millimeter! It’s very simple: take a photo and immediately after that shoot a video without moving the tripod. If the light suddenly changes during the shooting (and this happens when you work outdoors), take a photo again and immediately shoot a video from the same point. Believe me, it’s easier to reshoot everything than to deal with lighting later.
You must have a plan
This is useful advice in the most general sense, but, above all, it concerns moving elements. “Live” photos are especially interesting if more than one object moves in the frame. So don’t get hung up on just one particular element, include several in your cinemagraph at once!
However, it will be easier to coordinate several moving elements at once if you think it over in advance. Doing everything on the fly, most likely, will not work until you gain enough experience. So even before you arrive at your location, think about what elements should move in the frame. Something in the background like cars? Or maybe there will be several people in your “live” photo at once? Or maybe there should be a time-lapse on the background? Think ahead and set up your tripod wisely! And of course, if you are going to shoot in a location where you have not been yet, it is better to visit it in advance to take into account all the details.
Try available apps and tools
Of course, there is a classic combination: selecting image elements in Adobe Photoshop with further export (as a png file) to Premiere Pro or After Effects from the same Adobe.
For owners of devices running on macOS, there is a special application for creating “live” photos: Cinemagraph Pro from Flixel. There is also a version for iOS. For Android devices, you can use the Cinemagraph app from Crazy labs.
But today, many effects are easier and faster to make using simpler (for ordinary users) programs: for example, some movements are simply created in Pixaloop. So try and explore the available applications.
Save layers while editing
When you’re working in Photoshop, selecting and editing the right elements, constantly copying layers is never superfluous (unless, of course, your computer smokes, although then you can shoot a cool cinemagram). This way you will always keep track of how the process progressed and protect yourself from accidental mistakes during the editing process.
One day, at the very end of the work, you will suddenly find an oversight and, if you do not save the layer in which you screwed up, you will have to redo everything again!
Start with general color grading/lighting adjustments, and then save copies of all layers as you edit details. But additional effects and all sorts of “glitches” can be left at the very end.
Make transitions as smooth as possible
You want the first and last frame of your cinemagram to match or be as similar as possible. Also, it is better not to leave all abrupt movements and transitions at the beginning or end of the sequence. This is very important for creating a harmonious “live” photo, especially for Instagram or TikTok, in which video content is automatically looped.
This tip also applies to sound, in case you decide to go even further and add it to your work. When a smooth visual is accompanied by a sharp break in the sound and its beginning on the “glue”, the magic is somewhat lost. If you don’t know how to process audio, add a fade and/or pause to your audio track with simple online audio editors. The same can be done in most video editing programs.
*In preparing the article, an interview with Jennifer O’Brien for bhphotovideo.com was used