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Post-Production: How to edit a Cinemagraph

April 7, 2017


So you've probably seen and want to create those magical moments. You watch a tutorial and you think "easy peasy lemon squeezy" and proceed on with your fantastic ideas. 


You grab your:

1) tripod

2) dslr with a video function or your samsung/iphone 


Then arrange your items carefully to create the perfect image. You bark out commands form behind the screen while your assistant repeats actions over and over again so you can get the perfect shot. After all is done, you eagerly pack up your things and can't wait to go back and check out your awesome footage.


If you've opened up Photoshop and realized you're stuck, no worries. Just check out this awesome youtube tutorial by PHLEARN and skip to 20:41 (don't say I didn't warn you).  Not enough data? Here's a step-by-step guide for photoshop CC users:


1) [Toolbar] File > Import > Video Frame to Layers 

2) Proceed to select parts of footage you want, or just import the whole video. I prefer to select my favourite 3-6 seconds here.

3) A gazillion layers appear if you have a long video. My clips normally start around 20-80 frames before I start cutting them down.

4) Window > Timeline
5) Start deleting the frames you don't want from the timeline. Also remember to delete your layers too, because for some reason deleting a frame does not result in a deleted layer. 


#protip: Because the animation frames re-number themselves in order once you delete them, I like to start deleting from the back because it makes it easier to delete the corresponding reference layers later.


#possibleproblem: Blank frame or skipping frame cinemagraph problem because you forgot to delete the frames if you just deleted the layers directly.


6) Dump all your chosen layers into a group

7) Duplicate your first image in the timeline as a new layer and place it outside and above the group. Let's call it STILL 

8) Create a mask for your STILL (that white rectangle with the black circle icon)

9) Start painting in your mask over parts of the image where you want the motion to be seen. Don't erase your STILL directly as it is impossible to recover the image unless you want to start from step 7 again.

10) Happy? Play the animation and think again.


#protip: Instead of duplicating your first image in the timeline, you can take a photo instead which means HIGHER RESOLUTION. Unless you're using 4K.


#possibleproblem: You're thinking "You liar everything is moving like a video!" or "why is one frame so out of place?!" When editing steps 7-11, remember to always have all the frames in the animation selected so your changes affect all the frames. 


11) Select all your frames and copy them by selecting "copy frame" from the top right hand corner icon of the timeline

12) Select "paste frame" also from the same right hand corner icon. Paste after selection

13) Select "reverse frame" from the same right hand corner icon

14) Delete as you see fit. Once you're happy with the movement, you can start applying colouring changes. Again, don't forget the #possibleproblem. Been there, done that.


Export time! You have two options:


Save as GIF

15a) [Toolbar] File > Export > Save for Web (Legacy) 

16a) Leave all the default settings but make sure it's bicubic smoother

17a) Save as GIF


Save as MP4 (or other video options)

15b) [Toolbar] File > Export > Render Video > Save

Disclaimer: This option has always made photoshop freeze for me. I answer a few emails, play a few tsumtsum games and it's still stuck, so I do not recommend this option unless you have all the time in the world or it doesn't freeze up for you. 


Still thinking "easy peasy lemon squeezy"?




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