Image via PhotoJojo
What are cinemagraphs, you ask? Why, what a question! Essentially, they’re Graphics Interchange Format files, better known as .gifs. You’ve seen them all over your favorite entertainment websites online and you can even make them with nothing more than your smartphone these days, since, of course, there’s an app for that. However, there’s also a professional way to create great wedding cinemagraphs that will bring those unforgettable moments to life.
How to create great wedding cinemagraphs: A checklist
You’re going to need a camera that shoots video, a tripod, a video editing program and one version or another of Adobe Photoshop. And, of course, props, a model or several, and, most importantly, ideas for cinemagraphs.
#1. Plan out your scene. Shoot for subtle motions, moments and movements. In contrast, the rest of your scene should look great when still. Finally, aim for something that looks good when looped.
#2. Set up the camera as solidly as you can on its tripod and shoot away. You need 10 to 20 seconds of video tops.
#3. Make sure you’re shooting in the right format for Photoshop, i.e. either MOV or AVI.
#4. Import your video into Photoshop. You’re going to import the frames of the video into layers, and while more layers make for a smoother animation, anything above 100 layers is probably too much to work with.
#5. Check out the video frames, now imported into separate layers. Make sure you have all the layers you need.
#6. Go to Windows/Animation, to see the layers as actual frames in an animation. Play the animation to identify the moment you are going to be animating next.
#7. Once you’ve found the frames that display the portion you want to see animated. Bear in mind that some of the smoothness of the end .gif is going to be lost after you’ve deleted some of the layers, so choose them wisely.
#8. Choose your Alpha layer. That’s going to be the one layer that stays unchanged in the end .gif. duplicate it and place it over the other layers in the Layers window.
#9. Next, start creating movement in order to actually create great wedding cinemagraphs. This means that you need to start editing the Alpha layer with the aid of vector masks. These masks will effectively do away with the elements that are still in the Alpha layer, but that you want animated in the final version.
#10. Test out the animation, after you’re done masking the portions you want animated. Set the animation to loop Forever, then press play. Make note of any further edits you need to make, so as to make the movement as smooth as possible.
#11. Make sure your loop is smooth. There are several ways in which you can achieve this. One is by adding the Alpha layer plus the very first animation layer, right after the very last layer in the animation. Simply duplicate the last layer, then change what layers appear in it in the Layer window. For more complex animations, you’re going to want to loop some very specific frames in your Animation, that will help make the motion transition smoother.
#12. Color your .gif. .gif files unfortunately can’t hold as much color information as regular pictures, so you’re going to want to use an effect that works well with less data. You can either use a preset Photoshop action for a specific color effect, or colorize all the layers with a specific Photoshop mask.
#13. Save your final .gif in a resolution that’s suited for the web, i.e. not very large. You’re going to want your clients to show it off online and you’re also likely to showcase it in your portfolio. The typical resolution is 72 pixels/inch.
#14. Save the PSD project of the cinemagraph, then Save for Web & Devices.
#15. Enjoy the fact that you now know how to create great wedding cinemagraphs and don’t forget to show off your work!