Turn a video into a subtly animated photograph that shows looping motion using Adobe Premiere Pro.


What you'll need

This sample file is an Adobe Stock asset you can use to practice what you learn in this tutorial. If you want to use the sample file beyond this tutorial, you can purchase a license on Adobe Stock. Check out the ReadMe file in the folder for the terms that apply to your use of this sample file.

Cinemagraphs blend the worlds of motion and still life, often resulting in dreamlike, contemplative photographs. For best results, find a video clip that shows continuous action — water flowing, steam or smoke rising, candles flickering, and so on. The trick is to isolate that motion so that when it repeats, it appears to continue forever rather than noticeably show a jump in the action.

Starting in the Editing workspace, place your footage on track V2 in the Timeline panel. Review the footage and find a frame that you’d like to become the static background. Click the camera icon in the Program Monitor (Shift+E). In the Export Frame dialog box, pick a lossless format like PNG, determine where to save the exported still image, select the Import into Project option, and click OK. 

One frame of a video clip of water pouring from a fountain is isolated, exported to a PNG file, and imported into project.

With the video clip selected, open the Effect Controls panel (Shift+5) and click the pen icon under Opacity to activate the Free Draw Bezier tool. Click within the Program Monitor to create a mask that contains the isolated action. You may need to adjust the Zoom level in order to complete the mask’s path outside the viewable area. Increase the Mask Feather to soften the edges. 

Free Draw Bezier tool creates a mask around the water pouring from the fountain. Mask Feather is increased to soften edges.

Find the image you exported earlier (and automatically imported into your project) and drag it onto track V1, trimming it to match the video clip above it. In the Program Monitor, the masked portion of video should blend in with the static background layer. Play the sequence with Loop Playback toggled on so you can see whether there’s an obvious jump in the action at the point of repetition. You should barely notice it — if at all. (To add this button to the panel, click “+” to the right of the controls. Drag the Loop Playback button from the Button Editor dialog box to the button bar and click OK.)

Exported image is dragged into track V1 and trimmed to match the video clip. Loop Playback toggled to ensure smooth motion.

If something unexpectedly strays into the masked area while your video plays, trim the V2 clip (and accompanying V1 static frame) so your playable portion prevents this from happening. 

V2 clip and V1 static image are trimmed to remove objects which strayed into the masked area.

To export your clip as a cinemagraph, choose File > Export > Media (Command/Control+M). In the Export Settings dialog box, set the Format to Animated GIF and then click Export. 

Clip is exported as a cinemagraph with Animated GIF format.

To test the final look of the animated GIF, open it in your web browser. To reduce the file size, which may be quite large, consider trimming the length of your sequence in the Timeline panel or reducing the area of the masked portion in the Program Monitor so it contains the bare minimum of motion to achieve your cinemagraph effect. Lowering the render size and frame rate in the Video tab of the Export Settings dialog box will also help.

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