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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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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