How to make a quality cinegraph on your iPhone
This tutorial will explain in detail how to make a cinemagraph (we call them cinegraphs, or cines for short) on your iPhone using the iCinegraph App for iOS.
A couple of months ago I shot a video of myself jumping over a narrow part of a lake while backpacking in the Sierras. I shot it specifically for creating a cinegraph, and I knew exactly how I wanted the final product to look. Here’s how to do it.
1. Pre-visualize your final cinegraph
As with most things in life, in order to get something you first have to figure out what is it that you want. Within the creative arts like photography and painting pre-visualizing your final creation, seeing it in your mind’s eye even before you begin working on it, will make your end result 100 times better.
Why is it so? Perhaps, that’s a topic for another post mainly because of our still poor understanding of what exactly happens in our head when we think. But let me just say that pre-visualization is even more important in shooting great cinegraphs than photographs for one simple reason that cinegraphs are more complicated beasts. At the very least before shooting a cinegraph you should have a very good idea of which parts will be in motion and which parts will remain static. This knowledge will be your guide to better composition of the final image.
2. Shoot the video
In most cases the best way to shoot the initial video for a cinegraph is on a tripod (or any other stabilizing device of your choice). There are many tripod mounts for iPhones currently available on the market, so pick the one that suits your style and get it, you will thank me later. When shooting with a tripod remember to turn off image stabilization in step #4 below.
If no tripod is available, hold your iPhone in both hands (and try to lean against something if you can to minimize your body movement), and don’t worry about the small movements in your movie - it will be handled by Image Stabilization in step 4 below. Launch iCinegraph, tap the “Create” button, frame the shot and tap “Record”.
One more piece of advice - record more than you think you need! While you may want to stop recording when you know you’ve got the shot, remember that you may need additional movement in the final cinegraph that happens a couple of seconds before or after the shot. If you stop too early - you won’t have it. A good rule of thumb to follow is that you start filming at least 5 seconds prior to the best shot and stop filming around 5 seconds after.
This is the original video that I recorded:
Done? Great! Tap the “Record” button to stop filming.
3. Pick the still photograph
A cinegraph has to necessarily contain both static and moving objects (I will write a future post on why this is so). And in this step you are choosing what the static objects will look like on your final cinegraph.
In my case, this was easy, since I pre-visualized the final image very well, and I was certain that for the static part I want a photograph of me suspended in mid-air while jumping between the two rocks.
So, go ahead and move the slider to the appropriate place in your movie to graph the static photograph you want (you can also use the arrows to fine-tune the static frame).
Tap “Next” in the upper right.
4. Make it move
Now that you have chosen your photograph - it’s time to make it move. What I wanted to do in this cine is to see the water ripple in the foreground. I begin by drawing with my finger over the water, revealing the video underneath.
Don’t worry about going over the water line and including the adjacent rocks since they don’t move anyway.
Next we need to select the actual video start and stop points. Take note that the more of the video footage you select, the bigger the final file will be, and you certainly want the file size to be as small as possible without compromising the fluidity of motion. Use the video footage cutter tool at the bottom of the screen to select the start and stop points by moving them to the appropriate place on the video timeline.
One thing to note here is that I picked the video footage early in the timeline (in the left half or it, that is). If I would have stayed with the video that happened at the time of the jump - we would be able to see my reflection in the water, and that reflection would actually be jumping across. I certainly didn’t want this to be in the final cine, so I picked the footage earlier in the timeline. Remember when I said that you should start filming early and stop filming later than you think? This is a perfect example why you should do so.
Next, since I was filming on a tripod, I need to turn off Image Stabilisation (marked “IS” on the top bar) from “ON” to “OFF”. It’s a good idea to turn off image stabilisation when a) you’re filming on a tripod, or b) when you paint over the whole image (effectively creating a video), otherwise if you’re shooting from your hip keep the IS on. Press “PLAY” to preview the motion. This is what your screen should look like at the end of this step.
5. Preview your cinegraph and add a filter
Now you can view your cinegraph in all its moving glory. Do you like the way it moves? If you don’t, go ahead and tap “Back” and go through step #4 one more time. If you do - let’s try to make it even better, shall we? Tap “Add Filter”!
Just like in any and all of the popular photo apps (like Instagram) these filters make your cinegraph look good. Take a look at the thumbnails, pick the one you like. In this case I tapped “Velvetine” (named after my favorite color slide film Velvia, if you’ve used it add a nostalgic note). Love it? Great! Tap “Next”.
6. Add a title and share
One more step left - title your work.
Do not neglect to put a title on your work! There’s a reason why all professional photographs have titles - it puts your work in context, which changes the mood of the audience when they view your work. I can call it simply “jump” (as I’m doing here), or I can put a rather elaborate title like “Crazy about the Outdoors” or “Jump over your worries” - all of these titles put this cinegraph in a different context, different mood, which could be important in terms of conveying your feelings through your work.
Finally - share on Facebook and Twitter. Remember - any and all creative endeavors die without an audience! Share and enjoy the feedback you get. Oh, and Tap “Next”.
7. You’re done!
Congratulations! You’ve created your awesome cinegraph and shared it with the world! From now on it’s on your iPhone: you can view it from within iCinegraph by tapping “Camera Roll” button on the bottom bar. You can also see it in your “Photos” App, but it’s not going to move, since Apple does not support animated GIFs in that application.
Here’s the final cinegraph:
Happy with your work? Well, don’t just sit there, make another one!