Cinemagraphs are awesome. They grab and hold your attention with their appealing quality. A cinemagraph is not precisely a photo but not quite a video either. It tricks your mind into thinking that you are seeing something magical. So what exactly is a cinemagraph?

Maybe you just came across a cinemagraph on the internet and were amazed by it. Now you want to know how to create a cinemagraph so that you can also amaze your audience. Perhaps if you learn how to create cinemagraphs, you can use them for your business. After all, they look like magical content and can be used to capture the attention of your target audience and website visitors.

Maybe you have been using live footage and creating good photography for a while, but you usually have a hard time explaining your videos and photos to your clients. Whatever the reason is, this post will give you some clarity on this subject. This article will discuss how to create a cinemagraph and why this new and fast-growing medium has taken a rightful place alongside videos and photography.


What is a Cinemagraph?

If you are familiar with Harry Potter-like moving images, it is easy to understand what a cinemagraph is. Cinemagraphs are a hybrid of photo and video. Most part of a cinemagraph is a photo, which contains subtle motion that plays in a loop as the rest of the image stands still. The motion lets you view a couple of seconds from the video, seamlessly blending it with the still image.


Some people refer to a cinemagraph as a photo in disguise. That’s because when the animated part of the cinemagraph moves, it comes off as a surprise to the viewer with its slight hints of motion. The effect is interesting and has become a popular choice for marketers and advertisers who are always trying to get their audience’s attention.

You might be thinking that this sounds exactly like animated GIFs. Well, not really. Although GIFs also contain a motion loop, they are usually low-quality file formats. GIFs were introduced in the early 80s and are thus an old concept. Cinemagraphs, on the other hand, are more like a blend of photography and video. You can choose to save a cinemagraph as a GIF file, but that’s not always recommended.

beautiful vector graphics on a website

Image taken from Strikingly user’s website

How Do Cinemagraphs Work?

Cinemagraphs are used these days very commonly. However, many people still don’t know what they really are when they look at them. They appear to have some kind of magic trick. They make you think that you are seeing a living photo. They are actually a harmonious combination of photography and video. By seemingly blending the two mediums together, they create short looping videos 3-5 seconds long.

In creating a cinemagraph, you don’t let the viewer see when the video loop starts and ends exactly. That’s why it appears seamless. A single loop in a cinemagraph is so short that when you share a cinemagraph, you have to loop the file a few times. Then only you get the desired video length.

The good quality cinemagraphs are saved as 4K. Some are even saved as a 6K video. They can usually be exported in multiple file formats as well. But if you export them as a single video file, you get the highest quality. Other standard file formats used for saving cinemagraphs include H.264 and H.265.

Where Can You Use a Cinemagraph?

You can use cinemagraphs for endless purposes. They are beneficial for digital marketers and advertisers. Businesses these days are getting more creative in expressing their brand personality to the audience in the digital world. Marketers keep flocking to digital media to leverage their novelty and challenge how their content is displayed to the audience.

The combination of a static image and motion that a cinemagraph uses has become a popular tool in online marketing methods. Brands and companies like to create cinemagraphs for various types of marketing content.

illustrations in the form of vector graphics on a website

Image taken from Strikingly user’s website

Some specific examples of how and where you can use cinemagraphs include the following.

  • Digital ads
  • Social media
  • Websites or landing pages
  • Blogs
  • Marketing emails and newsletters
  • Display ads and billboards
  • Long-form videos
  • Galleries and museums

How to Create a Cinemagraph?

The co-founder of Flixel, Philippe LeBlanc, spotted these beautiful cinemagraphs by Beck and Burg when they first emerged in 2011. But at that time, he could not figure out a fast and intuitive way to create cinemagraphs.

Like most businessmen, Phil did not want to spend weeks and weeks learning how to create a cinemagraph using software like Adobe Photoshop or Adobe After Effects. But he could foresee a bright future where cinemagraphs would be accessible to everyone. This meant he had to figure out a way to create cinemagraphs quickly and easily, even by just using a mobile device and a simple app.

This idea inspired Phil to start his company, Flizel, and develop software applications especially for making cinemagraphs. The first app he created was Cinemagraph Pro, which was easy to use on iOS and macOS. This app makes the process of editing a cinemagraph fast and fun. Flixel got an Apple Design Award from Apple in 2014 for the company’s breakthrough approach of creating a cinemagraph.

Although the word ’cinemagraph’ might give the impression that it is still difficult to create cinemagraphs, they are really just a blend of photo and video. The hardest part is composing the shot and deciding which part of the image will be highlighted with motion. But that’s also the most interesting and fun part of creating a cinemagraph.

A high-quality cinemagraph is created using a video recorded on a tripod. You can follow these steps for creating a cinemagraph.

  1. Once your shot is all set, simply hit the record button and start editing.
  2. Combine the video with a still frame.
  3. Map out the section of the image that you want to animate.
  4. Choose the type of loop you want the moving part of the image to contain. Examples of loop types can be bounce, repeat, shade or slide away, etc.
  5. Make any other adjustments that you like, such as changing the colors or speed.

That’s really how simple it is nowadays to create a cinemagraph. Your cinemagraph can tell a whole story or unavoidably grab your audience’s attention. Still photos cannot get the attention of viewers for so long. That’s why using cinemagraphs can give you an edge over your competitors.

Tips to Use Cinemagraphs for Business

If you want to make your marketing content stand out, cinemagraphs are a great idea. They are less costly to produce than videos and quite easy to prepare, as we just learned.

An example of landscape photography on a website that can be turned into a cinemagraph

Image taken from Strikingly user’s website

  1. Create cinemagraphs of your product photos to describe your product usage and features.
  2. Use them across all the social media platforms that are relevant for the particular type of product or service that you offer.
  3. Insert cinemagraphs into your blog posts to make your write-up more attention-grabbing, catchy, and appealing to the audience.
  4. Use a high-quality cinemagraph on the top of your website’s homepage. Using slideshows or still images on a brand website’s homepage has become boring and traditional. Using a cinemagraph instead, your website will appear more attractive than your competitors. Get an image that reflects your business. It could be a picture of one of your top-selling products as well. Animate part of it to turn it into a cinemagraph. Upload it right on top of your landing page.

Add Cinemagraphs to Your Strikingly Website

If you do not have a website for your brand yet, don’t worry! Hop on to Strikingly and register for a free account. Once you verify your email, you will be taken to the Strikingly dashboard. Select a suitable template to use as your web design, and you’ll be taken to the Strikingly editor.

An example of urban photography on a website

Image taken from Strikingly user’s website

Here you can add your content to your site. Strikingly makes it easy for you to upload images, videos, and cinemagraphs. You can upload a cinemagraph as a video file. Take the following steps.

  1. Click ‘Add New Section’ and select ‘Big Media’.
  2. Click the small ‘Edit’ button that appears on the sample video embedded in your web page.
  3. Toggle from ‘Image’ to ‘Video’.
  4. Copy your video link from its source. You can upload your cinemagraph video on any third-party video hosting site, such as Youtube or Vimeo.
  5. Paste the link into the field that appears.

Having a professional-looking website that’s built on Strikingly, and displaying a cinemagraph right on top of its home page, will make you look like a large and established brand that attracts visitors and customers like a magnet. Share your website URL on social media and among your personal and professional networks. See how your brand grows in reputation, increasing your chances to make more sales.