Cinemagraphs are elegant, professional animated GIFs that need to be composed well. How do you compose a cinemagraph? What are things you need to keep in mind as you plan how to shoot a cinemagraph? In this video, author Richard Harrington walks you through how to compose a dynamic shot when shooting a cinemagraph.
- Throughout today's course, we're going to explore several different shooting techniques. But I'd like to begin by talking about an important skill and that's composition. Composition is how you frame your photograph or your video file, that's going to be used in making the dynamic content and it's important that you think things through. How you choose to compose the frame, will greatly affect the quality of the Cinemagraph or the Plotagraph that you can generate. Composition truly does matter. Let's take a look at this first shot here.
This is a river up in Vancouver, British Columbia, and I like the fact that we have leading lines here. We have both a path that goes down off into the distance, and a flowing river. Let's set that into motion. But you'll notice here with the movement, we have some things that are going to make this difficult. While I could mask out the river to have some motion here, these tree branches that are intersecting with the river, would be very difficult. I would have to paint those out and that's going to put some motion in there that we might not want.
So, as such, I could choose to re-compose the shot. In this next instance, this works a bit better. You'll see that by moving the camera just a couple feet to the right, I was able to still keep the energy here with the shot, but we'll be able to easily freeze the areas here of the tree branches. And here's one more example. In this case, we composed the shot, and we still have the river coming towards us, which works well, and we do see some of the clouds back here.
Now in this case, the video format isn't really bringing the clouds to life. It's often difficult to fully capture the dynamic range of clouds using video. But, you can see a little hint of blue peaking through. What I can do here is actually choose to composite in a photograph, a technique we'll explore later. Sometimes you'll actually take a video file and then combine it with a photograph. It might be a high dynamic range photo, to really bring the details to life, or just an image with increased dynamic range.
Remember, when shooting things like a raw photo, you can use 12 bit or 14 bits of dynamic range, which is going to really blow past the eight or 10 bits of information that you can capture when shooting video. Another thing to consider is the overall aspect ratio and this can be done a few different ways. In this case I actually chose to rotate the camera on its side. This made it easy to fill the frame. And if I were going to be producing a banner ad for the side of a website, this would work quite well.
Remember during post production, you can easily rotate that content, and with a little bit of cropping, all of a sudden here we have the perfect background to use in an ad about the environment or clean water and this could simply be cropped to fit the traditional banner ad size for a sidebar, such as, 300 pixels wide by 600 pixels tall. Other times you might chose to shoot something in a more traditional 16 by 9 aspect ratio.
And this will encompass a lot of action here, but you see a lot of the content of the previous shot was lost. We couldn't see as much of the river. So, this makes it pretty straight forward. You can decide to shoot either way. Remember, during post production, you can easily crop to any size that you want. This means things like banner ads can be accomplished, or if you're making something like a Google Hangout banner, or a social media icon, you can crop during post. But when shooting, it might be important to actually change the camera's position.
Now, for both of my cameras, I actually have an L plate attached. You'll see here that this gives us a nice bracket that makes it easy to mount the camera on either axis, which is going to make it very flexible to get the shot. So here I have a Sony camera attached. I'll simple detach here for a moment and I can rotate, and now I can shoot vertical video. And while I'm not a huge fan of vertical video, for normal situations, it is often good when producing Cinemagraphs.
Remember, you are creating dynamic content, often for the web, or perhaps a dynamic movie poster. There are many times that dynamic media is delivered in a vertical aspect ratio. So, being able to turn your camera might be a good idea. Now, this L bracket is a very professional way of doing this and it's an option that you can add on to just about any DSLR. I'm using one from the maker Really Right Stuff, but there are many companies out there that make these. Even still, many tripods can have their heads repositioned so you can put it at a 90 degree angle, and still shoot vertical if needed.
In any case, just make sure you consider your options. Get the most pixels that you can use before cropping, and then remember during post production, you can crop to whatever size that you need.
Join Rich Harrington as he walks through how to create cinemagraphs in a variety of different programs, and how to create plotagraphs with Plotagraph Pro. Throughout the course, Rich shares helpful shooting and post-production techniques to help you improve your end results.
- What are cinemagraphs?
- Essential shooting techniques
- Composing a dynamic shot
- When to shoot video for cinemagraphs
- Determining frame size and frame rate
- Developing strategies for cinemagraphs and plotagraphs
- Creating cinemagraphs with Photoshop, Flixel, and Cliplets
- Creating plotagraphs with Plotagraph Pro
- Optimizing cinemagraphs and plotagraphs
- Recompressing video with Adobe Media Encoder and Apple Compressor
- Posting dynamic content to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram