How To Utilize Cinemagraphs For Powerful Digital Storytelling

You’re scrolling through your Facebook, Instagram or Tumblr feed and something catches your eye. The subtle movements of an otherwise frozen image draw your attention and beckon your curiosity. What is this entertaining thing? Why are you still staring at it 20 seconds later, hoping to see something different happen? Perhaps you didn’t know what it was called, but chances are pretty high you’ve seen a cinemagraph before.

“Cinemagraph by PowerPost Staff
Cinemagraph by PowerPost Staff

Since they’ve emerged in 2011, cinemagraphs have fascinated the online world with their dual nature, equal parts simplistic and complex. The beauty of the cinemagraph is that it has just enough movement to engage viewers, while keeping the basis of its self-evident story up front.

It’s really not a question of if a brand should be using cinemagraphs, but how a brand can use them. A lot of brands don’t know how to use cinemagraphs to embellish their brand on social media, and some might even question how to make a cinemagraph that fits their brand’s aesthetic. Fortunately, there are many resources available that can help brands achieve the look they want. What’s more important is to find a way to make your cinemagraph highlight


Creating a cinemagraph isn’t as difficult as it looks. There are a bunch of available apps, like Flixel, that can help you create simple cinemagraphs for next to nothing in cost. Check out these tips and you’ll be on your way to quality cinemagraph content:

Cinemagraph of roast by PowerPost Staff
Cinemagraph by PowerPost Staff

Stabilize stabilize stabilize

The only way to really have control over your cinemagraph is if the original footage is stabilized well using a tripod, monopod, or some other means.

Choose one moment to accent with movement

What makes a cinemagraph different from a gif is that only one moment is isolated with movement. Take time to carefully choose which aspect of your image will be moving to keep your audience engaged.

Use attention to detail when creating your masks

Zoom in close so that the mask edges are very clean and believable.

Make sure you loop the movement at just the right moment

Each time the movement happens, edit so that the first frames of movement ends up with the final movement stops.

Cinemagraph by PowerPost Staff
Cinemagraph by PowerPost Staff

Export your cinemagraph as a video using h.264 codec and with a .mp4 format

Keep the bitrate and quality to around 10mb/s with only 1 pass on rendering

Use an online website like to convert your video into a looping Gif

Sites like these minimize the time taken to create the gif, while also compressing them to an automatically smaller file size.

Host your gif using popular websites like Giphy or Imgur

These sites have an infrastructure pre-set for hosting masses of links, which means you won’t suffer from bandwidth problems


Do This To Utilize Cinemagraphs For Powerful Digital Storytelling
Once you’ve mastered the basics, we suggest experimenting with vertical cinemagraphs. The simple fact of the matter is that most people don’t like to turn their phones to view content, and especially not to view an advertisement. Flixel blogger, Cassandra King, calls out the advantages of vertical viewing when it comes to driving results in her blog post about the vertical cinemagraph movement.

“Advertisers who were first to test-drive marketing on Snapchat found that when their ads were vertically oriented, they saw up to nine times more engagement.”

We know that vertical video is driving results for brands, and when it comes to Facebook ads cinemagraphs already receive as much as 5X the click-through rates as traditional images. So it really only makes sense to marry the two together and jump on the vertical cinemagraph bandwagon as Cassandra King suggests.

Traditional cinemagraphs are engaging and useful for brands, but imagine the impact they would have by using more vertical space, filling the entire mobile screen. With more area to work with, the story becomes that much more immersive and could yield higher results and higher click-through rates. Converting square-format cinemagraphs to vertical formats changes the game and give brands the opportunity to increase overall engagement on their social platforms.

With a little planning (and a lot of vertical action) your brand can become a leader in the cinemagraph game taking you one step closer to becoming a power publisher.

Do you think you’ll incorporate cinemagraphs into your content strategy? Fan of vertical cinemagraphs? Let us know in comment section below!

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