How To Create A Cinemagraph With Adobe Animate CC

The Animate CC timeline showing the layers used to create the cinemagraph.
Creating cinemagraphs in Animate CC is rather simple.
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How To Create A Cinemagraph With Adobe Animate CC

The Animate CC timeline showing the layers used to create the cinemagraph.
Creating cinemagraphs in Animate CC is rather simple.

Earlier this year, we showed how to create a cinemagraph using Adobe Photoshop. Turns out, you can achieve the same effect in Animate CC.

Before we get into the this “How To”, you should know that a cinemagraph is nothing more than an AnimatedGIF which is composed from, a bunch of still images with a motion element contained in them. Think of a flip book and you are on the right track. The still images composited into a short loop and then one of the images from that loop is placed over the others and the motion area in the still image has a mask applied to it. What makes this technique so ubiquitous is that it is normally output as an animated GIF which means it will play anywhere. There are only a couple of things you need to know before you start:

  • They are short. No more than 10 to 15 seconds or less.
  • The video camera must be on a tripod.
  • No pans, zooms or other special effects.
  • Look for motion in the clip that is repetitive.
  • The still images are output either from the Adobe Media Encoder or video editing software as a JPG or PNG sequence.
  • You can’t add audio to a cinemagraph.

The workflow is quite basic:

  1. Trim a video clip down to the appropriate time
  2. Output it as a png or jpg image sequence.
  3. Add the images to the Animate CC Timeline
  4. Create the mask
  5. Output an Animated Gif.

Let’s get started.

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How To Trim A Video Using The Adobe Media Encoder CC

The In and Out sliders and the timecode in the Adobe media Encoder are highlighted.
Use the In and Out point features of video editing software to trim a clip to the desired duration.

We are using the Adobe Media Encoder simply because it is part of the Creative Cloud from Adobe. Any video editing software that allows you to set the In and the Out points of a video clip and to output a jpg or png image sequence will do. The techniques are the same regardless of which application you use.

  1. To start, add the video to the Media Encoder and double click either the codec or the Preset to open the Export Settings.
  2. The In and the Out points are found under the Preview on the left side of the screen.  The video being used is over 15 seconds long and it needs to be trimmed to a duration of about 5 seconds. The In point determines where the clip starts and the Out point determines where it ends.
  3. Drag the White triangle on the left to a point where the motion starts.
  4. Drag the white triangle on the right to where you think the motion should end which is the Out Point. As you drag the Out point pay attention to the timecode on the right. This will tell you the duration of the clip.

The In and the Out points are important. The project has to loop so try and have the Out point somewhat match the frame for the In point.

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How To Output An Image Sequence In The Adobe Media Encoder CC

The Export Settings and Basic Settings area in Adobe Media Encoder are higlighted to show Png Sequence Export.
Resize the video before exporting a PNG sequence. images should be around 480 pixels wide.

With the In and Out Points set, you next need to keep the user in mind. Animated GIF files can be a drain on bandwidth so keep them small both physically and when it comes to file size. In this case the waterfall was shot with a digital camera and is 1,20 by 720 which is great on a computer screen but enormous if being viewed on a tablet or smartphone. Also this video was shot at a the normal 30 frames per second. If we stay with this we will be outputting over 150 png images which is a bit much. Let’s deal with these issues :

  1. Open the Format pop down in the Export Settings and select PNG.  
  2. Next, double click the file name in the Output Name area. Navigate to where you want to place the image sequence. Now we can turn our attention to the size and frame rate issues.

If you look at the size in the Basic Settings, each image will be output at 1280 x 720. This is fine for a desktop computer but not for anything else.

  1. Click the checkmark beside the Width and Height areas and the numbers will light up. Don’t deselect the chain link. If selected all changes made will be made in proportion which means the clip’s aspect ratio will be maintained.
  2. Change the Width value to 480. Make sure Export As Sequence is selected and change the Frame Rate to 15.
  3. When finished, click OK to be returned to the Encoder.
  4. Click the Green Start Queue button to create the sequence.
  5. Quit the Adobe Media Encoder.
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How To Add An Image Sequence To Adobe Animate CC

Thje imported images have been distrubuted to Animate CC keyframes.
When importing an image sequence into Animate be sure to select Modify>Timeline>Distribute to Frames.

Animate CC – the application formerly known as Flash – is slowly regaining its prominence as an animation and motion design tool. Until the infamous banning of Flash from the iOS platform in 2010, Flash reigned supreme. With rise of mobile and HTML5, Flash had a corresponding decrease in interest. Adobe, realizing one of its flagship product was destined for life support, quietly stripped Flash down to its molecules, rearranged them to accommodate an HTML5 universe and retained a lot of the features that made Flash so good. At the same time, to ensure there was no residual resistance against Flash, they renamed the product Animate CC.

In this exercise we are going to import those images into Animate and get them to line up along the timeline. Here’s how:

  1. Open a new Animate CC HTML5 Canvas document and select File>Import> Import to Stage.
  2. Navigate to the folder where you saved the PNG sequence, select all of the images in the folder and press Open. You will see a Progress Bar showing you the Import process.
  3. When the Import finishes, you will see one dot in Frame 1 of Layer and one image. Where are the rest of them? They are there. What happened is they were all brought into that frame and are all stacked on top of eachother. To fix that, switch to the Selection Tool (the solid arrow) and select Modify>Timeline>Distribute to Keyframes. Each image, the black dot, will be put in its own keyframe along the timeline.
  4. Move the Playhead to Frame 1. If this frame is blank, Right-Click on the frame and select Remove Frames from the Context Menu.
  5. Press the Return/Enter key to see the sequence in Action.

There are a couple things you need to know about this sequence:

  • Each image is numbered. Don’t change the names or the numbers. Do this and you will ruin the animation because the images will be out of order.
  • If you open the Library each image will be there. A good habit to develop when using Animate is to keep the library neat and tidy. To do this click the folder icon at the bottom of the Library panel and name it Sequence. With the Shift key held down, select all of the images in the Library panel and drag them into the Sequence folder.
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How To Prepare The Animate CC Stage For Cinemagraph Creation

A Mask layer and a Still layer are added to the Animate CC timeline.
You need a stil image in a layer over the sequence and a Mask layer to create the cinemagraph.

A cinemagraph uses a series of images under a still image. A mask is then applied to the still image in order to show the motion. In Animate CC, this is accomplished in separate Layers.

  1. Add two new layers to the Animate CC timeline using the New Layer button.
  2. Name them Still and Mask. Also make sure the Mask layer is above the Still Layer.
  3. Rename Layer 1 to Sequence.
  4. Move the playhead to frame one and click once on the image to select it. Copy the image to the clipboard.
  5. Select Frame 1 in the Still layer and select Edit>Paste In Place. The image on the clipboard will be added to the Still layer.

All that’s left to do is create the mask, which will reveal the motion.

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How To Create A Mask In Animate CC

The mask is drawn in the Mask layer.
Use the Animate CC Pen Tool to draw a mask over the areas that won't show motion.

Masking in Animate CC might be a bit different from what you may be used to. For example, in Photoshop, you use a brush to paint over the area you want to show through. In Animate CC, you use a shape to identify the area to preserve. Here’s how:

  1. Select the Mask layer and switch to the pen tool.
  2. Open the Properties panel and be sure there is a stroke color. If not, change the color to black.
  3. In the above image the plan is to show the strong cascade in the middle of the image. Create two shapes that reveal that cascade. Look for areas with very little or no motion to include in the shape. You can use the Add Point tool from the Pen Toll pop down and the Subselection Tool – the Hollow arrow – to manipulate the shape.
  4. When finished , select the Paint Bucket tool and fill each one with Black.
  5. Right click on the Mask layer name and select Mask from the Context menu. The Still imahe and the Mask layer will be locked and the indent of the Still layer under the Mask layer tells you the mask has been applied.
  6. Press the Return/Enter key to preview your Cinemagraph.
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How To Create An Animated GIF In Animate CC

The Export Image dialog box shows the Animated Gif options.
Use the Export Image dialog box to Optimize your Animated Gif image.

The final step in the process is to export the Animated GIF. Here’s how:

  1. Select Export> Export Animated GIF. This will open the Export Image dialog box.
  2. Select GIF 64 Dithered from the name pop down. This is a preset.
  3. Reduce the number of colors. In this case, they were reduced to 64 colors. Reducing the number of colours and/or the dimensions of the GIF will serve to reduce the file size. Other techniques to reduce file size include reducing the Dither, increasing the Web Snap value or returning to the Animate stage and reducing the number of frames in the timeline by half. These are all personal choices and will depend on what you want to achieve in your GIF.
  4. Select Forever from the Looping pop down.
  5. Click the Play button to preview the animation.
  6. Click preview to open the project in a browser. You will see the project playing, be given some information about the project and even possible HTML5 code to add to a web page.
  7. If everything looks good, click the Save button. When the Save dialog box opens, name the file and select a folder where the file will be saved.

At this point, you can save the Animate file and quit Animate CC.