Content Marketing

How To Make Cinemagraphs

Contact Studios
September 12, 2020

When PepsiCo came out with their new soda, Mist Twist, to compete in the lemon-lime category of soft drinks, they knew they needed a new and exciting social media strategy that could hit a home run with a millennial audience.

Mist Twist would be up against the beloved classics like Sprite, the Coca-Cola Company product that has long dominated the lemon-lime soft drink world. With consumers losing interest in 7UP, PepsiCo’s idea was to re-introduce an older product, Sierra Mist, under a new name with a strong enough social media campaign to gain back some market share.

PepsiCo decided that the best way to speak to their tech-savvy, millennial audience, was to experiment with a new form of visual content: cinemagraphs.

Even if you don’t know what “cinemagraph” means, you’ve probably at least seen one. A cinemagraph looks like a static image, but contains a single moving element. Ever seen an image on Instagram where someone’s standing in front of a waterfall, and while the majority of the photo resembles a normal still, the waterfall miraculously rages behind them? That’s a cinemagraph.

In PepsiCo’s case, they wanted to create a cinemagraph that looked like a standard soft-drink photo ad, but in which the can of Mist Twist would actually “twist” itself up in a continuous looping motion.

The ad itself was nothing spectacular—a can of Mist Twist on a gradient background with a logo and slogan splashed beside it. Nevertheless, they tried running the cinemagraph ad against a static-image version of the same ad, each one targeting a demographically identical segment of their social media audience. The results blew PepsiCo away.

For the segment of PepsiCo’s social media audience that was seeing a cinemagraph, the Click-Through Rate (CTR) of their ad shot up by an incredible 75%, with these posts receiving 51 times more engagement than their static image counterparts. Furthermore, nearly a quarter of all people who saw Pepsi’s cinemagraph appear on their feed stayed to watch the full 12 seconds of it.

Pepsi’s campaign racked up a combined 5.62 million impressions in just over a week.

Other big marketing companies have also started using cinemagraphs, yielding the same if not better, results as PepsiCo. Ad Parlor—a prominent marketing firm with partners like Facebook, Snapchat, and LinkedIn—is another great case study.

Like PepsiCo, Ad Parlor tried running two-versions of the same ad—one as a static image, the other as a cinemagraph—each targeting demographically identical audience segments of their social media pages. After running these ads for 19 days, Ad Parlor found that their ads using cinemagraphs were receiving a Click Through Rate that was 117% higher than their ads using a static image. Even more interesting was that these cinemagraph ads also came at a much lower cost—their cost-per-click was a full 41% lower than that of the static image ads. These cinemagraphs even received 9/10 relevance scores compared to their static image counterparts.  

How to Make Cinemagraphs

If you’re convinced that cinemagraphs are right for your brand, you may be wondering how to start incorporating them into your social media strategy. The good news is, making a cinemagraph is almost shockingly easy if you have the right programs. On Adobe Photoshop, you can make a cinemagraph in under a minute. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at this short, step-by-step tutorial by Adobe Creative Cloud.

How To Make A Cinemagraph in Adobe Photoshop:

Step 1: Click “Window”, then select  “Layers”, to open the Layers panel. Drag your video file above “Video Group 1”. Delete “Video Group 1.”

Step 2: Create a copy of your video by dragging it into the “New Layer” icon.

Step 3: Click “Window” and select “Timeline.” Choose the part of your video that you want to set as the still part of your cinemagraph by dragging the playhead to that part of the video.

Step 4: Right click the video copy layer you made and select “Rasterize Layer.”

Step 5: Click “Select” and choose “Select and Mask.” Change your View Mode to “Overlay.”

Step 6:  Click on the brush tool, and use it to select the part of the video that you want to be moving for your cinemagraph.

Step 7: Select “Invert.” Change the Output Settings to “Layer Mask.”

Step 8: Play around with the start and end points of your timeline so you can make your cinemagraph loop as smoothly as possible. If the loop doesn’t work upon playback, click Settings and select “Loop Playback.”

Step 9: When saving your cinemagraph, set “Looping Options” to “Forever.”

If you don’t have, or are not up to learning Adobe Creative Suite, there’s a number of applications you can use to make cinemagraphs. One such application, Flixel, costs about $200 per year.

Should I Hire A Professional To Make Cinemagraphs?

While you could easily use Adobe Photoshop, or purchase an application like Flixel to create your own cinemagraphs, you would still be missing the most important aspect of a cinemagraph—the footage.

When making a cinemagraph with the intent of boosting your audience engagement, increasing conversions, and/or giving your brand a lift, a number of important factors need to be addressed before you even open Photoshop. Is your footage high definition enough to give your cinemagraph a wow factor? Is the composition of the footage optimized for your social media pages? Do your cinemagraphs help to tell a larger, compelling narrative about your product or brand, or do they just look cool?

If you’ve never done product photography or made social media optimized brand videos, you will more than likely need to invest in professional help to create a cinemagraph that will not only capture your audience’s attention, but convince them to engage with your brand, and ultimately buy your product.

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