iPhone and iPad

Cinemagr.am – Easily Create Cinemagraphs On Your iPhone For $1.99

Tim Brookes 02-03-2012

Here at MakeUseOf we love to focus on freebies, but at the same time occasionally an app will come along with a modest price tag (in this instance $1.99) that’s just so good we have to sing from the rooftops and offer an honest opinion.


It’s even rarer when two come along at once but if you were watching closely yesterday I reviewed Clear, a new paid list-making app that takes the mundane task of remembering things and makes it simple and fun. Today we’re taking a look at Cinemagram ($1.99), an insanely easy way to create cinemagraphs on your iPhone in minutes.

Hipster lens-less glasses at the ready!

Cinemagraphs? Eh?

A cinemagraph is essentially the marriage of still photos and moving video, except only a portion of the scene is animated. Typical examples include a tree swaying in the breeze, water flowing from a tap or the flame on a candle. In case you’re still confused, here’s a cinemagraph that I have made using the very app I’m about to talk about.
Cinemagr.am - Easily Create Cinemagraphs On Your iPhone For $1.99 street light
James has previously walked you through the process How To Make Your Own CinemaGraph In Photoshop CS5 Cinemagraphs are small animated GIF files created from a movie, that capture a tiny moving section of that movie in a forever looping sequence. See the sample to the left if you have no idea... Read More of creating these hybrids using Photoshop CS5, a software suite that would leave many of us bankrupt for a month. The process isn’t too complicated, but takes time, effort and patience in order to achieve the desired result. While the finished product might be a tad more professional than what Cinemagram offers, there’s certainly no easier way of taking the world around you and turning it into an animated still.

Previously Cinemagram had a few annoying bugs, some privacy concerns and a couple of issues with sharing. While the app is still not finished (is an app ever finished?) the developers have embraced user feedback, implemented changes (now at version 1.2) and are pushing for an update cycle that takes just over a week per version:

“We’ve been carefully reading & listening to your feedback, thank you. This is one of many updates coming up that will address all the issues that have been pointed out. We’re working super hard, you can expect one update every 7-10 days or so :)”

A promising start from a team developing a very promising app!


Using Cinemagram

The process is really quite easy, though it won’t work perfectly for every scene you point your iPhone at. Hit Capture and you’ll see the familiar viewfinder and a button that simply says Record. When you hit Record start thinking about what portion of the scene is going to be animated and try to keep the shot as still as possible. A tripod adapter for your iPhone will deliver the steadiest results, but this is by no means a prerequisite and the process works fairly well even if you don’t have the steadiest of hands.
Cinemagr.am - Easily Create Cinemagraphs On Your iPhone For $1.99 recording
Once you’ve recorded the scene you’ll be presented with the video editor, where you can trim your video 18 Online Tools to Edit, Mix and Enhance your Videos Read More down to the required size and use the play button to preview. Once you’ve perfected your “loop” hit Save to reveal the mask editor. The mask defines which parts of the image appear moving – wherever there is a mask the video you just edited will play.
Cinemagr.am - Easily Create Cinemagraphs On Your iPhone For $1.99 trim video
Once you’re happy with the mask hit Next and choose a style from the Colorize menu (if you want) and hit Next. Finally you’ll have your preview, with the option to reverse the video in order to give the illusion of perpetual motion.
Cinemagr.am - Easily Create Cinemagraphs On Your iPhone For $1.99 drawmask
This works great for flames, swaying trees and so on but if your scene is of a car driving past then reversal looks a bit silly, so turn it off. You also have the option of discarding the video here with the Delete button in case your chosen scene doesn’t work at all.
Cinemagr.am - Easily Create Cinemagraphs On Your iPhone For $1.99 preview
Done will finalize the cinemagraph and give you the option of entering a name, author name and deciding whether or not to make it public (Cinemagram) or share with Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook.
Cinemagr.am - Easily Create Cinemagraphs On Your iPhone For $1.99 boiling

What else?

There’d be no point creating beauitful cinemagraphs if you couldn’t share them with everyone else, so there are two tabs along the bottom of Cinemagram – Popular and Latest – which will keep you up to date with what everyone else is doing. From here you can “like”, email and share via social channels anything that strikes you, as well as flagging naughty content (not that I’ve seen any).
Cinemagr.am - Easily Create Cinemagraphs On Your iPhone For $1.99 popular
Your own content also has a home under the Album tab and this will aggregate any content that you’ve created (private and public). Under Settings you can set your default name (there’s no account registration, something I’ll get to soon) and email as well as connecting Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter for fast sharing.
Cinemagr.am - Easily Create Cinemagraphs On Your iPhone For $1.99 sharing
Cinemagram is still a fairly new app, and that means there’s a ton of potential that’s still to be realised. One thing I would absolutely love to see in this app would be the ability to follow individuals. This would obviously require user registration, but connecting with Facebook or Twitter would suffice for many and make it easy to find friends.
Cinemagr.am - Easily Create Cinemagraphs On Your iPhone For $1.99 settings
Another thing that’s missing at the moment is the ability to track your own creations – how many likes, shares and a general rank. Under the Album tab it’s somewhat disappointing not to be able to see how many people thought your last cinemagraph was awesome.

Download: Cinemagram for iPhone @ App Store [No Longer Available]
Visit: Cinemagr.am [No Longer Available]


In addition to a few general enhancements, the usual bug fixes and the few missing features I’ve mentioned above, I can’t really think what else there is to do to improve this app. The concept is rock-solid, creating a cinemagraph is stress-free and easy to achieve and for $1.99 I’d say it’s a must-buy for anyone who constantly using their phone to take pictures, videos or messing with photo apps like Instagram 6+ Sites That Enhance The Instagram Experience Read More or Hipstamatic 3 Hipstamatic-Equivalent Android Apps For Retro Photo Effects Android users often bemoan the fact that they have to wait longer than iPhone users to get some of the cool apps - or that these applications never make it to the Android. A current... Read More (also $1.99).


Have you used Cinemagram? What do you think? Anything that could be added that would make you a very happy customer indeed? Add your thoughts in the comments, below.

Related topics: Cinemagraph, Computer Animation, Image Editor.

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  1. krissy
    August 12, 2012 at 7:02 am

    how do you unlike a cinemagram? or how to unlike any stuff if i accidentally liked a cinemagram that i really don't?

    • Tim Brookes
      August 14, 2012 at 1:48 am

      I've just spent 5 minutes trying to figure this one out myself, but to no avail. I'm not sure - maybe you can't. Oh well, perhaps you can suggest it as a feature request?

      Just be sure to tap carefully in the meanwhile!

  2. clinton
    June 28, 2012 at 4:31 am

    how come i cant make a cinemagram photo a profile picture on facebook?

    • Tim Brookes
      June 28, 2012 at 7:31 am

      As far as I'm aware Facebook don't allow animated .GIF images to be used as profile pictures. Twitter does on the other hand, so you could always optimize and use it there!

  3. cool iPhone apps
    May 29, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    I really love Cinegram, it is revolutionary app!

  4. Blue Iris
    May 19, 2012 at 10:18 am

    My friend recently acquired this app and I was eager to buy it once I got home but iTunes is telling me that I can't download it in Australia, so I changed my country to America, then Canada... it still tells me the same. HOW CAN I GET THIS APP!?
    Please and Thanks

    • Tim Brookes
      May 20, 2012 at 12:12 am

      Hmmm... very odd. I don't know why the developers wouldn't release it in Australia. I'm currently in Oz but I'm using the UK app store (I have tons of past purchases I'm not prepared to let go) so it worked fine for me.

      Here's a tip - when you change App Stores you need to input a new method of payment for the country you wish to change to. So if you have a US credit card or PayPal (or Canadian, UK, etc...) then you simply add that payment, try and access the App Store, it will report that you have to change stores and when it reloads you should see the App Store relating to the country you just selected.

      This only works if you have a valid form of payment in that country (i.e. this often boils down to a postal address) otherwise you won't be able to change stores.

      Otherwise I'd suggest perhaps asking the developers when they plan on releasing in Oz. The more demand they get, hopefully the sooner it arrives!

      Good luck.

  5. Aso
    May 9, 2012 at 11:11 am

    How can I make my cinemagraphs private? I am going crayzy over here, so freakin' frustrating.

    • Tim Brookes
      May 10, 2012 at 1:35 am

      As far as I'm aware, all you have to do is set sharing to "off" for Cinemagram in the final stage of finishing off your GIF.

      Check the second-last screenshot in the article for the button you want. I've made numerous mess-about cinemagrams that I didn't want to share and disabling this setting seems to work. I still have those ones saved to my account, but as far as I'm aware they're not publicly accessible.

      Let us know if that helps,

  6. Cinemagram!
    March 2, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Thanks for an excellent review Tim. We appreciate your comments on what would improve the Cinemagram user experience. Stay tuned as we strive for even more awesomeness.

    • Tim Brookes
      March 6, 2012 at 10:42 pm

      I'm looking forward to new versions, features and updates. If you'd like to keep me posted on major updates or other projects then you can email me at tbrookes [at] this website [dot] com

      Keep up the good work!