T.Stops Blog

Work Log: Cinemagraphs – The fine line between Photo and Film.

Welcome back to Tstops!

In this installment I’m going to talk about a very interesting shoot I did for TheVerge.com and Director Noah Shulman.   It was for the Samsung sponsored holiday gift guide.  We needed to create about a dozen “Cinemagraphs”.  That is to say, still images, in which a small moment is in motion.   It’s interesting to me because its the true hybrid of photography and Film.  In order for the effect to work, the subject, Aloe Blacc, had to remain motionless with exception of one small element of his person, or a moving element in the scene.  If he was to shift about, the effect would be ruined.

Here are the assembled Cinemagraphs in one video for easy viewing: but please click here to see them in context on the site.

It felt a bit like shooting oldtimey large format, where everyone in the room had to remain absolutely motionless and the effective “shutter” was 2-6 seconds.  We needed one actual still moment, then a few seconds to capture the motion. The two images were then composited, converted to GIF, and made into the Cinemagraph you see in final presentation.


Setup for an overhead shot.


We shot on RED Dragon at 6K full raster 5:1 Compression.  The lowest compression and the highest resolution we could go.  This was to ensure the post production pipeline had the most information to work with, as far as resolution for scaling, denoise, and compositing.

Lighting was nothing particularly out of the ordinary, we utilized the north facing windows of the studio for a constant and even daylight glow, and augmented when needed with an ARRI M18 1.8K HMI with a Chimera and 2″ Egg Crate to suppress spill.  We also had my new favorite light of all time, the Dedo 150.   Its been said, if given the option of two lights to shoot with, you pick a giant light… and a tiny light.  The Dedo is my new tiny light.   So unbelievable practical.  It provided most of the “edge” light you see in the setups.

This was a fun shoot for a new medium and I’m happy to be able to share the experience.

Until next time,



Follow me on Twitter and Instagram for tidbits about filmmaking, and images from the set!

Notify of


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments