Making “Air Bike” was hard and easy at the same time. It required some very basic masking skills, but has a repeating loop, (which is the most difficult loop type out there). I will explain my planning and shooting process, and you can download my files and follow along during the post-production section.

Step 1. Plan

Since my client was Happy socks, I needed to think about a cinemagraph what would really show off socks. As I was thinking of some ideas, I remembered from my childhood how my mom would lay on the floor and do these air bike/peddling moves. I knew immediately that this was something I could use. I also realized that if I turned my image upside down, it would look like the real thing, only without the bike, (which is even cooler). So, from there, most of my energy went into finding some nice legs and a bright wall.

Step 3. Think about the loop

My biggest worry was how to achieve a seamless, repeating loop.  This is the “king” of all loops… in the best cases, the viewer will never understand where the loop begins, and where it ends. To achieve this you need some luck, a model who can move like a robot, a lot of support to your models body, patience, and some post-production skills.

Step 4. Shoot

This is my gear list:

  • Camera: Sony a7rii
  • Lens: Zeiss FE 4/24-70
  • Tripod: Manfrotto Compact Light Aluminum Tripod

Camera settings during this shot:

  • Speed: 1/80
  • Aperture: 4.0
  • ISO: 640
  • WB: Daylight
  • Focus: Manual
  • Video quality: 4K full frame

All of the light game from a window at the right side of the room, and it bounced back from a white wall on the left side. In these conditions, I didn’t need any additional light source. My model, Stina, was lying on a yoga mat. I double-checked all of my settings, and manually focused on Stina’s legs. With that, we were ready to shoot.

As Stina is in fact not a robot, we needed a lot of luck to to achieve one rotation where the start and end points would be as similar as possible. To raise this possibility we tried many different techniques for pedaling:

  • Doing it very slow
  • Doing it as fast as possible
  • Holding her breath
  • Meditating during pedaling
  • Doing it as long as possible…

Now, we could only hope that luck was on our side

Since we did all of the pedalling without holding her hands up, we needed to take some shots of her hands.

Step 8. Trim your clip

Import the footage into Flixel Cinemagraph Pro. The first thing what we will do is find the best section of our clip where the start and the end look as similar as possible. For that I used the Trim section–the timeline which you can find at the bottom of the window. On that timeline is a white trim box, where the start and end are trimmable, representing the start and end of your final clip. I trimmed my clip so that the legs position would be in the end as similar to the position at the start. You will see a half transparent frame on top of your footage. You can change which frame is the master frame, but by default it comes from the begging of your clip. You can use this as a guide for finding a similar end frame. When you drag the purple marker over the video, and hit a point when there is little to no ghosting/blur around the image, this is possibly a good point to end your trim.

As you can see, the start and end are not matching perfectly, but we can fix it later.

Step 9. Import static image and cut out subject

On a bottom left side of trim window there is popup menu, from where you can import a static image. Find it from your computer and press the import button.

Now we need to mask out everything what should be moving on our final Cinemagraph. For that, we will select the Mask editor where we can find a few simple options for our mask brush:

  • With the brush, you can paint an area where you can see through your static image
  • With eraser, you can paint your static image back
  • Size – that makes the brush smaller or larger
  • Hardness – that makes the brush edge harder or softer
  • Opacity – that represents if the brush deletes everything at ones or just a thin layer of your static image
  • Mask All- will mask your entire image so you cannot see your static image anymore
  • Unmask All- covers all of your moving image with the static image

From the view menu, you can zoom in to edit in a closer view

Fortunately, masking is very easy this time, all we need to do is few strokes. Be aware not to leave any shadows unmasked on the wall. TIP: Press overlay mask to see what you’ve painted out.

Step 10. Fade loop and make it faster

In the loop section, there is a purple handle at the start of the timeline, and a green handle at the end. Use green handle to adjust fade longer or faster. If the fade is very long, you’ll a transparent ghostfrom the beginning of the clip at the end, and this is OK for some cases, but not this time. Try to make this fade as long as it smooths out the jump between start and end, but short enough to avoid a long ghost.

Use the speed handle to make the pedalling a bit faster–it will help to hide jump in the end of a clip.

Step 11. Flipping

At bottom of the Adjustments section, there is Transform section from where you can find four options:

  • Rotate anticlockwise
  • Rotate clockwise
  • Flip vertically
  • Flip horizontally

As the image I used is upside down, I used a horizontal flip so that she appeared to be biking up right.

Step 12. Exporting/ Uploading/ Embed code

These subjects are all covered in the end of Brathwait watches ad tutorial


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