[iPhone] Use Cinemagram to create brilliant animations from your photos

According to Wikipedia, a flip book is “a series of pictures that vary gradually from one page to the next, so that when the pages are turned rapidly, the pictures appear to animate by simulating motion or some other change.” You probably have seen something like this, as they are commonly used for marketing purposes due to how stunning it is to watch. In 1987, a new type of image format was created, called a GIF, that could display short animations that looked quite similar to a flip book. The GIF would basically combine several consecutive images together into one animation and file format.  The app I am reviewing today, Cinemagram, allows users to create highly-stylized GIFs and share them with the world. The results are actually quite stunning.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

Cinemagram is a social photo site that allows you to create and share short animations called cinemagraphs.


  • Easy streamlined photographic process
  • Includes a timeline of community created cinemagraphs
  • The “mask” identification process is straightforward
  • Creates an animation that could take a professional many hours to do
  • Filters are available to give animation a classic look
  • Ability to invite friends to the app
  • You can identify favorites, re-post, and leave comments
  • Can share with Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr
  • Can email or SMS any cinemagraph; SMS is very impressive


  • Creating a good cinemagram is challenging


Cinemagram is indeed a clever app. It is essentially brings the same elements of Instagram, but with artistically stunning animations rather than just images. And all you have to do is swipe through the app’s friends and popular feeds to see exactly what I mean by stunning. It is indeed amazing that something so simple could create such an striking animation.

The way the process works is that Cinemagram prompts you to record a short video clip with your iPhone’s built-in camera. You are then asked to identify the “mask” region. This the only region of the photograph that you want to move. You simply need to draw over the region you want to move, while the remainder of the animation will stay static. The result is what the app refers to as a cinemagraph. In essence, a cinemagraph is a stylized GIF with only certain regions that move.

What does the result look like? Well I tried it by filming myself while making my lips do silly things, then made the “mask” my mouth area. The results were a lot like the baby’s mouth in the eTrade commercials. Your face doesn’t move, but your lips do. Just from looking through the app, users create anything from simple animations to outstanding artistic gems with this app.

I will say that the developers did a good job of streamlining the cinemagraph creation process. It is quick and straightforward one you get the hand of it and they even include vintage filters to give your animations even more pop. Cinemagram is basically a mini-social site in itself as you are able to invite users (much like Pinterest does) to see your creations and take part in the fun. You can share your animations with the typical sharing sites and even send them through SMS, which I thought was excellent. What a way to cheer someone up in the middle of a tough day! You can actually see the animation in the iPhone’s SMS feed too. No need to click.

Before concluding, I will warn users that creating a good cinemagraph is not easy. The process is straightforward, but actually making it look stunning is not. Most users will really need to get the hang of it before creating mind-blowing animations. If you like this sort of thing, then it is worth it.

Conclusion and download link

Cinemagram is quite an ingenious app that provides users with ability to create artistic animations that would otherwise take long hours to make. I would suggest downloading this app and looking through the friends and popular feeds. If you like what you see, then start creating!

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 1.16

Download size: 8.9 MB

Requires: iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad; iOS 5.0 and up

Cinemagram on iTunes

Related Posts