Julien Douvier on Creating Hypnotic, Looping Cinemagraphs

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All images by Julien Douvier. Used with permission.

Julien Douvier is a cinemagraph master. We’ve seen plenty of artful GIFs containing one small moving object. Julien, however, takes it to an entirely new hypnotic level with his frames of seamlessly looping motion from passing trains, this shot of a Ferris wheel above, to people walking down the street.

The 24 year-old Strasbourg, France resident says he has been creating cinemagraphs since 2013. At the time Julien says he did not even know there was a specific name for the images he created and it all started with a simple video he shot for a school project a year prior.

Simulacres, simulation from Julien Douvier on Vimeo.

“I wanted to create an alternative vision of our reality without adding huge special effects and only by “playing” with the recorded content,” Julien expounds.

“One day I was bored, so I decided to fool around with the video files used to make the video,” he says. “I realized that I could make infinite loops with some sequences, this is how my first cinemagraph was born.”

Julien says he liked the challenge of creating the perfect loop. In the days following his discovery of cinemagraphs Julien went out shooting with his father’s tripod and a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20. Since then Julien has upgraded to a GoPro for its wider fisheye lens and then his first DSLR, the Canon Rebel T3i (600D).

“Most of my images aren’t planned in advance,” Julien quips. “When I find an interesting subject I have to think how will it be looped, how much time a loop will take, and how big will be the ‘moving surface’ on the final image.”

The second most important part is of course getting the footage with a camera stabilized on a tripod or monopod. “The initial footage needs to be perfectly stable to avoid getting movement between the moving part and the static part,” Julien explains.

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All that’s left to create a cinemagraph processing and editing it in software. Julien notes that he uses Sony Vegas Pro to create loops from the video sequences. Afterwards Julien exports the file to Adobe Photoshop for post processing and also to create the final GIF file.

“The loop is simply an endless repetition of few seconds of the video sequence,” he says. “I simply use fades in the video editing software to make the repetition less visible.”

Julien says he loves making cinemagraphs because it’s allows him to create unusual images from a “simple” loop showing something that impossible to see in reality. Moving forward, Julien says he’s trying to become photographer and a better videographer to create better images. We honestly have to say he’s already there.

Check out more of Julien Douvier’s work on his website, Behance profile, Tumblr, and Vimeo. Be sure to also follow him on Twitter and Instagram as well as liking him on Facebook.

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Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee is a freelance journalist and photographer based in Brooklyn.