Cinemegraphs have seen a lot of popularity during the past few years. It’s a photography technique where certain subjects in the image make brief and repetitive moments, while the rest of the picture remains still, creating a blend between image and video. If you like making cinemagraphs, then you’re definitely going to love Microsoft Research Cliplets. Being promoted under the tagline “juxtaposition of still and dynamic photography”, the application emphasizes on creating seamless loops of selected areas from your videos, into what Microsoft refers to as, “Cliplets”. While most of the cinemagraph tools only enable you to generate outputs in GIF format, the beauty of Microsoft Research Cliplets lies in the fact that, along with GIF, you can save your cliplets in MP4 and WMV formats. Coupled with an intuitive interface, the application is not only easy to use, but contains a handful of options to create countless varying cliplets. Keep reading for a detailed review.
There’s no explanation for how many video formats the application actually supports, but during testing, it worked on almost every common video file we threw at it. There are absolutely no complications involved in creating the cliplets, if you know what you’re doing, of course. One thing that fascinated us was the very-small learning-curve in making your first cliplet. To get started, launch the application and drag and drop your video file over the application window (or simply use the classic browse method). It’s worth mentioning that the application only lets you work with up to 10 seconds of footage, so if your file is longer than 10 seconds, it automatically fires up the integrated Trim tool to extract your desired section. Once you have marked the relevant part, click OK to trim the video.
Now you’d be taken back to the application’s main interface, which comprises of an Input Timeline in the upper area, and a Cliplet Timeline at the bottom. The developers have also thrown in a couple of tutorial videos on the website, elaborating in more detail the timelines, its working, and how you can add a number of different effects to the videos. The first step for working with every video circles around making the Still image selection, i.e., the part of video which you want to use as the backdrop. If you look at the right side of the window, you’d see that there’s a Layers section. Although you may add as many layers as you want, the first layer is locked at Still effect by default, while the succeeding layers contain 3 more effects, Loop, Play and Mirror. Simply use the Input Timeline to drag the slider to the point which will be used as background, and click Add new layer button to the right.
Now, you need to mark the area or object that you want to create the movement effect for, using Masking. Use your mouse to click and drag over the area for masking. Afterwards, select the movement effect from layers drop-down menu (Still, Loop, Mirror and Play), and use the sliders on cliplets timeline to adjust the loops sequence length. When you’re ready, click the Play button near Cliplet timeline to render the output. Don’t forget to save your project by clicking Save project button, so you may be able to revert any changes should anything go wrong. To save the file as GIF, WMA or MP4, simply click the Export cliplet button.
Below you can see the test Cliplet that we created during our review.
Microsoft Research has indeed done a remarkable job with Cliplets. We won’t call it the best in business, but it offers a handful of features and lets you create countless different cliplets within a few minutes, all with utmost ease. The application works only on Windows 7, supporting both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.