Creating Gifs & Cinemagraphs

A New Form of Communication

In this course students will learn how to create two types of popular digital moving images- Gifs & Cinemagraphs. When Gifs & Cinemagraphs are used with the right content or platform, they can derive meaning, create a cultural impact, or even go viral- which is why they have become a powerful communication tool for friends and families, and a popular format for storytellers, artists, marketers and advertisers trying to capture and hold their audience’s attention.

What is a Cinemagraph?

Often described as Harry Potter-like moving images, cinemagraphs are a magical hybrid of photography and video. They contain subtle motion that plays in a short, never-ending loop, while the rest of the image remains still. The motion highlights a few seconds from the video, blending it seamlessly into the still photo.

Examples of cinemagraphs:

What is a Gif?

In its simplest form, a GIF (pronounced “gif” or “jiff”) is an “animated” image file, like a flipbook! Stands for "Graphics Interchange Format." A Gif is an image file format commonly used for images on the web and sprites in software programs. Gif files hold multiple pictures at once, and people realized that these pictures could load sequentially (again, like a flipbook) if they’re decoded a certain way.

Examples of Gifs:


Students who take this class will walk away with an understanding of:

  • Designing & Building images with Adobe Photoshop
  • Animating on the Adobe Photoshop Timeline
  • How to create Gifs & Cinemagraphs to share on social media & text messages
  • How to Interpret and Create images from and for popular culture
  • Ways to analyze and critique professional & amateur moving image work


Samantha Olschan is an award-winning animator & transmedia artist with a M.F.A. in Film, Video & New Media: Animation from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago & a B.F.A in Fine Arts: Electronic & Time-Based Media from Carnegie Mellon University. Having worked across broadcast design, animation, compositing and visualization for television, films, and media agencies, she continues to research the future of storytelling through animation, design & experiential narrative.

Recent exhibitions and screenings include the Black Maria Film & Video Festival, P.O.V. Series (PBS), The ShortList (PBS), Hollywood North Film Awards, Visionfest, Tribeca Cinemas, Bumbershoot, Seattle International Film Festival, Boston Cinema Census, Boston Underground Film Festival, Conversations at the Edge, The Gene Siskel Film Center, Marblehead Film Festival & the Skopelos Foundation for the Arts in Greece. Teaching appointments in animation, media and design include University of Connecticut, Pratt Institute, Wesleyan University, Quinnipiac University, Columbia College, New York Film Academy & The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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At a Glance:

Sessions Offered:

  • Session 2: July 5th - July 11th

Location: UConn Storrs

Supplemental Course Fee: $40.00

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