Three Worlds, One Image: Luke Cinemagraph

Making Of / 21 July 2022

I was happy with the way the Vader’s cinemagraph turned out but getting started on adding animated elements to Luke proved to be a challenge. While Vader was in more of a passive, defensive posture, Luke’s pose going up the stairs felt a lot more like a moment frozen in time, where I would have to completely animate the step he’s taking for any movement to make sense. This wasn’t insurmountable but it wasn’t in keeping with the touches of movement I’d added to the other characters in the image.

I then came upon the idea of adding Vader to Luke’s cinemagraph. Vader’s presence would give Luke a visual reason to hesitate at the top of the stairs. I simply imported Vader and scaled him down to fit in with the scene.

The confrontation added some drama but Luke still seemed to be waiting too long for no particular reason to take that step (amazing how getting an image moving can completely change the functions it has to serve.) I imported the footage of the smoke that I had used for Vader’s cinemagraph and reversed the playback so that it would diminish to reveal Vader. This served two purposes, serving to add even more drama and providing a reason for Luke’s uncertainty about moving forward. 

I was thinking I might still need to more fully animate Luke’s foot raising from the step and his right arm raising with the lightsaber (his elbow was in a position that made bending it impossible with puppet pins) but adding the extra dramatic elements made a little motion go a long way.

How I was going to handle Leia’s cinemagraph wasn’t immediately coming clear to me, so I decided to get started on Ripley’s cinemagraph instead.