OK, so technically they're not GIFs, but "cinemagraphs", short, seamlessly repeating videos. Either way, these incredible loops of dramatic waves from Ray Collins and Armand Dijcks are endlessly soothing. Just watch and watch and watch and forget that the Earth will soon be one giant ocean.
Collins captured the photographs these loops are based on while swimming in massive waves with a Nikon D5 in a waterproof casing. The loops actually start out as still images that become short videos thanks to some studio magic. Dijcks is in charge of that.
Surprisingly, Dijcks uses a couple of software programs — and not actual video — to create the illusion of motion. It's probably best if I just let you read the explanation of the process from Dijcks himself, as told to Gizmodo via email:
Together we selected a number of stills for me to work with. Each still is taken into After Effects and animated. I basically start with the original still and have After Effects slowly distort that image over the duration of a few seconds. If I left it at that, I would end up with a very weird looking, distorted wave.
So the next step is to take this short video clip into an application called Flixel Cinemagraph Pro. This is where the final magic happens. It lets you mask out certain areas where you want to have the motion visible, and will show the original image everywhere else. This way you can hide parts of the distortion, and make it look like the wave is moving in a natural way. The final step is to create a seamless loop, so that the motion will continue indefinitely, creating the strange illusion of a moving wave that never actually breaks.
The trick with all of this is to pay attention to how waves move in reality. If you introduce motion is a way that is not realistic, our brain immediately picks up on that and the illusion falls apart.
Tricks aside, the waves look incredibly real and majestic.
So yeah, it's been a tough week for planet Earth. But do you feel relaxed yet?
Enjoy the weekend. You deserve it.