Tobi “Tobishinobi” Shonibare created this combo of still photo and bvideo clip to create an Instagram loop.

Make a Mini Animation that Loops Continuously on Instagram

By Tobi “Tobishinobi” Shonibare

The human eye has evolved to pay attention to movement—and who doesn’t want attention on Instagram? To grab more eyes on Instagram (and elsewhere), try layering a video on top of a still image to create a continuous loop. And if you get that video clip from Adobe Stock, you don’t even have to be a filmmaker. I’ll walk you through adding falling snow to a photo I shot of the Chicago sculpture Cloud Gate (also known as the Bean).

Before I get into the step-by-step how-to, let’s talk about perspective. For the most convincing end result, the perspectives in the photograph and the video clip have to match; for example, if the photo is a drone shot from above, as mine is, you need stock footage in which the precipitation goes away from you. If the photo is a more usual landscape shot, the precipitation should fall from top to bottom.

Watch Tobi Shinobi’s animation process in the screen-capture video above, then try it yourself. The steps are detailed below.


Bring the shot you want to animate into Adobe Photoshop CC and set it to 4:5 (1080:1350 pixels), the portrait ratio for Instagram. You can set the ratio to whatever you need for your short animation. Go to File > Export  > Quick Export as PNG. Because the file’s going to be in a video, I tend to save in PNG and keep the dimensions fairly small.


Open Adobe Premiere Pro CC, click on New Project, and name the project. Drag the photo into the media bin area of the Project panel (it will say “Import media to start”). Drag your newly imported file onto the Timeline to create a sequence that fits your photo.  

To search the Adobe Stock library for some stock footage, click the Libraries tab at the top of the Premiere Pro application window. Click to download footage to your Library, and then drag this file into the media bin to import it.

Click on the photo in the Timeline to select it. Hit Command (Mac)/Control (Windows)-R to bring up the Clip Speed / Duration dialog. Set the clip duration to 4 seconds and click OK.

Drag and drop the video file onto the Timeline above the photo. Line up the clips on the Timeline so that they both start at the same time. Select the snow clip so that it’s highlighted.


Click on the Editing tab at the top of the Premiere Pro application window. Make sure the Effect Controls panel is selected, and then click on the blue numbers next to the Rotation field and type either -90 degrees or 270 degrees to make the snow file fit the portrait orientation of the original photo. You might also need to change the number in the scale panel so that the Snow footage covers the entire frame.

Press C to change the cursor to the Cut tool. Use the Cut tool to bring the end of the snow file in line with end of the original photo. Press V to change the Cut tool back to a cursor and select the remainder of the snow clip to delete it. 

Make sure the snow clip is selected, and then under the Opacity section, click the drop-down menu for Blend menu and select Screen. 

Select all (Command [Mac]/Control [Windows]-A) and render the clips.

Click to select the snow clip and hit Command (Mac)/Control (Windows)-R to bring up Clip Speed / Duration. Reverse the clip speed if desired and click OK.

At the bottom of the Program Monitor panel, click on Loop to see how your clip looks on repeat, and then render the file.

Hit Command (Mac)/Control (Windows)-A to select all, Command (Mac)/Control (Windows)-C to copy, and then move the playhead to the end of the clip. Hit Command (Mac)/Control (Windows)-V to paste the same clip. There should be no gap between the two clips. Right-click on the clip to add a default transition between the two snow clips to make a smoother loop. and then render the file. 

Hit Command (Mac)/Control (Windows)-A to select all and then forward slash to create an In and Out point.


Hit Command (Mac)/Control (Windows)-M to export the file. I recommend the H.264 format for exporting. For the preset, I select Match Source - High Bitrate, but you can choose whatever fits your preference.

Under Bitrate settings, I usually select VBR, 2 pass under the Bitrate encoding section. Target Bitrate is again up to your preference. Target 10 is good for me. Hit Export when you’re ready to create a file that will loop continuously on Instagram. Transfer and upload to your mobile device to be shared via your usual means.

Check out Tobi 'Tobishinobi' Shonibare’s inspiring photos and videos on his website and Instagram.


July 19, 2018