A picture is worth a thousand words and a moving image can say even more. Cliplets is a unique tool from Microsoft that enables you to create something that bridges the gap between still images and videos.
This free software lets you combine still and moving elements of video footage into a ‘cliplet’. This is essentially an image that includes a small amount of movement, or movement in only one area – the effect is quite spectacular.
The program is available from Microsoft Research and when you visit the web site you can use the links to the right to download the 32- or 64-bit version of the software depending on the version of Windows you have.
Having selected the version you want to install, click the Download button and then opt to save the installer file to the desktop. The file is only 2.4MB in size, so it will only take a moment to complete.
Start the installer and run through the step procedure in the usual way – you should note that the program requires Visual C++ Runtime Libraries to be installed and if they cannot be found on your computer, you will be prompted to download and install them. If you do need to download these extra components, once the installation is complete, you’ll then have to restart the Cliplets installation.
With the installation out of the way, you can launch Cliplets. You’ll need to load a video file to work with, so either click the Open button to the upper right of the program interface and select one, or drag a video file from Explorer onto the main work area.
If you have opened a video that is longer than ten seconds in duration, you will need to select the portion of footage you’d like to work with.
You can preview the clip by clicking the play button to the bottom right of the Trim video dialog, and by moving the Start and End sliders beneath the video, you can select the section of video you want to use. When you have done this, click OK.
Choosing a Background
With the video loaded, use the playback slider at the top of the program window to navigate through the video until you have located the clip you would like to use as the still background. With the selection visible, click Add new layer in the right hand pane.
You should ensure that the drop down menu in the new mask layer that appears in the right hand pane is set to Loop.
Define Your Mask
You can now define the area of your image that you would like to remain animated – everything else will be a still frame. After adding the new layer, the mouse cursor will change to a pen and you can use this to draw around the portion of your video that you would like to have motion.
You can then choose when section of video footage you would like to loop. In the playback bar at the top of the screen, move the first upper marker to the start of the section you would like to use and the second one to the end of the clip you would like to loop.
You can also adjust the slider in the bottom playback control beneath the video preview to adjust the speed of playback – move the slider to the right to have slow motion playback, or to the left to speed things up.
Previewing Your Cliplet
You can check how things look by clicking the play button beneath the video window; there will be a slight delay while the edited video is rendered. If you find that the blend from the end to the start of the loop is a little jarring, try ticking the Smooth box at the bottom of the program window before previewing again.
If you’re happy with the results, you can save the cliplet – this will give you the opportunity to return to the project at a later time and make changes or additions to it. Just click the Save project button and choose where you would like to save the .xclp project file.
So far you have created a cliplet that can be viewed within the Cliplets app, but it makes sense to save it in a format that can be more easily shared with others, posted to social networks or added to your own web site. There are a number of exporting options available.
Click the Export cliplet button and choose where you would like to save the file as well as entering a name. You can then use the Save as type drop down menu to choose a file format- you can choose betweem the WMV and MP4 video formats or opt to save the file as an animated GIF image.
There is amazing scope for experimentation with this app and the results you can produce are sure to impress.
It may take a little while to get things just the way you want them, but it is time well spent. Let us know what you think in the comments below and thank you so much for reading!