If used correctly, a Boomerang can be amazingly entertaining — and hypnotic. For example:
Sixteen-year-old Dyllon Wolf (@dyllonwolf) coaxed his younger brothers to pop the biggest water balloon of their bunch in our #BoomerangOfTheWeek. “I thought it would remind everyone who saw it of the freedom and joy of being a kid,” Dyllon says. (And he was right.) Follow @boomerangfrominstagram to see more mind-blowing loops from our community. #Boomerang by @dyllonwolf
But to capture the perfect Boomerang, you want to keep a few key things in mind.
1. Keep your phone steady
If you're holding the phone in place, go ahead and grab a tripod, or find something to keep your hand steady on, so your shaky hands don't disrupt the shot — in the photo above, the phone was on the ground, for example. It's usually best to keep the phone still when you're shooting a Boomerang. But if you'll be panning the camera instead, just give it a few practice runs to make sure you've got the pacing set (and the phone level).
Stunt woman Caitlin Dechelle (@caitlindechelle) pulled out her signature move for #BoomerangOfTheWeek — a one-foot front flip called the Webster. She saw this cool spot in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee, and thought, “Why flippin’ not?!” To see more mind-blowing loops, follow @boomerangfrominstagram. #Boomerang by @caitlindechelle
2. Don't shoot it like a GIF
A GIF loops a whole short video over and over again. A Boomerang, on the other hand, plays a video forward, and then backwards, and then loops that. This sounds like a small detail, but it's actually a fundamental difference in how you want to capture a shot: For a perfectly looping GIF, you want to end up in a position identical to where you started. Your Boomerang video, however, should finish at a completely different point than where you started, for the most dramatic effect. You want to let off the app's shutter button right at the height of the action (whatever that may be).
3. It doesn't have to be epic
Jumping into the air, splashing in the pool, the burst of a firework — all these make for terrific Boomerang ideas. But you can also just keep it simple. A fork slicing into a piece of flan, for example, is oddly mesmerizing.
4. Plan it out
Some Boomerang opportunities just present themselves on silver platters. Others may require a little practice and planning. Rehearse it a few times, try a couple takes, and then upload it to Instagram.
5. Capture the action
Instead of trying to capture a photo when a child, animal, or otherwise active subject is your focus, open the Boomerang app and snap a video instead.
6. Your editing options are limited
One downside of shooting a Boomerang, as opposed to a regular video or GIF: As for editing, you're limited to what's available in the Instagram app. If you're a VSCO diehard, you're SOL. Once you export it to Instagram, though, you can add a filter, trim the clip, and choose which still frame the video will default to. In some cases, you'll want to choose a frame that highlights the action, like in @caitlindechelle's flip. Other times, you might want to keep the action a surprise, like in @carolinemanson1's Boomerang above. You can also string multiple Boomerangs together.
7. Use the app's hidden settings.
The Boomerang app does offer a couple of hidden settings tweaks you can adjust. With four fingers, tap quickly about four times on the app screen. This pulls up a secret settings menu where you can adjust video resolution, change how the Boomerang repeats (playing video forward and back, with a pause in the middle; forward only; or back only), and lets you adjust the frame count and frame rate of your short video.
8. Create a Boomerang in Instagram Stories.
When it first launched, Instagram Stories required you to upload a Boomerang from your camera roll. Now, a new update has streamlined that process — you can take a Boomerang directly within your story. Just toggle from "Normal" camera mode to "Boomerang" camera mode and hold your finger down on the circle (as you would with a video) to shoot the quick action.
9. Add a Boomerang to a Snapchat Story.
Adding a Boomerang to your Snapchat Story isn't as easy as it is on Instagram, since you can't create one within Snapchat. You also can't save a Boomerang directly to your camera roll. What you can do is text it to yourself, save it to your camera roll from there, and then go to your camera roll within Snapchat's Memories and upload the Boomerang that way. Like we said — it isn't simple, but if you've got a great loop, it can be worth the extra clicks.
10. Scour Instagram for inspiration.
Looking for new ideas? Head to the Instagram account @boomerangfrominstagram, where the company's team curates a feed of some of the best boomerangs. You'll find everything from a simple, but mesmerizing hair flip, to a well-timed dive. You can also check out an individual on Instagram like Alina Valitova, who regularly posts artsy boomerangs.
Now, take your newfound Boomerang expertise and have some fun!