Last month, Instagram announced that the once photo-only service would start including videos twice the length of Vine along with some basic editing features. That's some stiff competition, but don't count out the upstart six second video service just yet. There's been some remarkable work made by Viners, and with just a few simple tips you can up your tiny video game.
Move your finger
Vine's interface is stupidly simple: Just tap and hold the screen to record. But too often it seems like users get a case of lead thumb and don't take their finger off the screen. While Vine won't let you edit videos, you can string together scenes shot sequentially. These are best demonstrated by the short animations posted by people like Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward.
The next time you're Vining, string together a few different scenes instead of one long shot. Even if you're just ranting into the camera, say a few words and then shoot yourself in profile for a bit. Even small changes can make a video far more visually interesting.
Cutting scenes together quickly can also make some very interesting audio effects, like echoes, distortion, and voiceovers. These are tricky to pull off, but after a few tries you'll get your rhythm down.
Instead of just focusing on a single subject for six seconds, change the view up a bit. Move around and get different angles. Get a different view by approaching your subject from slightly above or below eye-level. Moving the phone while filming can also create basic, but effective, pan effects.
Put yourself in the video by switching between the front and rear-facing cameras. You can do this with the Vine iOS app anyway, and although Vine launched on Android without this ability, you can just flip the phone around for an awkward, but workable, solution.
Is this Vine-worthy?
The most frequent mistake I see on Vine is using brief video where a photo, Tweet, or YouTube video would have worked better. If you're in the midst of something, by all means Vine it. Beautiful waterfalls? A horrifying house fire? Dancing Dog? Whip out your phone and make a six second masterpiece. Some static Vines of simple things can be far more stunning than a photograph.
Vine isn't so good in situations that might become interesting. If you see someone setting up for a big skateboard trick, or a brewing altercation, you should probably opt for just recording a video and uploading it to YouTube later. If people are posing at a beloved grandson's graduation, considering going with a plain old picture instead.
If you have the time, plan your attack. Figure out what you want to say, and how you want to present it. Even if you're just going to talk into the camera, take a second to rehearse what you're going to say a few times. Plan the different beats for the Vine, and maybe watch a clock to see how long you run. Six seconds is short, so you could rehearse it ten times in a minute.
For more complex Vines, assemble whatever props you plan on using and walk through your sets a few times. Look for things that might trip you up at any point: Remember, if you mess up a Vine you have to start over again from the top.
Use the Vine app
Most people interact with Vines through Twitter, which is fine but it limits how much you can see. Spend some time with the app, and watch other popular Vines to get a feel for what tricks people are using. I would advise against relying on the app's built-in explore options. Instead, look through the Twitter accounts of your favourite comedians, artists, or friends and see if they've posted or re-tweeted any Vines.
Most Vines are totally mundane, and that's fine. This is social media, after all, and we don't have to be churning out great works of art all the time. But every now and then, push yourself to do something a little bigger and better. Incorporate some props, and plan out a more elaborate six second creation. You'll be surprised how far even just a little effort will go.
I've said that Vine is easy to use, but that's not really true. It's a very unforgiving app with an emphasis on simplicity which actually makes it harder to use. But if you're willing to put in just a few seconds of extra thought and planning, your Vines can feel like so much more than just six seconds of video.