Twitter this week launched Vine, its first standalone app, which actually makes bite-sized videos super simple to create and, more importantly, fun to watch. As a matter of fact, the 6-second looping clips are addictive. At last, we've got an app that improves amateur video in the same way that Instagram betters almost any photo.
As they loop through their six seconds of action, Vines look a lot like animated GIFs, the breakthrough media of 2012 (even J. Crew used them to liven up their holiday website with models seeming to walk in and out of its pages). But Vines are a lot easier to make than animated GIFs.
Instead of selecting stills from a stream of video as you do in GIFBoom , the Vine app just asks you to press your iPhone screen to record multiple times. The app then automatically puts short clips together to make a 6-second video.
Vine has a similar community to Instagram in that users can like and comment on posts and follow others. You either post your Vine to the app stream or lose it, there's no saving to your camera roll. You can also set up sharing to Twitter, which will open and play your video inside an expanded Twitter box. Vine offers a Facebook connection as well.
Vine also makes good use of the hashtag system and has included a colorful array of hashtag icons under its "Explore" tab, instead of leaving categorizing solely up to users as Instagram does. You'll see the usual subjects — food, fashion, sports and nature. But others such as #magic, in which kids, cards and pens disappear, are well suited for Vine's time-lapse animations.
To get started, download the free app from the App Store. You'll need a Twitter account or an email to register. Go to the "Explore" tab and check out "Editor's Picks" and "Popular Now" to get a feel for what makes an entertaining Vine.
When you're ready to make your own, go to the Home tab and tap the video icon in the upper right corner. Before you start filming, take a moment to plan your video. You'll want to shoot at least three times. For instance, if you're doing a #travel video while driving into work, film from several different views, rather than just out the windshield. Already, clever users have made time-lapse animations that required a dozen or more shoots, but you've got to be quick. You can't edit a Vine; it's shoot and post, or delete and start over.
When planning your Vine, be sure to consider sound. Most situations have some noise, but there's something awkward about a video with just the sound of the shooter breathing. There's no option to add music clips or filters as you can in Viddy and SocialCam , but that preserves the authenticity of the clips, which is a good fit with Twitter's news focus. Also, since Vines play automatically as you swipe through your stream, turn the volume of your phone down — you never know when a video will feature a screeching juicer.
Vine today (Jan. 25) broke the top 20 most popular free apps in the App Store. While it's too early to say whether it has staying power — many video apps just haven't caught on — Vine has what it takes: it's simple to use, makes video way more engaging and leverages the reach of Twitter.
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