Vine (for iPhone)

Vine (for iPhone)

We document our travels via a variety of means, from journals and sketchbooks to check-ins and hi-resolution pictures. But more often that not, what we need in the viral age to really tell the story is short videos. Invariably, those recordings take a while to edit, especially if the desired result is anything more than a grainy clip of a recent trip to Machu Picchu. Thanks to Vine, a new foray into the social sharing market (see also: Socialcam, Viddy, and Klip, all of which have their shortcomings), users finally have an innovative way to capture simple and oftentimes beautiful films.

Once they download Vine from the iTunes App Store, users can log in via a unique username or their Twitter account. The interface is similar to that of Instagram, only instead of taking photos, it enables you to record and share six-second looped videos. Similarly, instead of looking at and commenting on a stream of still images, you are looking at and commenting on a blog-like stream of short looped videos, like a version of Instagram that would have been quite at home in a 'Harry Potter' movie (think the Daily Prophet newspaper's looping-video cover stories).

The brilliant part about Vine is the simple, intuitive way in which it records content: A square is presented onscreen that frames whatever you want to capture, and, to record, you simply tap and hold onto the screen for the desired amount of recording time (you can hold it for the entire six seconds of your clip or take your foot off the brake, so to speak, to create a series of separate shots in the same clip). This simple method allows for an almost infinite amount of edit combinations (though you have to do everything chronologically, as in the early days of VHS camcorders), but the six-second time constraint lends itself to improbably creative content. Many early adopters, among them Twitter's Martin Ringlein, have used that to their advantage, creating time-lapse or stop-motion videos. (For example, witness Ringlein's recent Vine of his 3,000-mile road trip, appropriately titled 'World's Longest Vine').

Since Twitter owns Vine, videos embed seamlessly into your feed. Similar to Twitter's democratic inclusivism, however, there's been controversy surrounding the platform's young userbase. Certain hashtags have been labeled Not Safe For Work (#NSFW) and even #porn. And due to Vine's overwhelming popularity, there hasn't been sufficient oversight to date. Also, in our early experiments (which are, of course, borderline cinema verite), we've found, along with no small percentage of users, a few glitches: For example, once you've finished recording your masterpiece, it often fails to upload. Repeatedly. Moreover, it's not clear whether or not the video in question is lost forever, or if it will upload at a later date and time.

Developers are already jumping on the Twitter-of-video bandwagon with sites including VineRoulette (a la Chatroulette) and Vinepeek, which displays the most recent Vine in a constant, real-time stream. And while Vine's functionality remains basic, we're optimistic the next iteration will include basic filters, special effects, the ability to upload movies you've shot outside of the app on your phone, and even high dynamic range (HDR). For its creators' sake, we hope the bugs are fixed soon, at least. After all, they wouldn't want early adopters to swing from the Vine, would they? [free; vine.co]