Video is not just for Cats
When Twitter announced the Vine product that allows you to share 6 second videos with friends, you may have thought as I did that the whole genre of app development was getting a little too specific. “Why would anyone want to share a short video with friends?” was admittedly my first thought, and oh was I wrong. In the last week I have seen some amazing content on Vine that included: a stop-action movie of a “magic 6 ball,” a visual postcard from India, and some other very clever uses of video that caught my attention, made me think about short video as an art form, and challenged me to reassess my original ideas about Vine.
Why does Video Matter?
Short-form video is important because
- The sound and movement gets your attention
- It doesn’t take long to download
- It can be personal, broadcast, or just something entirely new (a serial told in 6 second chapters?)
The first reason short-form video is vitally important (especially in this format) is that Vine was designed from the beginning to be social and mobile. Video is inherently interruptive in nature — both in the combined use of audio and video that commands your view — and the visual dopamine hit you can get from seeing something novel and interesting (and no, not talking about Vine’s porn problem here, as I think that will fade in view over time) is fulfilled very very quickly by Vine. The fact that you can fill a few seconds of your time with interesting content is a great sign for Vine.
We Communicate Visually
Short-form video is also important because it’s an evolution in the way that we communicate with each other (both on a one to one and on a multicast basis.) Because Vine is owned by Twitter, it’s reasonable to assume that the Vine features will percolate into Twitter over time, and the idea of making both a video for an individual person or for an audience will develop. My first impressions of this medium are that it’s compelling because it’s novel and also because it’s not too much work to discover some amazing, creative work.
Where will short-form video go from here? We’re in the early days, and short-term video seems well suited to survive (and thrive) as a third screen. If the tablet is the de facto second screen to the computer or Television, then the mobile-only video will have a place as well. I’m looking forward to seeing visual content that moves back and forth across these different visual modalities like a gigantic visual treasure hunt. And Vine would be a great way (if you could geofence it) to provide visual clues to a scavenger that only pop up when you’re within 50 meters of the target. The possibilities are intriguing, particularly for brands that want customers to engage via mobile.
What’s Next for Short-form Video?
Short-form video is here to stay, and Vine is an interesting first step in moving the animated gif into the mobile age. Because of the distribution that already exists in the Twitter ecosystem, I’m certain that Sponsored Vines are only a few clicks away – and by the way Twitter, if you can target these ads to me based on the people or brands with which I follow and engage, that will make those Vines more interesting to watch. You can find me on Vine – I’d love to see what you’re doing there – and in the absence of profile pages, watch this 6 second video of my dog.
Cool beans. It’s one of those neat things like the evolution of (I guess you could call it) the language of film, or of pop songs. You used to have to show audiences so much more to make sure they could keep up, but between filmmakers and audiences, visual grammar and vocabulary developed that allowed more story in less time.
What I take from your post resonates with that. Six seconds seems like such a trivial amount of time to communicate much, but I suppose the audience can fill in some HUGE blanks now, and (in the case of marketing in particular?), perhaps some ideas are better delivered broken up into small packets.
It’s probably insanely early, but do you think it’s a novelty, or a real path ahead? Will people buy in? Lots of reasons for it to fizzle; there are plenty of things people do to try to drag things back to where they used to be. I like to go on and on about people adding lens flare to all-digital imagery, bringing analog back into audio processing (“it’s warmer sounding!”), “pages” in eBooks, and all the skeuomorphic cruft we have to deal with until design catches up with real innovations.
Kids these days and their darned skeuomorphs.
Anyway, I’m sold — I’ll re-install the app and look you up.
Bryan – thanks for the comment! I think this is a real path ahead, especially as more and more people view having a data plan as a necessary part of their online/mobile existence. Whether the path ahead will be taken by Twitter or another platform remains to be seen. There’s always space for Facebook to develop a real competitor here, but somehow I think it will be people who are used to the limit of 140 characters who will be more comfortable with an arbitrary limit like 6 seconds. And other apps like Snapchat and Socialtext also point in this direction. Wait until you can message someone with a personalized 6 second video. You can do it now, but why don’t you? Because your app doesn’t suggest it – so really all Vine is doing is taking advantage of the tech having been baked into these phones (video has been in the iPhone 3gs since June 2009) and nudging people to do something creative.