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Tips from experts on how to take great Vine videos

Posted by Andrew Tran  February 1, 2013 09:55 AM

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Vine is Twitter's attempt to make video social in an Instagram-like fashion. It's a mobile service for people to take short clips of video (limited to six seconds long) to share with followers who also have the Vine app or on Twitter or Facebook.

The service was released at the end of January and though many have hesitated to try it out, trying to determine if its just a fad, other early adopters have already swung into the experiment (Check out People who have used the video-sharing service have generally left with good impressions. The app's interface is sleek, simple, and minimalist. The compression rate for video play is great-- the size of a single Vine video seems to be 900 kbs-- so there's hardly any lag for users. Most importantly, it has the backing of Twitter.

Though Vine video makers are still experimenting with the new format, we gathered some tips on making short-form films from a couple experts, David Humphreys, an adjunct professor at Emerson's Department of visual and Media Arts, and Thea Breite, the Boston Globe's Senior Multimedia Editor.

"If you look back at the history of film-making, it was very bare bones and basic," said Humphreys. "In the early 1900s, late 1800s, the first films were a few seconds to a minute long."

The first movie copyright was of a Kinetoscopic by William Dickson for the Edison Manufacturing Company. "Frank Ott's sneeze is five seconds long and would've been perfect for the use of Vine," said Humphreys.


1. Keep it simple.

You have six seconds, so start off with what you want to end with. There's not a lot of room for anything superfluous to the story, so the simpler the story is, the easier it will be to tell in a short amount of time.

2. Work off peoples' assumptions

Use things that people can relate to in the story. Bring stereotypes into the story (but not as a crutch). If you frame your story in such a way that people can see it and immediately make assumptions, you don't have to tell the back story for it.

3. Try to minimize background noise

Get close for the audio. If you're not close, the audio will not sound good. Even in a 6-second video, audio is critical (unless it's silent).

4. Plan it out

Storyboard it if possible. Try different things, don't expect to get it right on your first try. But don't stop after your first try.

5. Steady

Keep it steady. Any way you can. Use a tripod, rest your elbows on a surface, lean against a wall, or if nothing else, take on a wide stance, hold your elbow(s) into your body and try to stay steady.

6. Consider lighting

Try this technique: Have shadows on the face. It creates depth, and the illusion of three dimensions.

Next: An interview with the folks behind who have been making five-second long films since 2008.

Do you use Vine? Use the hashtag #beanstalk and we'll display the best ones.

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