Well, hello there! It’s been a while you fine specimens, how the heck are ya?

As I was getting organized in some new life situations over the past couple of months (don’t send help, it’s okay! I’m alive!) an important development came from my blogger’s group. I have been over-thinking this here blog and I want to switch my focus from ALL THE THINGS beginner video to really digging into the tools video muggles already have at their disposal like YouTube and smartphones. Cool?

And the provider of some really great lessons about the basic anatomy of a video is actually the new mobile video app called Vine.

Yes, Vine again!

Though I don’t use it every day I’m still really into it and want to start using it better.

Vine is actually very constrained and it is HARDER to work with in many ways than standard video – which can be edited and allows for more time to communicate your story – but that constraint is exactly what makes it a good exercise. It’s like, being really out of shape and then hopping into P90X full-throttle. You can try it, but you’ll probably puke at first. But then once you get it, you’ll have rock-hard abs and glutes that won’t quit.

Or something.

Here are the basic ideas that govern making a rad Vine video:

1) Stabilization. Because you have to have a finger on the screen to make a vine video that can make this a bit difficult but instead of holding your phone with your thumb on the screen, try holding it with your whole hand on the front of your phone and use your index finger to record OR try using your opposite hand so that you have the stability of 2 hands.

Will Sassow has unbelievable stability control as he checks out chicks while eating salad in his truck:


2) Timing. This one just takes practice to figure out where to press and release, like finding the sweet spot on a trombone slide. I have had clips of my directorial coaching speeches overlaping my footage, weird hesitations and other awkward bits as I’m trying to maneuver my phone and say, shots of Jameson or a fisheye lens or a cat.

Exhibit A and B of my bad directorial coaching and weird hesitations with Jameson shots:


3) Story. Or “concept” or what I call a “schtick,” even. I think this is one of the most important things I’ve seen a lot of folks overlook. A story doesn’t have to be complicated, it just has to be a sort of raison d’être for a VIDEO. Will what you’re filming be more impactful and worthwhile because it’s animated or could you convey the same thing through a still photo? 6 seconds is a lot of time to ask people to spend on something in internetland so make it worthwhile!

One of Jason Coffee‘s “schticks” is to work with voice-overs where he does the voice of his son (while he wear’s dad’s glasses!) and then his son does his voice. The contrast between the voice you expect seeing them and the voice you get makes this concept a lot of fun!


4) Light. Since with Vine What You See Is What You best be minding your lighting! There’s no “fixing it in post” so if you really want to get that beer-sign lit drunken bar shot just know that the output is going to be a beer-lit blur for all to see.

See, it’s way better to get a trippy strobe-lit drunken bar shot:


…I’m still so pissed that clip only ended up being the shot from the last band to play that night..even though I had progressively shot the first 3. Another hard lesson: Vine is new so it can sometimes still be glitchy. Don’t wrap all of your hopes and dreams and unicorn tears up in it just yet…

5) Sound. There is sound on Vine! And the easiest way to deal with it is to try to get your settings silent BUT the REALLY ambitious incorporate sound into their clips with lip-syncing to music, SFX and dialog produced in their actual environment!

My friend Holly does an excellent job of utilizing the sound around her in this rap-along:


UPDATE: This has to be added because it is a GREAT resource for taking a bite out of Vine:

The Ultimate Guide to Vine: Pro-Tips, Awesome Ideas, and Who to Follow!

I’m still working on a great “schtick” that I can run with. I feel like the best ideas really are the simplest ones with Vine and I’m just waiting for the perfect, simple lightning to strike…

Have you tried Vine, yet? How do you feel about it? Tell me about your experience in the comments!

For those about to [REC.], we salute you!