A way too long post on similar, yet different, apps.
It’s well known within the walls of GS that I’m a complete and utter nerd. I loves me some gadgets (particularly of the Apple orientation). I love voraciously reading about said gadgets and the latest software/apps. And I also love downloading, immersing myself in, and learning from all of it.
One app that has really moved from curiosity to near obsession is “Vine.” Vine is a mobile app for the creation and sharing of six-second videos … looping videos, to be more specific. As I understand it, Vine was created around the summer of 2012 and acquired by Twitter around October of 2012. However, it really started taking off early this year as more and more people, ranging from your average Joe to well-known actors, comedians, and musicians, began to really push and define both what the app was capable of and also what “plays.”
What really seems to work best on Vine is a blend of frenetic comedy, episodic creative exploration, and stop-motion animation/videography. The highly responsive mode of creating videos by simply touching the screen to record is perhaps one of the defining characteristics that makes it so easy and enjoyable to use.
Just a handful of months in, the Vine community has raised up its own “stars,” where number of followers jumps from an average 20-100 to four- and five-digit followings. Some of these champions of Vine have even gotten opportunities to Vine for top brands and events (like Puma, Lowes, Peanuts, and Orange Cineday at Cannes) or have banded together to create their own “best of” Vine channel/account, “unPopular Now”, a play off of the app’s “Popular Now” trending filter apparently thought up by bananas Viner Pete Heacock.
In fact, it was just announced that Vine “celebrities” may be getting their own unofficial talent agency, Grape Story, started by social media consultant and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk and his partner Vine phenomenon Jerome Jarre (#livelifelikecrazy).
If you want to see the organic chemistry of digital culture, look no further than Vine.
Along came Instagram
All was churning along happily, particularly with a jump in participants due to the recent addition of Android user, until Twitter’s peer/dark nemesis Facebook announced that its own acquisition Instragram was getting into the micro-video game with the aptly named Video on Instagram. Suddenly, this growing app community swimming in its own little blue ocean had a fear of sharks in the water. “Is everyone going to jump ship for the much larger Instagram?” “Is this dingo going to eat my baby?!” “Is the fun over?” “Wait, how many hours have I lost to this app?”
People began choosing sides, some claiming that they’ll go down with the ship with much vitriol for the perceived gorilla coming into their room and trying to claim all of the bananas. However, some people (including myself) were curious to at least see what the deal was.
If you’re just reading the bullet points, the new rival does seem a little bit similar and bandwagonesque. Both offer micro-video recording and sharing to both a built-in network, as well as outside social network sharing. Instead of six seconds, you get about 15 with Instagram. Instead of either keeping or ditching your video (some involving much more labor, blood, sweat, and tears then you’d think), you can delete your last take and try again. Oh, and the feed style that Vine kinda stole from Instagram is now still on Instagram yet somehow feels stolen from Vine. Weird.
However, the similarities stop there. Because of these subtle differences, Instagram just … I don’t know … FEELS different to record, post, and view. Now, I’ll state that I’m a Vine fan through and through, and don’t really use Instagram outside of its easy filter/crop/share features … I just don’t look through my Instagram feed, even though I obsessively check and troll through my Vine feed. But I have to say, Instagram has incorporated video in a way that feels and plays significantly different from Vine. While it has been less than a week since Instagram’s videos launch, the differences are subtle, but hopefully enough to let both communities flourish and thrive.
So … what ARE the differences?
Vine is frenetic, impish, impulsive, and spontaneous.
There’s something incredibly playful about it, and I believe that a lot of what comes out on Vine begins with how it feels to record with it … it’s fast, snappy, easy on and off. It has quirky bugs at times, so you don’t always know what's going to happen. As a viewer, you rarely know what to expect when you log in again.
Instagram is composed, beautiful, and feels slower.
Fast Co Design put it exceptionally well when it stated that it’s about capturing a beautiful moment and letting it breathe a little …. ”Keep the butterfly alive while keeping it pinned.” I believe that this, too, comes from the actual recording interaction. Instagram’s is not as quick and responsive as Vine’s, which could very well be purposeful. Instead of jumping to life with a touch, there’s a slight delay in recording. In fact, when I’m pressing the record button (a small record button unlike Vine’s “touch any part of the screen approach”) I actually feel like I have to mash down on my screen. Work faster, dammit!
Clips are inherently longer, with frame-by-frame animation nearly impossible. This delay also occurs when you’re viewing the feed. You have to really want to view the video in order to fire it up (either by waiting for it to start or hitting a play button). You’re set up for this when publishing your video. You get to both choose from Instragram’s famous filters, as well as pick the poster/still image for your video. In fact, illustrating its dedication to the shot/composition, Instagram has put a lot of time and attention into Cinema stabilization for Video on Instagram, further improving quality of video output. Because of this, it feels inherently more purposeful and composed, more precious and thoughtful, where Vine has a bit of a “don’t look back” immediacy and urgency.
Vine has a rhythm to it. When you try to do a Vine video on Instagram it just feels … weird.
After acclimating, the timing is just a part of the experience. The limits put on it with only six seconds of video have become the mother of invention. It’s the six seconds plus automatic looping that turn almost every video into a song of sorts. It’s like Bjork in “Dancer in the Dark,” and the whole world has turned into your orchestra. When you’re used to the Vine song, watching Instagram for the same things feels off. Everything moves a little too slowly and goes on a little too long. But really, that may be the point. Instagram ISN’T Vine; it’s something new to be used somewhat differently. To see the differences and test the waters, some of the Vine stars like Meagan Cignoli (on Vine, on Instagram) and Jordan Burt (on Vine, on Instagram) are experimenting with both to see not only what works best for their voice but what their fans respond to, as well.
The right tool for the right idea
What’s great is that for the video stars out there, it has given them one more set of creative tools and a huge audience to play with. I have to say that one of the first things I did when Instagram went live was to look up my favorite Viners to see if they were on Instagram (and many were, previous to Vine). However, I hope that others see these apps the way I do … different means to different ends, and something for everyone.
Just to get you started, here are some of my favorite Viners. The categories are fairly subjective, and many traipse across categories, so whatever …