Animated GIF has become hip again on social networks, thanks to marketers in fashion and entertainment.
To create more user/social-friendly animated GIFs, numerous mobile apps were introduced to the market. While their approaches might vary, people who fancy viewing or sharing these clips do it mostly because of its entertaining and aesthetic value. If you craft it well, it's more fun to share than just a static image.
Vine is arguably the newest and most talked about mobile app in this category. It's a Twitter-acquired startup so it drew a lot of attention when introduced. It is a handy mobile tool for creating short video clips that can share via Twitter and Facebook directly.
Limited to six seconds, people call it a video version of Instagram. But unlike most photo/video mobile sharing apps, you can only create clips directly on Vine and cannot import any pre-recorded clips. Therefore, you cannot add any filter or edit your clips. And you can't cheat by using DSLR like some Instagrammers do.
Since Vine launched in February 2013, marketers primarily in fashion and entertainment have already been experimenting different ways to produce their six-second stories and publishing them via their social networks on Vine, Twitter, and Facebook.
Because it's such a new platform and not easy to master, sadly, many have done it sloppily and actually lost the gist of being entertaining, which is the key reason why people like to share animated GIFs or other short video clips in the first place.
Don't worry, most of us (marketers) are in the same boat because we're not trained to be Vine storytellers. I'm still experimenting to produce better Vine clips and want to share some of my experience and views here:
1. Plan ahead before you vine Most people take their Vine clips in one continuous shot. If you intend to vine this way, think ahead about how you're going to end your clip. Avoid beginning and finishing a Vine abruptly, plan your opening and ending frame first.
When you're about to vine, wait for two to three seconds to let the camera auto-adjust its focus and exposure. If it looks good, press the Vine button to record.
Directing someone to perform in six seconds can be challenging. Most of the time, you actually can't direct your subject matter to act perfectly within six seconds. So unless it's an impromptu Vine shot, think like a cameraman and rehearse your shoot beforehand. For example, if it is a panorama shot, rehearse how you're going to begin and end with your pan shot.
2. Storyboard if needed The good thing is it's not necessary to point and shoot a six-second Vine in one shot. You can simply press and release to take as many segments as you want within six seconds.
But I suggest you have a theme first and then storyboard it in your mind, pictures, or even script. Remember to keep it in less than four or five frames at best. If not, your Vine will look really jumpy between frames.
You should also think ahead how it might look as a loop. Can the end frame transit smoothly back to the first frame?
3. Get a tripod If you're vining while walking, unless you want to do it like the "Blair Witch Project" and intend to make your audience feel sick, get one of those small tripods for smartphones and mount your phone steadily when vining. If you don't have a tripod, try your best to place your iPhone on a stable object. Or if you're vining from a car or inside a building, stick your phone on the window, stabilize it, and then start shooting (I use the same trick to shoot on Instagram too).
4. Try stop motion Once you've mastered the basic technique to vine, you can start experimenting something more exciting - stop motion video.
First, you need a tripod or flat surface to mount your iPhone. Storyboard your Vine in advance. To avoid jumpy visuals, keep the background simple and avoid any distracting objects. Think about a key animated object and frame your vine nicely.
Forget about that five frames rule I mentioned earlier. This time, press and release to shoot as frequently as you want while adjusting the position of the key object.
5. Shoot directly on a TV screen Having trouble getting the client to stand next to you and approve your Vine clip? Why not edit your six-second clip first, get your client to approve it, and then shoot it directly from a TV screen?
"The Wolverine" (and some other movie trailers) and Old Spice have already done it. It's not perfect, but still fun to watch if you have interesting visuals.
6. Remember to hashtag or check-in the location for your Vine Just like Instagram, if you want your Vine to be discovered, you have to hashtag your Vine properly or check-in your location if your brand has a physical presence.
Under the Explore section of your Vine app, there is already a list of trending keywords that you can consider to use as hashtags. You can also build your own library of frequently used hashtags. Keep them on your memo or Evernote, then you can always copy and paste it without retyping everything.
7. Publish your vines on Facebook and Twitter When my clients ask if Vine has grown large enough to be a significant social community and how they can grow fans there, I always suggest they consider Vine as an animated GIF or short video production and publishing tool first.
You might not be able to build a community with a bunch of Vine followers yet. But publishing a six-second video or animated clip on Facebook or Twitter via Vine does make your brand stand out while most of your peers are still doing still photography or text-based content.
Conclusion Vine can be really addictive. It won't give you immediate rewards with tons of Likes, as the community is still relatively small. However, it gives you great satisfaction to easily produce something that's fun and engaging.
I like Vine's interface, as it is simple and logical. Don't expect it to let you import video because that will ruin its simplicity and primary purpose of instant sharing.
The only problem I have with Vine is when I'm on holiday and my iPhone is not on data roaming, I can't post any Vine clips immediately and have to wait until I have Wi-Fi.
Vine is only available on the iPhone now but once the Android version launches, the community will take off much faster.
While most people want to wait until the tipping point arrives, I prefer to start experimenting and master the skill as quickly as I can. It will only take you six seconds at a time before you progress to the advanced level. It's a good way to start learning this emerging platform and social content behavior.
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Rudi Leung is general manager, director of digital and social at Tribal DDB/ DDB Group Hong Kong and Guangzhou. He was formerly director of communication planning at AGENDA, an interactive agency network under the WPP/Wunderman group in Asia. He is also an exco member of Hong Kong Association of Interactive Marketing. Rudi previously held roles as VP of Carat Media Services, creative ambassador of Yahoo HK Media Services, and creative director of TBWA\Tequila\HK. In addition to his extensive experience as a creative director and copywriter in numerous leading 4As ad agencies including Ogilvy & Mather, Leo Burnett, and Bates, he has gained wide exposure in advertising for numerous MNC and local advertisers in the last 18 years. Besides advertising, Rudi is a part-time lecturer of HKU Space since 2007. In his leisure, Rudi is an active blogger and columnist of ClickZ, e-Zone, HK Economic Journal, and MetroPop Weekly. He holds an MBA from Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from UC Berkeley Extension, and Bachelor of Arts in Music from Chinese University of Hong Kong.
March 19, 2014