J Barbush is vp, creative social media director at independent ad agency RPA.
Last week, Vine announced its most significant development to date: the ability to capture and upload video outside of the app. In effect, anything that is now in your photo roll can become a six-second version of itself in Vine. And just like that, the Vine world has changed forever.
Vine was about creativity through constraint. Creating six seconds of in-app video with minimal editing is about as constraining as it gets. It was a minimalist playground.
Some brands didn’t want to play by the rules. I’d see six-second versions of broadcast-quality TV spots posted and wondered how they did it, but moreover wondered why. Commercials didn’t make sense for the audience. Now, I’m worried more of that will come.
The update does make client approvals easier, a common gripe from brands. Previously, there was no way to share the Vine outside of the app to get such approvals. Most times, I had to play the Vine on one phone and record it on another.
While this new update makes sharing and approvals easier (thanks, Vine), the photo-roll upload capability may do more harm than good. Now, brands may choose to upload non-native video just because they can without considering if they should.
There is nothing more exciting than shooting Vines natively, knowing things can go horribly wrong. I shot with Michael Bolton, directed Leonard Maltin and many other lesser-known actors. No matter who you are, the six-second ticking clock brings an energy that is intoxicating to all. I don’t want that to go away.
The next chapter remains to be seen. Will the seasoned creators take the shortcuts that technology offers? Will new brands and creators who enter the fray abide by the creative and practicality of shot standards their predecessors have established? See General Electric, Lowes and Dunkin Donuts.
Will it evolve into something wonderful that no one can yet predict? Or simply devolve into a world of cut-downs, where craft comes second to ease and perceived reach?
The charm of Vine was in how it challenged us through its simplicity. I admired the art and dedication of the Viner community, their ability to hypnotize with an array of unbelievable in-camera captures. I’d lose myself in their loops, my mind bedazzled by their techniques. Now, with the help of programs like After Effects, the in-camera creativity could now be replaced with computer-generated motion graphics and visual effects.
And that would be a gut punch to the wonderment of Vine.
So I challenge us all to keep the Vine community in mind as we experiment with this update. Let’s deliver what they have grown to expect. Native video that is remarkable, clever and creative. Let’s not take the easy way out but rather constrain ourselves. In doing so, we can preserve the charm that made us all fall in love with this artfully quirky social network in the first place.
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