Just barely a year old, the Vine app, itself, is still a kid. The Twitter-made app for iPhone allows users to make looping, six-second films. Since the app has a limited amount of editing ability and no uploading capability, the resulting movies are indeed tiny, but making a good one requires a certain skill set. In the app’s infancy, a large percentage of Vines featured six seconds of a baby crawling or a puppy cavorting. While films of cute things are, well, cute, you can make them with your regular phone camera’s video function.
Now, many Vine users are creating tiny films, complete with stories, characters, themes and twists. There are also lots of offerings based on optical illusions created by start-stop editing, e.g. a slice of bread sliding into a solid tabletop, then popping up as toast. Imagine the possibilities for budding young filmmakers. And what a great opportunity for you and the kids to do something fun together.
When the app is open to filming mode, a person touches the screen to start shooting. If the person removes her finger, recording stops. After six seconds of recording, which is tracked at the top of the screen, the itty-bitty movie finishes automatically and a “next” button pops up. Your choices are then to delete the video, or proceed to adding a caption and posting.
I was seduced by the app when a Vine-addicted friend visited town. We spent the better part of one morning storyboarding an adventure for two characters, then timing the shots exactly. With some careful timing and a videographer with a quick index finger, you can make a multi-location Vine. But, the only way to edit is to stop and then start again. If you film over-long on a shot, or mess up in any other way, you have to start over. This can be tricky, or even impossible, depending on where you’re shooting. Here is the fruit of our labor:
This is not for shameless self-promotion. This particular Vine is long gone from the app’s homepage — and most people’s memories. It’s just an example of a silly, entertaining idea that kept three adults engaged for an entire day. It was during the making of our mini-film that I realized how fun it would be for kids, probably 10 and older, to use Vine. And, you’ll most likely want to participate, (especially since they’ll need your smartphone).
Vine differs from other recording devices as a creative tool for kids. The time restraint forces the creators to tell a whole story in a pared-down, elemental way. This will stretch their brains for sure. You can suggest avenues of thought about facial expression, body position, background and sound. The discipline of exactitude is also reinforced. After every shot is planned, your burgeoning Penelope Spheeris will want to rehearse and time them. If some later shots are to be made at other locations, go through them at-speed wherever you start.
The possibilities for cinematic subjects are endless, from a tiny stop-motion tale featuring action figures, to a travelogue of a family weekend trip. Vine is a free*, simple way for kids to play with storytelling through film.
* The Vine app is only available for iPhone, but the teeny films can be posted to Facebook, and watched online from any computer.