I’ve been addicted to social media lately. Unfortunately, instead of concentrating my efforts on one pursuit (say, ahem, The Weekly Nabe), my time is diffused across four different Twitter handles, two Instagram accounts, and assorted other platforms. I’m so scatterbrained that sometimes I’ll accidentally ignore one of them for an entire day (the horror!).
I had heard a bit about an app called Vine, which some consider an Instagram for videos. The gimmick is that each finished product is six seconds or less, and is recorded on your phone without editing or retakes. A video on Gorilla Coffee‘s Twitter feed pushed my interest over the edge. Perhaps I could use this to share snippets of my neighborhood trips!
(More likely, I’m on a social-media bender and I need more apps to maintain my high.)
I played with the app a bit in my apartment. Nothing I recorded was worthy of sharing with the virtual world. (Do you really want to see my collection of maps?) My main goal became mastering the screen-touching for optimal timing. Muscle memory.
Gorilla suggested a few users to watch for tips. One was Kathy Ng, a writer from Los Angeles, who uses the program to show scenes from her day. I really dig the one of her receiving a new pair of Warby Parker sunglasses. She’s been really helpful via tweet. Thanks, Kathy!
I’m no underachiever, so I had to enter the Vine world with a bang. I came up with a few good ideas – I think, anyway – but decided to take my fans for a run on the Prospect Park loop, my home base for training.
As I’m using the free version of WordPress, I can’t embed Vine videos directly on my posts. Luckily for me, Kathy pointed out I could just embed the tweet containing the link.
— Keith Williams (@TheWeeklyNabe) March 6, 2013
Here’s a summary of my first Vine experience:
The app is easy to navigate. At right is the recording window. When you tap and hold the screen, Vine records until you lift your finger. The green bar at the top fills as you use your six-second allotment. You can finish early by hitting the check box at bottom-right.
One mistake requires you to start over. There’s no way to undo a video. Mess up a take? Hit the screen too early or too late? Back to the beginning for you (the “X” at top right). This was obviously not an option for me, as I didn’t want to run endless loops of the park.
You can’t touch the screen on accident. I figured I’d try to prevent an “incidental contact” by turning off the screen. However …
You can’t put your phone in sleep mode. I tried this after my first shot on the loop, and when I returned, Vine offered only the “Next” option, which meant my video was done. I started over. I had to hold the phone ever so gently around the outside while the app glared ominously at my fingers, which had suddenly become instruments of Vine death. And yet …
Frozen fingers have trouble feeling much of anything. This was the big one. Have you ever tried texting after being in the cold for a few minutes? It’s tough – your fingers don’t move as quickly as you might like, and are difficult to control. Sometimes I would hold the screen for way too long, or in an effort to avoid this, for way too little.
To record this Vine, I ran a loop of the park, with an eye on my Garmin watch. Every tenth of a mile, I stopped and took a quick video. There were fun things happening, even with the approaching storm: cyclists training, Parks staff slicing wood, dogs running around. If you look closely, you might see the indomitable Luis Rios coming the other way (we passed twice).
34 frames over 3.35 miles is insufficient to convey the continuity and beauty of the run, but this was a solid trial for what promises to be a fun complement to my writing.