When Vine, Twitter's video-sharing app, was introduced earlier this year, it was expected to be a simple add-on to Twitter, i.e., a way to share short videos as supplements to tweets ("Hey guyz, check me out at the grocery store. :) lol #justinbieber"). The app, which allows for 6 seconds of looping video and no retakes or editing beyond internal jump cuts, took off, and filmmakers like David Lynch and Adam Goldberg made art and comedy out of the app's inherent limitations. On Monday night, your humble correspondent went to the Upper East Side of Manhattan to meet with Vine master Kyle Williams (aka Keelayjams) and learned some of his secrets. Click below to learn how Kyle makes his Vines, and some tricks to put Vine to use for you as an indie filmmaker.
The beauty of Vine is that it forces you to work within strict limits, and even though you have only 6 seconds and no room for retakes, it is possible to make rudimentary edits that can be anything from jump cuts to stop animation or even traditional dialogue scenes (just very short ones). One artist who has become celebrated for his off-beat, surrealist Vines is Kyle Williams (@keelayjams, Keelayjams on Vine). A few nights ago I went up to his neighborhood on the Upper East Side and he was kind enough to answer some of my questions as well as show me how he makes his strange, 6-second creations:
NFS: What tricks have you learned to get the most out of Vine?
KW: I've messed with various ways to hack the app (like jailbreaking my phone to use a Wii Remote trigger and using the iPhone's built-in AssistiveTouch option (in the Accessibility settings) to 'fake' a finger press-and-hold while I'm doing an action in front of the lens. I use another device in conjunction with the 'Vining' phone mainly to add audio, specifically a prepared loop that I design to fill the 6 seconds and loop as perfectly as possible. I just cue the audio up on a second phone and attach headphones to the mic of the phone making the Vine.
I'm not a fan of 'screen-filming' Vines, because they look so flat and the pixels ruin it, but I've done it and sometimes it works -- The Wii trigger only works on a jailbroken phone with a Cydia app called Blutrol. The app pairs the Wiimote via bluetooth and lets you define what the buttons do within each app. It was incredible, but I upgraded my phone to the most recent, non-jailbreakable iOS and lost it.
NFS: What was your most complicated Vine?
KW: For 'Ghost Stripper' I found a YouTube clip of a dancer on a black background, played it on an iPad sitting on a table with a piece of picture frame glass tilted over it, adjusted the height, angle, and position of the setup to match my kitchen counter and simply shot through the reflection from the iPad onto the glass and it appeared as if she was dancing in the background.
KW: My most complicated Vine was probably 'Endless VCR'. I had to gut an old VCR, cut out the back, create believable fake shelves, glue a bunch of VHS tapes together, cue music, cue fog machine, and action.
On Monday evening, we met on the Upper East Side and headed to a plaza behind a T.J. Maxx in the shadow of 59th St. Bridge to film an elaborate, 11 shot Vine Kyle had written up. Based very loosely around a "funeral" theme, Williams' Vines' narratives lies in their visual, associative jokes. There is no three-act story, just a fluid stream of images that blend artfully into one another, neither cute nor over the top. They are deadpan.
He uses a Slik tripod, outfitted with a few modifications to hold an iPhone and as a platform for an iPad. In order to shoot this Vine, which consisted of 11 half second shots, Kyle used the AssistiveTouch feature on iOS (General>Accessibility>AssistiveTouch)
It was a very memorable experience, and in the video below (apologies for the rectangular iPhone ratio) you can see all that went in to making a surreal 6 seconds.
What do you think? As an indie filmmaker, what uses could you see for Vine? What do you think of these mobile video-sharing apps? Do you have any tricks you use for Vine that you can share?