Got a minute? I've got 10 people you should meet.
Exactly a minute. Six seconds for each.
You can do it on Vine, Twitter's mobile app that lets people make and share six-second video loops known as "vines."
You could get a superfast introduction to the glories of this video-looping app via some of its budding auteurs, people like:
Pete Heacock, proprietor of First Capital Pictures in North Philadelphia. His vines are suspense stories, jokes, self-portraits in the windows of passing trains. Three of his vines were nominated for awards at the Tribeca Film Festival in April. "Once I got started, it became addicting," he said. "As a filmmaker, I couldn't resist trying to see what you could do with it."
Marlo Meekins, a Philly-area native, improv comic, and cartoonist moving to L.A. from Toronto, who has been hired to do vines for Comedy Central.
John Woods, comedian and Emmy-winning TV guy in Kansas City, Mo. Woodsie is known for his own wacky videos and videos under the handle @Demonbaby, "starring a doll I stole from my year-and-a-half-old daughter." Woodsie says Vine "fits in with the ADD culture we have today. But it also forces you to do old-school tricks."
Frank Tartaglia of South Philadelphia, who discovered Vine in March and since then has, by his own estimate, "made about 350 vines, about an hour and 20 minutes total of video."
Vine's user numbers are elusive, but more than 2,300 teeny vids are uploaded every hour. "One thing it really has going for it," says Deborah Petersen, social media editor for the Bay Area News Group, "is its big audience, the way it has grown, fast, organically, from people who are interested."
On April 9, Vine became the No. 1 free app at the Apple App Store (it was still in the top 5 last week). Much is silly and ephemeral (think cats), some seedy (think porn), but much has had impact in culture serious and pop.
The six-second vid makes Twitter's 140 characters seem so old-school. Yet, six-second flicks have, as Petersen puts it, "a way of giving you the flavor of a moment or a place." Or a person: As Vine addict Tartaglia puts it, "You get a look into someone's world for six seconds. It's like the Being John Malkovich hole - just jump in."
Vine's simple. Your mobile device doesn't start taking movies until you touch the screen. Finger off, it stops. Touch, it starts again. Repeat until you hit six seconds.
You have to make the video only with your device, no audio or visual imports. Can't edit, so everything's shot-after-shot, in sequence. No going back. Mess up? Start over.
You post the videos and use Twitter hashtags (#HarryPotter or #Cats) to attract viewers to shared interests. The app already has its stars, such as actor Adam Goldberg, former MADtv guy Will Sasso, Indonesian illustrator Pinot, and Nick Mastodon, the soi-disant "mash-up magician" from Minneapolis whose vines have 15,000 short-attention fans.
History on the vine
A Turkish journalist posted a vine after the Feb. 1 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara. Doug Lorman's vine of live TV coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing, which he happened to catch on TV and posted immediately, was "the first thing many people saw of the bombing," says Heacock. "It got 40,000 views and was shared all over the place." That planted a vineyard of citizen-journalist vines.
USA Today offers quick-preview vines of the day's paper. Some TV stations use it the same way. Rolling Stone posted an insta-famous vine of its Beatles covers. Brian Aguilar of MarketWatch animated a graphic of the Dow Jones' rapid rise. The BBC mashed up vines on the 200th birthday of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and on the horsemeat-hamburger scandal.
Vine crawls into politics: Freshman U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D., Calif.) vined himself submitting his first bill. It has been used in ads for General Electric, Gap, and Taco Bell - and Lowe' has made how-to vids on rethreading screws and mixing paint. The music biz swung from Vine early: Bands (Fall Out Boy, Pistol Annies) and performers (P!nk, Prince) use vines like concert clips, as fan glue.
Comics have discovered fruit on the Vine, with skits, jests, impressions, and just weird stuff. A reel of Sasso's Arnold Schwarzenegger vines has more than three million views on YouTube. Other comic masters include Brittany Furlan, Woodsie . . .
My son, the Vine star
. . . and Nick Confalone, a Wilmington, Del., native who makes cartoons these days in Los Angeles. His comic vines, often starring his infant son (whom he tends while he makes cartoons), have made him a Vine fave. (Equal time: Heacock does this, too.) Confalone stresses the positive Vine community: "It might be the only social medium where the prompt to the comment box says, 'Say something nice.' "
Woodsie's following has erupted from 250 to close to 5,500. He has gained acclaim for a Harry Potter send-up in which he blows things up with a magic wand that looks like a kitchen spatula. "Everybody is asking how I did it," he says. "The only thing I'll say is, it took all four limbs at once."
As for art, it's the reverse of what Virgil says: Ars brevis. Heacock's Tribeca-nominated vine titled "Blink" is an intense close-up of an eye wide with fear. Eerie music. Anxious breathing. A voice: "You blinked again. Since you won't talk, every time you blink, I cut off another one." Chilling.
Tartaglia says, "Pinot, this guy, is making some of the most beautiful things I've ever seen." That would be Pinot Ichwandardi, an Indonesian graphic designer in Kuwait, whose imaginative vines combine illustration and photography. See his Earth Day vine, in which a watering can grows a beautiful plant that flowers on paper. "Thanks to Vine, there's been a renaissance in old-school stop-action animation," says Woodsie.
It's the microvideo era, an in-progress app of undreamed-of uses. "It's so great," says Heacock, "to watch people find new uses for it." Confalone says, "No one's sure what it's going to be or where it's going. It's the Wild West every day."