Swinging from Vine to Vine

By Kimberley Siauw

If you had an idea, any idea, a funny idea, an artistic idea, a story idea, how do you think you could portray that idea in six seconds? Like advertisements on TV, on radio or even in newspapers and magazines, we’re limited to a certain time limit or word count. People actually get paid to do this for a living, but there are people who sketch their creative ideas all in just six seconds, on the not-even-a-year-old app, Vine.

Founded by Dom Hofmann, Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll in June 2012, bought by Twitter in October 2012, officially released as an app in January 2013 and became the most downloaded app just 3 months later, Vine has evidently evolved over a short time… but why? Why is it so addictive?

1 video = 6 seconds = 10 videos a minute. I find myself watching Vines for longer than an hour and wonder how I fell into this whirlpool. Vines are interesting, artistic, witty, a little bit ridiculous, oddly hilarious and tell the great stories of not only the user’s lives, but our lives too.

These creative minds and viewers are a part of this whirlpool of ideas, an insight into people’s lives, and like the loop feature, once you start you won’t stop; it’s way to kill time, and plenty of it. The Vine community is flourishing more and more with users (13 million of them) who are, as Mat Honan from describes it, “distinctly younger, distinctly blacker, and distinctly, well, gayer than society in general.” (You’ll understand once you start watching)

Instead of having one consistent shot of a video (of course you can choose this option too) users are able to create various cuts in their footage to make a total of a six-second clip. You then post it on a ‘News Feed’ type page, just like Facebook, but the difference is, where the users can scroll down and watch these clips, they are on a constant loop. They’re like the infamous gifs (but with sound), and we all know how much people love gifs.

Albert Birney, a Viner originally from Delaware, now living in New York, says that he uses Vine as a “way to express” himself. For him, it’s getting the ideas, filming them, then watching people respond.

As versatile as Vine can be, none can be as unique as Birney’s character, Simply Sylvio, an “ordinary gorilla trying to live a simple life”. Birney gets his ideas for Vines “from many things in our real life, movies, weird props and stories from friends.” It’s easy for someone to think that not much effort goes into creating a six-second clip, for some Vines, that is plain to see, but for others and for Birney, sometimes it may take weeks to plan one. Storyboards are drawn up, practice Vines are made, then the final one is shot. “Other times,” Birney says, “an idea comes and we shoot right away.”

Vine is a great medium for Viners everywhere to work together. The app affected Birney’s social media use and life in a sense that he started to understand the term “social media” once he began using Vine. He says that he’s “met some amazing people… With something like Facebook you meet people in real life and then friend them on Facebook. It’s the opposite on Vine. You follow other Viners you like and comment on their videos. When I’ve met people in real life that I’d been following on Vine, it was very natural and easy. It felt like we were already friends.”

Vine holds this place of what reminds me of Judd-Apatow-like-humor; the witty dialogue, those quick cuts, some modern slapstick comedy, incredibly absurd situations and of course, the use of cameos. And who doesn’t love a great cameo?

Birney had recently done collaborations with other popular Viners, Nick Gallo, Nicholas Megalis & Jason Mente. With Birney and Gallo’s plans to team up, they ended up making a Vine short film, called ‘The Hunt’.



He simply wanted “people to watch and be entertained.”

Vine proves to be a creative medium that is not only entertaining for us, but for the users who make them. Creators like Birney are passionate about it and it’s something that is important to them. “Sylvio is real,” he says – and it is something that is real to us too.

Birney explains that the reason why he thinks Vine is such a successful app, is because people just love to watch videos. Everyone has at least once experienced becoming victim to being lost in YouTube limbo. “It’s modern channel surfing,” says Birney, “Anyone with a smart phone can make a Vine. It’s a level playing field.”

With the recent instalment of video on Instagram, it gives users more room to play with, with 15 seconds to record, various filters and allowing users to delete previous clips if you’re not happy with it (where as Vine restricts this).

With Instagram having been created around two years before Vine, and with its 130 million active Instagrammers, it is definitely one of the most well-known social media apps amongst our smart phone world.

Although, even today, people are still learning about Vine, so would the additional video time and editing features for Instagram users soon end the competition? Birney says that “Instagram videos are too long. The limitations of Vine are one of its strengths. You have to figure out how to tell your story in six seconds. Trim all the fat, and they loop.”

Eric Dunn – Vine Vs Instagram


As with Twitter, following the right people will define whether or not you like Vine. The users are different, extraordinarily creative and modern, which allows Vine’s spectators to learn more about the raw intricacies of the internet age.

A lot of people on Vine aim on making their viewers laugh, but Birney’s seem to have more meaning to them, describes his ‘actual artistic talent’… but what is it that makes his so unique to other users? He says “We’re just trying to follow Sylvio on his journey. Wherever Sylvio goes, we’ll be there.” And so will his 100,000+ followers.


Favourite Sylvio moments:


Expert Editing







Ridiculous (in a good way)



Featrued image: Viner Albert Birney’s creation Simply Sylvio. Photo:

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