Viral Video: A forest of six-second Vines

More than 100 million people watch these looping videos every month, which explains why corps like Toyota, Apple and Dunkin' Donuts are commissioning Vines for their product lines.
More than 100 million people watch these looping videos every month, which explains why corps like Toyota, Apple and Dunkin' Donuts are commissioning Vines for their product lines.

Hacking through the dense digital forest of online vines is a task even Sisyphus would have avoided. Vines are those looping six second videos one can shoot with the Vine app, which is outfitted with specialized selfie cams and in-camera editing tricks. 

The Vine website claims more than 100 million people are watching Vines every month, looping the videos over a billion times every 24 hours. Wired says those numbers add up to 190 years of video watched in a single day.

A brief safari into the jungle of Top Ten vine websites leads to a glut of verticals: cartoon vines, comedy vines, sports vines, music video vines, animal vines, epic fail vines, twerking vines and WTF vines. Vines have their own websites and have infiltrated YouTube, which means Twitter was thinking fast when it acquired Vine back in 2012 for $30 million.

Yep, $30 million — for an app that offers the same hypnotic appeal as spinning a quarter on a tabletop.

Thousands of even the most basic vines, say a trio of high school freshman dancing to a hip hop snippet, can garner millions of views. Add a few more zeros to reach the number of times those six-second snatches are repeated, or looped. The numbers are bewildering.

But for a few viners, as the practitioners of this abbreviated art form are known, those numbers are yielding healthy incomes through advertising deals. Dunkin' Donuts was the first company to use the app with this stop-motion vine in 2013.

Many of the top viners are featured in this online article by ReadWrite. Brittany Furlan has nearly 8 million followers, and has shot and edited vines for companies such as Jack-in the-Box. Melvin Gregg, with close to a billion loops, has shot several vines for Jolly Rancher. And a viner with the online handle King Bach has made six-second commercials for Toyota and the iPhone 6.

With his high-profile corporate deals, and his 2,444,178,892 loops (at last count), King Bach could be considered the king of this jungle. He has competition from Gregg and other inventive viners such as Anwar Jibari and Rudy Mancuso, but a brief survey of his videos suggests he is a talented micro-scenarist and a shrewd editor. His vines squeeze multiple locations, characters and cutaways into witty little vignettes, punctuated with crafty music cues and technical surprises.

The viners themselves will tell you they are making these videos as calling cards, hoping to land acting gigs, their own comedy show or directing assignments for commercials, music videos or movies. With that in mind, I guess it’s not worth puzzling over the why-and-how of Vine’s popularity.

The videos, despite their insistence on repetition, are disposable, just more of the auto-amusant that passes for content on YouTube. But the best ones offer a good-natured appeal, like these frolicsome vines from the happy-go-lucky French viner Jerome Jarre, who clearly looks like he’s having way too much fun. 

For more Viral Video nuggets, go here.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Rustin Thompson

Rustin Thompson

Rustin Thompson is a filmmaker, film critic and indie radio deejay. He enjoys strong coffee, red wine, IPAs and his wife and grown children. He is comfortable with the fact he will never be rich, but grows petulant if he thinks too much about it.