21 Feb

Vine Video for Museums: Post 1

Have you ever lost track of time watching a Vine video? What makes a Vine so engaging that you end up watching them over and over?  They are only 6 seconds, after all.  The brevity of the medium is at the core of its power.  Spurred by the challenge of fitting an idea into such a short time frame, some Vinemakers seem to turn what should be a blink of an eye into a cinematic tour de force.

In the last few months, I have spent many hours (or more than 12,000 vines) playing with the possibilities of the medium.  Stop Motion or video. Kid-made or Senior-tried.  Narrative or atmospheric.  Outsider vantage point or insider snapshot.  Programmatic or spur of the moment.   The possibilities are endless.  But, to frame these ideas, how can Vine be used in the museum context?

To dive into these possibilities a little more:

Stop Motion or video:

Stop motion is like magic.  But, as I would all magicians work very hard for their sleight of hand to seem effortless, I have learned that stop-motion can require quite a lot of preplanning.  For museums, stop-motion can help speed up the tedium, culling out the best of an experience.  Even suspending a multimillion dollar sculpture weighing a smidge less than a semi-truck has its dull moments.  In museum education, offering your audience, families and school students alike, extensions of their experience at home can be the difference between creating lasting bonds or maintaining a casual connection.  Shot video is expensive and often children (and adults) don’t have the patience to watch a three-minute video.  Stop motion can bring a studio project to life in a way that engaging and audience-appropriate.  Plus, the medium allows for a sort of amateurism in comparison with shot-video which is held to a higher visual standard within the design-ethos of museums.

What to keep in mind:

Know where you are going:  In order to get everything in, you really need to understand each of the steps in the process or story arc.  It is easiest if you are both the content generator and the film-making.  But, if not, try to ask your content provider what all the steps are.

It’s okay to edit: If you are not sure if the shot will make the final cut, take it.  You can always delete it.  But, if you are filming something that will not occur again, say installing that wonderful show, you can’t go back a shoot a step later.

BUT…It’s okay to experiment:  So, while many of my lessons on stop motion come from the motivation of conveying a specific concept or element of the museum, I have also enjoyed playing around with it.  Honestly, some of the best Vine stop motion have the joy of serendipity.

Video has its own set of challenges.  I find the vast majority of Vine videos about a scale less interesting than watching paint dry.  But, that might be because the majority of videos are produced for a very specific audience, say your buddy in your Calc class, and I am not a member of that audience.  If you think narrative, or film in the traditional sense, it is hard to imagine 6 compelling seconds.  But, break out of your sense of narrative, and the medium has amazing possibilities.  Imagine the face of the someone seeing a Picasso for the first time.  6 seconds of amazement serves as an analogy for a lifetime of being inspired by art.  Stendhal’s in short.  Or the sounds of being in a gallery.  Or the way it feels to walk around a sculpture.  Or the roar of a lion at your local zoo.

What to keep in mind:

Aim right: Don’t do too much.  Enjoy the luxury of six seconds.  People don’t expect Gone with the Wind.  But, they might be amazed by the wind wiping through your sculpture garden.

Be forgiving: While in stop motion, you might find yourself deleting many frames.  In video, you might find yourself deleting many videos.

BUT it’s not either/or…. Video and Stop motion are not necessarily opposing forces.  Instead, they are sort of on a visual equilibrium.  In some videos, I have experimented with bursts of video strung together.  Sometimes, I have used stop motion for most of the video, and then add in a little moving video for a key moment.  Video can be a moment of respite from stop motion, punctuation to your point, or a wonderful surprise for your viewer.

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My vines can be found here.

I have written a series of short posts about Vine.  Enjoy:
Vine Video for Museums: Post 1
How can Museum Educators use Vine?
The Right Audience for Vine
Fostering Participation in Vines
Vine to Share the Museum Experience
Narrative in Vine
Looking at Art through Vine
Vine on Your Own
Vine Interface—An Orientation
Vine Basics
Vine and Audio
Stop Motion Tips

I produced these posts as notes in preparation for co-writing this paper for Museums and the Web 2014, with Alli Burness, @Alli_Burnie; Patty Edmonson, @Retrograde_D; and Chad Weinard, @caw_

Our presentation Vine feed is here. 

Our workshop in April, 2014 sparked some good conversation, see the Storify.

Many of our participants made some wonderful Vines, check these out.

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