Vine is one of those niche platforms that has succeeded in having influence far outside its actual reach. In this case, however, part of the Vine influence is creative, and in many ways nostalgic. Its 50-second format and tap-release form of video-making has reintroduced the most rudimentary of film tricks, stop-motion effects. Even brand advertisers have rediscovered the simple charms of this earliest of animation methods. Earlier this year, Dunkin' famously did a series of halftime game replays using its coffee cups playing on a miniature football field.
But more recently, advertisers are tapping actual Vine talent to help them promote products. Some of this takes the form of product placement and integrated messaging in the Vine stars’ feed. But HP and creative agency 180LA have actually recruited some of this native talent to create a TV spot for its new Pavillion x360 convertible tablet/notebook PC. According to The Wall Street Journal, HP and 180LA used the new Vine/Instagram talent agency Niche to locate and recruit the right “Vine-ographers” and then gave them the product to play with. Of course, a convertible PC maps neatly with one of the Vine aesthetics -- visual trickery. The result was a spot that strung together a series of Vines into a 30-second piece.
Among the most amazing of the results is a 6-second piece by Zach King (1.7 million followers) who shows the product magically producing oranges and orange juice.
For HP, the real magic also was in the massively cut production cycle and cost. The typical TV spot often takes 10 to 12 weeks to produce. This one took 11 days, HP says.
Wisely, the spot retains the scrolling format and portrait form factor of a typical Vine experience, having the Vine-ographers hand the machine to one another across the frames. It rides the Vine vibe and even leaves room for promoting the #Bendthe Rules hashtag that is attracting more user-generated variations on HP’s original theme.
The spot is eye-catching, even if it does raise the question of how long such visual novelty gets before wearing thin. In this case, it is good to see the creative use of stop motion applied faithfully to the product attributes and brand theme. It is not a gratuitous use of the stop-motion technique. Like CGI, Vine-like antics can wear out their welcome. But unlike CGI, Vine has that grassroots creative vibe to it.
The platform and its early social stars remind me of the first time I got my hands on a Super 8-mm home movie camera and a three-minute roll of film in my early teen years. My basement became my Black Maria, and my friends and family became my first cast, all instructed how to hold pose while I released the camera trigger (very Vine-like) to remove something from the scene. Little did I know I was reenacting a discovery that J. Stuart Blackton had made at the dawn of the century. He invented the stop-motion technique that more than a century later Vine has helped revive as a creative tool with endless possibilities.