How to Make a Vine Video, by Actor Adam Goldberg

Photograph by Nathanael Turner for Bloomberg Businessweek

Vine is a mobile app that lets you shoot six-second videos, or Vines, to share on social networking sites. The in-app camera records only when you’re holding your finger to the screen of the phone, so there’s an inherent stop-motion element that provides a paranoid or anxious quality, which seems to jibe with my aesthetic.

In order to make a great Vine I suggest, above all else, one acquire a severe, if not crippling, case of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Because one can’t edit Vines or add sound post facto, it’s challenging and often impossible to make seamless sound edits. To get a fluid soundtrack across multiple cuts, I often leave spaces between prerecorded audio or use a loop pedal to record music loops with built-in cues that let me know the exact beats on which to film and stop filming.

To create visual effects, I’ve used everything from medium-format camera lenses to plastic wrap, but the object lesson is to use whatever tools you have and whatever you do well. Then it’s simply a matter of letting your imagination wander and having a certain degree of patience. I made one that takes place in the morning, but when I open the blinds, suddenly it’s nighttime. That was simply a matter of using an old iPhone I’d held onto and waiting to shoot the blinds bit after nightfall, hoping the app or phone wouldn’t crash in the interim. Having a basic handle on screen direction and shot composition—correct eye lines and that sort of thing—can help give the Vines a more cinematic aesthetic, if that’s what you’re going for.

My favorite Vines are those which I simply would never have imagined myself. My favorite guy right now did a brilliant one that’s a single shot of a shopping cart containing a head of lettuce as it rolls down a busy New York street. Now that would never have occurred to me. —As told to Caroline Winter

Goldberg is a writer, director, photographer, musician, and actor who appeared in the films Dazed and Confused and Saving Private Ryan, among others.  

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