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Exposure: Jethro Ames on 6-second storytelling

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When Twitter came out with its six-second video sharing service Vine it was met with a mixed reaction of excitement and confusion. Vine allows you to share videos of up to six seconds in length as either a single continuous take or as a 'collage' of short duration clips. Some people doubted that Vine could function as a widespread creative medium because of the restrictions it put on users.

Art Director Jethro Ames (@JethroAmes) saw Vine as a challenge and decided to push his limits to see what he could do with the app. The result is a feed of imaginative videos that are perfectly executed down to the last detail. (Just tap on any of the Vines in this story to see them in action.)

Ames's Vines have gotten the attention of creative professionals and brands alike, winning him an award at the Tribeca Film Festival and earning him a job with Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf to create five Vine videos to share via their account.

We interviewed Ames via email about his experience as a Vine visionary and how he goes about creating his six-second masterpieces.

DPReview: What equipment do you use to Vine? 

Jethro Ames: iPhone 5. OlloClip. Depending on the situation, I either use a Griptight Mount with a standard tripod. Or a table and a stack of books when I need to shoot down. This is mostly for my stop motion Vines. 

DPR: What makes Vine so special for you as a creative outlet?

JA: I've been pretty fortunate to work in an industry where I can be creative professionally. I've been designing and art directing for over 10 years, and I had the opportunity to work with some fun brands. (Red Bull, Hansen's Natural Soda, San Diego Zoo) But, with the Vine app I was able to be creative in a different way. Vine lets me be a filmmaker or an animator without any prior knowledge to that craft. I'm able to experiment and try different things in ways I haven't done professionally.

 

DPR: Your Vines are varied -- some are well-orchestrated stories and some are nature observations. What makes you decide something is Vine-worthy?

JA: I tend to get bored really easy, and I'm not the type of person to focus on just one thing. I take a lot of notes, and write out a list of things I would love to accomplish in a Vine. Sometimes, I have this ah-ha moment, where I really want to Vine this idea. Or, sometimes I'm just so busy that I feel shooting a nature Vine would be the easiest at the time. I really don't have a schedule or anything planned.

When I Vine, it really depends on my mood or the type of situation I'm in. Sometimes, my Vines are simply decided based on what's available in my home.

DPR: Some of your vines are super complicated. How do you go about making them? Do you use a tripod? How long do they usually take to make?

JA: From my list of ideas, I normally plan one or two Vines that I want to create for the week. My last couple of Vines, I've been working on a "How to play with food theme." I have two boys who love their snacks. Especially their goldfish. Which was the catalyst of my Frying Pan/Aquarium scene. I try to work with elements at home. If not, I buy things to fill in the gaps.

Once I have my ingredients, I set up my scene like a commercial photographer. I set up my lights using what I have at home. Overhead kitchen lights, floor lamps to help light my food. I'll even use a working light to bounce off the ceiling if need be. I place my iPhone 5 on the table, with the camera pointing down. Use heavy books to keep the phone in place. I'll even plug the phone in to an extension cord so I won't have to fear about losing battery life.

After that, I go about creating my stop-motion scene. Which is really zen like and the easiest part of the process. This particular scene was really easy to pull off. The whole process probably took me about two hours to setup, create and clean. Depending on the Vine, some can be done in a matter of minutes, like my nature observations. Or hours, which are usually my stop-motion Vines. 

DPR: Finally, what could Vine do to become better? What is it missing?

JA: Since the app is so new, there are a lot of bugs that need to be taken care of. I hear stories where people lose their Vines from crashing. Or they would have trouble uploading a Vine. I've been pretty lucky so far, and I have yet to run into those kind of problems. Other than that, there is nothing really glaring that needs to be added now.

I really love the limitations what the app offers. Like no uploading, no editing, etc. It really pushes you to be creative, and forces you to nail it down in camera. If I can have one thing I would love to add a queue section for your Vines, and plan a time when you want to upload them. It will also be nice [to have a place] where they can be saved, so you can move on to another Vine if you choose to. 


If you know an interesting mobile photographer who should be featured in our Exposure series, let us know: connect@dpreview.com.

Comments

Total comments: 10
Rage Joe

I kind of can't see the point.

1 upvote
Juck

More and more creative ways of wasting time.

1 upvote
Johnsonj

I'm beginning to enjoy iphoneography more than the "traditional" digital photography from gear collectors churning out uninspired, unimaginative garbage.

THIS is most excellent! Thank you, Connect.

0 upvotes
JWest

"I'm beginning to enjoy professional photography more than hobbyists churning out uninteresting, amateurish garbage."

You see how insulting, closed-minded and generally rude that sounds? That's how you sound.

Can we quit with the childish bickering between these two "camps" already? Both ways of working have pros and cons that are pretty clear. Many photographers are happy working both ways. Neither "side" needs to win some imagined battle for the future of photography.

1 upvote
mrdancer

Rejoice that we have nothing better to be concerned about!

0 upvotes
Felix E Klee

Tweets are limited to 140 characters for SMS compatibility. What's the rationale behind Vine's six seconds limit?

2 upvotes
JWest

That may have been the original technical limitation on a tweet, but it's long since become irrelevant. It's all about limiting people to short soundbites.

Whatever you might think about Vine personally, it's clear that this is an attempt to apply the same idea to video.

0 upvotes
inframan

Good stuff!
Imaginative!!

0 upvotes
MikeFairbanks

I made a vine that took me a few hours (all for six seconds of video). I wanted to make a documentary about Rosa Parks using diagrams and captions showing exactly what happened on that day in 1955. Check it out: My handle is MikeTheFunGuy and the video is called The Rosa Parks Story.

0 upvotes
JEROME NOLAS

Funny, creative!

0 upvotes
Total comments: 10
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