Vine takes videos in square-format. To capture video, touch anywhere in the viewing screen.
Vine's feed is very Instagram-y, featuring "likes," comments and hashtags.

Gifs are the new jpegs. Or, so Tumblr might have you believe. Apps like Cinemagram have been putting mobile photography in motion for a while now. Today, Twitter announced Vine: a video-capturing app for iOS that can only record 6-second clips at a time.

Unlike an animated gif file, Twitter’s Vine captures full video instead of a series of still photos. Just like the magical portraits in Harry Potter, Vine videos can talk (though full self awareness and ability to grant entrance to secret passages is still unavailable.) 

Capturing a video with Vine is simple. From your Vine video feed, you can access the square capture screen by tapping the video camera icon. When you touch the viewing screen, your video will start to record. Once you remove your finger, your video will stop recording. You can then reframe your scene to start your next shot. Keep going until you have filled up all six seconds of video.

When you are finished, you will enter a review screen. If you like your video, you can press next. If not, you can return to the video feed by pressing the “X” in the top right of the screen and choosing “Delete Post.” Whether you decide to post your video or not, it will be saved to your device’s camera roll.

From Vine, you can share your video to Twitter and Facebook, or you can just post it to Vine’s feed. The video feed is similar in structure to Instagram, with a smiley-face icon to “like” things and a comment option. 

You can view all six seconds of my Vine post here.

To test out Vine, I put together a clip of making a cup of coffee in a Kalita brewer. To keep the shots steady, I mounted my iPhone in landscape-orientation on an iStabilizer tripod. I found the auto-focus a little slow. I was dying to tap-to-focus but I knew that it would start recording if I did. I finished my recording and uploaded it to Twitter only to find that the video did not auto-rotate so my coffee pouring shots are totally sideways.

I understand that Vine’s square format is there to avoid the dreaded vertical cell phone video, but I would like to see the next version allow for landscape-oriented recording as well. Better pre-focusing is also a necessity because even though the autofocus may only take a fraction of a second, that is an eternity in a six-second long video.

On first impression, Vine is reminiscent of my childhood attempts to make a structured movie on an old VHS camcorder—building shots and organizing scenes knowing that you can’t go back and edit the film later. It’s super fun, but you’re not going to create anything groundbreaking.

Instead, Vine can be used to capture a moving moment in time. In the future, I imagine using Vine to capture a wave crashing on the beach or a kid doing a cartwheel—the type of scene that only needs a few seconds. Vine might also see an artistic application in Video portraiture—when done right, video portraits can be more revealing than a still image.

What do you think? Will you be using Vine to share six-second videos?