For several months, Vine has had the quick share video social space almost to itself, but the Twitter-backed app has suddenly gained some competition, as Facebook has added video sharing capability to its own Instagram. Announced at the end of last week, Instagram Video has already found plenty of fans, but is it any different to Vine, and if so, is it any better?
The video sharing option is part of the standard Instagram app, rather than being a standalone app which has to be downloaded separately, and can be yours either by updating your existing app to version 4.0, or downloading it from Google Play or the iTunes App Store.
Open Instagram and tap the centre button to bring up the camera view, and in the bottom right of the screen you’ll see a video camera icon. Tap this, and you’ll switch to the video instead of the stills camera. The view finder is familiar enough, but you’ll spot what looks like a flashing cursor below it, which is there to show your progress through your allotted time.
While Vine gives you just six seconds, Instagram will let you shoot for 15 seconds before yelling, “Cut.” Press and hold the big, red record button to start shooting, and release when you want to stop. Like Vine, your videos can be made up of different cuts, and interestingly, each most recent cut can be selected and deleted, instead of scrubbing the whole thing and starting again.
This is an important addition to the app, as it fits in with Instagram’s more creative ambitions. The ability to delete sections lets you carefully create a video, where Vine doesn’t provide the same degree of flexibility, helping you to – in theory – film something more artistic. It’s a bit of a slap in Vine’s face, really, as it paints it as a toy.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an Instagram tool if it didn’t have filters. A total of thirteen have been added, and can be applied to your video after it has been shot. A digital image stabilisation feature, called Cinema Mode, is on as standard, but can be switched off after you’ve finished shooting your video. The filters are as controversial here as they are for stills, as some will like the effect, while others will think they do nothing but ruin your work. They’re also less effective, as it’s difficult to improve each scene using only one filter, as unlike a still picture, lighting conditions and colours can change throughout a video, making it tough to choose the right one.
Once shot and shared, your videos appear in line with your photos, but don’t automatically play, helping to keep the app speedy. It’s also possible to choose the still image from the video which is used as the image which appears in your stream, just like YouTube. Overall, it’s easy to take and post videos using Instagram, and with a reported 40 hours of material uploaded every minute after it became available, lots of people obviously love it.
So, has it beaten Vine at its own game? Yes and no. The extra seconds of footage it allows changes your approach, but doesn’t necessarily mean better content, just different. The brevity of Vine’s video fits perfectly with Twitter’s 140 character limit, while Instagram’s longer form videos are more suited to Facebook, a platform you’re encouraged to browse at your leisure. Being able to delete a section of video is very helpful, particularly as videos are longer, and Vine would do well to implement something similar.
Instagram’s filters are less successful, and don’t work as well on video as they can with stills. In fact, they’re so awkward, we wonder how many videos will end up being posted without any filter at all, as users struggle to get one which looks good for the duration of the video.
Video has been implemented well and doesn’t stray too far from what has made the app popular – ease of use, a strong community, various filters – and is instantly available to everyone who updates the app. However, it’s not as “pure” or simple as taking and posting a still Instagram picture, and may not have quite the same appeal. That said, Instagram Video is an almost guaranteed success, due to the amount of dedicated Instagram users already out there, and the growing popularity of sharing short video clips through social networks.