By Virginia Heffernan
If you believe a nubile new video app called Vine is sweeping the nation because Vine is a masterpiece or at least a better mousetrap, think again. Vine—which hit the Web last week and lets you share looping, six-second videos on Twitter—is just fine and plenty fun, but Vine is not suddenly everywhere on the Internet because it’s extra-special. It’s not even everywhere because someone used it to tweet porn early in the game, and Vine accidentally endorsed a XXX vid. No. Vine is everywhere because it belongs to Twitter.
In other words, she’s pretty cool and she’s the boss’s daughter. No wonder she’s the debutante of the season.
The Twitter story reverses the “Field of Dreams” vision of “if you build it, he will come.” Instead, with Twitter, we showed up—some 300 million Twitter users now—for what was initially a fairly thin set of text communications protocols. But we stayed on Twitter because other people did, and then they came because we were all there, learning in unison to compose epigrams with #hashtags and @replies and links.
Simultaneously, Twitter built itself in response to our presence and our activities. Having begun in 2006 as a place to circulate verbal chips and salsa, it didn’t become the so-called New Twitter until 2010, when it started letting users see photos and videos without leaving Twitter.
For years, third-party developers turned out Twitter add-ons like TweetDeck and Twistori. But now Twitter has decided to take charge of developing its own Internet real estate. This is like the oil companies getting friendly with the railroads in the 19th century. Ultimately, people in oil and gas like to be in real estate, too. Similarly, people in social networking get into app development. Synergies are discovered; profits are made; markets are happy, then not; oligopolies are busted up. And repeat. It’s the American way.
So what is Vine, besides Twitter’s first foray into owning not just the rails but the stuff that rides the rails? In short, Vine is a way to rediscover, and pleasingly exploit, the magic of animation. (If you’re not on Twitter or Vine, here’s a good place to watch some Vine videos.)
I’ve made a few Vine videos, or “Vines” (I guess that's what they’re called?), and I enjoyed it. Remember the time you and your brother hauled out your dad’s brandless movie camera, set up Chewbacca and Princess Leia, and prepared thumb and forefinger for a brutal 40-hour marathon of “stop-action animation”? It’s like that. Neato.
I mean, I realize that childhoods are different, and a few did not take place in the 1970s, in the Dawn of Industrial Light and Magic. But, whether you were born in 1940 or 1990, there’s gotta be a moment when someone showed you how animation works, with a flip-book or maybe a Muybridge zoopraxiscope, if you happen to be 100.
Let that dawning dawn again. To make a Vine video, you open the app on your phone/movie camera and hold a button down. When you let go, the camera stops rolling. You can then point it elsewhere, or move around what you’re shooting, and start it up again. In this way, you can do rad jumpcuts or just start-and-stop-and-move-and-start-again with the wonderful, tedious patience of a Claymation animator.
I went for jump cuts first and enjoyed catching a panorama with significant missing parts. My video looked hectic and urban and even disturbing with all its motion and gaps, especially when I shot from inside a Manhattan taxi. I then started to try animation, and started to make a glass of water that looked like it was magically emptying. But I was too lazy even to return the glass to the right spot. So it just looked like a glass jumping around on a table. You couldn’t even really tell that the water level was going down.
Vine videos play on an endless loop so they have a kind of glitchy, broken-record look that is maybe retro. I’m not sure I like it, especially after one by Tyra Banks, lost under a bunch of Chrome windows on my desktop, wouldn’t stop repeating its goofy dialogue.
But I do like the wicked-easy sharing and the intuitive controls. I also like the curation: There’s a lot of Exploring and Discovering and Editor’s Picks. For a week-old app, Vine—boosted by Twitter’s marketing and integrating—already seems flush with users and content. Every new Vine video attracts comments, and you’d think users were commenting on some century-old craft, like needlework, as they get into the nitty-gritty of “How did you do that?!”
Everybody just saw this app a few days ago, guys. We’re all just figuring it out. Some, I guess, are figuring faster than others. The height of achievement on Vine—aside from the promotion of Vine itself, which is Vine’s actual proudest achievement—is a Legos fantasia, as of this writing. Someone named Hunter Harrison put Legos Batman and Legos Robin on a gray Legos surface and had the caped crusaders scope out and destroy their enemies.
“How did you do this without your hand getting in the way?” one commenter, awestruck, asked. Ah. The magic of stop-motion. It never gets old, even when everything else is new.
Appitude: The newest Twitter trend—sharing six-second videos on Vine—is surprisingly retroThu, Jan 31, 2013 2:19 PM EST
By Virginia Heffernan
- TD Bank profit inches higher; stock split announced
Toronto-Dominion Bank , Canada's second-biggest bank, said on Thursday its quarterly profit rose 1.6 percent, missing expectations, and it announced a 2-for-1 stock split. TD, which in addition to its Canadian retail bank operates a 1,300-branch network on the U.S. East Coast, earned C$1.62 billion ($1.52 billion), or C$1.68 a share, in the fourth quarter that ended October 31. Analysts on average had expected C$1.99, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The bank said it will split its shares by way of a stock dividend in January. Analysts had speculated a stock split might be in the offing due to the stock price's approach to the C$100 level.
- Royal Bank of Canada CEO to step down after 13 years
By Cameron French TORONTO (Reuters) - Royal Bank of Canada Chief Executive Gordon Nixon will step down next summer after 13 years at the helm of Canada's largest bank, handing the reins to the RBC's retail banking head, Dave McKay, the bank said on Thursday. Nixon is the longest-serving of Canada's current crop of bank CEOs, but at 56, by no means the oldest. Nixon's announcement, which came as RBC, Toronto-Dominion Bank and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce all reported fiscal year-end results, caps off a changing of the guard at Canada's top three banks. Rick Waugh, who became CEO of No. 3 lender Bank of Nova Scotia shortly after Nixon took the top job at RBC, stepped down in November in favor of Brian Porter.
- Exclusive: OSX, bondholders in talks to delay interest payment, sources say
By Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Jeb Blount SAO PAULO/RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Tycoon Eike Batista's OSX Brasil SA and holders of the ailing shipbuilder's $500 million in bonds are in talks to delay an interest payment due on December 20, three sources with direct knowledge of the situation said on Wednesday. OSX filed for bankruptcy protection on November 11 after failing to get debt relief from creditors. One of the conditions is that OSX give up control, but not ownership, of the specialized ship that secured the bonds - the OSX-3 - to a captain and crew under the control of creditors, a third source added. OSX declined to confirm whether the talks are taking place.
- TD Ameritrade amends TD Bank pact, permitting more buybacks
By Jed Horowitz NEW YORK (Reuters) - TD Ameritrade Holdings , the largest discount brokerage firm by daily trades it executes, has modified its agreement with Toronto Dominion Bank, its largest shareholder, in order to give the broker more leeway to do stock buybacks. Currently, TD Ameritrade must refrain from repurchasing stocks from investors if the reduction in shares outstanding brings the Canadian bank's ownership above 45 percent. As of September 30, TD Bank owned 42 percent of the U.S. brokerage firm's common stock. Under an amendment that goes into effect on January 24, 2016, the bank agreed to use "reasonable efforts to sell or dispose" of stock that brings it over the 45 percent limit, but "has no absolute obligation" to do so, according to a Thursday morning filing from TD Ameritrade with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
- Firm orders for Bombardier's CSeries reach 182 after Iraq deal
(Reuters) - Bombardier Inc said on Wednesday that Iraqi Airways has signed a firm purchase agreement to acquire five of its larger CSeries jetliners, ending a six-month order drought for the new plane. The $387 million agreement with Iraq's national carrier follows a letter of intent announced last month. It brings the total number of CSeries firm orders to 182. Iraqi Airways has options on 11 additional CS300s, making the potential value of the deal at $1.26 billion at list prices.
- CIBC profit slips on provisions and charges
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce , Canada's No. 5 bank, said on Thursday its fourth-quarter profit slipped 1.9 percent, due to higher loan-loss provisions and one-time charges. CIBC earned C$836 million ($782.00 million), or C$2.05 a share, in the quarter ended October 31. That compared with a profit of C$852 million, or C$2.02 a share, in the year-before period. (Reporting by Cameron French Editing by W Simon)
- Fed uncertainty sends the Dow, S&P 500 down for fifth day
By Ryan Vlastelica NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Thursday, with the Dow and S&P 500 dropping for a fifth straight session after a round of mixed economic data left traders guessing as to when the Federal Reserve would begin to slow its stimulus program. The Dow and the S&P 500 are in their worst stretch since September. However, the moves have been slight, with the S&P 500 down about 1.2 percent over the period. Traders have been trying to second-guess how the Fed views strong data and whether the numbers are strong enough for the central bank to slow its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program, which it said it would do when certain economic metrics meet its targets.
- Enbridge says 2013 profit at low end of target, raises payout
Enbridge Inc , Canada's largest pipeline operator, said on Wednesday 2013 earnings would be at the low end of its target of C$1.74 to C$1.90 per share, but boosted its dividend by 11 percent. Enbridge, which has forecast that earnings per share will grow 10 percent to 12 percent annually between 2013 and 2017, said earnings this year and next will be below that target as it completes an expansion of its network of pipelines, which now carry the bulk of Canada's crude oil exports to the United States. The company said it expects 2014 earnings per share of between C$1.84 and C$2.04. Congested Canadian export pipelines have caused Enbridge to ration how much crude shippers can transport on its network.