It’s Time for your 15 Seconds of Fame with Video on Instagram

by Barrett

Now there’s a new way to watch a blade of grass grow.  If you can record it in 15 seconds using Instagram, you just might be on to something!

Now there’s a new way to watch a blade of grass grow. If you can record it within 15 seconds using Instagram, you just might be on to something!

Let me begin with a confession:
I have not been an avid Instagram user.

Any photo I choose to share is the result of a rigorous screening process.
It represents the very best of the many (mediocre) pictures I capture.

The idea of snapping a low-quality shot (640 x 640 pixels), further ruining it with a cookie-cutter filter, and then immediately sharing it with your public is not what I’m usually comfortable with.

But 130 million Instagram users must be on to something…
And I’ve got to admit, I’ve often wondered how such spontaneity can create such cool-looking photos…

As a status update, an artful Instagram photo can be so much more interesting than text…

Video on Instagram Comes to Town
Now there’s Video on Instagram to help you ‘capture and share the world’s moments.’

Following in the footsteps of Twitter’s Vine, Facebook’s Instagram created its own video functionality on June 20.

Once you download the app update to your phone, (the newest version, 4.0.2 was released on July 5) you can share 15 seconds of Instagram video almost as fast as it takes to snap a ‘selfie.’

Suddenly I’ve taken note…

Eliminate the Burden of Video Editing
Today, my home video production workflow is a labored one, inspired by what I’ve learned through my professional multimedia life.

Time consuming post-production dominates every piece of home video I share.

The workflow is complex:

  • Shoot video clip(s) using one of my Canon digital cameras
  • Download the QuickTime file(s) to my iMac
  • Import them into Final Cut Pro X
  • Choose the best clips and trim them as needed
  • Put them in the correct order
  • Add in a few dissolves and a fade to black
  • Export the final movie
  • Upload it to Vimeo to share
  • Compress the master movie file to email it
  • Transcode another version for my iPhone

Sure, I can simply shoot a quick video to share right on my iPhone.
But you can’t string multiple clips together this way.

Now, Video on Instagram says you can forget about the chore of editing…

You simply self-edit as you record each clip for your 15-second movie.
If you don’t like the last clip you shot, you can delete it and re-record it.
(And if you don’t want to use up all 15 seconds, that’s just fine.)

As an added bonus, Instagram even offers you image stabilization to smooth out all those shaky shots!

Documenting the Cup of Joe
One morning last week, I found myself in the kitchen staring at the digital clock on the stove. The time glowed 4:50am.
The fact I was up earlier than many of the birds outside was the cascading result of my three year old stirring at 4:30am.

He went back to sleep, but not before rousing the cat, who then began to meow for his breakfast at the foot of the stairs.
Ignoring my feline was not an option, because he doesn’t give up easily.

So there I was in the kitchen, trying to enjoy my predicament.
What could I do with all these found extra minutes?

I decided to take Instagram out for a spin.
And it was time to make some coffee.

Click – Shot the clock.
Click – Captured the drip, drip, drip.
Click – Poured some coffee into my favorite mug


It’s no masterpiece, but my test Instagram video was done in a snap.
I’ve got to admit, the speed and simplicity make this a pretty compelling tool.
And if you want to add in one of 13 new video filters, go to town!

There’s Never a Silver Bullet
But the Web is already a flutter with people complaining about Instagram videos.

Some Instagram users simply don’t want the purity of their photo feeds polluted by instrusive videos.

Others are warning that Instagram videos suck up huge amounts of memory in your smart phone’s cache.

But the biggest concern out there is that Instagram users won’t make compelling videos the way they’ve been creating cool photos.

Critics are concerned they’re going to be bored more often than not, even with just 15 seconds of content to watch.

Gizmodo points out the “clumsy banality of amateur video.”

Jenna Wortham in her New York Times Digital Diary wrote that she didn’t like the Instagram video moments she recently captured at a Brooklyn rooftop picnic.

I think everyone out there is coming to terms with the hard reality of video:
It’s difficult to capture the perfect moment on the fly and equally challenging to stage one.

There’s usually no shortcut to creating good videos.
Click, Click, Click might be fast and convenient, but it can’t guarantee perfection.

It’s important to understand you normally need to capture lots of moments to find a few good ones.
That’s why editing software exists.

Video on Instagram has its uses.
It’s just not a panacea for all your video needs.

Vine – Less is More?
There are other apps out there that offer similar tools.
Since January, Vine has been the poster child for this young art.

But Vine’s 6-second shooting limit is way too restrictive for me.
It may be an interesting artistic exercise to see what you can create in such a short length, but I don’t feel it’s as useful a video tool as Instagram to help document your life.

On the up side, I think the time limitation of Vine inherently forces more preparation, which can lead to better results.

How Many People Does It Take to Create a Video?
I’ve got to admit… I’m feeling a fair amount of schadenfreude.
Here’s the thing…

I’m truly excited about the ease of using Video on Instagram.

Simultaneously, I’m psyched about all the doubt recently expressed about the general population having the ability to create engaging 15-second videos.

Not so long ago, common wisdom suggested anyone could create a video…
The democratization of digital media over the past decade gave most everyone the tools to become their own filmmaker.

But it’s come at a cost.

The rules surrounding solid filmmaking…

  • Good lighting
  • Clean audio
  • Well-framed composition
  • Steady shots
  • Tight timing

Unfortunately, it’s all been compromised.

People don’t care so much anymore what something looks or sounds like, as long as the content is engaging.

And if it’s ‘real,’ that’s sometimes enough to hold your attention.
But not always…

A gussied-up square photo with extreme saturation gradation might hold your attention for a couple seconds…

But you can’t make that lipstick-on-a-pig trick last for 15 seconds, or even 6.

Unless, you happen to shoot a little video of Godzilla out for a morning stroll, you’ve actually got to do some work to create a video that anyone outside your closest circle would want to watch.

That’s why a 15-second commercial on TV can cost millions of dollars to create.

The 6 O’Clock News – Brought to You by the Fourth Grade?
I know that self-generated content is all the rage these days, and everyone’s doing it. (especially the younger generations)
But your precocious ten-year-old nephew can’t really replace the entire media production landscape with his iPhone and iMovie.

In the end, videos hubs like YouTube, Vine and now Instagram are constant reminders of the inherent limitations of user-generated video content on the Web.

Anyone can create a video for the entire world to watch, but it usually takes a small army of professionals to create, distribute, and market content to successfully reach a fraction of that.

Sure, you may have just recorded the next viral video sensation on your smartphone.
But that kind of lightning doesn’t strike too often.

This reality is revealing the buried truth that a video’s success often requires a little love from the ‘experts’ with a few years of experience generating visual content.

That’s a happy realization supporting job security for professionals who create digital content for a living…

And that’s also good news for my three-year-old budding photographer who may want to one day pursue a career as a digital journalist.

Give Video on Instagram a Chance
So where does all of this video analysis leave us…?

Is Video on Instagram a good development?
I say, “Yes!”

Does creating a compelling video take time and effort?
Yes, again!

Will the simplicity of Video on Instagram revolutionize the way people share their lives with video?

We’re all supposed to get our 15 minutes of fame, right?
15 seconds shouldn’t be that hard to find.

Stay tuned…