Vine – an amazing tool for the food bloggers, cooks and eaters

(To be clear: I am a semi-technophobe but, miraculously, an ardent social media advocate. Read my piece on Social Media and the Food World here. I’m Food and the Fabulous on Vine)

Image from Google

Image from Google

“Hi, I’m Ishay. I cook, I eat, I speak a lot about food culture and nostalgia and sometimes I blog. I am utterly enamoured with six second videos too.”

Six second videos, you ask?

I’m speaking about Vine App, Twitter’s video application for iPhone and iPad. You’ve got six seconds to present your message and while at first you’ll be tempted to pan from one end of the room to the next, and consequently ‘spend’ your six seconds, what can be achieved is incredible! And, these videos play on a loop.

If they say a picture tells a thousand words (a concept, as a writer, I accept but don’t leap with joy at the thought of), then imagine what a combination of visuals, words and music, if correctly placed can do!

I’ve been using Vine for 57 days now and I believe it launched in mid January 2013. I have much to learn and am looking for a gadget to hook the iPhone to a tripod – steady hands make all the difference.

This is an example of a Vine video; I’m braising the spices for a yellow split pea dhal and show a few shots of the ingredients and preparation process.

For sound on the videos, open in separate window and unmute



In this video I share some of the ingredients I was using that evening: butter, chocolate, coffee granules, flour – I was testing about five different brownie recipes. It’s a spontaneous process in my case, and how it’s filmed evolves as I press go.   

I am inspired by the visionaries, creatives and comedians who have found themselves a new outlet for expression, and who are gathering followers and fans like it’s going out of style. Except, it’s only beginning. More about these inspirationals in a bit.

Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo in an interview about Vine, told the Wall Street Journal, “We all agreed that this is the next thing down the road.”

Bigger than Instagram?

For three months I’ve been saying a little yes on the inside when I’ve interviewed local digital leaders, hoping their answer would be the same.  Mashable reported: 

“Vine’s secret weapon is a combination of being simpler to use than most video apps and the fact that it has one of the biggest social networks in the world as a parent company and platform. “It’s really beautifully integrated with Twitter and there’s a new level of simplicity around video capture that they hit on that has made it intriguing to people,” said Pam Kramer, president at Lightt and a former VP of consumer marketing at Twitter. “I think it moved a step ahead from integrating a still photo to integrating something more dynamic.” 


How’d they do that?

Without fail, Meagan Cignoli, has me cooing at her eye for the beautiful, her exquisite timing and perfectly lit Vines. She’s also most gracious about compliments and interacts with other users. Alright, end swoon now. Meagan is one of the Viners entering the Tribeca Film Festival, which has opened a section especially for these six second videos.


And here’s her clip entitled ‘Play Doh Swirls’.




Jason Coffee and his very photogenic family live in Hawaii, with their beautiful pup Bean and are winning hearts over with their perfectly timed lip-synching, wholesome skits and ‘puppetman’ Vines, where Jason’s hand seems to maneuver the kids like puppets. It’s amazing to watch – I haven’t yet figured out how it’s done. A magic lens, a special app, an old ‘blind spot’ trick. I know Jason isn’t the only one doing these now. Maybe someone email me the answer? I’ll be a’waitin’ by the phone!

Lip-synching – a reference to Sweet Brown, bless her


Check out the family’s entry to the Tribeca Film Festival called ‘Dream State’:  

Funny Boys

Many of the more popular Viners like Chris D’Elia, a stand up comedian and Micheal LoPriore use part of the six seconds to set up a scenario and the last bit for the twist in the tale, punchline or aha moment when the viewer either sympathises, agrees or is shocked by the conclusion – all very funny, not all of it P.C though.

Chris D’Elia does, amongst other things, a series of observations called “Excuse me, Sir…”


Michael LoPriore, if he isn’t stumbling around the house, performing sketches with his brothers or playing ‘waffle frisbee’, he gets into charcater with Nerd Ned:

Other popular Vine follows include: Pinot, Khoa, Nick Mastodon ,Big Red, and Nicholas Megalis who created the hashtag #singwhatyousee – even got me to sing on Vine. These are their Twitter handles.

You can watch all my vines here.

Vine 101

A pause for the irony that I’m presenting you with Vine tips, as I’ve got much to improve. For what it’s worth here’s what I’ve learned through many hours and days of playing around:

  • You shoot a Vine by pressing on the screen. For stop-motion and animation, you may like to know that you can press the screen a maximun of 140 times. These are tiny little taps. I shot a scene of waves moving this weekend, maximum of 50-60 taps. My fingers!


  • It’s not a popularity contest. If you’ve built a following and identity on Twitter or Facebook, you will have to face starting from scratch again on Vine. Don’t stick to just your buddies from Twitter. Dive in, interact and make new friends.
  • Don’t wait for the perfect moment. If you don’t shoot your first few hit and misses, you’ll never start. You can always delete it after posting if you’re still not happy. Get in there!
  • Vine is changing and improving all the time. Currently you can not edit, post shooting. While it encourages spontaneity, have a little plan. If it will take you 45 minutes from start to finish to cook a dish, have your phone fully charged. Bombing out due to a battery power fail is incredibly frustrating.
  • If you are shooting a dish, quickly think of the interesting sounds, textures and ‘phases’ you can present and allocate time accordingly. Onions frying and bacon sizzling in a pan are very emotive.
  • I love music, and including it takes a bit of planning, else all you hear are the sounds a strangled chicken would make. Not that I know what a strangled chicken sounds like, I swear…..



  • Businesses and brands should be using Vine. Show us behind the scenes, what your offices look like, how you engage with your staff. Share more than a few words or links to Facebook.  Restaurants, show us what the dish of the day is for lunch. YuppieChef locally have joined and I hope they keep Vining and leading the way.
  • Accomplished Viners will advise you get a tripod. Keeping the phone still for animation and stop motion is key. I’ve been recently pining after the glif to attach to my gorilla tripod, but it isn’t even delivered locally. Will have to get my family in Europe to accept delivery on my behalf.
  • Lenses – macro lenses will create an intense blow-up of beautiful visuals like flowers, insects and chocolate. Well, I had to add that.
  • If Instagram and pictures gave us an insight into restaurants we want to try and beautiful sights we’d like to visit, imagine the power of a six second clip. Because the majority of Africa accesses the internet on mobile phones, this makes sharing easier – shorter videos also chew less data.
  • Use hashtags. Vine has recently removed the main category hashtag ‘food’ and ‘howto’ which, for a food writer is pretty annoying. But they also removed ‘pets’, which is some comfort. Ha! Continue to hashtag as appropriate and check out the trending hashtags too.
  • Exercise caution. Now your posts can be shared, without notice or attribution by strangers. If you’re running a brand or a business this will make no difference to you. If you often shoot vines of your children and your home address, their school etc, I’d be a little cautious.
  • Unfortunately Vine works best on iPhone, the iPad is a little clunky – I am sure there must be plans in the works to open up accessibility to other users too.
  • Promote your city. Social media has shrunk the world. We all want to see the best of where our new friends live. Destination marketing organisations should pick this up and post visitors’ and locals’ Vines on their pages. It’s six unique seconds of free exposure.

If you’re on Vine, come say helleh: Food and the Fabulous

Are you are food or travel blogger or writer on Vine? Let’s connect. Also, please add your tips – would love to learn.

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