Vine co-founder: “Six seconds for a video felt perfect. And it still does.”

Vine’s tight six second video limit will be the key to its continued success post-Video on Instagram, says Dom Hofmann

When video for Instagram was announced last week, many predicted that it would mean the end – or at least something resembling it – for Vine, the Twitter-owned micro video app.

Instagram’s existing user base would simply choose to stay put for their short video clips, which would be integrated along with still photos into one continuous feed, rather than turn to Vine.

But Instagram and Vine are not the same service. Both deal in short video clips, but Vine’s six second limit (Instagram allows you to film for 15 seconds) makes it a very different tool. Stuff caught up with Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann this week and asked him about what makes that tight limit so vital.

Cutting out the fat

Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann

“We tried a ton of different lengths. We started with five, we went down to four, we actually went down to less than four for a day, which was insane. At one point we had unlimited. We tried all sorts of different lengths, and six was just the sweet spot: it didn’t take too long to create, didn’t take too long to download and didn’t take too long to watch. Everything made sense.”

Constraints lead to creativity, says Hofmann: “It encourages people to cut out the fat and communicate the crux of what they’re trying to say. There's a great quote by Orson Welles that sums up what we were trying to achieve with Vine's functionality: ‘The absence of limitations is the enemy of art.’” So an Instagram-style 15 seconds per clip was never on the cards for Vine? “Six felt perfect. And it still does.”

The other unique feature of Vine is its looping feature; where Instagram’s mini-videos play just once, Vine clips automatically loop – giving them an almost GIF-like feel. Users have already taken advantage of this feature to create perfect, infinitely looping Vines like this one from user Charlie Love.

Hofmann, who says the Vine team worked very hard at getting the looping to work seamlessly, reckons the appeal of looping Vines lies in the fact that they're short snippets – just like memories. “Memories play on repeat, so why not replay it for you? Why force someone to press a button over and over again? I think that’s one of the things that makes Vine what it is.”

Top image credit: Leo Prieto