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Internet heroes: 

Meet Tee Ken Ng, Vine’s stop-motion magician

When Vine launched in January 2013, some said six-seconds was too short to capture anything of note – and we may even have agreed with them. But if early experiments proved us wrong, then the work of Viners since has made us look straight-up foolish.

Among those who signed-up at the start was Tee Ken Ng, whose masterful stop-motion videos are like magic tricks – cramming sometimes days of work into the app’s tiny allowance. If that sounds like a long time to spend on a six-second video, then we don’t recommend trying to work out how he made them – you could be there much longer.

Tee Ken’s videos quickly got him noticed, and he now produces Vines regularly for brands as well as his 85,000 followers. We spoke to the six-second trickster to find out more.

How did you get started on Vine?

I studied fine arts but ended up working in graphic design, then I started on Vine pretty much from the beginning. I was looking for a way of getting back into creating for myself again, and because the format is only six-seconds, it meant I could work on an idea and realize it in my spare time – which was usually late at night.

It was exciting to have started in the early days of Vine and seeing what other talented creators were doing. I think we all felt like pioneers in those days.

Do you have a favorite Vine that you’ve uploaded? What’s been the most popular?

That’s a hard one to answer. My sentimental favorite is “Simple projector – Return flight” as it was the first Vine I’d done that truly felt magical to me, it still does. I also remember it was also the first Vine of mine that Pinot commented on; my kids and I are huge fans of his.

My most popular Vine is by far “The original copy” (below). My iPhone went into notification meltdown right after I posted it. I remember waking up my wife that night and both of us watching the shares and likes jump by the hundreds and then by the thousands! I had to turn my phone off so we could sleep. The next morning it had over 100,000 likes, been given an Editors Pick and I had thousands of new followers.

Presumably a Vine like that takes longer than 6-seconds to make?

Anywhere from a few days to a week, sometimes even more.

Which was the hardest to get right? What were the challenges?

My “3D selfie” was a tough one, mainly because I had not seen anything like it done before so had no idea what it would look like. I remember there were many failed attempts and much head scratching.

With each new Vine it feels like I’m trying something new. Many times I have no idea if it’ll work so it involves experimenting and trying different ways to realize an idea. Often from that process I’ll get new ideas and discover new possibilities.  

What was the first Vine you did for a brand? How did it come about?

My first brand Vine was for Cisco for their Internet of Everything campaign. I was contacted by their advertising agency in San Francisco who had been following my work, they felt my style would be a perfect fit for the project.

What do you like about Vine as a platform?

What really drew me in were its limitations. I find the limitations force me to be more creative. I love the six-second looping format, it’s perfect for sharing and can be so addictive to watch. It’s a great place to go to be entertained and see ordinary people do often hilarious and remarkable things.

Is there anything you’d change?

No, the people at Vine know what they’re doing. The recent music on Vine update is amazing.

Who are your own Internet Heroes?

There’s way too many. But just to name a couple definitely check out fellow Australian Viner (living in New York) Claudia Cukrov. She’s as hilarious as she is twisted, I love seeing the world through her eyes.

Daniel Ojanlatva is one Viner I always show to people who ask me what Vine is about. His creations, usually involving himself in an iPhone, makes me feel like a kid again watching Saturday morning cartoons. Both are worth following on Twitter as well.

For more stop-motion magic from Tee Ken Ng, follow him on Vine and Twitter.

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