Mike Isaac

Recent Posts by Mike Isaac

How Instagram Named Its New Set of Video Filters

instagram3_systrom1As Instagram introduced a new video feature to the app on Thursday, founder Kevin Systrom was particularly proud of an update to its filters, the colored effects Instagram is most known for.

After unveiling the video product, Systrom dropped a whole new set of 13 filters made specifically to apply to video posts, apparently with the aid of a visual artist whose work focuses primarily on video and photography.

But while the eternal, oh-so-important question raged on in the press afterward — is six seconds of short-form video (like Twitter’s Vine app) better than 15 seconds? — I had another question, equally as important: Just how does the team come up with the cutesy names for its photo filters?

At last! We’ve got the scoop on what’s behind Systrom’s new set — here’s details on 10 of them. Let’s go through the list.

The Stinson is named after a dog of an Instagram team member. If you aren’t a Californian, that name won’t mean much to you — it comes from Stinson Beach, a nice little area over in Marin County. The Moon filter is also named after a pup from someone on the team.

instagram_willow_filterI could have sworn that the Vesper was named after the Bond heroine of the same name in “Casino Royale.” But no, it’s one of the Instagram team’s favorite cocktails (though if I remember correctly, James Bond does name a cocktail “the Vesper” in the flick).

Many of the new filters are named after streets, towns or areas, which I figure is an attempt to capture the feeling or ambiance of that specific locale. The Clarendon, for example, comes from a street in San Francisco, while Helena is named after the town in Napa, St. Helena. Brooklyn is pretty easy to figure out, and Ashby comes from one of the main drags in Berkeley, Calif.

Others, I’d guess, are evocative of feelings that the team had going to certain places. Ginza comes from a trip to Tokyo, named after one of the neighborhoods in the area. And Skyline is straight from Kevin Systrom — it’s one of his favorite drives down south (it’s the common name for State Route 35, the two-lane road that runs along the ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountains).

Lastly, there’s the straight-up homage: Dogpatch is an area in San Francisco, but this filter is named specifically after Dogpatch Labs, the small office spaces in tech-heavy areas where small startups are invited to come and work on their companies. Dogpatch Labs was where Systrom originally founded Burbn with Mike Krieger, the duo’s first attempt at a location-sharing startup.

The common theme here? I’d say most are named after things, places or “moments” that evoke emotions, particularly in the founders themselves. Pretty spot on for a service that purports to “capture and share the world’s moments.”


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