Vertical Video – Please Just Stop Doing It

HorizontalVideo

Y’all.

We do not watch TV vertically.

Vertical Video Lisa Sullivan

THIS is vertical. We don’t watch TV this way, nor should we shoot this way. Period.

When you shoot video with your phone vertically what happens is your video then formats “skinny”. We don’t watch “skinny” TV.

We watch WIDE screen!

So, shoot your video like this -

Horizontal Video Lisa Sullivan

Don’t you watch WIDE screen TV and movies? Well, then shoot video the same way!

Nothing irks me more than when I see amateurs and professionals alike (I won’t name names) shoot their iPhone video, upload to YouTube, and then share for all the world to see.

But, that doesn’t bother me as much as it does when the media uses examples of UGC (User-Generated Content) video for whatever story they’re reporting and they pick video shot vertically.  Now, of course, when it’s a breaking story you use what you got, but if it’s one you’re planning to edit for program (and GMA “Play of the Day”, The Today Show “What’s Trending?”, I’m talking to you specifically), please don’t pick videos that have been shot incorrectly. When viewers see examples of these they think it’s ok. It’s NOT!!!

Please stop shooting vertical video.

And if you think I’m being foolish, check out this parody of the “syndrome”. Nearly 3 Million views have got to tell you something. :)

If vertical video is driving you bananas too, please pass this post along. I and every other videographer on the planet thank you.

Say NO to vertical video!

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6 Responses to “Vertical Video – Please Just Stop Doing It”
  1. David Neal says:

    sorry, the amazon link should be:

    for some reason the “for android devices” got catenated to the link.

  2. David Neal says:

    i agree that any video with wide black bars around it is less pleasing than one that fills the screen. that said, a vertical video will fill the screen on a portable device oriented vertically, IF the video server faithfully reproduces it. vertical videos that are served up by youtube often are “double boxed” (i.e. both letter- and pillar-boxed) because they are assumed to be “widescreen.” most people shoot vertical inadvertently, some do not even understand why they come out that way. actually, apple’s engineers are most responsible for this for not making iPhones always shoot a horizontal shot, no matter the device orientation, which is what most folks want. the android folks then just copycated iPhone, making matters worse. people film this way mostly because it is easier or more natural to hold a phone vertically, especially one-handed. most of the vertical videos would disappear if the engineers simply make vertical filming optional.

    all this said, there are artistic reasons for vertical video. i have done a feature length animated one, which is based on the imagery from old picture books. to reorient this material into a horizontal format would not have preserved the integrity of the original images. i have been waiting for twenty years for a platform to properly display this, and finally have it in the iPad and android devices that can be conveniently rotated into a “portrait” orientation.

    take a look and see what you think, it’s free at:

    or
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/alicewinks/id638731885?ls=1 for the iPad– get the “sample” iBook

    search for “alicewinks” for more stuff.

    these videos will not go into landscape and pillarbox, they must be viewed in portrait orientation. this “intimate” imagery was also meant to be viewed at arms length (as in a book) rather than on a far away “big screen” as with a movie. i think it looks best on a full-size iPad or other 10 inch sized tablet, which is the approximate size of the original imagery.

    • Hey David…I appreciate your very thought-out comment to my post here. You, unfortunately, are in the minority in that you KNOW what you’re doing. My point was that the majority don’t. And let’s face it…being that most people watch video via YouTube primarily on their PCs (even if mobile is fast becoming the preferred option) or on their big screen via Apple TV, shooting and producing the kind of video that is most often highlighted (user-generated content) just doesn’t look good in the vertical position. That’s what I was getting at. Unless you are an artiste and know what you’re doing, shoot horizontal. That’s all. It just looks better MOST of the time.

      I will check out your feature-length film too. Very cool that you created one in the format that you did. As a fan of film (and a person who one day would love to produce one AND write a script – getting there. Baby steps), I can appreciate the artistic take on vertical video.

      Again, thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comment!

      • David Neal says:

        hi lisa,
        i think we agree that most vertical video is created by mistake! even people who are aware of it will sometimes shoot one without thinking. that’s why i think that apple et. al. should make vertical an option. then people would only shoot them knowingly (and very few would!)

        another reason not to shoot vertical professionally is that it is very hard to get them distributed, even digitally. iTunes will not accept the format for the movie store. the iBookstore will accept it if packaged in an e-book format (iBooks), which is what i have done. the iTunes app store will not accept any purely video app horizontal or vertical. it must be packaged together with additional features (puzzles, game play, etc.) amazon’s self-publishing video broker, “create space” requires you to send in your film as a DVD, i.e. mpeg-2 Standard Definition (640×480). so, to sell on amazon, i had to package my video in an app. as you are aware, youtube is a poor place to put a vertical as well and google (owner of youtube) doesn’t encourage self-published film for sale. my video is also an app on the google play store. the only place to get the “pure video” (it is mp4-720Hx1280V) is a site called distrify.com where indie films are distributed. very few people are aware of distrify.com and they don’t really publicize films the way amazon and apple do (you can’t even do a search on distrify, you must have a link to the film you want from elsewhere). there are some other indie distribution sites but i haven’t used them. one can also “self distribute” which the filmmakers of “Indie Game: the Movie” (a normal format HD film, not vertical) have done.

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  1. […] Lisa A. Sullivan’s blog, Quintessential Feline says she is irked when people upload vertical videos to YouTube. “But that doesn’t bother me as much as it does when the media uses examples of UGC (User-Generated Content) video for whatever story they’re reporting and they pick video shot vertically,” she writes. “Now, of course, when it’s a breaking story you use what you got, but if it’s one you’re planning to edit for program (and Good Morning, America,’ with its Play of the Day, ‘The Today Show,’ with What’s Trending? I’m talking to you specifically), please don’t pick videos that have been shot incorrectly. When viewers see examples of these they think it’s OK. It’s NOT!” […]

  2. […] Lisa A. Sullivan’s blog, Quintessential Feline says she is irked when people upload vertical videos to YouTube. “But that doesn’t bother me as much as it does when the media uses examples of UGC (User-Generated Content) video for whatever story they’re reporting and they pick video shot vertically,” she writes. “Now, of course, when it’s a breaking story you use what you got, but if it’s one you’re planning to edit for program (and Good Morning, America,’ with its Play of the Day, ‘The Today Show,’ with What’s Trending? I’m talking to you specifically), please don’t pick videos that have been shot incorrectly. When viewers see examples of these they think it’s OK. It’s NOT!” […]



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