Just Say No to Vertical Video!

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I’m on a mission.  A one-woman mission to rid the world of vertical video.

Yeah, I know – it hardly ranks up there with world hunger. But vertical video is driving me – and a lot of people who work with video – crazy!

What’s Vertical Video?

Vertical video is a relatively new phenomenon that took off when people started shooting video with their smart phones.  As you know, we can shoot photos by holding a phone horizontally (landscape mode) or vertically (portrait mode). But it’s a different story with video!

Watch what happens when this person switches his phone from a horizontal position to vertical while shooting a waterspout.

See what just happened there?

Now some of you might be saying “But I can fix that in my editing program – I can rotate it so the waterspout is right side up!”

You’re right, you can.  But here’s what a rotated video looks like on a screen or monitor:

Note the big black spaces on either side of the video.  And the way the video shows only a tall, narrow slice of the scene.  The screens we watch video on are horizontal.

No one explains “Vertical Video Syndrome” better than the online characters Glove and Boots.  Watch this for a memorable lesson – and a good laugh!

How to Prevent Vertical Video

The solution is simple.  Always hold your camera horizontally when shooting video!

If the subject/object of your shot doesn’t fit within the frame, you’ve got a couple of options:

  • move further back
  • get low to the ground and shoot on an upwards angle (not always flattering when you’re shooting people)
  • do a slow tilt with the camera from top to bottom (or vice versa) to show the entire object

Do you have any video tips you’d like to share?


Follow Cindy Burgess:

Pro Video Storyteller

Cindy Burgess is a former broadcast journalist who's been telling stories with video for more than 20 years. She's passionate about spreading video literacy to the world!

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