The Rise of “Vertical Video”

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Quick question for you.

How many hours a day do you spend staring at screens?  You know … smart phones, tablets, computers, televisions …

I’m guessing a lot.

We’re surrounded by screens.

Screens are the natural platform for video.  Indeed, video is fast becoming the preferred method of communication in our digital, screen-based world.

The good news is, pretty much everyone has access to a video camera these days – usually through their smart phone.  But few people really know how to shoot video beyond hitting the record button.

As a result, there’s an awful lot of amateur video out there.

You know the stuff I’m talking about.

It’s shaky.  Zooms in and out constantly.  Pans around aimlessly and continuously.

You don’t have to have the latest in HD technology to shoot quality video.  Just an open mind and a willingness to learn and practice the basics of visual storytelling.

So let’s get started on what I like to call the “7 Sure Signs of Amateur Video.”

Sure Sign #1 – Vertical Video

This is a relatively new phenomenon that really took off when people started shooting video with their smart phones.  We’ve been ingrained to hold a camera vertically to take photos – but it doesn’t work the same way 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 that it’s right side up!”

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

Note the big black spaces on either side of the video.  And the way the video shows only a tall, narrow slice of the action.  The screens we watch video on are horizontal – hence the need for video to be shot horizontally.

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

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

Next week:  #2 Sure Sign of Amateur Video – Firehosing

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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