So this rant story starts a few years ago. Our friends who were completely new to filming, would whip out their smartphones and shoot without thinking. When they went to upload their videos they’d then be faced with horrible black bars on the side of their now tiny film. Oh how we’d laugh, “amateurs” we thought. “Learn to hold your phone the right way!” we’d say.

Then in 2013 Snapchat came along. An app that favoured vertically shot video, and every filmmaker in the world shuddered.

Within a few years filming vertical video became a norm and it started appearing everywhere; YouTube, Facebook, Twitter! …and suddenly our argument about shooting video the ‘right way’ became insignificant.

Why do we still care?

Our biggest fear is we are failing to see the bigger (or wider) picture. As humans we have a horizontal field of view, which is why we invested in this widescreen format in the first place. Filming vertically is a restrictive format, you’re missing beautiful composition opportunities. All we can hear is the pretentious person inside screaming “It’s a crime against art!”

We live in a 16:9 world. I hate hate hate watching a video with stupid black bars. If you film a video horizontally, it will be played full screen almost anywhere. YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter, Facebook, and on desktop. You can even watch it on mobile, all you have to do is turn your phone.

Why shouldn’t we care?

While viewers can turn their phone, data trends suggest that they don’t want to. Apparently asking anyone to turn their mobile 90 degrees to do anything other than slingshot wingless birds into green pigs is too much to ask! According to Snapchat, vertical ads are viewed to the end 9/10 times more frequently than horizontal ones, and that’s a statistics we can’t ignore.

The entire world is not going to start shooting vertically. We’re not going to be sat in the cinema straining our necks trying to watch a vertical film. We need to accept that the content that works for our horizontal computers, won’t work for our vertical smartphones and that’s okay.

Video doesn’t need to be just one size. It can be square, or portrait, and or even 360 degrees. There isn’t just one way to shoot video, just like there isn’t just one way to view it. We need to stop thinking video and start thinking what for?

Here’s a list of what works best on what platforms:

  • Twitter — Horizontal
  • Facebook — Horizontal or Square
  • Instagram — Square
  • Snapchat — Vertical
  • YouTube / Vimeo — Horizontal
  • Periscope — Horizontal or Vertical (will automatically be cropped to a square)
  • Facebook Live — Horizontal (will automatically be cropped to a square unless full screened)
  • Instagram Live — Vertical
  • Instagram Stories — Vertical

The moral of the story here is: create video content for the platform it’s intended for. Stop uploading vertical videos to YouTube and we’ll stop trying to make you turn your phone, deal?

Want to talk video? Let meet for a coffee, email



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