It’s the black sheep of video. It’s the rebel of aspect ratios. And it’s popping up everywhere, because everyone’s doing it.
We’ve all seen the PSA by Glove and Boots letting us know we’re all doing it wrong.
And you’ve probably read some of the ‘Vertical Video Syndrome’ rants on Reddit (or even posted them yourselves) about how frustrating it can be to view a video that some idiot’s shot and posted to a social network.
The underlying message? People who shoot vertical are assholes. Video should ONLY be shot in landscape orientation. Just ask Google. Or Twitter. Neither knows how to adapt or what to do with vertical videos — but does that mean it’s wrong?
Let’s question this whole line of thinking for a minute: Is it really the content that’s wrong, or is it quite possibly the platforms we’re forced to view them on?
Here’s what the big players don’t get: Mobile video behaviors are evolving. So rather than trying to correct this behavior (ahem, Horizon) we’re building a platform around it.
The number of vertical videos on the mobile internet is exploding, but the entire category gets a bad rap because it defies traditional cinematic aspect ratios. And the biggest platforms are having a hard time adapting because their core experiences were never designed with vertical content in mind. Their solution? To discourage users from shooting video “the wrong way.”
But there are a few reasons why vertical videos are popping up all over the place. For one, we hold our phones vertically 90% of the time. (That’s a lot of vertical time!)
While Google is encouraging us to turn our cameras landscape, apps like Snapchat, Mindie, and Facebook’s Slingshot are encouraging users to do the exact opposite. And people are doing it. Why? Because it feels more natural. And it’s more personal. It’s a format not intended for full-length feature films. There are plenty of platforms for that. Vertical video is a format intended for pick-up-and-play consumption. It’s a format perfect for expressing ourselves, because you can actually see us. (It’s the same reason we FaceTime in portrait mode.)
Another huge reason people are shooting vertically is that ergonomically, it just feels better. A rectilinear form held in vertical orientation is easier to stabilize in the palms of our hands, because the weight is centered and balanced. When shooting landscape, the device we’re holding is offset from our grip, causing shakiness when we’re not using a tripod. (To be clear, we’re not against horizontal video — we just think there’s a time and a place.)
But where does all this vertical video end up?
It ends up in our social media feeds like Facebook and YouTube, where it’s treated a bit like a square peg in a round hole. It just doesn’t seem to fit. Because of this, there’s backlash against shooting this way in the first place. Rants abound on sites like YouTube, which was built strictly with horizontal video in mind before we ever had these giant screens in our pockets. In fact, you can’t even watch anything “full screen” on YouTube’s mobile apps without turning your phone. For vertical videos, that means you’re getting the black bars of death.
Everyone seems to be in agreement on at least one point — Vertical videos do NOT look good on YouTube.
But we’re here to wipe the slate clean and start over when it comes to how we experience video on our phones. We’re here to prove that vertical video is here to stay, and that it’s not only a valid format, but that it can be impactful, engaging, viral and touching. And we want to encourage even more users to embrace the format.
We’re not the only ones who think vertical video is valid: New-form videographers are already experimenting with the format on a professional level. Epik High released the world’s first-ever vertical music video, where all the sets and scenes were designed with a vertical aspect ratio in mind.
The Vertical Film Festival, held last year in Australia, was the first of its kind. Its founders, Adam and Natasha Sébire, showcased submissions from around the world on a giant vertical screen. Their “Tiger Snake Canyon” short film is breathtaking, shot with a Canon C100 & 7D and GoPro Hero3. One of the group’s 2014 submissions, “Everything I Can See From Here” by The Line Studio is a Vimeo Staff Pick and one of the only existing animated films ever created specifically for vertical screens. And we can’t forget to mention the traveling Vertical Cinema Project in Europe, which films its screenings in churches whose high steeples allow for tall-format screens to be mounted. The Verge covered the movement in early 2014.
And guess what? Vertical Video is coming to SXSW.
These are the pioneers in Vertical.
What we love most about Vertical Video is that the majority of it is shot by real people like you. It’s the camcorder of our generation, where everything’s spontaneous and of-the-moment (and worth keeping, we might add!) Vertical videos tend to be some of the most viral, entertaining and relatable content around. (Take the Ice Bucket Challenge, for example, which made a whole lot more sense for people to capture in vertical for so many reasons.)
Currently there is no full-featured platform dedicated to creating, editing, discovering and curating vertical video the way it was intended. Vervid truly is the first of its kind, and we’re excited for you guys to check it out.