Vertical video: how do we live with it? UPDATED

I’d started writing about the inevitability of vertical video, and how we should adapt to it, when what should came up in the blog but Say yes to vertical video.

I had come to the realization that fighting against vertical video is not a winnable battle, simply because most people really don’t care. They shoot on a mobile device, and that’s where they view it. Most mobile phones and tablets default to vertical video. Every non-industry person I interact with shoots vertical video: from my singing teach to my niece!

UPDATE: On Twitter Kenneth X or @Knesaren pointed me to an article on How Norwegian Broadcasting made the first vertical video documentary. As always, start with a good story!

UPDATE 2: Clark Dunbar of Mammoth HD tells me that they’ve had large format (HD to 6K) vertical footage for well over a decade for signage, POS and museum installations! Their vertical stock footage gallery is at

UPDATE 3: Carl Olson @TheCarlOlson on Twitter, had some thoughts on vertical video today:

Vertical video haters keep this in mind: For centuries artist have used the vertical format to represent human presence intimately.

Perhaps that explains why many people (not cinematographers) are naturally drawn to the vertical. It’s not laziness as some scoff.

Rather, think about a mother who films her child. Subconsciously she goes for the vertical to intimately capture her child filling the frame.

To the mother, that’s the most natural thing in the world. Try to overcome your prejudices as a creative and see things as others do.

UPDATE 4: There’s a vertical film festival in Katoomba, Australia. Makes sense, that’s a very mountainous region!

8 replies on “Vertical video: how do we live with it? UPDATED”

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  1. Well…I’d like the magical power to make the mobile device explode into a harmless cloud of pixie dust or something every time someone tries to shoot vertical video.

    Amirite?? 😛

  2. I’ve already mounted my flatscreen vertical. I’m an early adopter. 😉

    1. Vertical video is a battle the production community have lost. Regular folk are not going to learn – the camera default is vertical. Keep the powder dry for battles we *can* win. Like good audio 🙂

      1. I’m struggling with this statement about the “camera default.” There is no such thing. Every mobile device I’ve used shoots in whatever orientation it is held. There is no vertical setting. It’s just someone not holding the phone correctly.

        But regardless, I’m not sure we should be willing to accept this. Are we really going to build workflows for the worst of what’s on YouTube?

        1. Watch people use their smart phones – almost universally in portrait mode, so that’s the “natural” mode for them to shoot video. It’s someone holding the phone the way they always hold their phone.

          Whether or not we “choose to accept this” is irrelevant. The bus has left the station. The battle is over, the war is lost. Vertical video is the default for most people. I have provided gentle feedback to people, and they adjust immediately after, while I’m watching. But minutes later they’re back to vertical.

          That doesn’t mean I’ll be shooting anything vertical myself. 🙂

          1. “Watch people use their smart phones – almost universally in portrait mode…”

            Exactly. And it boggles my mind whenever I even see (what seems like) EVERYONE even watch *horizontally* shot videos in portrait mode! 😀 Somehow completely unfazed by the massive bars top and bottom. I find myself constantly grabbing my daughter’s or girlfriend’s phone whenever they show me a video to flip it sideways… so bizarre.

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