The creeping scourge of vertical video is now embraced by more platforms

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The creeping scourge of vertical video


I’ve long since got used to them, they now have their place in a world where browsing in portrait on a phone or tablet is common place. Sometimes, portrait video is perfectly acceptable. More irritating is a portrait video formatted into landscape, with huge black bars either side that won’t rotate back to portrait. Thankfully youtube and the like support them much better now. iMovie needs to add features for editing in the format.


I don’t mind viewing portrait format videos on my phone, but it is not my preferred way of watching videos and i probably spend more time on a desktop than on a phone so there’s also that.

The ideal thing would be to have a larger sensor on cameras that would allow to record in both vertical and landscape. As far as i know such a thing does exist (forget what device i saw had it) but i presume for video it would be fairly prohibitive since the file sizes would be huge.

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I was a late adopter of smartphones, but after I got one the first thing I did was rotate it to landscape to fit more text onto the screen and to get larger keyboard buttons. I almost never watch videos on my phone; my primary mobile activity is flagging articles (please let it be text; I studied literacy so hard!) for reading on a screen at home that is kinder to my eyes.


Vertical video:

#teamnope #notever #vistavision4evah


i saw my first vertical video movie trailer recently and i was immediately weirded out and uncomfortable because 2/3s of the video was cropped. as a motion designer i’m very very disappointed in the future of consumer video.


Is the movie shot in portrait mode, or just the trailer?

If it’s the movie, then that makes sense if the director intends for the movie to be viewed on a phone.

If it’s just the trailer, then again that makes sense if the majority of viewers will be watching the trailer on their phones.

I for one welcome creators that think about their audience and the conditions under which the work will be viewed.

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Kubrick, prescient as always.


Oh god, not this again.

Where’s all the outcry against portrait photography? Oh that’s right, there isn’t any, because choosing how to frame something is more important than dogmatically adhering to an arbitrary “convention”.

More to the point, I think every desktop rig should have both a landscape monitor and a portrait monitor.


9:16 is mighty thin for a portrait.


I don’t have a problem with the idea of vertical video.

I have a problem with the far too common abuse and misuse of vertical video. If you are not filming or photographing things that are contextually important to the subject, then you are doing it wrong. Unless you are a propagandist, then you are probably doing it right, but I have no respect for them to start with.

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I go further and say it is preferable in some situations.

Photographers shoot in both portrait and landscape depending on co tent and subject, or even more odd angles in between to match/contrast movement within the frame. There are a couple of reasons why video is traditionally landscape, but now that vertical is orientation is easy to obtain and view, it opens up the possibility for greater creativity.

Honestly, there is no inherent problem with vertical when used appropriately. The problem pops up when the subject is inappropriate or bad implementation.


fast forward 2 years

Cinemark Theaters begin rotating their screens 90°.


Just a thought: many smartphones’ screens are completely impossible to look at in landscape mode when wearing most sunglasses, because the former are polarized along the length of the screen, and the latter are polarized vertically. Maybe it’s an important cause for so many portrait mode videos even when landscape would make for a better composition?

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Am I missing something? What’s the big deal?

What fool would shoot a movie or a trailer that can only be viewed on a phone?

Some of my viewers would like to watch on a television, for which landscape is the only choice, and they can’t rotate it.

Some of my viewers would like to watch on a desktop computer, for which 99 point pick a number of 9s percent of screens are configured landscape, and rotating it, while technically possible, isn’t something snybody would bother with.

Some of my viewers would like to watch on their tablet or phone. Rotating the screen takes less time to do than to say the word “rotate”.

Why would I create an insurmountable barrier between my content and the preferred viewing format of two of three groups of my audience in order to save the third group no more effort than turning their wrist? The only audience for whom portrait is even accessible is the same audience for whom switching between orientations requires zero effort.

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A team at my office does data entry from scanned documents, many of them have one portrait monitor to view the doc and one landscape for input.

Video games are another frontier for the exploration of portrait orientation of action. So much of gaming is one-handed casual gaming, so developers are always find new action that fits well into this mode, which should bleed over into ideas for narrative film in this orientation. Climbing, vertical platform jumping, overhead drone/ over the shoulder shots of vehicle, running or herd movement all lend themselves to this format.

An artist, playing with format?

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There have been some proof of concept type of content that has been made with mobile in mind. I think there’s been some episodic stuff that was made for Snapchat and the like that did alright from what i heard, but the reach and longevity for such niche audience doesn’t make a lot of sense. When i want to watch a movie or show the last thing i want to do is watch it primarily on my phone.


We need to hack into the phone assembly plants and alter the camera module installions so that it’s rotated 90 degrees CW.