Stories, Storytelling, Video, Content Marketing, Marketing

Vertical Video is Here to Stay (Get over it)


Are you a vertical video hater? You're not alone. In fact, I did a quick Google search, which returned these top "Vertical Video" results:

  1. Vertical Videos are a Sin

  2. Say No To Vertical Videos

  3. Vertical Video Syndrome

  4. Vertical Video Fix

But why the pushback from content creators when it comes to accepting the vertical video format? I've seen more vitriolic rants online over this issue than the government shutdown and Kevin Spacey’s speeding ticket combined. If you're averse to shooting and watching vertical video, here are some reasons why you should reconsider:

  1. Like a lot of viewers, I cringe when I see that loathsome mismatch of a vertical video displayed on a horizontal screen, as decried in the Glove and Boots PSA, which has been viewed over 6 million times on YouTube. They're right: that ugly strip of video swimming in a sea of negative space is really ugly. But studies show that for the first time ever, mobile device web traffic surpassed traditional desktop web traffic in 2014, making the old horizontal desktop screen standard less relevant with each passing day. If the display no longer has to be horizontal, why should the source video be?

  2. Look around you: display screens the world over are increasingly being oriented vertically. Airports, convention centers and retail stores. We are a society that thrives on text for our information, and text is easier to read on a vertical display, when the eye isn't forced to scan across the wide expanse of a horizontal screen.

  3. In the age of mobile device video creation, ergonomics rule, and it's easier to record video on most devices when you hold them upright. Shooting horizontal video usually takes both hands. Another bonus: holding a device vertically almost guarantees you won't accidentally get your fingers in front of the lens. While it's not as easy to shoot vertically with most DSLRs or professional video cameras, the results from your extra effort will be worth it.

  4. Vertical video can capture the eye and the imagination because, in the history of moving-picture capture and display, the vertical concept is still fairly new. And that leaves room for innovation. Check out this video by Dan Toth, which, while not strictly vertical, uses vertical source material to spark a lot of new ideas.

  5. People are tall and thin—they’re portrait-mode subjects, and vertical video makes a lot of sense for capturing them head-to-toe. There are also many products that have traditionally best displayed in a tall-and-thin aspect ratio. Bringing this sensibility to a vertical video format just makes sense.


6. Vertical video aesthetics are being raised to new levels, as evidenced by the first-ever vertical film festival, featured at this year's SXSW.

7. Finally, I have found that shooting and viewing video vertically opens up a whole world of visual possibilities by allowing you to see your subjects in new and exciting ways.

It's time to let go of the old horizontal desktop/TV standard and embrace the future of digital media in whatever orientation makes the most sense. What are your experiences with vertical video?

About the author: Marc Wellin is an award-winning digital content producer and the founder of Mothlight, a video production company that specializes in telling stories for agencies and their clients.  Follow Marc on Twitter @filmbilly and Facebook.