Monday, January 28, 2013

Making the Case for Intentional Vertical Videos

If you want to get people's hackles up just point to a vertical video. I don't hate it or the people accidentally creating the video. I understand it is a design flaw. The smartphone is shaped vertical. We do not hold a phone horizontal. We don't use phones horizontally so I really, really get why people record videos vertically.

If you haven't seen it then you need to watch the video by Glove and Boot on Vertical Video Syndrome.  It is funny but dang people, lighten up.

Compassion before condemnation.

There is no reason for this commotion. Part of the problem is education. We need to get the word out to rotate the phone if you are recording video.

But a voice in my head says, why?

Vertical Video Doesn't Have to Be Bad

Web video doesn't have to be bound by historical technological conventions.  Video doesn't have to be horizontal. You can record and upload an intentional vertical video. This is an example by a web site called Vertical Video.

The music video was created by Christoph A. Geiseler and a company called Mima Media. When it is intentional and planned there isn't a problem viewing the video. I would submit that for certain types of video like poetry, spoken word, or certain types of music videos the vertical format could work.

I think the problem is that there haven't been many well made intentional vertical videos. Which means that there is an opportunity to pave new ground.

If you would like to get in on the ground floor of intentional vertical videos then read the how to post for ideas at the site. Also, Vimeo School has a lesson page on how to shoot vertical videos.

Over at Clover Food Labs talks about the process of working on the verticals for training videos. There are folks working on it.

Vertical Posting Tip

I can tell you one thing that will help. When you upload to your video host the server is going to assume that it is a normal horizontal video.  The embed code will be in the horizontal format. When you post the video it will have black bars.

Not what you are going for in terms of a clean vertical experience.

Flip the numbers in the embed code to see the vertical video; otherwise you are gonna see black bars around the video and quite probably invoke the pitchforks to thrown your way.

Don't hate, innovate.

Other Posts of Interest


  1. if you use the web properly (i.e., make your OWN website via a webhost and upload video to your own server, the way Internet God intended), then you won't have any issues with "vertical video", such as those black bars on the sides. it is only when you have somebody else do the work for you, that it doesn't turn out the way you want it, because (and i think we ALL can agree on this point): other people are idiots.

  2. hi jena,
    well, i have intentionally made a feature length vertical video animation. (called alicewinks) designed for tablet computers, we finished it last july (2012). distributing is another thing altogether. although indie sites such as support vertical aspect ratios (indeed peter gerrard of distrify suggested it) the biggies (itunes, amazon etc.) don't. vimeo and youtube allow verticals to be uploaded and their apps will show it properly on a vertically oriented tablet but the stills and such are often distorted. i have resigned myself to producing apps (search for alicewinks on the amazon or google app stores). however, this has not worked with the itunes app store as they rejected the content as "just a movie."

    as to why, because i used imagery from early 20th century picture books (1901-1922). the images were: a) originally portrait oriented and b) meant to be viewed at arm's length. perfect for today's technology of tablets!

    dave neal

    1. Being a pioneer is tough. It is hard to convince folks that the way it has been done doesn't necessarily mean it is the only way to do it.

      I did view a preview on your site. I'm surprised that Apple didn't see this as an animated book or enhanced book. The first phase is to make it clear to folks that this is a viable video format, especially for mobile devices.

      Hang in there, it will happen. It might take the continued use of Vine videos to get people to be more open to the vertical. It will happen.

  3. at iTunes, books go in the iBookstore which uses ePub and iBooks technologies. neither has FULL video capabilities. basically, apple has segmented their iTunes market into books, music, movies and apps. each little fiefdom sets their own rules, and they can be contradictory (e.g. what is a "movie" and what isn't).

    but then again, i don't give up easily! i started working on this alice project in 1993. back then the technology (CD-ROM, mpeg-2) was too primitive and vertical screens were almost non-existent. i did a side-by-side of text and stills with some very primitive vertical video (mostly short morphs) but didn't market it.

    this time around, i got lots of help and we will make it a hit! (somehow)

  4. Hi Gena

    we had the same thoughts as you about the Glove and Boots video: great video but sometimes the message is taken a little too dogmatically. We responded with our own call for Vertical Cinema (which we don't mean to be taken too seriously either)

    1. Too cool. I enjoyed the video. You know, the poets should latch on to vertical videos. So all we need to change the world is content.

      I say we make the gopher nuts. Viva la difference!

  5. did you guys see this?
    unfortunately, i didn't until after the fact. must have been fun though! too bad berlin is a bit of a hike for me as well.

  6. Alicewinks is now available on iBookstore. the link is: included are 164 minutes of Vertical Video!


I love actual comments. Please understand that comments will be held until I get a chance to look them over or wake up, whichever comes first.

Spam and other forms of hate speech are not welcome here. And due to the actions of spam bots and the people that love them moderation is in full effect.