When it comes to shooting mobile or online video, the easiest way to piss of a videographer is to shoot something vertical. I often grab friends phones and “fix” the way they are shooting. For a long while, it was a big pet peeve.
But, as with all things today, times have changed. By that, I mean WHERE we consume media has changed. If you own a smartphone (more than 80% of you do) then you’ve probably watched a video on it. This is where the problem occurs. YouTube, Vimeo, and other video hosting sites still favor widescreen formats and users tend to rotate their phones when on those sites. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and most other social networking sites, though, tend to favor the profile or vertical positioning.
Studies show that we spend upwards of 90% of our time with our phones in the vertical orientation. Because we use these sites vertically, consumers have gotten used viewing information in the manner. Yes, you can upload widescreen video to these sites, but on mobile, they take up less screen real estate. This means that when presented, consumers tend to scroll by it. Either because it doesn’t fill the screen or they don’t want to have to turn their phones.
The answer? Shoot for the edit. It’s an old fundamental for videographers and filmmakers; know what the end product is supposed to look like and how it will be distributed and shoot for that. If your video is getting posted on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and so on, shoot it horizontal and leave room to crop for mobile. This way you can maximize all screens. If it’s only going on mobile heavy sites, shoot vertical. This goes for cell phones and video cameras. Most of us are using DSLR’s and shooting vertical is quite simple. This way you can upload true HD quality video to Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook if you want.
Like I said, times are changing. This proves though, yet again, that while devices, consumption, and tech may change, knowing the fundamental basics of media production is always the best solution. If you want some guidance on best sizes and practices for mobile content, check these out: