10 VERTICAL VIDEO INSIGHTS & TIPS
Professional photographers have always used the vertical aspect ratio to capture extraordinary images, which explains why some compositions are better suited for a vertical aspect ratio than a horizontal aspect ratio. Musicians on a stage, runway models, train-tracks disappearing into the distance, close-up portraits, skyscrapers and trees beg for a vertical video to capture their inherent beauty: the essence of their form, flow and function is vertical.
Visual artists have often experimented with vertical videos in art installations and have enjoyed varying success; vertical projections are nothing new, yet they are remarkably unconventional.
Our eyes are not oriented vertically like a flounder or Cyclops, so it feels unnatural for us to watch moving images that are framed vertically on a screen. Tablets and smart-phones are small enough, however, so we can comfortably watch vertical videos without getting migraines. A large, life-size projection of a vertical video stimulates our senses differently than a horizontal video because our orientation to the ground is vertical and humans "come to life" on the vertical screen.
3. CAMERA DESIGN
Video cameras are not designed to film vertically, unless they are turned sideways or incorporated in a handheld device like a smart-phone (which then classifies the device as a phone, not a camera). SLR cameras with hi-definition video functionality like the Canon EOS 7D are great for producing vertical videos; turn the camera sideways and start filming. These cameras enable the user to control the depth of field, F-stop, ISO and shutter speed to maximize the professional quality of a vertical video.
The vertical video format requires a video-maker to position himself or herself at unconventional or oblique angles from a scene to include more visual information in the foreground and background of the image. Snapping a vertical image before filming a vertical video helps to "storyboard," or plan out a sequence in a visual story, especially at an unscripted or improvised moment.
Tripods always mount to the bottom of horizontally-oriented cameras, which makes it difficult to use a tripod to produce vertical videos, unless the ball-head of the tripod can tilt 90 degrees. The best solution for keeping a vertical video steady is by using an extra battery pack with a grip for an SLR camera. The battery pack adds enough weight to stabilize an image. It also helps to use a lens with an image stabilizer and tuck elbows in close to the body.
Commercial video production is horizontal because the majority of all content distributors broadcast to conventional, horizontal screens (e.g. network television, cable, YouTube, etc.). With millions of smart-phones and tablets in the hands of consumers, the audience for vertical videos is a huge, untapped market.
8. PUBLIC SPACES
Even though we read books, posters, signs and advertisements in a vertical format, the majority of producers abide by horizontal conventions when they make their videos. Imagine when every vertical billboard, advertisement or digital page will display vertical videos: endless opportunity.
Communication applications like Apple's "Facetime" use a vertical video format to give users a personal feeling when they chat in real time. At some point in the future, all digital communication devices will have the capacity to broadcast video content in real time, so a "Facetime" experience will eventually merge with real time vertical video storytelling techniques.
10. NEW MEDIA
Vertical videos offer new opportunities for filmmakers willing to improvise within the confines of convention. By sharing stories vertically and broadcasting content specifically for devices like the iPad, it will be possible for us to push the boundaries of new media and explore innovative ways of relating to each other when we document the stories of our everyday lives.