The Benefits of Vertical Video


Vertical video. Among video professionals, the term may provoke feelings of frustration, anger, or disgust. Often it's been mocked and ridiculed as an invalid format choice (see below).

But vertical video is a preferred format for platforms like Snapchat and Instagram Stories. Already, vertical video has been added to my list of deliverables. Whenever I finish editing a project, I'm asked to create different versions, including one oriented vertically for social media. 

Last night I came across a thread on Twitter from Anthony Monteleone, a video editor I follow. He made some very good, rational arguments regarding vertical video I felt they were worth sharing and discussing. 

One immediate ramification I've seen in my own work with vertical video is that footage needs to be acquired in 4K. If you need to deliver vertically, it's nice to have that extra resolution to play around with when you have to scale up and crop in. Otherwise, the video can start to pixelate rather quickly.

What are your thoughts about the validity of vertical video? Continue the discussion in the Comments section below.

4 Big Trends in Video Production

These are some of the biggest trends I see happening right now in the world of video production. Some are more technical in nature, dealing with acquisition and exhibition. Others are more conceptual, focused more on creative strategy and execution. The interesting thing is to see how these trends develop and change over time. Which ones are here to stay? Which ones will give way to other trends in another five to seven years? 

Virtual Reality and 360 Video

Brands everyone are dabbling more and more into virtual reality and 360 video to provide viewers with a more unique, immersive experience. However, you get the sense while watching these videos that companies and organizations are still grappling with how they can best utilize VR and 360 video for their particular needs. To date, a lot of these videos are pretty raw, giving viewers a glimpse into a particular event or environment. They've been more about experience rather than story.

There are exceptions to this conclusion like GoPro's The Last of the Rhinos, a 360 video that tells the story about how groups are working to save an endangered rhino species.

Canadian filmmakers Felix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphael are working with Facebook to test whether virtual reality is a viable medium for long-form narrative storytelling.

Virtual reality and 360 video will continue to gain momentum as more people adopt the technology and brands solidify their strategies. According to this article from Wired, we're seeing investments shift away from social and more into emerging tech like VR. 

Square Format

Instagram made the square picture format ubiquitous, and since Facebook's acquisition of the service, square is now the preferred way to exhibit videos. Square videos fit nicely into the news feed layout and is a perfect format for mobile (where 51% of video views happened in the 2nd quarter of this year).

As a result, brands now produce videos in two different formats - 16:9 for YouTube and square for Facebook (the latter of which now encourages square video in their creative guidelines). And if you're thinking that producing a 16:9 video for Facebook isn't much different than producing one in a square format, consider the following from a July AdAge article:

Already, some agencies are seeing Facebook-specific square videos pay off. Digital shop Laundry Service, for example, has run multiple tests comparing horizontal and square videos for its clients.

”For the past several months, we have started shooting videos for square crop and posting videos in square crop,” said Jason Stein, founder and CEO of Laundry Service. “We are doing this because in executing the media buys for these videos, we found that view-through rate and engagement rate are much higher on square than landscape videos. This is likely due to the larger amount of real estate that a square video gets in feed.”

In Laundry Service’s data, view rates for square videos are 28 percent higher than horizontal content. When looking specifically at view-through rates for the first 10 seconds of a video, 1:1 videos outperform 16:9 clips by 54 percent. And people are 67 percent more likely to watch the full length of a square-oriented video than they are to watch a horizontal one.
— AdAge


The "storytelling" label is definitely overused and often misapplied (as this video can attest), but the concept behind the label is still applicable to current video trends. Viewers seem to respond well to content that feels less polished and less produced. They like videos that feature real people in real-life situations. They are concerned less about features and benefits and are more interested in how those features and benefits affect people and the world around them. "Authenticity" is the buzz word that is often thrown around when talking about this trend.


HDR, or High Dynamic Range, video is a term to define just how much detail a viewer can see in an image, from its darkest shadows to its brightest highlights. High Dynamic Range means that the maximum amount of an image's information and detail is preserved across the entire luminance spectrum. 

In fact, some say that HDR is more important than 4K . Consider what Vubiquity CEO Darcy Antonellis said way back at the 2014 NAB Show, “It’s not just the number of pixels it’s the quality of pixels. Those of you who have seen high dynamic range, have really have seen a color palette you’ve never seen before It is stunning.” Also consider this quote from Ericsson’s Senior Vice President of Technology for TV & Media Matthew Goldman at the 2016 NAB Show:

High dynamic range is clearly the best bang for the bit (or buck) for next generation Ultra HD technology. There are three aspects that impact this: 1) the “wow” factor of HDR is immediately noticeable by consumers, 2) many consumers’ viewing position is too far back from the display to realize the full effect of 4K spatial resolution (best viewing distance is about 1.5 picture heights back from the screen, but most consumers view the display from about 3 picture heights away), and 3) 4K spatial resolution (2160p) requires significantly more bandwidth to deliver to the consumer than HD, while HDR requires a relatively small percentage.
— Matthew Goldman

These are four big trends in video production, video marketing, and video technology as I see them today. What did I leave out? Add your thoughts in the Comments section.