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Horizontal or Vertical Video? Why You Need Both on Social Media

5 Min Read

When it comes to social video content, a big debate has been raging for awhile now: horizontal or vertical?

I know everybody hates a compromise nowadays, but here’s an idea: Why not both?

Hear us out – each format has its strengths and weaknesses, but both have their own unique functionality on social media as well. For example, vertical videos are the optimal format for Insta-Stories, while horizontal video is still preferred on Facebook and other platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn.

According to Covideo, mobile users prefer to hold their phone vertically, and prefer consuming content without rotating to horizontal – only 13 percent actually do switch over.

At the same time, our eyes see horizontally, and almost all media over the last 100 years has been formatted to best serve our eyes. We’re still a long ways away from watching Captain America on the big screen in a vertical format.

But what if you create a vertical video you absolutely love and want to share it on LinkedIn? How tragic and heartbreaking would it be if you went through all the time, money, and trouble of creating a fantastic video for an Insta-Story that disappears in 24 hours and you can’t use it anywhere else without it looking goofy?

That’s why creating two different versions of your video is the best way to go, like we did for Camarillo Yoga. First, check out the vertical version of the video we created:

Now, watch the shorter, horizontally formatted video:

After watching both, you can see a few things:

First, you can see how the larger, horizontal video was cropped in to work for a vertically formatted video, as well.

Second, you can see how the core elements (the zen, relaxed, and smiling faces) remain the core focus in both videos.

Your eyes naturally find faces, and as long as it’s not cropped in too far, you don’t lose much by cropping to create a vertical video. This isn’t the case in every composition, which is why if you’re planning on trying this at home, you need to plan ahead!

When you shoot a video horizontally, in order to convert it to vertical, you will have to crop the sides (as you can see above). That means when you plan your shots, you need to plan for the sides being cut off, shooting wider with all the important visual information in the center.

Unless you’re shooting on an iphone, you’ll need to make sure your videographer’s framing will fit a minimum aspect ratio of 4:5, or a maximum aspect ratio of 9:16 (for posting on an Instagram Story, for example).

This is often accounted for on big-budget productions with either an in-camera box that digitally shows different aspect ratios on the camera’s screen, or by literally taping off aspect ratios with the appropriate tape on a production monitor (the cool screen that’s hooked up to the camera when the director yells “Action!”)

By shooting horizontally and then cropping later, you can actually make higher quality videos than just shooting vertically outright, and it gives you the option of keeping it horizontal or cropping in for vertical later. Just don’t do it without planning ahead for it, or the final product will never look quite right, and you’ll drive everyone, including your videographer, your editor, and even your audience crazy.

Not quite Bird Box-level crazy, but close enough.

Like this idea but not quite “crazy” enough to try it yourself? Leave that to the professionals! We just launched our brand new Social Bundle, a package of video edits that includes horizontal, vertical, and square orientation video cuts, so you can post everywhere and anywhere on social media. Reach out to learn more.

Thinking about video?

See how we can create and edit your next video for optimal viewing on all social media platforms.

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