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Vertical vs Horizontal Video: Thinking Outside of the Box

It’s time to settle the age-old debate. Vertical vs horizontal video, which way should you film for social media?

Every website has a different set of dimensions, rules and sizes for your content. If you’re wanting to post content across all platforms, it can get a little tricky. You end up chopping and changing your content. It can become a real pain.

Some people are purists and believe that vertical film is the devil’s work. But, with the rise of social media stories, vertical video is becoming the new norm. In this post, for ease, we’re going to focus on Instagram as the most visual of the platforms.

In a virtual world, everyone is producing video content. You need to learn how to stand out and how to be pipping your competitors to the post. You need clean, cutting-edge video that works for you. So let’s break it down and look at what’s working and what’s not.

Dimensions for Instagram videos

Instagram has 3 defined sizes for feed-based content. We’ve got the square video which is a 1:1 aspect ratio, vertical at 1.9:1 and horizontal which is 4:5. 

The case for horizontal video

Kicking it straight off, horizontal filming allows for a fuller frame. It shrinks your video down but allows your whole image to be in the frame which you would think would be beneficial. Yet, because of the smaller size, it can look dated and it’s not optimised for most platforms so ends up getting scrolled past pretty quickly. 

A lot of people still use horizontal film because it does allow for that more traditional video approach. If you’ve got some solid imagery, nice interviews, good content then why should you crop it? You want people to see your content shine in all its glory.  

The case for square video

Square video is Instagram’s main area of focus. The platform is based around 1:1 square images and video. It’s the image size of preference but it does tend to crop a lot out. You have to look at re-shaping your video to fit within these dimensions, especially if this is content that you want to post across various channels. You almost end up having to create many versions of the same video so that they’re more Instagram friendly. 

Fun fact: Instagram uses square images for a more aesthetically pleasing idea design. A lot of people speculate that the idea of the square image comes from LP/vinyl record covers, that were also square giving it a cool vintage vibe. 

The case for vertical video

The newcomer! 

In the modern era, most people are absorbing their content via their mobile devices. Your mobile device is usually a vertical orientation so why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of that? When you’re scrolling your feed and there’s a vertical video it engulfs the entire screen. It’s so eye-catching it demands to be looked at. There are no other people’s images or pictures at the top and tail of it. It’s captured that focus.

Recording a film on a mobile phone

So how can you take advantage of the vertical revolution?

Here are some top tips for vertical video. 

  1. While you’re shooting, be constantly thinking about how this is going to look in your other aspect ratios. If you’re shooting on a DSLR, some people actually use masking tape on their camera viewer. This allows them to see exactly what they will be getting in their vertical frame. Being aware that your video is going to be pulled in all these different shapes will be handy when it comes to post-production. 
  2. Keep it short and sweet. If you’ve put a tonne of work into a video and you’re being told to butcher your piece of art into a vertical format, it can be hard to let go. Put together a teaser, something short and snappy and direct people to the whole video. This works especially well for Instagram stories where people will drop off after a couple of slides. Something impactful and quick with a call to action will shine through. 
  3. Don’t be scared to use vertical film, embrace it. It’s a tool at your disposal and it doesn’t have to be fully-fledged polished content. You can use it for on the go content. Run and gun while you’re out and about. It adds a level of authenticity and a genuine tone.

If you’re struggling to come up with some ideas for your video content, we’ve got you covered. Check out our previous post about the Rise of Video Marketing.