Vertical Video Syndrome: What’s The Deal?


I was having a conversation with my little sister last week about videos and she showed me the following video, which her film teacher showed her:

She posted a blog for her class on the subject, which can be found here, if you happen to be curious about her opinion. Our conversation got me to thinking about this Vertical Video Syndrome, as it is called, and it inspired me to share my thoughts on a subject I hadn’t really thought about beyond my general preference for the standard horizontal video.

The people behind this Glove and Boots public service announcement against the shooting of vertical videos are clearly having a lot of fun chastising those who shoot videos vertically, but there also seems to be a serious and even annoyed undertone. Puppets Mario and Fafa simply cannot stand vertical videos and they aren’t alone.

Take this hilarious video parody of the TLC song “No Scrubs” by Chescaleigh, for instance:

And there are so many more videos who support the No to Vertical Video Movement, as I call it. You’ll also find those who actually support and even defend vertical videos, as can be seen in this post by Cnet’s Scott Stein here.


Personally, I don’t get as annoyed when I see a vertical video. Live and let live, I say. Or shoot and let shoot. I don’t shoot vertical videos, but I have nothing against vertical videos or the people who shoot them for whatever reason they choose to do so.

I just like the idea of having a device in the palm of my hand that shoots wide, like a film camera, mostly because I see the world in a cinematic and artsy manner. There’s something about feeling as if you have the ability to elevate the mundane moment by applying a filmic touch. When one shoots something wide, horizontal, the scope of it feels grander and there’s a power in that. The viewer has all this breathing room to take in all the elements surrounding say, the uniquely designed sedimentary rock sitting atop a bed of tanbark you shot with your smartphone. Elements like the dirty lone Cheeto snack protruding through the surface of the tanbark or the golden brown fall leaves nearby. These elements might be cut out or partially seen in a vertical video shot.

Obviously, the focus is the rock in the center of the shot, but I’d like to experience as much as I could surrounding that rock to get a better sense of the scene. This is just my personal preference. I might have gone a bit too deep for a seemingly meaningless shot, but you see what I mean. I’m a video traditionalist, a purist I suppose.


My feeling is that if you’re shooting a video for something serious such as a short film project for a class or something, then vertical videos should generally be off the table. However, if you’re shooting something for kicks, something for your friends and family to check out, then whatever. Obviously, people have their preferences right? And that is their issue.

I can see the humor in teasing the “less enlightened” about how they use their smart phone cameras, but I don’t think it’s as big a deal. Just my opinion.

Now that I’ve paid my two cents, shooters of video, vertical or not, carry on.


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