Vertical video

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Vertical video on widescreen.
The first edition of the Vertical Film Festival, projected tallscreen 9:16 aspect ratio in St Hilda's Church, Katoomba in Australia's Blue Mountains, 17 October 2014.

A vertical video is a video created either by a camera or computer that is intended for viewing in portrait mode, producing an image that is taller than it is wide, rather than the widescreen format normalised by cinema and television. Vertical video was historically shunned by professional video creators, marketers and creative agencies because it didn't fit the aspect ratio of established moving image forms, such as film and television, as well as newer web-based video players such as YouTube, meaning that black spaces appeared on either side of the image. However, the popularity of mobile video apps such as Snapchat and Periscope, which use the more mobile-friendly portrait format, have led to an increase in the production of vertical videos by video creators, marketers and media companies.[1]

Mary Meeker, a partner at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, highlighted the growth of vertical video viewing in her 2015 Internet Trends Report - growing from 5% of video viewing in 2010 to 29% in 2015. Vertical video ads like Snapchat's are watched in their entirety nine times more than landscape video ads.[2] Snapchat, DMG Media and WPP plc formed a content marketing agency called Truffle Pig in June 2015 that would be focused on creating content for vertical screens.[3] Vertical video was rapidly supported by all the major social platforms including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.[4]

Vertical video has presented significant challenges to video publishers as they are geared for horizontal video. In October 2015, social video platform Grabyo, which is used by major sports federations such as La Liga and the National Hockey League (NHL), launched technology to help video publishers adapt horizontal 16:9 video into mobile formats such as vertical and square.[5]


Vertical filmmaking has aesthetic roots reaching back at least to tall frescoes and stained-glass windows of Christian churches.[6] Noting that the new cinematic art had taken on the old strictures of the theatrical proscenium, on 17 September 1930 Russian filmmaker and theorist Sergei Eisenstein addressed the Technicians Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Hollywood, calling for a cinema screen of variable aspect ratio (a "dynamic square"), one which would be able to cope with whatever compositional format the filmmaker chose, including a vertical framing.[7] He lost the argument to a screen format standardised at a new Academy ratio (1.375:1) and vertical filmmaking has largely remained confined to experimental artists of the Expanded Cinema[8] movement, which flourished during the 1960s and 70s.

In 1984, musician and artist Brian Eno created Thursday Afternoon, a series of "video paintings" presented in vertical format.

The music video for "Pray For Me Brother - AR Rahman" by filmmaker Bharatbala is the first to be shot on mobile cinemascope format. This was done in 2007 and they had to rotate the camera 90 degrees to shoot, which in turn was stressful for cinematographer Mufti Tassaduq Hussain. The shooting was done in Los Angeles. [9]

If digital video production at the turn of the millennium freed the medium from many apparatus-based constraints it wasn't until the advent of portable screen devices such as the iPhone that the door opened to vertical video production and spectatorship for mass audiences.[citation needed]

By 2013 a number of independent film and video makers had made the creative jump to vertical formats for narrative films[10] despite the limitations of using professional capture and projection apparatuses in vertical orientation.[11] The first festival of specially commissioned tall-screen films, Sonic Acts' Vertical Cinema[12][13], was screened at Kontraste Dark As Light Festival in Austria in October 2013[14]; whilst the world's first open competition for vertical film & video, the 1st Vertical Film Festival[15] was held one year later in Katoomba, Australia. Both organisations project onto large-format vertical cinema screens in suitably tall-roofed venues, but there have also been a number of online initiatives[16] to encourage filmmakers to explore the creative potential of the vertical frame, as well as dedicated groups and channels on Vimeo.[17] Another action took place in November 2016 in Prague, Czech republic - Vertifilms festival.[18] It was one day event, which included not only showcasing the vertical films, but also it included conference on this new format. In June 2018 will take place the first Italian "VerticalMovie Festival".


  1. ^ Blattberg, Eric (April 6, 2015). "It's time to take vertical video seriously". Digiday. Retrieved August 5, 2015. 
  2. ^ Constine, Josh (May 27, 2015). "The Most Important Insights From Mary Meeker's 2015 Internet Trends Report". TechCrunch. Retrieved August 6, 2015. 
  3. ^ Sloane, Garett (June 23, 2015). "Snapchat, WPP and Daily Mail Create an Agency for Vertical Mobile Video". Retrieved August 26, 2015. 
  4. ^ Kafka, Peter (June 23, 2015). "YouTube Revamps Its Android App With Vertical Video". Recode. Retrieved August 6, 2015. 
  5. ^ Fratti, Karen (October 20, 2015). "Grabyo Adds Square, Vertical Video Capabilities". Ad Week. Retrieved July 24, 2016. 
  6. ^ Sébire, Adam. "A Brief History Of Aspect Ratio (Program Note From The First Vertical Film Festival, 2014)". Vertical Film Festival. Retrieved 26 December 2016. 
  7. ^ Friedberg, Anne (2009). The virtual window : from Alberti to Microsoft (1. paperback ed.). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. pp. 129–131. ISBN 0262512505. 
  8. ^ "Expanded cinema | Tate". Retrieved 2017-10-01. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Neal, David. "Vertical Video: A Retrospective (Draft)". Retrieved 26 December 2016. 
  11. ^ Sébire, Adam. "9:16 Tips & Tricks". Vertical Film Festival. Retrieved 26 December 2016. 
  12. ^ "Vertical Cinema". Retrieved 2017-10-20. 
  13. ^ "Sonic Acts". Retrieved 2017-10-01. 
  14. ^ "Sonic Acts". Retrieved 2017-10-01. 
  15. ^ "3rd Edition Coming Soon". Vertical Film Festival. 
  16. ^ Neal, David. "Vertical Video: A Retrospective (Draft)". Retrieved 26 December 2016. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Vertifilms - Filmy, co mají výšku". Vertifilms (in Czech). Retrieved 2017-10-01. 

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