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. It thus sits in opposition to the multiple horizontal formats normalised by cinema and television, which trace their lineage from the proscenium theatre, Western landscape painting traditions,[1] and human visual field.[2]

A simulated vertical video frame 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

Vertical video has historically been shunned by professional video creators because it does not 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 especially TikTok, which use the more mobile-friendly portrait format, have led to an increase in the production of vertical videos by advertising companies.[3]

History edit

Historical uses edit

Vertical filmmaking has aesthetic roots reaching back at least to the tall painted frescoes and stained-glass windows of Christian churches.[4] The world’s first moving images of a cat (Falling Cat, Étienne-Jules Marey, 1894) were shot vertically. When the first motion picture screenings were held in 1895, however, the format was standardised horizontally (though at 4:3 aspect ratio, the images were closer to a square format than to widescreen). Noting that the new cinematic art had taken on the old strictures of the theatre, 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.[1] 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[5] movement, which flourished during the 1960s and 70s. It also made appearances in various World's Fair films such as In the Labyrinth[6] in Montréal in 1967.

If artists working with cinematic film were constrained by physical limitations from tipping the apparatus, the video medium made rotating the camera and/or projector somewhat easier. Artist Bill Viola frequently employs tall-screen video. In 1984, musician and artist Brian Eno created Thursday Afternoon, a series of "video paintings" presented in vertical format.

The 2005 music video for Imogen Heap's song "Hide and Seek" was shot by Joel Peissig in portraiture, one of the first music videos in this format.[7] He felt that the vertical frame "complimented her face and her solitude"; as he used 35 mm film to shoot the music video, he also noticed that putting the camera on its side produced better-looking light streaks.[8]

Indian composer and record producer A. R. Rahman's 2007 international single Pray for Me Brother, that was an initiative by Nokia Corporation, was then released as a vertical video. The song was conceived as an anti-poverty anthem for the Millennium Goals for the United Nations.

By 2013 a number of independent film and video makers had made the creative jump to vertical formats for narrative films[9] despite the limitations of using professional capture and projection apparatuses in vertical orientation.[10] The first festival of specially commissioned tall-screen films, Sonic Acts' Vertical Cinema,[11][12] was screened at Kontraste Dark As Light Festival in Austria in October 2013;[13] whilst the world's first open competition for vertical film & video, the Vertical Film Festival[14] was held one year later in Katoomba, New South Wales, 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[15] to encourage filmmakers to explore the creative potential of the vertical frame, as well as dedicated groups and channels on Vimeo.[16] Similar exhibits took place in March 2015 at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas[17] and in November 2016 at the Vertifilms festival in Prague.[18]

Embrace of vertical video edit

Vertical video has presented significant challenges to video publishers, as many of them have been traditionally 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.[19]

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.[20] 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.[21] By 2015, vertical video was rapidly supported by many major social platforms including Facebook and Twitter.[22] YouTube introduced a vertical video viewing format compatible with mobile screens for Android in 2015; the new format was rolled out to all mobile devices two years later.[23]

By the late 2010s, many online video platforms began embracing the use of vertical video due to the growing use of mobile devices. In 2018, Instagram launched a vertical video application, IGTV.[24] The same year, YouTube introduced the capability for vertical video without black bars on its desktop website and in social media embeds.[23] YouTube also unveiled a new vertical video ad format in 2018, saying "more than 70 percent of YouTube watch time happens on mobile devices".[23] In March 2018, streaming media company Netflix announced the introduction of vertically-oriented 30-second previews of shows and movies to its platform; the company also cited the use of mobile devices as inspiration.[25]

Capitalizing on the rise of smartphones, whose default orientation is vertical, some music artists began releasing platform-exclusive vertical music videos.[26] These vertical videos are often shown on Snapchat's "Discover" section or within Spotify playlists.[27]

See also edit

  • Pillarbox – A visual effect which is often how vertical videos are rendered on television programming either on non-fiction news or magazine programming, or fictionalized to show a phone interface or camera image on-screen

References edit

  1. ^ a b Friedberg, Anne (2009). The virtual window : from Alberti to Microsoft (1. paperback ed.). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-262-51250-3.
  2. ^ David Pogue (1 March 2018), Video Looks Most Natural Horizontally, but We Hold Our Phones Vertically, retrieved 26 July 2018
  3. ^ Blattberg, Eric (6 April 2015). "It's time to take vertical video seriously". Digiday. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  4. ^ Sébire, Adam. "A Brief History Of Aspect Ratio (Program Note From The First Vertical Film Festival, 2014)". Vertical Film Festival. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  5. ^ "Expanded cinema | Tate". www.tate.org.uk. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  6. ^ "Cinema Expo 67 | Labyrinth". cinemaexpo67.ca. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  7. ^ Bereznak, Alyssa (10 September 2019). "This Music Video Has Been Modified From Its Original Version (and Now It's Vertical)". The Ringer. Archived from the original on 16 September 2019.
  8. ^ Peissig, Joel (13 November 2017). "'Hide and Seek' Imogen Heap" (Comment). Vimeo. Archived from the original on 24 January 2023.
  9. ^ Neal, David. "Vertical Video: A Retrospective (Draft)". exit109.com. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  10. ^ Sébire, Adam. "9:16 Tips & Tricks". Vertical Film Festival. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  11. ^ "Vertical Cinema". verticalcinema.com. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  12. ^ "Sonic Acts". sonicacts.com. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  13. ^ "Sonic Acts". sonicacts.com. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  14. ^ "3rd Edition Coming Soon". Vertical Film Festival.
  15. ^ Neal, David. "Vertical Video: A Retrospective (Draft)". exit109.com. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  16. ^ "'Vertical format'". Vimeo. Retrieved 13 December 2022.
  17. ^ McFarland, Matt (4 March 2015). "Vertical videos, long scorned, find a niche on smartphones". The Washington Post. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  18. ^ "Vertifilms - Filmy, co mají výšku". Vertifilms (in Czech). Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  19. ^ Fratti, Karen (20 October 2015). "Grabyo Adds Square, Vertical Video Capabilities". Ad Week. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  20. ^ Constine, Josh (27 May 2015). "The Most Important Insights From Mary Meeker's 2015 Internet Trends Report". TechCrunch. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  21. ^ Sloane, Garett (23 June 2015). "Snapchat, WPP and Daily Mail Create an Agency for Vertical Mobile Video". Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  22. ^ Kafka, Peter (23 June 2015). "YouTube Revamps Its Android App With Vertical Video". Recode. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  23. ^ a b c Binder, Matt (18 September 2018). "There's no going back now: YouTube fully commits to vertical video with new ad format". Mashable. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  24. ^ Lim, Shawn (27 September 2018). "'Nobody will ask why they need vertical videos now': Snap on why it welcomes competition from rivals". The Drum. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  25. ^ Roettgers, Janko (7 March 2018). "Netflix to Introduce Mobile Previews With Vertical Video in April". Variety. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  26. ^ Jaekel, Brielle. "Snapchat and Spotify challenge YouTube as premiere music video source". Mobile Marketer. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  27. ^ Havens, Lyndsey (26 July 2018). "What's the Future Of the Music Video? YouTube, Spotify & More Share Visions For What's Ahead". Billboard. Retrieved 28 September 2018.