March 10, 2016



Vertical visual

As far back as I can remember my view of the glowing box in the corner of our family room has always been horizontal. I shot my first moving footage on a borrowed 8mm camera when I put my eye to the little, distorted viewfinder the scene was horizontal, the Cinemascope movies I watched chewing countless Fantales at our suburban cinema were so wide, if you sat too close to the screen you’d get motion sickness.

Now, as I sit watching our widescreen TV with my teenage daughters and wife, there are four other glowing screens in the room, and they are all vertical. Initially, I resisted the temptation to keep my screen vertical, I would rotate the phone horizontally allowing the picture to fill the screen.

As I pondered whether this lack of screen rotation was just teenage laziness or Vertical Video Syndrome, (VVS, a fictitious disease which claims that those afflicted can only shoot videos in a portrait orientation, as opposed to the more viewer-friendly landscape mode) I came to the realisation that Vertical is the new Horizontal!

In 2010 just five percent of video content was vertical, now its nearly 30 percent, including the staggering 7 billion videos that are viewed each day on Snapchat (a vertical-only video channel).

Just watch any news channel. Vertical footage from eyewitness videographers is everywhere, with the obligatory blurred screen to left and right to fill the 16:9 format. Jeep escalated the debate by running a vertically-formatted ad with black bars left and right during the Holy Grail of screen advertising – the Super Bowl.

I don’t think this is a passing phase. Just as previous generations went from listening to a crackling wooden box to watching curved glass Ultra HD super-sized 75-inch screen monsters, will we be the first generation to see Tarantino or Scorsese make the first vertical full-length feature film?

Just watch this space…