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Vertical or landscape video - which is right?

Are you confused about whether you should be holding your smartphone upright or turning it sideways when shooting a video?

Despite the ongoing debate, both ways are right. It just depends on your audience and what you want to communicate.

Mobile video is exploding (that is video viewed on mobile devices). Fifty-five percent of the world’s mobile traffic is now video, according to Cisco.

So when creating mobile video content you need to ask yourself:

1. Where will my audience see this video?

2. What is the story I'm trying to tell?


Snapchat pioneered vertical video, and if this is the platform you're using, you absolutely need to create vertical video. But what about some of the other big players?

Facebook recently made it so vertical videos completely display in your newsfeed, Facebook Live produces a square video, and then there are even 360-degree videos available.

Instagram allows you to expand a video from square to landscape. Whereas Twitter seems to put more of a focus on landscape video, and it's live-streaming platform allows both vertical and landscape videos.

So if you're audience is going to viewing the content from their phone on one of these social platforms, often vertical video is fine.

However, if you're audience is going to find the video on your website, on YouTube, or will otherwise watch it on their computer or TV, then shooting in landscape makes sense as these platforms are all designed for widescreen viewing.

Still confused which format is right for your video? Well that's where the story you're communicating comes into play.


Is the background important to the story you're trying to communicate? Or do people need to focus only on the person talking?

Vertical video allows for better focus on humans and the subject in frame, whereas landscape video gives context and a better idea of the surroundings your subject is in.

However you do not want to mix video formats if you are going to be editing clips together. It can often be distracting for your viewer to switch between vertical to landscape during a single video. Not mention that some editing software (such as iMovie) crops vertical videos to a square in the middle of two black boxes.

To learn how to film professional videos using just your phone check out one of the following guides:

To learn more about smartphone video and social video subscribe to our blog or mailing list, or set up a course at your place of business.

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About the author
FrancescaJago copy_edited.jpg

Frankie Jago is a online video expert who helps businesses take advantage of using video to grow their audience and enhance their sales processes. She focusses on simple techniques for people to easily create videos themselves entirely on their smartphone. 

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