Everything You Need to Know About Vertical Video

When you checked the weather this morning on your phone, you were holding it vertically, right? What about when you scrolled through your inbox or your favorite social feed? I bet your phone was still upright in one hand. It's a safe guess since mobile users hold their devices vertically 94% of the time.

woman viewing vertical video mobile

How you hold your phone — and that you started your day holding your phone — is the short answer to everything you need to know about vertical video: it’s a natural format for the mobile generation. Want to know more about the video format, a capability available in Capture? Then read on for what it is, its history, and why you should be using it.

What is vertical video?

As the name suggests, vertical video is any video that is taller than it is wide. Made for viewing in portrait mode, they are the opposite of horizontal videos, which are made for viewing in landscape mode. Traditional horizontal video — like what you watch on your TV — has a 16:9 ratio, whereas videos formatted vertically have a 9:16 ratio.

The format became popular because it is ideal for mobile viewing, and, when in a 9:16 ratio, it fills the entire screen.

Where would I use vertical videos?

Social platforms have driven the rise in vertical video because, again, the format is an organic, seamless experience for anyone watching video on their phone.

A quick history lesson: TikTok and its vertical scroll, which integrates the full mobile experience into how users utilize its platform, is credited with popularizing creative vertical videos. However, Snapchat was the first major platform to embrace 9:16, while Instagram’s in-feed videos are 4:5 ratio, which are vertical, but don’t quite take up the entire phone screen, instead cropping a bit off the top and bottom. Since TikTok’s popularity, Snapchat launched Spotlight, Instagram launched Reels, and even brands like Netflix and Pinterest have embraced the vertical video and vertical scroll concept.


Why should I shoot vertical videos?

While you technically don’t have to shoot vertically in order to create a final video for viewing in portrait mode — it’s possible to frame a 16:9 video so that it can be cropped to also work for vertical — we recommend that you do film vertically.

You already know that framing is essential for capturing a good video, so why would you put guesswork into video for social? By turning your filming device vertically, you are able to fully conceptualize what your future viewer will see. You also eliminate the risk of cropping out important footage, as you would do if you film horizontally.


Okay, I get why I need to shoot vertically for vertical videos. But do I even need videos in this format?

When Hyundai ran its first vertical video campaign, the auto manufacturer saw a 33% uptick in brand awareness. Was that because, as I mentioned earlier, mobile users hold their devices vertically 94% of the time? Or because a viewer sees significantly more of a product or brand when the video fills the entire screen instead of a small portion, surrounded by black bars? Or because vertical ads receive a 90% completion rate in vertical viewing experiences?

You can point your finger in myriad directions when deciding why vertical video is impactful, but the bottom line is that you should be utilizing them, whether for organic social content, social ads, or both.


When is horizontal better?

I shared that history lesson earlier because social media and vertical video are intrinsically connected. If you’re filming content for other mediums, like OTT ads or board presentations, then stay horizontal.

Watch this quick video to learn how to film vertical video with OpenReel Capture. Interested in learning more about video formats and how to incorporate different styles into your 2022 video strategy? We’re here to help

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