Vertical Video: Future or Fad?

On one level, the numbers 16 and 9 probably aren’t that significant unless they’re your age or birthday. 

However, in the world of video production they represent a cornerstone convention. Since the advent of widescreen in the early 2000s, 16:9 became the landscape aspect ratio of choice at home as people upgraded from square televisions to rectangles. In the same way, YouTube video is consumed online in the 16:9 format. 

But vertical video is now becoming more important and commonplace. This format rids the viewer of the need to turn their phone or tablet to fill the screen without any need for a wrist twist or the use of another hand as the image already fills the screen at a seemingly larger scale. It also changes the way content is considered and created. For some purists, it’s ruining the traditional cinematic format, while for mobile users, it allows for a deeper sense of engagement.

This new format is here to stay and we’ve enjoyed relative success in the medium at The Roundhouse Pictures – our film Life’s Recipe was screened at BAFTA by Nespresso in 2019. It is perfect for short and punchy pieces of content that will fill a phone screen and convey a message really quickly. A short advert, an animated GIF or a teaser for a longer film are perfect examples. Vertical is the perfect way to engage with hard-to-reach Generation Z consumers with a mobile format they are already familiar with.

But vertical video should not be seen as the death knell for 16:9. The two types of film can comfortably co-exist. The choice is dependent on the content, length and degree of impact desired and now vertical is another powerful format to explore creatively.

The key with producing vertical video is choosing to do it for the correct type of media.