Dear Amateur Videographers: Ignore the Haters, Keep Filming in Portrait
The internet loves to tell you what you’re doing wrong, always, at all times. Ever since cell phone videos have become widespread, it loves to tell people they are making videos the wrong way. There are many different memes and articles about how this is a terrible affliction that is going to rip the internet apart any minute now. And sure, I guess people can have all the stylistic preferences they like. But you know what I say to all that?
Shoot your video however the fuck you want. It does not matter, and you will be inconveniencing someone either way.
Perhaps it made sense to enforce “landscape” as the standard for video when most people were watching videos online on a desktop. Displays on desktop adapt more easily to landscape oriented videos. But that’s not true anymore. Over half of YouTube views come from mobile users. Of the 986 million daily active users of Facebook, over 87% of them are using the site on a mobile device. Mobile use also accounts for the majority of time spent on Twitter and Pintrest. In fact, the only social network that sees most of its use come from desktop users is LinkedIn. So, chances are if you are making a video that you intend to post on the internet for other people to see, they will be seeing it on a mobile device. When people are using a mobile device, they naturally hold it upright and scroll up from the bottom of the screen. So, portrait oriented videos don’t involve any extra steps to view, they just play on the device exactly as they were shot which means the viewer sees the video exactly as the videographer meant it to be seen. They way they themselves saw it.
There’s also the fact that the less time people worry about how they’re shooting video, the more of the event they’re shooting we get to see. Maybe that doesn’t make a difference when it’s your friend’s toddler doing a cute dance, or a dog begging for treats, but the Eric Garner video (WARNING: graphic content) was also shot in portrait mode and in cases like that seconds matter. It’s easier to hold a phone in portrait mode, and to hit the filming buttons. It sounds like a minor distinction but when something genuinely important is happening you don’t want to be fumbling with your phone trying to orient it the “right” way. I know that for me, my hands are on the smaller side and it’s a lot easier for me to shoot photos and video in portrait mode one handed. Landscape always requires a second hand to steady the phone so it won’t drop or wobble so much that the photo or video is worthless.
Honestly, though, at the end of the day everyone can present “logical” arguments for both portrait and landscape style shooting. You know what it really comes down to? To whatever the fuck you want. We’ve all been given a relatively amazing ability to document and communicate the minutia of our day to day lives in a way that the common people of the world have basically never had before, and if you want to shoot every important moment of your day in portrait mode then go ahead and do it. If you want to shoot in landscape, edit it, add sound effects and a full title sequence, do that. If you want to mount a GoPro on your chest and film every second of your day, go nuts. People on the internet will read 1,000 words and tell you that you spelled a single word wrong as though that one word means they took nothing else of value from the other 999 words they read. Don’t listen to them. The people you make your videos for will probably feel exactly the same way about them whether or not they have to deal with black bars on the side, or turn their phone to the side to watch it.