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Should my video content be vertical or horizontal?

Updated: Jul 29, 2022

Horizontal or vertical, which is best? The classic horizontal video is designed to match our field of vision, and we’re used to watching movies, and TV shows that way.

But newly popular vertical videos fit best in our hands (on our cell phone screens), making content more widely accessible on the go.

How do you leverage the benefits of either format for your marketing campaign? We can help.

Optimize for the platform

As part of your campaign strategy, you’ve probably already defined the platforms where your video will surface. With that in mind, each online video platform has different aspect ratios (width and height) specifications for posted videos.

For example, YouTube’s aspect ratio is 16:9 (horizontal) — Which means a YouTube video can be sized at 1920x1080 pixels (or any variant that keeps the same 16:9 ratio and meets the minimum/maximum size requirements).

Similarly, Instagram Stories specifies an aspect ratio of 9:16 (vertical) — 1080x1920 pixels (or any variant that keeps the same 9:16 ratio and meets the minimum/maximum size requirements).

Before you start filming, consider utilizing the full range of space that the platform’s preferred aspect ratio provides. Maximizing the size of your videos can help them stand out to your audience.

Fitting a vertical “peg” in a horizontal “hole”

What happens when, say, a vertical video is uploaded to a horizontal platform like YouTube? The platform may accept the video but add black bars to the sides to “fill in” the rest of the space. These bars can look jarring and even unprofessional.

As a quick fix, some folks simply zoom in closer to the image to remove the black bars. While this solves the above issue, it usually crops a little too much into the video resulting in a tight, distorted image.

The ideal solution, of course, is proper planning! Before filming, it’s best to establish the talent or subject matter you want in both horizontal and vertical formats — then film accordingly.

But if you’ve already filmed content and need to reformat for an alternate aspect ratio, we suggest filling the blank areas with text and graphics to amplify the goal of your video.

Should you do both?

Sometimes content is intended for both vertical and horizontal platforms. In this case, it’s best to think ahead about filming in both formats. Your options are to film each shot twice (in each format) — Or make sure there is plenty of space in the frame for comfortable cropping.

It takes planning — and maybe some trial and error — to get the framing right, but optimizing your aspect ratios can significantly impact your video marketing potential.

Check out our FREE DIY video production guides HERE and keep making videos!

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