Internet Web Culture

The Scourge Of Vertical Video Syndrome [Weird & Wonderful Web]

Dave Parrack 19-01-2014

With more people owning smartphones How Smartphones Are Ruining Your Life Your smartphone could be ruining your life, or at least have the capacity to do so in the future. Read More with each passing day, more people are shooting videos than ever before. While most of us wouldn’t have dreamt of walking around with a video camera strapped to our backs just in case something worth filming happened, we can now wield that enviable power purely by carrying a smartphone in a pocket.


This is, in many ways, a good thing. It means we get to see a lot more cat videos on YouTube than we would do otherwise. It also means citizen journalism 7 Citizen Journalism Websites For Crowdsourced News Read More is now a legitimate means of reporting the news, with rolling news channels the world over happily using clips of major events shot by rank amateurs.

There is just one problem that continues to ruin many videos shot on smartphones by amateurs: Vertical Video Syndrome. This has to stop, and it has to stop now. Or else there will be trouble. Possibly. Maybe. But probably not.

What Is Vertical Video Syndrome?

Vertical Video Syndrome is a fictitious illness that supposedly inflicts its victims with one really obvious symptom. Namely, those suffering from Vertical Video Syndrome are unable to shoot video in anything other than portrait mode.

It’s the only possible explanation for why someone would keep their smartphone held upright and filming in portrait mode when common sense dictates the device should be turned on its side to film in landscape mode.

The video embedded above is what kicked off the investigation into Vertical Video Syndrome, with the Glove and Boots puppets demonstrating the problem in a PSA. Remember, kids, people’s eyes are horizontal, so don’t film vertically.


Why Is Vertical Video Syndrome Bad?

Vertical Video Syndrome is bad news because videos shot in portrait mode invariably look bad. There’s a reason televisions and movie theaters display video in landscape mode. The people who created these mediums weren’t misguided or wrong, and certainly don’t need educating.

As stated in the introduction, videos shot on smartphones are becoming an increasingly common sight everywhere, from YouTube to mainstream news channels. And those shot in landscape mode look far better than those shot in portrait mode.

This can be demonstrated perfectly with the slightly edited version of the ‘Misunderstood’ Apple commercial that aired on TV over the 2013 holidays that’s embedded above. The big reveal of the ad is that rather than ignoring his family in favor of spending time engrossed in his smartphone, this teenage kid has been filming everything in order to document proceedings. Which is sweet.

In the original — which has been hailed as one of the best Apple ads of all time An Apple (Ad) A Day: Top Ten Commercials You’re Likely To Remember Apple is a company that you either love or hate; there's very little middle ground. This is because you either buy into the company and its culture or reject it outright. Seeing as I don't... Read More — the whole family watch the fruits of his labors, which were miraculously filmed in landscape mode despite the kid not turning his phone once. This video reveals how the final ‘A Harris Family Holiday’ would have actually looked. Which, in case you haven’t yet got the message, is terrible.


What Should We Do About VVS?

So, we know what the problem of Vertical Video Syndrome is and why it’s bad, but what can we do about it? Well, to begin with, you, and I mean you, right there, reading this article with a mix of interest and bemusement, need to take the hint and stop filming in portrait mode.

If you yourself don’t suffer from Vertical Video Syndrome but you know someone who does then you owe it to the whole of humanity to help cure the victim of this disease. It’s pretty simple, really, as you just need to tell them to turn their phone, as indicated by the video above. It is, of course, up to you whether you adopt a shouty tone or not when doing so. But I would, just to be on the safe side.

If all else fails then there is, thankfully, now an app designed to prevent Vertical Video Syndrome Apple Pays, Google Plays, Viddy Sells, Horizon Fixes [Tech News Digest] Apple pays for in-app purchases, Google Play Movies & TV for iOS, Starbucks using clear text passwords, Fullscreen acquires Supernova (formerly Viddy), EA backtracks on offline SimCity, and Horizon kills videos shot in portrait mode. Read More from occurring. Called Horizon, this app detects when you’re filming in portrait mode and adjusts the frame to prevent those horrible black borders from ruining your recording.


Vertical Video Syndrome may just be a catchy name which we can use to classify all of these videos and the people responsible for them, but the issue is real. Don’t film in portrait mode; instead, turn your phone and film in landscape mode. Please. For the love of all deities everywhere.


Related topics: Record Video, Smartphone Photography.

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  1. kuken
    December 9, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Android does that now !!!

  2. Justin P
    January 21, 2014 at 3:10 am

    Apple and Google could put a stop to this. All they need to do is add a "please rotate your phone" message when someone opens a video app vertically.

    • Dave P
      January 21, 2014 at 11:23 pm

      That's a very obvious solution. But will they do it?! No.

    • Justin P
      January 21, 2014 at 11:25 pm


    • Dave P
      January 23, 2014 at 12:32 am

      I think you should write a strongly worded letter!!!