Vertical vs. Horizontal Video: What Should You Use?

Vertical vs. Horizontal Video: What Should You Use?
On:Mar 16, 2021

According to research from Cisco, 82% of consumer internet traffic will be made up of videos by 2022. That’s not far away, and we’re already feeling the impact thanks to the way COVID-19 lockdowns changed global economies.

People expect video. It helps them see products that they may not be able to try out in a retail store, connects people who might be hundreds or thousands of miles away, and it makes learning new information quicker and more engaging.

With so many platforms out there designed for video consumption and so many different devices and viewing habits to consider, choosing between horizontal and vertical videos might seem tough.

We know the power of video, particularly when it’s filmed in a natural, honest, and personable way. Gillespie Productions helps you bring out the best in your team and showcase your brand to the world. We do this primarily with horizontal videos, reflecting our experience in the broadcast industry and understanding viewer habits.

We can, however, cater to specific social media demands that sometimes require vertical videos.

There are lots of things to unpack on this topic, and this piece should give you an idea of why horizontal video footage is an important part of how we help you sell your brand and the instances when vertical videos might be better suited.

Horizontal Videos

Horizontal Videos Pros and Cons
Horizontal Videos Pros and Cons

We’ve been watching horizontal videos from pretty much the birth of television, with vertical videos only becoming popular for smartphone users over the last decade.

In most instances, horizontal videos are best. There are lots of benefits for filming in this orientation and a couple of other considerations to think about. Take a look!


  • It’s the Most Common Format

Horizontal video is currently the most common format for distribution, and that’s likely to stay the same for quite some time. The vertical video slowly became more popular after 2010, following the release of the iPhone, and as most smartphones adopted a similar, taller screen shape.

Television screens, computer monitors, tablets, and laptop screens are all better suited for horizontal videos. Vertical videos can be played, but with black bars on either side of the content.

Until device usage changes and traditional computers, laptops, and tablets become obsolete, horizontal video is likely to remain the standard format. And, with smartphones becoming more advanced with bigger screens, a horizontal video may once again be king in the mobile device space, too.

  • It’s Better for Long-Form Content

Nobody wants to watch long-form content in a vertical format. Not only do people prefer to consume content on bigger devices, but even when they do consume content on their smartphone, it’s very easy to simply flip the phone sideways and watch the video horizontally.

There’s a reason the movies are filmed in widescreen! It allows the viewer to see more of the shot, making your video feel immersive and natural.

  • You’re Ready for the Future

As we alluded to previously, modern devices are always changing, and vertical video probably won’t be around forever. Phones are getting bigger, and new folding screens allow people to open up their devices for a better widescreen experience.

Virtual reality headsets and augmented reality glasses are also slowly beginning to appear on the market, so your horizontal content will be ready for the future.

  • We’re Naturally Equipped for Horizontal Video

Our eyesight is naturally horizontal, allowing us to see more in our peripheral vision. That’s why horizontal video has long been the most popular option and why most viewers prefer it.

When we view the widescreen or horizontal video, it is replicating what we see in real life, meaning we don’t spend the entire time viewing wishing that we could see more.

  • It’s Distraction-Free!

Precisely because we are naturally equipped to see in a horizontal format, horizontal video is distraction-free…and that’s just what you need when you’re trying to sell a vision to your customers.

With a well-shot horizontal video, viewers can focus on the important message of your video, the visuals, and the audio. A vertical video, while convenient in some circumstances, often leaves viewers wondering what they’re missing on either side of the narrow shot.

And when people are viewing your video content, it’s important that they are focusing more on the message and the visuals than wishing they could see more.

  • It’s Professional

Anybody can record vertical content on their phones nowadays, but high-resolution, broadcast-quality horizontal video immediately makes an impact. Combined with amazing audio and graphics, your video content demonstrates your professionalism and commitment to your brand.

Gillespie Productions handles every element of filming, from setting up the shot and recording to editing, clipping, and overlaying audio and music. Your interview and brand story videos feel like professional advertisements prepared for TV, and the horizontal shot plays a huge part in that.

  • You Can Always Crop Later

Shooting your videos in a horizontal format gives you the best of both worlds. If you ever want to create square or vertical videos for your social media, then oftentimes the videos can easily be clipped and reshaped.

This is particularly true for interview videos, which allow you to crop the sides of the video and focus more on the face of the subject.

Vertical Videos Pros and Cons
Vertical Videos Pros and Cons


  • Not Always Ideal for Mobile Viewers

Once upon a time, web browsing was something people did at a desk. Today, people are browsing more on their smartphones than ever before, and for some people, horizontal video isn’t ideal.

Most users will simply rotate their phone and make use of the big, widescreen – but for some users, a horizontal video may feel off-putting. If a user doesn’t rotate their phone, it also means the video is much smaller.

Thankfully, though, this can be resolved with specially edited social media clips taken from horizontally filmed media.

  • Social Media Works Well with Vertical/Square Videos

Some social media platforms encourage users to create square or vertical videos on their platforms.

Horizontal video works extremely well on some platforms, Facebook and YouTube in particular, but smartphone-dedicated apps like Instagram may require some editing.

Some social media platforms encourage their users to create square or vertical videos, with the exception of YouTube. Horizontal or vertical videos aren’t quite as universal on this platform, with most people choosing to upload in widescreen or, at the very least, a 4:3 ratio. Vertical videos on YouTube don’t look so great.

Again, footage filmed horizontally can easily be edited to meet these demands, meaning you’ll get the best of both worlds.

Vertical Videos

So, why do we need so much information about vertical vs horizontal video? Again, it’s all about where you want to present your video to your viewership. Before you start recording, be sure to consider where you’ll be posting it and how people will be watching it. Will it be a vertical or horizontal video?

An aspect ratio is the proportional width and height of the video, and most social media platforms have different aspect ratios. For example, a 1:1 ratio is a perfect square, whereas a 9:16 ratio will be rectangular and vertical.

You might be thinking, “what if I want this video on multiple platforms?” It’s no problem, just be sure to keep in mind the different aspect ratios while you’re filming your video. While you’re recording a vertical or horizontal video for Youtube, consider how the video will be edited in post-production, don’t anything important get cut out of the frame.

More than three-quarters of video viewed on the internet is seen on mobile devices, and while most people enjoy the full-screen, horizontal experience, there are also some benefits to using vertical videos as part of a wider video marketing strategy.

display aspect ratio
display aspect ratio

Here are some of the pros and cons of using vertical videos, which might help you know when to shoot vertical videos.


  • People Use Their Phones…A Lot

Users often don’t turn their phone around when video content plays unless they intend to watch that video for at least a few minutes.

If you’re producing a short video, vertical orientation may be best to keep the viewer’s attention and ensure they see as much as possible of your product, the people in the video, and hear your story.

For a longer video, however, horizontal clips encourage people to rotate their phone and enjoy it on as large a canvas as possible.

  • It’s Creative

The vertical video gives you an opportunity to get creative. While you lose a lot of valuable real estate on either side of the narrow view, you gain a lot at the top and the bottom.

This is where graphics or interactive buttons can be used on social media sites, inviting people to click links or take action after viewing your video.

  • Social Media Marketing Sometimes Requires It

While regular horizontal videos are fantastic for social media advertising, some social media platforms or even features within those platforms require vertical video. Instagram is a good example of this.

Using the “Stories” feature, which are short videos that disappear after a certain period of time, videos must fit the entirety of the screen and be in a vertical format to work. This is also true for Snapchat and for the “Stories” feature on Facebook.

  • It May Attract Younger Customers

Given that vertical video is typically only used on social media, you may wish to consider vertical video when trying to target a younger audience. Snapchat and “Stories” are generally targeted towards younger users, though not exclusively.


  • It’s Unrealistic and Uncomfortable

If your aim is to make a video feel natural, then you probably won’t achieve it in this format. Vertical videos might make sense on smartphones for short clips, but for anything other than a light-hearted introductory video without much in the way of details, it leaves people disorientated and expecting more.

It might also feel rushed and hastily put together.

It’s not how we naturally see the world around us, and it’s not what most people expect when they think of the video.

  • It Creates Filming Limitations

Vertical filming comes with a whole host of considerations you never have to think about when you’re filming horizontally.

Filming your marketing campaign videos, talking about your brand story, and introducing prospective customers to your products should be a rewarding experience. When you feel good making a video, the viewers see it…but with vertical video, you’ll need to ensure everything is in as narrow a shot as possible. And that can be difficult.

And, because most platforms that host vertical video require the clips to be short, you won’t be able to fit as much in.

  • Not Compatible with All Video Players

Vertical video isn’t compatible with all video players and platforms. Unless you’re using very specific social media platforms or software, you may find that vertical videos upload as horizontal videos, meaning they’ll appear as though they have been rotated at a 90-degree angle.

Ultimately, most people expect horizontal video. It offers a wider scope, fits more in, and is more versatile for marketing campaigns. All video platforms are set up to support horizontal videos, and most desktop computers and tablet devices all have wide screens.

Horizontal vs. Vertical Video…Which One’s Better?

Deciding between shooting horizontal or vertical is not a matter of adding up the pros and cons and making a decision based on that. It makes better sense to make your decision based on the kind of video you intend to film, where the video is going to be played, and how long the video will ultimately be.

Horizontal Videos

Vertical Videos


  • Most common format/it’s what people expect
  • Better for long-form content
  • You’re ready for a future where mobile devices have bigger screens
  • Distraction-free content that shows users all they need to see
  • TV-style broadcasting quality
  • Looks professional
  • You can always crop horizontal video to become vertical
  • Better suited for some social media features
  • May appeal better to younger viewers
  • Gives you room to be creative


    • Not always ideal for mobile users
    • Vertical works better on some social media platforms
    • Can be uncomfortable and distracting
    • Presents a number of filming and logistical limitations
    • Not compatible with all video players

    At Gillespie Productions, we adapt your video productions to suit your needs. From broadcast-quality live streams to brand story video marketing campaigns, we create films and short clips that ooze personality and perfectly encapsulate your passion.

    We’ll advise you on what kind of video suits your campaign best, and while most of the work we do takes the form of horizontal videos, we also know how to develop specific videos for social media ad campaigns.

    Experienced Video Specialists to Connect Your Brand with a Global Audience

    To find out more about our video production services and how you can boost your company’s online presence, don’t hesitate to contact the Gillespie Productions team today.

    Using our years of experience in broadcast journalism, we’ll discuss how a high-quality video marketing campaign can help connect your brand with a wider audience. Call today at (920) 857-2224, and let’s get started!