Vertical Videos


Vertical Videos: The Most Comprehensive Guide

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Team Storyly
May 22, 2023
0 min read

What is a Vertical Video?

Vertical video is a video recording or content created in a portrait orientation, with a taller aspect ratio than the traditional landscape orientation used in most films and television.

Vertical videos have gained popularity with the rise of smartphones and social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram Stories, and Snapchat, as they are designed to be viewed on mobile devices held in a vertical position. This format caters to the growing trend of consuming content on mobile devices, making it easier for users to watch and interact with videos without having to rotate their screens.

What is Vertical Video Aspect Ratio?

The vertical video aspect ratio is the proportion between the width and height of a video that is taller than it is wide, designed primarily for viewing on mobile devices in portrait orientation. The most common aspect ratios for vertical videos are 9:16 and 4:5.

  • 9:16 aspect ratio: This is the most popular format for vertical videos, especially on platforms like Snapchat, Instagram Stories, TikTok, and Facebook Stories. It fully utilizes the screen real estate of most smartphones when held upright, offering an immersive viewing experience. For a video with a resolution of 1080 pixels wide, the height would be 1920 pixels.
  • 4:5 aspect ratio: Used for slightly less tall videos, this format is common in Instagram posts and some ads. It allows the video to occupy a significant portion of the screen in portrait mode without taking up the entire screen, offering a balance between visibility and content placement. For a video with a width of 1080 pixels, the height would be 1350 pixels.

These aspect ratios are optimized for the way most people naturally hold their phones, making vertical videos a key component of social media marketing and content creation strategies aimed at mobile users.

The Rise of Vertical Video in the Digital age

In 1894, Étienne-Jules Marey produced and directed Falling Cat.

Vertical videos emerged as a result of the widespread adoption of smartphones. As people increasingly used their phones to capture and share content on the go, the natural way to hold the device while filming was vertically. Initially, vertical videos were frowned upon by traditional media enthusiasts, as they didn't conform to the conventional landscape format used in film and television.

However, with the rise of social media platforms tailored to mobile consumption, vertical videos became more accepted and even preferred for certain types of content. Platforms like Snapchat, Instagram Stories, and TikTok specifically embraced the vertical video format, as it allowed for better user experience on mobile devices. Users could watch and engage with content without rotating their screens, which aligned with the fast-paced, on-the-go nature of social media.

Over time, vertical videos transformed from being seen as an amateur or unconventional choice to a format that is now widely accepted and intentionally used for various purposes, including advertisements and content creation. This change demonstrates how technology and user behavior have shaped the evolution of media formats.

Benefits of Vertical Video

There are several benefits to using vertical videos, particularly in the context of mobile devices and social media platforms. Some of these benefits include:

Mobile optimization

Vertical videos are designed for consumption on smartphones held vertically, which is the natural way most people hold their phones. This makes the viewing experience more comfortable and seamless for users.

Immersive experience

Vertical videos occupy the entire screen on a mobile device, providing a more immersive and engaging experience for viewers. The content takes up more visual real estate, making it harder for users to get distracted by other elements on their screen.

Catering to social media trends

Many popular social media platforms, such as TikTok, Instagram Stories, and Snapchat, have embraced vertical videos as their primary format. By creating content in this format, you can better cater to the user experience on these platforms and potentially reach a larger audience.


Due to their unconventional aspect ratio and full-screen display, vertical videos can stand out and capture users' attention more effectively than traditional landscape videos, especially in the context of social media feeds.

Ease of creation

Since smartphones are often held vertically by default, it is easier and more natural for users to create vertical videos without needing additional equipment or adjusting their grip.

Encouraging creativity

The unique constraints of vertical videos can inspire content creators to think differently and come up with innovative ways to convey their message, ultimately resulting in fresh and engaging content.

Best Practices for Creating Vertical Video

Creating effective and engaging vertical videos requires an understanding of the format's unique characteristics. Here are some best practices to keep in mind when producing vertical content:

  1. Frame your subject: Since vertical videos have a taller aspect ratio, it's essential to frame your subject correctly. Place your main subject in the center or use the rule of thirds to position them off-center, ensuring they remain in focus and are not cut off by the screen's edges.
  1. Use close-ups and tight shots: Vertical videos are well-suited for close-up shots and tight framing, which can create an intimate and engaging viewing experience. Focus on the key elements of your scene and avoid wide shots that may lose detail or look distorted in the vertical format.
  1. Optimize for mobile: Keep in mind that most viewers will watch your vertical videos on mobile devices. Ensure that text and graphics are large enough to be easily readable on a small screen and that audio is clear and audible even on a smartphone's speakers.
  1. Maintain a steady shot: To ensure a smooth and professional-looking video, use a tripod or a stabilizer when filming. If you're shooting handheld, try to keep your movements steady and avoid sudden jerks or shakes.
  1. Use vertical video-friendly transitions: When editing your video, use transitions that work well with the vertical format, such as fades, swipes, or slides. Avoid traditional landscape transitions that may not translate well to a portrait orientation.
  1. Keep it short and concise: Vertical videos are often consumed on social media platforms where users have short attention spans. Aim to create concise content that quickly captures the viewer's attention and conveys your message efficiently.
  1. Adapt existing content: If you're repurposing existing landscape videos for a vertical format, make sure to reframe and adjust the content to fit the new aspect ratio. This may involve cropping, zooming, or rearranging elements to ensure the final product looks polished and intentional.
  1. Test your video: Before publishing your vertical video, watch it on a mobile device to ensure it looks and sounds as intended. This will help you identify any issues or adjustments that need to be made before sharing it with your audience.

Future of Vertical Videos

The future of vertical video appears promising as mobile device usage continues to grow, and social media platforms increasingly embrace this format. Here are some trends and predictions for the future of vertical video:

Widespread adoption

As more people consume content on mobile devices, vertical video is likely to become even more commonplace. Brands, content creators, and advertisers will continue to prioritize this format to meet the changing preferences of their audience.

Integration into traditional media

Vertical video might start appearing in more traditional forms of media, such as television, digital signage, and advertising displays. This could lead to a greater mix of vertical and landscape content across various platforms.

Platform-specific content

Social media platforms that focus on vertical video, like TikTok, Instagram Stories, and Snapchat, will continue to evolve and develop new features to enhance the vertical video experience. This could lead to even more platform-specific content and innovative ways to engage with audiences.

Improved technology

As the demand for vertical video grows, technology for filming, editing, and consuming vertical content will improve. Cameras, smartphones, and editing software may introduce new features specifically designed for vertical video production.

Virtual reality and immersive experiences

Vertical video could play a role in the development of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences. The immersive nature of vertical video could be leveraged to create more engaging and interactive content within these emerging technologies.

Influencer marketing

Brands will continue to collaborate with influencers and creators who excel in vertical video storytelling, taking advantage of their expertise and established audiences to reach new consumers.


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