'Vertical Video Syndrome' driving some people crazy

Published: Monday, Oct. 5 2015 4:24 a.m. MDT

A car burning on a vertically shot smartphone video from YouTube. ("Aj Gill" via YouTube) A car burning on a vertically shot smartphone video from YouTube. ("Aj Gill" via YouTube)

The next time somebody takes a video with their smartphone, be on the lookout for what some critics on the Internet are calling "Vertical Video Syndrome."

Many smartphones are now capable of recording HDTV-quality video that could play back on large-screen televisions and high-resolution computer monitors. But if people do not turn their phones horizontally when shooting, the videos will look like a thin band in the middle of the TV screen.

A comedic video by "Glove and Boots" on YouTube titled "Vertical Video Syndrome — A PSA" has gone viral taking on people shooting vertical videos on their cell phones. The video is approaching 4 million views and explains, using puppets, why people should hold their phones horizontally when taking videos.

An example of a vertically shot video from YouTube. ("VenomGurl4" via YouTube) An example of a vertically shot video from YouTube. ("VenomGurl4" via YouTube)

Gawker called it the "most important PSA ever made."

MetaFilter asks, "Why do people shoot videos in a vertical orientation? What is wrong with them? What fresh horrors will the rise of vertical video inflict upon our world?"

Lisa A. Sullivan's blog, Quintessential Feline says she is irked when people upload vertical videos to YouTube. "But that doesn't bother me as much as it does when the media uses examples of UGC (User-Generated Content) video for whatever story they're reporting and they pick video shot vertically," she writes. "Now, of course, when it's a breaking story you use what you got, but if it's one you're planning to edit for program (and Good Morning, America,' with its Play of the Day, 'The Today Show,' with What's Trending? I'm talking to you specifically), please don't pick videos that have been shot incorrectly. When viewers see examples of these they think it's OK. It's NOT!"

Some online video services, like Vine and video on Instagram use a square format and avoids both vertical and horizontal video.

Blogger James Watt, however, speaks out on behalf of vertical videos, saying it is suppression by the "Internet Elite."

"A large portion of crazy videos that go viral are recorded vertically," he writes. "When you're standing in public, recording something vertically helps conceal your actions. Plus, a landscape shot of the scene doesn't add any additional information. 'Here's a video of some guy going nuts. I know how important viral video quality is to the Internet, so I recorded it horizontally. Yeah, that means I cut off half his body, but look at that pavement and grass I got in the background!'"

Watt instead blames YouTube for not properly displaying the videos and sticking them in a small box on the screen. "Instead of Internet culture blaming the shortcomings of YouTube and asking them to fix their website, the slippery slope fallacy is made that vertical videos will destroy cinematography," he says. "However, other websites, like Facebook, have corrected the issue, proving that it's a problem with YouTube."

Watt does not mention transferring videos to play on televisions at home and concentrates only on how they are displayed on websites. For him, however, "Vertical videos are not going away."

EMAIL: mdegroote@deseretnews.com, Twitter: @degroote, Facebook: facebook.com/madegroote

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company