There seems to be a consensus among the “Internet Elite” that all vertical videos are rubbish and should be stricken from the Earth. It has become Internet culture groupthink to vehemently disapprove of these videos. Does the average member of the herd even understand why they are to disapprove of vertical videos? Or, do they just repeat and reinforce the same culture conformity banter they’ve seen elsewhere?
The reason vertical videos were originally frowned upon was that they do not display correctly on YouTube. This was a legitimate argument back then. There is an argument now that our eyes are horizontal so these videos do not “immerse” the viewer into what is happening, which is a great argument for keeping cinema horizontal, but has nothing to do with cellphone recorded snippets.
A large portion of crazy videos that go viral are recorded vertically. 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!”
Besides being inconspicuous and providing a better aspect ratio in certain situations, vertical videos will continue to remain popular simply because more people own phones than ever before. People who are “unplugged” from Internet culture will continue to record however they want.
As I said before, the original reason for disliking vertical videos was problems with playback. Let’s also keep in mind that most people are not watching phone-recorded, widescreen YouTube videos in full screen. It should become immediately clear who is to blame for vertical videos: YouTube! Not the person who created the vertical video!
In other words, YouTube doesn’t correctly display vertical video content. 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. However, other websites, like Facebook, have corrected the issue, proving that it’s a limitation thta can be overcome.
As you see above, Facebook has fixed their playback so that vertical videos span the height of my monitor. Does the vertical video capture a better aspect ratio of this Bald Eagle released from captivity than a horizontal video would have? Yes. If it was recorded horizontally, it would have captured less up and down footage and more irrelevant left and right footage. Sometimes, recording vertically is the optimal way to capture a situations.
In the YouTube screenshot above, you will see the travesty that is Vertical Video playback. If you were already angry about not getting as many pixels in the Eagle video, you should be absolutely furious right now. There’s no reason that the YouTube “expand out” feature couldn’t properly size a vertical video similar to how Facebook does. But let’s pitchfork the person who recorded the video instead because they aren’t obeying Internet culture!
The one place that vertical videos should play correctly is on mobile devices. I watch an incredible amount of YouTube from my phone; probably more than I watch from my computer. Yet, Google continues to play stupid with their vertical video playback. Instead of simply switching the variables in the YouTube app for full-screen and windowed playback, they instead jam the vertical video into the tiniest little box.
Alas, when anything defending vertical videos is posted, it’s immediately met with baseless criticism. Once groupthink sets in, the herd has no idea why they even dislike something. It’s not about the fact that they display improperly, it’s because vertical videos are bad. I tried posting about the above screenshot on the popular Internet website, Reddit, under both the Android and Google Subreddit. I was immediately down voted and harassed for doing something that could have possibly promoted vertical videos. Here’s a couple snippets:
Vertical videos aren’t going away. You can try to suppress them with your pitchforks, but in the end, Google needs to stop playing stupid and update their website and apps.