Tanner Shinnick // Director & Director of Photography

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Why 9x16 Video is the New 16x9

As cinematographers mourn across the globe, aspect ratios for video are changing, once again. With the persistence of social media, researchers and marketers are beginning to find that square and even vertical video statistically perform better than the standard landscape, 16x9, video. As a content creator, preparing for this revolution will keep you at the cutting edge with your client. 



It was the summer of 2016. I was called into an agency to discuss a project with their creative director. In the meeting, the creative director pitched the idea of producing our next project as a vertical 9x16 video. His argument was that, since the video was going to Facebook, we wanted to take up as much real estate on people’s mobile screen as possible. He knew they wouldn’t flip their phone sideways to fully enjoy a traditional 16x9 video.

I admit, I hated the idea. It was the first time someone pitched it to me. I fought it. However, I was wrong. That creative director was thinking ahead of the curve. Now, in the fall of 2019, I get asked to shoot vertical video ALL. THE. TIME.

Since then, I’ve changed my tune and have accepted the fact that vertical video, unfortunately, is advantageous. I’ve devised 3 questions to ask clients when they’re considering vertical video.

Ask the right questions

When meeting with a client for the first time, it's imperative to ask a client what platforms they’ll be distributing the final content on. If they’re looking to post the content you’re creating onto social platforms like Facebook, Instagram or even Snapchat, it may be wise to offer a version of the end deliverable in a square or vertical format.

Keeping it in mind on the shoot

If you plan to deliver a vertical or square final format, keeping it in mind during the shoot is key. In the most simple approach, you can simply put tape on your monitor so you can roughly frame the content while keeping the 16x9 frame in clear view. If you have access to a monitor that can set 9x16 guidelines, use that.

In my opinion, a vertical deliverable really requires it own specific shoot. If your client is looking to create ads on Instagram stories or Snapchat, approaching the shoot with only vertical in mind is the best approach. 


Considering it in post. 

If you take all the right measures during production, exporting a vertical version of the video should be no problem.

While vertical or square video may be an unpopular choice in the eyes of content creators, there’s no debating with the research that it performs better. Because if this reason, there’s no doubt it will inherently become a more popular deliverable format.

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