Tuesday, January 23, 2018

How To Fix Vertical Video Footage


“How do I flip my vertical video?”a client asked me recently after he had used his smartphone and shot his marketing video vertically. “Is there some program out there that will flip my footage to horizontal?” The answer?

You can’t and no there is no special program that I know of that can flip it and change the picture dimensions that would make it look right.  I tried doing that with the photo on the left to show you what I mean.


This is how the footage will look.


If I try to change the dimensions, it becomes distorted.

But there are ways you can “fix” it to fit in a horizontal format.

But before I get in to that, let’s think a bit on why you want to shoot your video in a horizontal position. For me, there are simple biological reasons. Our eyes aligned are side by side making it very natural to scan and watch movement in a horizontal plane. And although I can look up and down, when I watch something shot vertically, it just feels odd as if I’m missing what I should be seeing on each side. We consume media horizontally. TV’s, computer screens, GPS units, movies, to name a few, are made that way.

The good news is that if you are shooting with your video camera, you are probably not going to have to even think about shooting horizontally, they are set up to work that way. You’d have to put your hands in some strange positions to reach the buttons if you were to shoot that way. But the next time you are using your smartphone to shoot video and you find yourself putting your camera in front of you in a vertical position, STOP, and flip it horizontally.

I know everyone is used to holding their phones vertically and it is easier to just start shooting when you’re holding it that way. If you are doing this to quickly record something for your personal use, that’s no big deal. But if you want to add this footage to a marketing video or a video to sell, shooting vertical video smacks of being an amateur and of not paying attention.

If you did shoot something this way with your phone or you want to use footage someone else shot vertically, you can “fix” it in these ways.

  • If you started shooting and then realize you’re shooting vertically, stop filming, flip your phone horizontally and then start over.
  • What if you don’t want to stop and start filming because you want to keep the action or audio going? Flip your phone horizontally as you are filming. You can do a cut away to mask this change in action. Shoot some other scenes that make sense that you can cut away to – in film lingo this is called shooting b-roll. This will be done in the edit process. For example say you are shooting a street performance on a beach boardwalk. You can shoot crowds watching it or the beach, waves, boardwalk, etc. Or take stills and use them as cut away b-roll.

What if you have footage you can’t reshoot or you switched it from vertical to horizontal mid shoot and you need to use the footage you shot vertically? Here are some ideas:

  • Enlarge and crop the video to fill the horizontal space. Here is a short clip of what I mean. This works if your action can be focused on a certain area of the scene. I find that the resolution of my iPhone 6 is so good, I can do this and the video still looks really good. This may not be the case with older phones.
  • Put two clips side by side. Again, you layer them on top of one another on the timeline and move them so they are side by side.
  • Here’s an idea I’ve seen on news channels who want to use footage that people have taken on their phones. Duplicate your clip, layering one on top of the other in the timeline. Enlarge one of the clips and add a blur filter. That clip will be on the bottom of the timeline. Keep the clip on top in it’s original format and do not blur. To make it stand out more, add a border around that clip.

With smartphone videos, we’ll probably see more of an acceptance of vertical video especially in marketing videos but I doubt we’re going to be seeing the horizontal aspect ratio for longer form video changing any time soon. So if you’re shooting with your smartphone, pay attention to what you are doing and shoot it horizontally. But if you don’t, now you have some options on how to make it look like you did it on purpose.

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