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Vertical Video

Experimenting with Vertical Video and IGTV

I began experimenting pretty much immediately after IGTV was launched and it's turning out to be quite a lot of fun, and challenging. As I mentioned in my first post, one of the biggest challenges is the lack of horizontal space for graphics and to showcase elements in the scene.

First off I was happy to discover that we can upload videos from our computers to IGTV, unlike Instagram itself which requires the user to only upload via the mobile app. Once you set up your IGTV channel via the mobile app, you can login to Instagram via a browser on a computer and you'll then see the IGTV button appear above your Instagram images. Click that button to get to your page and then you'll see an "Upload" button show up. That's really sweet because I like to edit my videos on my computers to take advantage of the filters, music and everything else I have in my editing system.

My very first video was a re-edit of my Whipped Hot Chocolate recipe from It was originally filmed in UHD 3840 x 2160 horizontal and as most all of my existing videos are widescreen horizontal, this seemed like the perfect first video. Recipe videos are pretty straightforward so honestly, this was pretty easy. Just set up a vertical frame 1080 x 1920 Sequence in Adobe Premiere Pro and center the action. I re-did the graphics completely because the originals filled the frame left to right, they would have been illegible if I had not recut the them. All in all, not bad, but again, pretty simple translation.

Next I took my Samsung Galaxy S8 and filmed an original recipe on the fly, shooting handheld as I cooked up some Mushroom Cauliflower Rice. This time I framed it vertical with the phone and literally uploaded the video to IGTV 20 minutes after I finished shooting. I transferred the footage into Premiere Pro, added a music track, tightened up the cooking process, added graphics and added an "Instagram look" to the video. What I found is that vertical video really likes the close up. That is, being up close really accentuates the vertical video format. Wide shots and wide vistas are the domain of horizontal video. But when you can fill the frame with something pretty close to the camera, vertical video really shines.

Now having said that, my next challenge was to take something with wide vistas and imagery that fills the frame horizontally and translate that to the vertical screen. A recent zip line and monkey adventure in Roatan, Honduras shot entirely in UHD 3840 x 2160 on a GoPro. There's so much side to side that I really didn't know if I'd be able to do the trip justice. At first, I wasn't happy with the results.

As you can see above so much information is gone left and right. If I showed my hand on the rope, you couldn't see the zip line and where I was going. If I showed the zip line, you can't really experience 'riding with me.' And the GoPro is mounted on my head which is naturally swinging, moving and rotating almost constantly during the ride. If I tried to compensate too much with keeping the 'main action centered' I could give the viewer motion sickness with the computer movement fighting against the GoPro movement.

So I minimized the amount of 'corrective movement' I added and if the main action went out of center for a bit, I let it. I also started tweaking with the Scale settings, giving a little bit of an anamorphic look to the footage. So long as the entire piece has that anamorphic feel to it, it's really not noticeable as long as you don't go too far. It adds some depth to the footage as you can see below.

The image on the right looks like it's longer and the end of the zip looks like it much further away. It's a minor but effective tweak. You can see the video via the mobile app at my channel (WalterBiscardi) or here:

Since those first two tests I've been playing more with my Samsung phone and cocktail recipes which translate brilliantly to the vertical video format. I can get much closer to what I'm doing since the bottles, cocktail shaker and glasses are all vertical items. Next I'll go back and work more on my travel adventures to bring those forward to vertical video.

So where can vertical video really make an impact? Food and Cuisine certainly. Most imagery from those industries play well in the closeup and vertical space. Hospitality and Travel industries can really play well in this space if you concentrate on the closeup or somehow bring the viewer to the action. Long distance shots will need some set up and tweaking. I would probably try to film all travel materials in 4k, either vertical or horizontal to give some leeway in the edit. Certainly a lot of consumer products could play well in the vertical space. All of the industries I mentioned play directly to the public consumer and most of that audience has smartphones. They have a vertical video device in their possession at almost all times. Any of those industries can built a large audience through a smart combination of traditional horizontal and digital vertical videos. If done right, the two formats should compliment one another.

Check out my IGTV channel here or via your mobile device and IGTV App, it's available for both iOS and Android. I'm @WalterBiscardi on the apps.

Posted by: walter biscardi on Jul 5, 2018 at 2:05:55 pm Vertical Video, Instagram, IGTV, Social Media

Professional Video Editor, Producer, Creative Director, Director since 1990.

Credits include multiple Emmys, Tellys, Aurora and CableAce Awards.

Creative Director for Georgia-Pacific and GP Studios, Atlanta. Former Owner / Operator of Biscardi Creative Media. The show you knew us best for was "Good Eats" on the Food Network. I developed the HD Post workflow and we also created all the animations for the series.

Favorite pastime is cooking with pizza on the grill one of my specialties. Each Christmas Eve we serve the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian seafood meal with approx. 30 items on the menu.

If I wasn't in video production I would either own a restaurant or a movie theater.



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