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Choose the Best Video Orientation

June 2022 – by Per Christensson

In 2013, I published a tip recommending you record video in landscape mode rather than portrait mode. While landscape (horizontal) videos look best on TVs and computer screens, portrait (vertical) videos are sometimes better for smartphones. With the rise of TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts, portrait videos have become increasingly common.

If you're recording a short video for Snapchat, TikTok, or Instagram, portrait mode is probably best. For videos that you plan to watch on a TV, landscape mode remains the best choice.

The video's content can also inform your orientation decision. For example, portrait mode might work well for recording your golf swing. But it's a poor choice for recording a baseball game since it crops out so much of the action.

Our eyes are separated horizontally, so our field of vision is much wider than it is tall. That's why landscape video feels more natural (and why HDTV has a 16:9 aspect ratio). Below is an example of a photo I took in Hobbiton village in New Zealand. Notice how much of the scene is lost in portrait mode.

Hobbiton Landscape vs Portrait Mode

▶ It's wise to consider both the audience of your video and the content when deciding which orientation to use. In most cases, smartphone users can flip their phones sideways to watch a full-screen landscape video.

In 2022, landscape mode is not always the best choice for recording video. But it's a good default choice if you're unsure which orientation to use. Landscape mode is essential if you're recording an important that you want to send to the Weather Channel or CNN. We're all tired of the skinny videos with bars on the sides.

Important: If you decide to change the orientation of your video after you start recording, make sure to stop the current recording and begin a new one after rotating your phone. The video will be sideways unless you start a new recording.

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