The Solution to Vertical Video

The introduction of video on the iPhone 3GS introduced an issue into society: vertical video. If you’re reading this online, then you’ve likely seen a vertical video. The iPhone 3GS only recorded SD (640×480) video. Now, iPhones record HD (1080p). Thus, people are sharing around huge vertical videos via social media, SMS, etc. If you’re unfamiliar with this, then watch the following video.

This has been prevalent since 2009, but has increased exponentially in the past 3-4 years. It seems educating people on the matter is a lost cause; (non-technical) people are complacent. (Snapchat also isn’t helping the situation.)

I have a solution which doesn’t require people to learn anything new. (Plus, it will make Instagram users squeal.) Device manufacturers just need to place a square imaging sensor inside phones, tablets, and any devices which people tend to primarily hold in a vertical orientation. Most imaging sensors in cameras (DSLRs, camcorders, REDs, etc.) are in a 4:3 or 16:9 (wider than they are tall) aspect ratio. Cameras were built to be held in a certain way. Phones were also built to be handled in a certain way. If manufacturers just place a square sensor in devices held in a portrait fashion, then the software can determine whether to record with a widescreen crop on the sensor, or not. Vine and Instagram have exploded the square (1:1) content market. I don’t like the limitation of a square (especially in video), but it’s far better than vertical videos.

iPhone 5 iOS 8 UI - Video Camera modeWith a square sensor, you would load the built-in camera app and it would function the same way it does now. However, when you switch to video mode and hold the device vertically, it will display a dark, translucent overlay on the live view from the sensor. That overlay will appear on more of the screen than the clear portion representing the content which will be captured (see image left). This may entice people to rotate the device horizontally — so they can see a larger image of what is being recorded. Even if they continue to hold it vertically, the video recorded will be horizontal. Huzzah!

So, Apple, Google, Motorola, LG, and all you folks. Get Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, and all those image sensor manufacturers to make you square sensors. Then spend a day tweaking the software to support it. Then give yourselves a big hug as you witness vertical videos being less and less viewed online.

From an art perspective, I have no issue with vertical video. I haven’t not seen it used in a creative, artistic way though. Enlighten me, if you have.

Oh, and Instagram users. You’ll be sharing photos created by capturing light to every single pixel on that sensor. Congratulations.

Graphic created by me using iOS 8 Illustrator Vector UI Kit, screenshots from my phone, and a frame from a vertical video Kali sent me. 

Thoughts on Camera+ from @taptaptap

Update (23rd December, 2010): Camera+ 2.0 was just released. Yes, it’s back in the App Store. However, it won’t appear as an update in iTunes; it will act as a new app. Hence, you have to pay for it again. That’s correct, everything below — including the “sale” — is happening all over again.

When Lisa Bettany started tweeting (and blogging) about an iPhone camera application she had created I had very little interest.

I have several paid and free camera applications on my iPhone, but the app I use most (at this point in time) for taking photos is — funnily enough — Gowalla.

(Side note: If you want to add a photo to a location on Gowalla, then you must use Gowalla to take the image (you can’t choose a previously taken image from the iPhones ‘Camera Roll’). I like this feature because it means you HAVE to be at the location; no faking. Update (23rd December, 2010): In Gowalla version 3.0 it’s now possible to upload from the camera roll. It’s nice that I can now upload panoramas to locations, but I reckon a lot of users are going to game this feature.)

Other than that I use the default iPhone camera app.

As I saw reviews and videos of Camera+ in the wild I began to notice it’s potential and value. Plus, I discovered that the company tap tap tap actually created the app; they’ve made some great apps.

I decided to by the app at its “Introductory Price” of US$2.99, and test it out. In the App Store the description said “BUY NOW BEFORE THE PRICE INCREASE”. (That may not be word-for-word, but you get the idea.)

A week later it was available for US$0.99. I was infuriated. I was lied to. All of my peers — many of which also bought the app — were just as ticked off!

In a time when transparency equates to trust I just don’t understand why they would have blatantly lied to make more money. I care less about the extra money I paid than I do being lied too. Rah!

Back to the app.

When I first downloaded it I used it once, then never again. It just didn’t fit into my workflow.

There was an update or two since its launch, but the extra filters and support for iOS4 didn’t really matter to me.

That is, until the latest update (version 1.2) when they added the double touch feature (tap tap tap refers to it as ‘Touch Exposure’). Watch this video to see how amazing this feature is:

Should you buy this app? Only if you regularly use your iPhone as a camera — rather than a point-and-shoot or SLR.

If you do decide to purchase it, then you may want to wait until Thanksgiving/Black Friday or Christmas; when many apps go on sale. It currently sells for US$1.99 (AUD$2.49) on the App Store — this is apparently60% OFF FOR A LIMITED TIME”.