The Rise and Rise of Vertical Video by Natasha Sebire

There have been a flurry of articles about vertical video's ascendancy lately.  Vertical 2015 is an overview of the last year's vertical developments, and contains an interesting graph showing the ever-increasing hours spent using mobile screens:

(Note that the report seems to assume that smartphones & tablets are always used vertically)  Source:

And recently we at the Vertical Film Festival were contacted by a researcher at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. The resulting article (or see here for German version) provides insight into the growth of vertical video in the commercial world, quoting the astounding figure of over seven billion vertical videos viewed daily on Snapchat (below).

Above: An example of how National Geographic is centrecutting material shot 4K+ resolution (below) for vertical presentation on Snapchat.  Photo: Brian J Skerry, National Geographic . 

Above: An example of how National Geographic is centrecutting material shot 4K+ resolution (below) for vertical presentation on Snapchat. Photo: Brian J Skerry, National Geographic

Although many of these are simply landscape-format videos cropped vertically (see left), a substantial number of them are created vertically from the outset, and the article describes the difficulties this involves, citing the Vertical Film Festival's very own "how to make a vertical video" guide as a repository of technical & practical solutions. Always happy to help... :-)

2016 — the 2nd Vertical Film Festival by Adam Sébire

We're happy to announce that the 2nd Vertical Film Festival (VFF) will be held in May 2016.

Details are to-be-confirmed, but most likely it will be one Saturday evening in May, and once again in Katoomba in Australia's Blue Mountains. We plan to screen once again in a beautiful vertical venue and to keep the same Festival sections as we introduced last time:

  • ⇧ THIS WAY UP ⇧, the first worldwide vertical video competition for shorts under 3 minutes.
  • TALL SHORTS, an out-of-competition section featuring a curated collection of extraordinary vertical cinema (generally under 10 mins) from around the globe.

To get the word out, Adam Sébire (who's up in the Arctic enjoying the aurora) has created a vertical teaser for the Festival.  Please share it far & wide!


The website will be updated with entry details in early January, but we wanted to let filmmakers know as early as possible, to give them impetus to shoot their next film vertically. If you're new to the concept, have a look under the "For Filmmakers" menu above for tips & techniques. One day it'd be great to set up a kind of vertical filmmaking virtual community & hub ... one day! Meanwhile feel free to add comments below.  

It's been a while between posts, and a lot has happened in vertical filmmaking since our inaugural festival; there are signs that tall-screen filmmaking is on the cusp of something big, including three vertical features (that we know of) either underway or completed and an app called Vervid which is positioning itself as the YouTube of vertical video. A good summary of other goings on (though almost a year old now) is Vertical Film 2014.  And last, but not least, take a look at this beautiful vertical film below, just completed by Jean-Charles Granjon.

That's it for now.  We look forward to lots of amazing adventures in vertical video with you over coming months.  Be sure to check back here occasionally for more details of the Festival in 2016 (and to save your fingers you can also reach the Festival site simply by going to )

¡Hasta la vista, verticalistas!




The rear-projection screen is up by Natasha Sebire

We had a bit of a test run tonight and it's looking and sounding great.  If you're coming tonight (Friday 17th Oct), the hot tip is to BYO beanbag or cushions, then you can snaffle the floorspace we'll clear up front to have The Ultimate Vertical Cinema Experience.  Get there early — doors will probably open around 8.45pm and once we're full we're full.  Be there ... or be horizontal!

St Hilda and the Tiger Snake by Adam Sébire

With two months to go, we're happy to report that we've confirmed our venue of choice, the beautiful St Hilda's Anglican Church in Katoomba (pictured, right). With a lovely tall nave, stained glass windows, glass doors to bring people in from the main street of Katoomba, and the friendly Reverend Ray Robinson it'll be a great venue for the first ever Vertical Film Festival screenings on the evening of 17 October. St Hilda is regarded by some as patron saint of culture, so that bodes well too!

In the meantime I, along with VFF coordinator Natasha Sebire (below), have been out shooting a vertical teaser for the festival in Tiger Snake Canyon in the deepest, darkest parts of Australia's Blue Mountains.

It proved to be a steep learning experience, pardon the pun. Even us verticalistas forgot to rotate the camera 90º on a few occasions, so ingrained in us is the horizontal mode of filming. Also, how exactly does one capture L/R stereo audio when the microphone is vertical?!


A lot of the time we decided to use the camera handheld. Lenses with image stabilisation were ideal for this purpose, and most likely we'll add some shot stabilisation during editing as well.

Abseiling into the canyon meant we needed to travel as light as we could. However we splurged a couple of kilos of our equipment allowance to take a Steadicam Merlin 2 for tracking shots on a Canon C100 along the canyon's most extensive section, where the walls are worn smooth by millions of years of water. (Note Natasha's el-cheapo L-bracket solution atop the steadicam, pictured below — $4 at the local hardware store, with the addition of two 1/4" threaded holes and one 1/4" bolt.)

We look forward to showing the finished film soon.

The simplest way yet to mount a camera vertically by Adam Sébire

Thank you to everybody who’s mentioned they’re going to enter ⇧ This Way Up ⇧, our 3-minutes-and-under competition section, to us so far.  We're very excited to see what you come up with!

If you haven't already, now's a great time to start thinking about suitable subject matter, and checking how your equipment might allow you to do it.

On that subject, Adrian Reinhardt, currently shooting in Madagascar, just gave us a dead-easy tip we’d not thought of for vertical camera mounting: just to rotate the baseplate — the part of your tripod that screws into the bottom of your camera — 90º (and remember which way you rotated it, to keep all your shots consistent).  Then, with the camera mounted on the tripod, just tilt the head forward and, voila!

Of course the centre of gravity has now changed and the tripod may fall over if you’re not careful. Always make sure the legs are positioned to give maximum stability, and consider adding a counter-balance to correct the centre of gravity.

We’ve added this idea to the tips & tricks page.  Good one Adrian, and thanks for sharing!

Some other examples of Vertical Cinema by Adam Sébire

To the best of our knowledge our own VFF is the the world's first competition for vertical films and videos, but are we the only such festival? Not quite! Here are a couple of other temples to the tall image.

Vertical Cinema, 12 October 2013 at Kontraste Festival Krems.

Vertical Cinema

Vertical Cinema commissioned a series of 10 works for the vertical screen from Austrian, Dutch and Japanese audiovisual artists.  The works are made on 35mm film and projected in apposite architectural surrounds in vertical Cinemascope (their main problem was finding a projector that could function at 90º to the angle for which it was designed!)  In the above picture the resemblance of the screen "monolith" to a church stained-glass window is quite extraordinary.

Vertical Cinema at IFFR (Rotterdam) 2014. Photo by Pieter Kers.

I was lucky enough to catch the program in Amsterdam at the beginning of 2014.  Only one of the films, Pyramid Flare is what might be called 'live action'; the rest comprised abstract, chemical and structuralist explorations of the medium. Arguably though, most (except the live action film) could also have been shown horizontally; they were a series of abstract canvasses that happened to be tall.  Think Gerhard Richter's Cologne Cathedral Stained Glass Windows.  That's not to say it wasn’t a pretty extraordinary experience though.

You can see some short excerpts of these films (pillar-boxed, ie. with strange black bars down the side) here, and a Flickr gallery here; however the affect of the larger-than-life vertical screen is impossible to replicate on the web, of course.


9:16 Film Festival

This Adelaide-based festival commissioned seven works for vertical screening earlier this year. 9:16 is "the aspect ratio of our time" says the website.  A bold claim indeed.  But why not?

Their films are available on YouTube (but again, in pillar-boxed 16:9. See our 9:16 Tips & Tricks page ("Working Vertically Online" section) for a discussion of presenting vertical work without it being molested by black bars on the sides).