How To Repurpose Horizontal Video For Vertical Platforms

The only constant in social and digital media is change.

The rise of mobile consumption is spurring a significant adjustment in the way we package our content. Video content, in particular, is being reshaped into a vertical format — not for the sake of style, but for the sake of data.

The most recent Global Video Index from Ooyala reports that “The share of smartphone video starts topped 50% for the first time ever in Q2, a 13.2% Y/Y change — the best in five quarters.”

These statistics support an ongoing trend for content creators to cater to a mobile audience, meaning that cinematographers must rethink the entire production process for creating videos that can be distributed concurrently across multiple platforms. This presents an unusual artistic challenge, defying the fundamental principles of video production, such as framing and composition. With Facebook and YouTube remaining powerful social media forces, vertical video is not the sole new answer. Which leaves content creators with several options:

  • Film for horizontal distribution in the standard 16:9 ratio and publish in a vertical format with the video shrunk down to maintain a 16:9 aspect ratio and still fit within a vertical format. This option is not ideal, because the video is shrunk down and leaves empty space above and below the frame.
  • Film for horizontal distribution in the standard 16:9 ratio and publish the video vertically. This option is least desirable because it only displays the center portion of the video, and the left and ride sides of the frame are not included.
  • Film for vertical distribution in a 9:16 ratio. While creating the ideal mobile viewing experience, this limits your options for repurposing video on YouTube or Facebook in the widely accepted 16:9 format.
  • Film for horizontal distribution but re-craft the video into a vertical format (see the steps below).

How To Repurpose Your Video Content

Perhaps the best solution for repurposing video in a way that can be consumed in both horizontal and vertical formats requires a workaround in editing software such as Adobe Premiere.

Step 1Timeline Adjustment Layer

In Premiere, start a new project and import the finished video that you would like to repurpose. Drag it onto the timeline and adjust the sequence settings so that the frame size is 9:16 (1080px by 1920px).

Step 2Timeline Adjustment Layer Cuts

Add an adjustment layer above the video layer. Drag the adjustment layer over the entire length of the video, but then begin chopping it up into segments for each time the video cuts to a new scene.

Step 3Effect Controls

For each frame, go into the Effect Controls and adjust the Position of the frame so that the focus of the action is featured prominently in the vertical format.

You won’t be able to capture all of the content, but this workaround is a simple solution for taking a video that is already created in a horizontal format and allows you to maximize its usage by creating a vertical version that can be posted on platforms like Instagram or Snapchat.