Tip #974: A Master Class in Vertical Video

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #974: A Master Class in Vertical Video

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Vertical video works when you embrace it for what it is, not what you would like it to be.

One of the titles from “The Stunt Double.”

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Jourdan Aldredge, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is a summary.

If you, like me, were skeptical about the value of “vertical video” (that is, with an aspect ratio of 9:16, rather than 16:9), Apple, in conjunction with director Damien Chazelle, has created a video that will change your mind.

In this article, Jourdan links to, then analyzes the nine-minute short film “The Stunt Double” starring Tom McComas and Preeti Desai. If you haven’t seen the movie, it is totally worth ten minutes of your time. It is rich at multiple levels, not just plot but production.

As Jourdan writes: “Chazelle’s vertical short can be appreciated in a couple of ways. On the surface, it’s a fun love letter to the classic genres of film history. Even better, and perhaps more importantly, it’s a master class in how to frame your cinematography in this new direction.”

Jourdan’s article looks at:

  • The impact of vertical titles to set a mood.
  • The use of establishing shots, even vertically, to set the geography.
  • How vertical video enhances close-ups.
  • The director’s effective use of 2-shots.
  • How rotating traditional framing – like shooting the slate – can still enhance the story.

As he concludes: “If you’re going vertical, remember to embrace and elevate the limitations. If something just doesn’t want to fit, change the definition of ‘fit’ by turning your classic horizontal instincts on their head. You’ve still got a frame to fill and a story to tell.”

Both the article and the video – which are linked above – are well worth your time.

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3 replies
  1. Philip Cutting
    Philip Cutting says:

    Yup, watched it. Great piece of film making but it didn’t change my mind ?. All I could think was: think how much better it would be if he’d held the phone horizontally! ?

  2. Mike Janowski
    Mike Janowski says:

    So, if I watch the movie correctly, I see that vertical video is great for emphasizing the tallness of buildings, can be used for tight twos, and really kinda sucks when it comes to a shot like “Buster Keaton” in the car, because all I could focus on was “Where’s the landscape?”

    A good shooter will make a good shot no matter what the field size or orientation…

    • Larry Jordan
      Larry Jordan says:


      I think the bigger point is, rather than obsess about what a vertical format can’t show, use it for what it can. That’s what makes this video so interesting. the director created a video leading to the strengths of vertical video.



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