"Vertical Video Syndrome" isn’t exactly a problem on the scale of world hunger or poverty. Still, it’s a nagging annoyance. At last, there’s a solution, albeit an imperfect one.
So many people have smartphones today, but it seems many of them don’t know how to correctly record video. Too often, they shoot a video holding their smartphones vertically, despite the fact that videos are meant to be shot in horizontal, or landscape, mode. The viewer ends up looking at a slice of the scene recorded, rather than a video with full picture detail. (The YouTube video below hilariously summarizes the problem.)
A new iPhone/iPad app, Horizon, seeks to cure the world of Vertical Video Syndrome. The app, currently $1, pulls off a cool stunt. When you record video using the app, Horizon automatically levels the picture in horizontal mode using your iOS device’s gyroscope, regardless of how you hold the smartphone. As a result, someone shooting video while holding their iPhone vertically captures a horizontally-oriented video, which is how the video should be shot.
Sometimes, inexperienced iPhone video shooters realize their mistakes while recording and switch their phones’ orientations from vertical to horizontal. Lucky viewers then must turn their heads sideways to continue watching once the vertical-to-horizontal switch kicks in. But with Horizon, the viewer never knows when a switch from vertical to horizontal orientation occurs. That’s because the video frame remains consistently level throughout the shoot, no matter how you turn the phone. (To see the feature in action, check out the "Introducing Horizon" video by Evil Window Dog, the app developer.)
For this feat alone, it’s worth telling all your friends and family about Horizon. However, the developers, perhaps worried that one feature does not an app make, added other tricks, too. There are three leveling modes, of which "Rotate & scale" might be your best choice, as it increases the amount of the scene captured when you switch from vertical to horizontal orientation during recording. For example, let’s say you’re recording someone in vertical mode. When another person enters the scene, you switch to horizontal recording. When you make that switch, the viewer sees both people in a single frame; they may have only seen one person had you continued shooting in vertical orientation.
Other features include the ability to record while mirroring the scene via AirPlay and Apple TV; support for multiple resolutions and aspect ratios; eight filters; and social sharing via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Horizon could face a difficult road to the popularity it deserves. More experienced videographers probably won’t be interested in the app, preferring apps with editing controls such as Adobe’s VideoBite or Apple’s iMovie. At the same time, some inexperienced video shooters don’t even realize they need such an app. But I hope Horizon succeeds because it solves a real problem.