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April 2017 Retro Gaming Article

April 21, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Vertical video has a place at Cannes for filmmakers refusing to rotate their phone horizontally

vertical video
The Nespresso Talents Vertical Film Festival seemingly challenges the global wide-screen standard. WTF?
As a gamer, I love the notion of taking a handheld console (not my phone) to play games on the go. It's almost a logical extension of home-based console gaming. While the screens are small, sometimes it's nice to bring a favorite title along for the ride.

Nintendo has capitalized on this with their recently released Switch game console. It's a hybrid allowing a handheld tablet, with custom controllers, to also attach to the big screen in your living room via a dock. While smartphones are very prevalent, those small screens just don't do justice to the content we can explore on a large HDTV.

It took the TV industry so long to match the movie industry's screen standards. Many of the early release DVDs had a widescreen version on one side and full screen (square format) on the other. Sometimes they only had the fullscreen version. I had to return innumerable DVDs that I accidentally purchased in full screen. And don't get me started about all the grotesquely letter-boxed laser discs I watched on my 4:3 television back in the day.

I still have a few square Sony CRTs around for my old retro game consoles, but you don't find me digging up old VHS tapes watch a movie! I also rotade my phone horizontally when I shoot video. Maybe I'm too much of a conformist.

Should Vertical-oriented Smartphones Dictate Film Standards? No.

Even though smart phones are everywhere, their owners don't always understand how video works. All sorts of atrocities wind up on CNN via witnesses who took out their phones to record some random crime. Alas, they frequently hold the phone vertically and take those oddly tall videos that the news organizations squish down to fit that ridiculous height into today's HDTV sizing.

What if it wasn't a mistake? What if that tall video was an artistic statement made not by a phone owning heathen, but by artist who's medium is smartphone film? When I read about the Cannes Film Festival's Vertical Film Festival, I wasn't sure what to think. Having seen too many tall, shaky witness videos on CNN, I'm not sure I can call this "film". Although, intent may be the deciding factor.

Whipping out your phone to record a criminal should be different than artistically staging a set for a vertical oriented film. But can't the artist, turn the damn phone for some 16:9 footage?

Of course one man's trash is another's gold... so, I guess I have to be more lenient in how I define right vs. wrong. Vertical video is wrong, by the way. At the same time I feel a bit conflicted because art is art and should be free of judgmental nonsense. I'm beginning to feel some personal anger brewing in this article I'm writing. I'm all for freedom in art, but the Mashable article previously linked is pissing me off.

When Mashable asks:
Why are we still making video for horizontal screens? We're long past consuming content on horizontal screens, and it's time the video industry caught up, before storytelling is left behind.

Frankly this is the most ignorant thing I've encountered online - from a source that is often knowledgeable - in quite some time. Storytelling will be left behind because some dope can't rotate his phone? Utter nonsense!

If you want to be artsy and make a vertical film, go for it - dare to be different, but if you are recording a felon fleeing police, turn you damn phone horizontal. Thanks.

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