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  • Thom Baker

Don't Be a Phony

What I call a phony is not what you think a phony is.

My definition of a phony is someone who records video on their phone holding it vertically. Like this:

When it should be held like this:

Sometimes when I'm producing a video a client will say that they shot some incredible footage on their cell phone and want it in the edit. The video quality on today's phone is vastly improved over the quality of a few years ago and can occasionally be used in a high quality video production. This isn't a guarantee as there are other things to consider, like the lighting and noise on the footage, the stability of the shot, the angle, etc. My first question that I always ask when this is requested is, "Did you shoot holding your phone horizontal or vertically?" Just the shape of the phone makes it feel more natural to hold the phone in a vertical position but doing so reduces the effectiveness of the clip. The horizontal format is far superior when showing things in daily life, like, having more than one person in the shot. Generally, what's in the width of the shot holds more valuable information than the height. We watch movies and tv shows where the width is greater than the height. In high definition it's called a 16 to 9 ratio. You're wasting valuable frame information which will be replaced by black bars on each side of the shot and will look cheap in your video production.. A video editor can zoom in on the footage to get rid of the black bars but this causes major degradation in the video signal.

I guess we are all a little lazy. Hit record on the phone and it is just so easy to not mess with turning the phone around. Remember, the next time you are shooting some great footage for personal enjoyment or perhaps for a video project, turn your phone so that you take advantage of width over height and increase the amount of information being delivered to the viewer. It's not like your shooting the Washington Monument all the time! Don't be a phony.

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