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  #1  
Old 09-23-2016, 11:48 PM
jebert jebert is offline
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Why is this technique used when showing cell phone video on TV?

I've seen quite a few cell phone videos shown on TV news where there is a normal clear image in the center and blurred images on the left and right sides. Look at this for example:

http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/23/us/cha...ng-wife-video/

Is there a name for this, and why is it done?
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  #2  
Old 09-24-2016, 12:02 AM
aktep aktep is offline
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They do it because people shoot vertical video on their phones and so they use this method to fill out the rest of the screen.
  #3  
Old 09-24-2016, 12:12 AM
jebert jebert is offline
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I would think they'd have plenty of other things to fill the screen with, especially since most of the time the video is being shown as an inset anyway.
  #4  
Old 09-24-2016, 12:32 AM
Victor Charlie Victor Charlie is offline
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I work in television news and this drives us crazy. Can't understand how people still haven't figured out how to properly shoot with their phones. You'll notice that the blurred image behind the video is the same video that has simply been enlarged to fill the screen. It's done that way for two reasons: First, viewers won't see black panels on each side of the image and think their tv is cutting off part of the video (yes, many, many viewers will make this mistake.) Second, we enlarge and blur the original video to use as the background because any other video would lead to a confusing mess on-screen. It really is the cleanest way to do it. Plus, it's much easier and faster for editors to do it this way than tracking down another piece of footage, especially when working under tight deadlines. You'll occasionally see it placed over a graphic element designed to frame it, but that can often look worse depending on the complexity and motion of the original video.

Last edited by Victor Charlie; 09-24-2016 at 12:35 AM.
  #5  
Old 09-24-2016, 11:12 AM
Doug K. Doug K. is offline
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Originally Posted by Victor Charlie View Post
I work in television news and this drives us crazy. Can't understand how people still haven't figured out how to properly shoot with their phones. You'll notice that the blurred image behind the video is the same video that has simply been enlarged to fill the screen. It's done that way for two reasons: First, viewers won't see black panels on each side of the image and think their tv is cutting off part of the video (yes, many, many viewers will make this mistake.) Second, we enlarge and blur the original video to use as the background because any other video would lead to a confusing mess on-screen. It really is the cleanest way to do it. Plus, it's much easier and faster for editors to do it this way than tracking down another piece of footage, especially when working under tight deadlines. You'll occasionally see it placed over a graphic element designed to frame it, but that can often look worse depending on the complexity and motion of the original video.
I' don't work in television news, and it drives me crazy. I don't understand why phone cameras aren't just programmed to warn the user that video will not display properly unless the phone is held correctly. With a box that requires typing "I understand"* rather than just tapping "OK"

*Or maybe "I don't care if I look like a complete n00b in front of the whole internet."
  #6  
Old 09-24-2016, 11:22 AM
friedo friedo is offline
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I' don't work in television news, and it drives me crazy. I don't understand why phone cameras aren't just programmed to warn the user that video will not display properly unless the phone is held correctly. With a box that requires typing "I understand"* rather than just tapping "OK"

*Or maybe "I don't care if I look like a complete n00b in front of the whole internet."
This should be mandatory viewing for anyone to be permitted to own a cameraphone.
  #7  
Old 09-24-2016, 11:25 AM
Channing Idaho Banks Channing Idaho Banks is offline
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I blame Apple.
  #8  
Old 09-24-2016, 11:38 AM
Grrr! Grrr! is offline
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Why can't phones shoot in panoramic view when holding it upright? THAT should be a thing by now.
  #9  
Old 09-24-2016, 11:40 AM
friedo friedo is offline
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Why can't phones shoot in panoramic view when holding it upright? THAT should be a thing by now.
The photo sensor is rectangular. You would have to somehow rotate it 90 degrees when holding the phone vertically. Or you would have to install a much larger, more expensive, square sensor of which only a rectangular slice would be used in either orientation. Either solution is unlikely, given that people who want to shoot video properly know how to do it and it works just fine.

ETA: Actually I suppose it wouldn't have to be square. You could make it + shaped. Still not gonna happen, tho.

Last edited by friedo; 09-24-2016 at 11:41 AM.
  #10  
Old 09-24-2016, 11:53 AM
TwoCarrotSnowman TwoCarrotSnowman is offline
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I was into stills photograpy for a long time before I got a smartphone, and it takes an effort of will to remember to hold the phone in the landscape position on the rare occasions when I feel the need to shoot video; shooting in portrait is perfectly acceptable with a still camera, and I tend to mentally compose with my photographer's eye.

Also, I suspect a lot people only ever watch the footage they've shot on the phone they used to shoot it. Under these circumstances, playback will look fine, so it may be they don't think about broadcast on other formats when shooting.

Finally, if something newsworthy is happening, I'd far rather it was captured in portrait orientation than missed because an inexperienced user was trying to remember the "correct" way to orient the phone.
  #11  
Old 09-24-2016, 11:55 AM
DonLogan DonLogan is offline
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Originally Posted by Victor Charlie View Post
I work in television news and this drives us crazy. Can't understand how people still haven't figured out how to properly shoot with their phones. You'll notice that the blurred image behind the video is the same video that has simply been enlarged to fill the screen. It's done that way for two reasons: First, viewers won't see black panels on each side of the image and think their tv is cutting off part of the video (yes, many, many viewers will make this mistake.) Second, we enlarge and blur the original video to use as the background because any other video would lead to a confusing mess on-screen. It really is the cleanest way to do it. Plus, it's much easier and faster for editors to do it this way than tracking down another piece of footage, especially when working under tight deadlines. You'll occasionally see it placed over a graphic element designed to frame it, but that can often look worse depending on the complexity and motion of the original video.
I knew this was the reason, but why not leave the panels black and just put the the "ActionNewsSe7en" logo on them? I think the motion in the blurred part is distracting and dumb viewers are likely to think they're "missing some of the good stuff."

Last edited by DonLogan; 09-24-2016 at 11:58 AM.
  #12  
Old 09-24-2016, 01:14 PM
rsat3acr rsat3acr is offline
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Originally Posted by DonLogan View Post
I knew this was the reason, but why not leave the panels black and just put the the "ActionNewsSe7en" logo on them? I think the motion in the blurred part is distracting and dumb viewers are likely to think they're "missing some of the good stuff."
I agree
  #13  
Old 09-24-2016, 04:59 PM
GaryM GaryM is offline
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Vertical video bus me too, but I just bought a VR headset that uses my phone and Google Cardboard Camera to shoot compatible VR video, in vertical format. The phone is horizontal on playback with side by side images. So let's assume that all the folks we see may be shooting for their VR headsets. They're probably not, but we'll feel better.
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  #14  
Old 09-24-2016, 06:26 PM
Victor Charlie Victor Charlie is offline
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Originally Posted by DonLogan View Post
I knew this was the reason, but why not leave the panels black and just put the the "ActionNewsSe7en" logo on them? I think the motion in the blurred part is distracting and dumb viewers are likely to think they're "missing some of the good stuff."
Believe it or not, that can often be even more distracting. The result is a 16x9 screen divided into three panels with the "curtains" drawing your eye away from the video. Like I said, some stations/networks have experimented with that but most have gone back to the original way. When we've tested it, we actually got some complaints from viewers who thought we were covering part of the video with station branding. (I'm guessing these are the same people who haven't figured out how the properly orient their phones when shooting.)
  #15  
Old 09-24-2016, 07:27 PM
BigT BigT is offline
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Originally Posted by TwoCarrotSnowman View Post
Also, I suspect a lot people only ever watch the footage they've shot on the phone they used to shoot it. Under these circumstances, playback will look fine, so it may be they don't think about broadcast on other formats when shooting.
Surely, if they're filming to release it to the public, they'd realize that doesn't work. At least, when I play a video on YouTube, portrait mode always cuts off a bunch of stuff and has comments at the bottom. It's not like it actually fills the screen.

Oh, and letterboxing looks like shit. Having something on the sides that includes motion makes the video feel bigger, and the blur makes it easy to focus in the center.

Last edited by BigT; 09-24-2016 at 07:29 PM.
  #16  
Old 09-24-2016, 08:09 PM
Doug K. Doug K. is offline
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Originally Posted by Victor Charlie View Post
Believe it or not, that can often be even more distracting. The result is a 16x9 screen divided into three panels with the "curtains" drawing your eye away from the video. Like I said, some stations/networks have experimented with that but most have gone back to the original way. When we've tested it, we actually got some complaints from viewers who thought we were covering part of the video with station branding. (I'm guessing these are the same people who haven't figured out how the properly orient their phones when shooting.)
A better to deal with it would be the way broadcast news has always done with poor quality amateur footage in the past: "We apologize for the quality of this video, but it's amateur footage and will not fit on a standard television screen." Then just show it masked.
  #17  
Old 09-24-2016, 08:37 PM
Eyebrows 0f Doom Eyebrows 0f Doom is offline
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Oh, and letterboxing looks like shit. Having something on the sides that includes motion makes the video feel bigger, and the blur makes it easy to focus in the center.
Pillarboxing. Letterboxing is when the image is too wide to fill the frame and black is added at the top and bottom. Pillarboxing is when black is added to the sides. (Windowboxing is when an image is entirely surrounded by black.)
  #18  
Old 09-24-2016, 08:57 PM
Cub Mistress Cub Mistress is online now
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America's Funniest Home Videos used to say something like :"hold your phone side to side so the video is wide."
  #19  
Old 09-24-2016, 09:27 PM
Victor Charlie Victor Charlie is offline
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A better to deal with it would be the way broadcast news has always done with poor quality amateur footage in the past: "We apologize for the quality of this video, but it's amateur footage and will not fit on a standard television screen." Then just show it masked.
That takes at least five seconds to say and no news director wants to slow down a newscast to do that. Seriously.

Plus, people have gotten so used to seeing cellphone video on newscasts many barely recognize it as inferior.
  #20  
Old 09-24-2016, 10:33 PM
Doug K. Doug K. is offline
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That takes at least five seconds to say and no news director wants to slow down a newscast to do that. Seriously.

Plus, people have gotten so used to seeing cellphone video on newscasts many barely recognize it as inferior.
But you just said you had complaints from people who thought YOU were covering up part of the video. Anyway, I seriously doubt that any competent news director would really think 5 seconds - or even 10 - is too long to clarify the source of a video. Especially considering that's what's always been done with viewer submitted film pre-internet.
  #21  
Old 09-24-2016, 11:32 PM
Lord Feldon Lord Feldon is online now
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I' don't work in television news, and it drives me crazy. I don't understand why phone cameras aren't just programmed to warn the user that video will not display properly unless the phone is held correctly.
You mean "will not display properly on a TV or computer screen." It will look just fine on another phone or tablet held that way. Most videos taken with phones aren't ever displayed on anything else.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 09-24-2016 at 11:32 PM.
  #22  
Old 09-24-2016, 11:32 PM
Victor Charlie Victor Charlie is offline
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But you just said you had complaints from people who thought YOU were covering up part of the video. Anyway, I seriously doubt that any competent news director would really think 5 seconds - or even 10 - is too long to clarify the source of a video. Especially considering that's what's always been done with viewer submitted film pre-internet.
I assure you pacing is critical to the flow of a newscast, down to word count. News producers also know such a disclaimer is unnecessary and redundant. Keep in mind that until somewhat recently amateur video was rarely seen in a newscast, so it may have warranted that kind of mention. Now, it's rare NOT to have cellphone video of some sort in a newscast. Anchors and reporters would be constantly disclaiming amateur video, which would quickly get more annoying than even the blurred background. People see so much iPhone video on tv and the Internet they don't need to be told what they're seeing. Some, unfortunately, need to be told how to shoot it.

Last edited by Victor Charlie; 09-24-2016 at 11:33 PM.
  #23  
Old 09-25-2016, 01:25 AM
GuanoLad GuanoLad is online now
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I've seen quite a few cell phone videos shown on TV news...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Victor Charlie View Post
I work in television news...
One of my favourite things about the SDMB (and the internet generally) is even when somebody asks a question that may be a little off-the-beaten-track, we still have an experienced expert to provide a direct answer.
  #24  
Old 09-25-2016, 01:48 AM
PatrickLondon PatrickLondon is offline
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That takes at least five seconds to say and no news director wants to slow down a newscast to do that. Seriously.
Show the phone video to one side or as an inset (they do enough of that on news programmes and continuity announcements anyway), with the description as a displayed caption.
  #25  
Old 09-25-2016, 01:51 AM
PatrickLondon PatrickLondon is offline
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Anchors and reporters would be constantly disclaiming amateur video, which would quickly get more annoying than even the blurred background. People see so much iPhone video on tv and the Internet they don't need to be told what they're seeing.
But, come to think of it, there is an editorial question as much as a technical one: isn't it in the TV company's interests to distinguish viewer-submitted content from what's been shot directly on its responsibility?
  #26  
Old 09-25-2016, 02:53 AM
Alley Dweller Alley Dweller is online now
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But, come to think of it, there is an editorial question as much as a technical one: isn't it in the TV company's interests to distinguish viewer-submitted content from what's been shot directly on its responsibility?
Almost every viewer-submitted video I see on TV has something like "Source: youtube.com" or "Source: @sexybuns69/twitter" superimposed in a corner. I think making the newsreader give a long spiel about the technical qualities of viewer-submitted video before each video would be rather tedious to me, as a viewer. I think the fuzzy blown-up image along the sides is a very clever idea.

Last edited by Alley Dweller; 09-25-2016 at 02:55 AM.
  #27  
Old 09-25-2016, 03:09 AM
coremelt coremelt is offline
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I work in television news and this drives us crazy. Can't understand how people still haven't figured out how to properly shoot with their phones. .
It's too late, the battle is over on this one. Vertical video is here to stay (and yes it's stupid). Blame Facebook and Snapchat for this. The Facebook app doesn't give you the option to browse the time line in landscape mode, so people tend to keep their phones vertical and then snap away when they see something cool. Second Snapchat is actively promoting vertical video to advertisers selling it as "more natural for social media".

http://www.adweek.com/news/technolog...r-video-164305

It's complete nonsense because our eyes are horizontal, not vertical and the social media companies are the ones that have created vertical video by not supporting horizontal browsing and shooting modes as a default ! Also if I'm sitting down watching something on my phone (not in a crowded subway standing up) then holding my phone horizontally is more comfortable!

But it's too late, it's here to stay because Facebook and Snapchat are just too big to fight, so get used to it.
  #28  
Old 09-25-2016, 03:21 AM
Victor Charlie Victor Charlie is offline
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But, come to think of it, there is an editorial question as much as a technical one: isn't it in the TV company's interests to distinguish viewer-submitted content from what's been shot directly on its responsibility?
Yes, the anchor or reporter will always identify the source of the video, but there's no need to explain why the video doesn't span the full width of the television screen.
  #29  
Old 09-25-2016, 03:23 AM
Victor Charlie Victor Charlie is offline
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Almost every viewer-submitted video I see on TV has something like "Source: youtube.com" or "Source: @sexybuns69/twitter" superimposed in a corner. I think making the newsreader give a long spiel about the technical qualities of viewer-submitted video before each video would be rather tedious to me, as a viewer. I think the fuzzy blown-up image along the sides is a very clever idea.
Just realized you beat me to it.
  #30  
Old 09-25-2016, 03:27 AM
Victor Charlie Victor Charlie is offline
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[QUOTE=coremelt;19652018]It's too late, the battle is over on this one. Vertical video is here to stay (and yes it's stupid). Blame Facebook and Snapchat for this. The Facebook app doesn't give you the option to browse the time line in landscape mode, so people tend to keep their phones vertical and then snap away when they see something cool. Second Snapchat is actively promoting vertical video to advertisers selling it as "more natural for social media".

http://www.adweek.com/news/technolog...r-video-164305

It's complete nonsense because our eyes are horizontal, not vertical and the social media companies are the ones that have created vertical video by not supporting horizontal browsing and shooting modes as a default ! Also if I'm sitting down watching something on my phone (not in a crowded subway standing up) then holding my phone horizontally is more comfortable!

But it's too late, it's here to stay because Facebook and Snapchat are just too big to fight, so get used to it.[/QUOTE

Yep. It's no less dumb than shooting tvshows in a 9x16 aspect and telling everyone to rotate their televisions.
  #31  
Old 09-25-2016, 08:37 AM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is offline
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It's complete nonsense because our eyes are horizontal, not vertical and the social media companies are the ones that have created vertical video by not supporting horizontal browsing and shooting modes as a default !
Hmm. I'm pretty sure "
portrait mode
" predates smartphones and social media.
  #32  
Old 09-25-2016, 09:26 AM
scr4 scr4 is online now
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Hmm. I'm pretty sure "
portrait mode
" predates smartphones and social media.
For paintings, photographs, posters, publications, etc, yes. Obviously. But not for video.

Last edited by scr4; 09-25-2016 at 09:26 AM.
  #33  
Old 09-25-2016, 10:04 AM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is offline
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For paintings, photographs, posters, publications, etc, yes. Obviously. But not for video.
The point is, "our eyes are horizontal" is a silly argument. Humans have been making vertically-oriented images for thousands of years. The limitation is in our video technology, not yet as flexible as our actual vision.
  #34  
Old 09-25-2016, 10:29 AM
Victor Charlie Victor Charlie is offline
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The point is, "our eyes are horizontal" is a silly argument. Humans have been making vertically-oriented images for thousands of years. The limitation is in our video technology, not yet as flexible as our actual vision.
From the earliest days of motion picture presentation, we've presented images that were, at most, square. From there we quickly transitioned into screens, whether projected or broadcast, that are longer horizontally than vertically. Over time this difference has only grown with movie and television screens getting wider and wider. Smartphones go against 100 hundred years of technological evolution.

The other problem with broadcasting vertically-shot cellphone video is the shakiness of the image. The screen is so narrow the shooter has to move the camera a lot more to follow a moving image. You need a dramamine to watch some of the video that comes in.
  #35  
Old 09-25-2016, 10:58 AM
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I knew this was the reason, but why not leave the panels black and just put the the "ActionNewsSe7en" logo on them? I think the motion in the blurred part is distracting and dumb viewers are likely to think they're "missing some of the good stuff."
+2
  #36  
Old 09-25-2016, 01:28 PM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is offline
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From the earliest days of motion picture presentation, we've presented images that were, at most, square. From there we quickly transitioned into screens, whether projected or broadcast, that are longer horizontally than vertically. Over time this difference has only grown with movie and television screens getting wider and wider. Smartphones go against 100 hundred years of technological evolution.
That's right, pretty much. Our concept of video presentation is still pretty young, and has been mostly tied to ideas about landscape scenes and earthbound narratives. We have seen some work with video projection onto objects, and onto surrounding enclosures (like planetarium domes). We're just getting to some interesting work in this line under the banner of Virtual Reality.

Anyway, most other visual forms have had much more than a hundred years of evolution, and have gone in many more directions, so I assume video forms will too.
  #37  
Old 09-25-2016, 02:51 PM
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On a recent trip I forgot to take my camera so I took pictures using my cellphone. The first time I did this to any major extent. I found it trivial to hold it in landscape mode. (Well, except my finger semi-covering the lens.) It was basically a no brainer. After all, you look at the screen to line up things. Of course you're going to notice the orientation. If anything, it seems like people would have to train themselves to take portrait pictures by default.

Portrait vs. landscape should reflect the object being filmed (Statue of Liberty: portrait, Queen Mary: landscape). But if the display device is known ahead of time (e.g. a TV screen), then suitable orientation for that rules.

Modern TV sets and movie screens are landscape oriented because our visual field is. Take a yard stick (meter for our non-US friends) and hold it in the middle a foot in front of your face. Note that horizontally you can see more of it than vertically*. This does indeed reflect the number and positions of our eyes.

* I have deep-set eyes so the difference to me is quite large.
  #38  
Old 09-25-2016, 08:03 PM
coremelt coremelt is offline
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The point is, "our eyes are horizontal" is a silly argument.
No it's valid and correct, our field of view is about 180 degrees horizontally and 135 degrees, giving an aspect ratio of 1.333:1, equal to standard (non wide screen) TV. Landscape mode fits our visual system better than portrait, that's a biological fact.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_of_view

Photography and paintings in Portrait mode were for a specific purpose, eg when you are painting a standing person on their own (or a head and shoulders), or when you want to emphasise the vertical aspect in a composition. Vertical video is very seldom done with any conscious choice that vertical is the better choice for the scene you are shooting, it's used from laziness or ignorance (or both).
  #39  
Old 09-25-2016, 08:21 PM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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The photo sensor is rectangular. You would have to somehow rotate it 90 degrees when holding the phone vertically. Or you would have to install a much larger, more expensive, square sensor of which only a rectangular slice would be used in either orientation. Either solution is unlikely, given that people who want to shoot video properly know how to do it and it works just fine.

ETA: Actually I suppose it wouldn't have to be square. You could make it + shaped. Still not gonna happen, tho.
ISTM, that it could record either way in either orientation, but rotating the phone is a good quick way to get it to record one way or the other. Also, imagine trying to see what you're recording in widescreen when you hold the screen in 'vertical mode'. It would be really tiny.

As for why people do it, you can come up with a million reasons, but in the end, at least in my opinion, I think most people (that do it) do it because it's a lot easier. Recording something with your phone horizontal usually requires two hands to hold on to it since you have to grab it by the edges so you don't cover the lens. This also means making any changes (settings, zoom, start, stop) can be difficult. Keeping it vertical is 'native'. It's how you usually hold it, you can hold it one handed, you might even be able to hit some of the buttons with the same hand, but if not, you don't risk dropping it by using your other hand.

Now I'm kind of curious if I can force my phone into horizontal always, even when I hold it vertically (even if it reduces the quality a bit).
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