[Edit 2018–06–22] This was written almost exactly two years ago, and this week Instagram announced IGTV, their platform that will definitely be used for longer form vlogging, and it will be full screen portrait video.
2016 is the year of the selfie.
Or was it 2015? Or 2014?
Selfies have been around for a while but the term and popularity has been growing steadily. So is vlogging.
Vlogging is short for video-log, like a blog but video instead of text.
Casey Neistat (Casey Neistat) is knocking out one a day. Gary Vaynerchuk (Gary Vaynerchuk) is at it, too. My friend Cory Miller (Cory Miller)has a daily one and another friend Aaron Dowd (Aaron Dowd) does weekly.
I attempted to do daily and super failed, and then failed miserably again when I did one day of weekly vlogging and decided I didn’t like carrying around my camera all day. It’s heavy. It takes up space. I can’t slip it into my pocket.
You know what else sucks about my awesome camera though? It takes too long to take out and set up. It isn’t friendly to the spontaneity of life.
I wish there was something easier like a front facing camera on my phone. Oh wait; there is!
Couple of problems with that: it’s portrait mode which means when I upload to YouTube there’s going to be black bars on the side. Gross.
I can’t just post out to Snapchat because Snapchat only lasts for 24 hours, which is great for some things, but I want to be able to provide a backlog (backvlog?) of episodes for people who are just finding me and want to see my past and observe my growth.
Another issue is the quality of the front facing camera. I don’t like the quality of mine compared to my 1080p Canon, but there’s nothing I can do to enhance the front facing camera right now, except wait for a better one to come out. Luckily, better ones are coming out. So that problem will be solved.
We need something that advocates for spontaneity of life, and looks good on multiple platforms, especially the major ones.
It also feels great to hold your phone upright, with one hand, while you’re watching videos. When you watch a landscape video in portrait mode, it gets squished down into a small video.
Conveniently, Facebook video actually works great in portrait mode, and Facebook Live is a square which works either way. Snapchat and Beme work (mostly) exclusively in portrait mode. Instagram is a square and works well in portrait mode or landscape mode. Periscope also works in both portrait and landscape modes.
Snapchat, Beme, and Instagram are great for short term stuff but they have limits on the amount of seconds and you end up breaking everything into chunks which isn’t really conducive to people who want to sit and watch a daily or weekly vlog.
As far as I know, Facebook Live and Periscope streams are unlimited. At least, the limit is high enough that it doesn’t stifle creativity on creating a great vlog.
The problem with those platforms is that they are live video. Live video is cool for certain things, but for vlogging you’ll want each day or week to be one video. With Facebook Live and Periscope, as well as the shorter video social media apps, you end up chunking parts of your day into separate videos.
I could see that becoming a thing in the future, but right now, it’s not a thing. The current standard is to have one video for each day or week.
YouTube and other major video upload sites like Vimeo are not conducive to the front facing camera’s portrait mode. So, you end up with not so great looking videos.
If you’re going to be shooting out vlogs every day, you want them to at least look halfway decent.
Luckily we can use the apps on our phone to record front facing video, and then do some editing to put all the separate videos together into one. But, it still looks like crap with the black or blurry bars on the side when uploaded to YouTube.
My proposal is this: YouTube, Vimeo and every other popular website on the Internet that allows video uploads need to set up two options, landscape and portrait. We need to have both options.
Video is the future. Vlogging is the future. Portrait mode is the future.
The other option is that we post to social media and record vlogs when comfortable. I suppose that’s fine, but my goal is to make life as simple as possible.
What I’m pushing for is to make vlogging easier, not combine vlogging and social media.
Why does this matter so much?
You need to be on Snapchat, and Periscope, and everything else that’s popular if you want to grow an audience. That includes vlogging.
All of these social media video platforms are like vlogging except you don’t really get to edit or add any fancy post production stuff, aside from Snapchat allowing filters, text, and emoji. But that’s okay because post production isn’t authentic. It isn’t real. Real life doesn’t have text on the screen and background music (unless you’re playing it through your speakers or headphones).
However, people also want a fantasy of life which is why they’re living vicariously through your vlogs (more on that later), so some level of post production is acceptable.
People want to watch you.
Strangely enough, people are creepy little voyeurs . We love watching other people’s lives, especially those who are more successful than us in whatever capacity we deem success.
Check out the hashtag #VanLife. This is a bunch of people who live out of campervans and travel the world. That’s freaking awesome. I watch and follow a lot of people who do this, because that is a level of personal success I desire.
I’ll get there, and I’ll use these people for motivation. I’ll also post in the hashtag so others can see me living the #VanLife, because people also want to be seen, and I’m no exception.
Check this out, though: you are where someone else wants to be. Wherever you are in life, someone wants to be there, and they will watch your life on Beme or Snapchat or wherever you post it.
You should start a vlog and Snapchat.
Why both? Snapchat has more active users than Twitter at this point, and vlogging is more long-term than Snapchat.
With the advent of things like Google Glass and the contact lenses that have small cameras, we’re going to be seeing each other a lot more online. We should embrace this cultural change rather than fight it.
Get active on social media video now and start your own vlog.
And to the social video sharing websites:
We need you to start providing the right tools for us. If we want to easily whip out or phone and record something really quick, your websites need to provide an option that works with either portrait or landscape.
Of course, there’s the issue of whether users are combining the two. One shot they take might be landscape, one might be portrait. This is going to be a problem for them later when editing, so so it’s not the responsibility of video sharing websites.
We need the social video sharing sites to allow two options while we, the users, only film in one or the other. There’s no clean way to combine landscape and portrait. It always ends up looking like crap and we need to consciously move past that while we grow as video content producers.
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