News organisations are constantly aiming to engage wider audiences on social media, but should we shoot vertical, landscape or square? The question has been asked time and time again, with journalists looking to produce as much quality content on each platform as they can.
Some organisations like RTÉ shoot in 4K widescreen and then crop into the frame to create all three versions in HD. Others prefer to shoot natively in the format of the platform they will share to. Indeed, different social platforms favour different video formats. Snapchat and TikTok present content vertically, while Facebook and Instagram allow users to upload footage in landscape or square, with differing vertical aspect ratios for both.
It can be a minefield, especially for smaller newsrooms or individual journalists that don't have the manpower or money to produce various versions of a story.
Mobile journalist Caroline Scott explained it is more efficient to shoot in landscape (16:9) if you are to reformat content for different social media pages, speaking at Mojofest (8 June 2019).
She also said the same technique works when taking a horizontal video and making it vertical. Alternatively, she also suggested using the app Unfold to create a page with the video included in it or making the video fill the entire space and altering the position of each individual clip to fit the grid and make sure the action is not lost.
When doing this, however, remember what you are going to use the footage for. Frame wide when you are shooting 16:9, so you have that room for editing.
Although there are many apps for editing photo and video content, Scott recommended making the most of the editing tools available on publishing platforms.
"On my phone, I have Unfold, LumaFusion and FilmicPro, and then Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat. Four of those are publishing platforms, but I use them as editing platforms all the time. Start thinking of these platforms that we’re publishing on as editing tools."
Finally, you need to have a plan when putting mobile journalism into practice. Ask yourself what type of content do you need for which platforms and what type of shots are required. The more you practice, the better you get.