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Tag: iPhone

We’re Living in a Vertical Video World

If you’ve been fighting back against the vertical video revolution, it’s time to jump into the pool. The water’s warm. Here’s how I found peace with this disruption.

I recently had an epiphany about the growing trend of vertical video disrupting the fundamentals of video production. My mini “ah ha” happened during a Zoom interview recording at work, when one person’s Zoom feed was accidentally locked in a vertical position. More on that story in a moment…

But regarding the general battle between horizontal and vertical video… It’s already over.

The smartphone has effectively killed horizontal video. We’re just living through the transition. Yes, it’s going to take some years, but it’s time to acknowledge the truth.

And that’s been really hard for me to do.

The First Time
Ten years ago, I was producing a corporate video shoot inside a multimedia brand center. My business client walked up to me ten minutes before the interview was scheduled to begin and asked if we could shoot the video vertically. She thought the background of our video shot would look more compelling if seen vertically.

I looked closely for any sign that this wasn’t actually a serious suggestion. The moment felt like those western movies right before the gunslingers do their shoot out. I squinted my eyes, tapped into my inner Clint Eastwood and waited for what felt like minutes before I responded.

“Vertical?”

“Yes.”

It was a serious request.

Vertical Alignment is Coming
So, I explained that we couldn’t reset the shot in time, as our interviewee had already arrived. And I dodged the bullet.

But I remember feeling unsettled that the horizontal foundation of all video was so casually being challenged.

That was a decade ago. A lot has changed. The truth is my client was just slightly ahead of her time.

I have not forgotten this story, and it has been a reminder to me that creative winds and video boundaries are constantly evolving. That’s life. Everything changes.

Vertical TV Sets in your Home?
Today, vertical video is everywhere, primarily fueled by the social media apps on our smartphones. Vertical is natural. Vertical is comfortable in your hand. Vertical is accessible in every way, except on standard horizontal TV monitors.

But if you look around, there are plenty of vertical video monitors in public spaces.

It’s just a matter of time, until they show up in your home…

No More Rules
I know I’m fighting a losing battle whenever I try to correct someone who’s shooting a smartphone video vertically. Sure, I still work in a horizontal medium, though (here it comes) not exclusively.

Yes, today I am creating vertical video too. (There, I’ve come out and said it.)

And the transition to vertical video is only accelerating.

The iPhone has a Vertical Lock
So, back to my more recent story directing the remote interview via the Zoom feed. The interviewee was using her iPhone, which was fine. (The image quality was actually superior to the other three webcam Zoom shots in the conversation.) But for some unknown reason, the phone’s camera was locked in the vertical orientation. I asked her to turn her iPhone ninety degrees and then immediately back again. No dice.

I was stumped. I turned to the other crew members in our TV control room and asked for suggestions.

“Turn off the vertical lock!”

What? The iPhone has a vertical lock? (I had forgotten.)

I pulled out my iPhone and was quickly reschooled on this iOS feature.

That was indeed the solution for our remote interviewee, and her Zoom interview proceeded on horizontally.

Tap the Portrait Orientation Lock
After the interview, I looked again at my iPhone. I swiped down from the top right corner to access my Control Center screen.

It’s the “Portrait Orientation Lock” button. (The icon is a little lock surrounded by a circular arrow.)

If it’s activated, your iPhone screen and apps won’t rotate horizontally when you hold your iPhone horizontally.

Your phone’s screen is then effectively locked into a vertical orientation.

Huh.

You might wonder why that feature is even there. Clearly, there’s a need to prevent horizontal anything!

And after doing some research, I am reminded that this frustrating feature is not that new. Apple has been satisfying the vertical preference for quite some time. In fact, I first discovered this way back in 2018.

A Vertical Matrix?
Yes, you and I are clearly living a vertical video world, though admittedly with any number of horizontal holdouts.

This feels a bit like my own Matrix story. You’re welcome to join if you feel similarly inclined. (There are plenty of pods to house all of us.)

But guess what? I wouldn’t place all bets on vertical video. Oh no. The truth is video can no longer be restricted to any dimension. It’s not horizontal, and it’s not vertical. Sometimes, it’s square (of course).

Maybe video will evolve into the circular. Perhaps oblong? Who knows… Trapezoidal?

The days of vertical video as the mainstream will surely be numbered.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Learn to Love Vertical Video
For now, I’m simply happy to say that I’ve successfully discarded my horizontal bias. I have made my peace with vertical video.

I am comfortable working on digital canvases that orient both vertically and horizontally.

Barrett has evolved.

How to Pack your Streaming Apps for your Next Vacation Movie Night

After a fun vacation day on the slopes, my family settled in for a movie on our hotel room TV. Here’s how we did that using my existing Apple ecosystem.

I recently returned from a little skiing vacation with my family at Mount Bousquet in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. We hadn’t been on the slopes for a couple years due to the pandemic, so it felt great to practice some downhill again. (That’s our son having fun on a snowboard in my above photo.)

Pack your Apple TV for your Next Vacation
During our time in the hotel room, I tried using a particularly useful vacation tech trick I’d learned a while back. I had brought our Apple TV puck with us with the intent to jack it into the hotel’s WiFi network. This would allow me to access our entire arsenal of streaming apps and create movie nights using the room’s big TV screen. (Doing this effectively sidesteps having to purchase anything additional from a hotel as long as the base-level WiFi can handle streaming.)

Sadly, the streaming apps on my Apple TV didn’t work this time, because the hotel’s WiFi required a multiple-step login process, which the Apple TV couldn’t access beyond the password step.

Fortunately, I had also packed a lightning to HDMI adapter for my iPhone. (It’s always good to have a backup plan, when vacation movie night hangs in the balance.)

Using this dongle, I was able to substitute in my iPhone as the streaming source and connect it directly to our hotel room’s HDTV via its HDMI cable. Then, my iPhone effortlessly served up the Disney movies we wanted via its Disney+ app.

Tech Ethics
You could say my streaming strategy unfairly took advantage of the hotel’s WiFi network, possibly slowing down WiFi speeds for others. But my iPhone ended up tethering to its cellular connection using its AT&T wireless data plan. So I don’t have to debate tech ethics here (not this time).

I pay for unlimited data on my AT&T account. So, in a sense, I’m already paying full price for my movie tickets while streaming. That said, I’m very happy not to be concerned about blowing through any data limits while on vacation!

Ensuring that Screen Time = Family Time
And why all my effort to project a movie onto a hotel room’s TV? Can’t an iPad or iPhone screen suffice during vacation? Not for me and my family. If you’re also a parent with kids, I imagine you might agree that screen time is a complicated topic.

The last thing I want to do is generate more opportunity for little eyeballs to stare at little screens, separate from the larger family focus.

If there is to be movie screen time on vacation, it’s great when it’s part of a larger family activity…experienced together.

Vacation Tech Joy
When bringing extra tech with you to create your family movie nights on vacation, please don’t forget to pack up all of the pieces before you leave. (Adapters have a way of disappearing if you’re not careful.)

And do put the hotel TV cabling back together. The next family may just want to turn on the TV without ‘Frankensteining’ together their own mini movie theater.

Nevertheless, I do enjoy screaming “It’s alive!” whenever I get my vacation TVs to work. A little tech joy always adds to my overall vacation experience.

In fact, I highly recommend it.

How to Save your iPhone when It Runs out of Storage

Don’t panic! Take these steps when you see that your iPhone’s storage is almost full.

I once pondered why anyone would ever need an iPhone with 512GB of storage. Now, three years later, I know that answer. My 256GB iPhone is packed, and I want more space. Sure, my media files can (and do) live in any number of clouds or hard drives, but of course there’s a cost with maintaining that solution.

If you’re in the same situation and considering upgrading to a device with 512GB or a whopping terabyte of storage, you probably should look at the other side of the same equation and ask yourself why do you really need to carry around that much data on your smartphone.

Let me answer that one… You don’t.

I don’t. (That said, my next iPhone will have more storage. But honestly, that’s a band-aid solution.)

The real problem and solution has to do with media management.

This is not about having enough space to maintain your media library on your smartphone. It’s about not having enough time over the years to thin out the files you don’t need. You wake up one day to realize you’ve got tens of thousands of disorganized photos and hundreds of home videos dancing about.

They’re clogging up your phone, and the irony is many of them are throwaways, minor variants of better versions. You just never found the time to go back and delete them.

iPhone Storage Almost Full
You can ignore this reality for only so long. Eventually, your device will force you to respond. You have to go through all of your media files and hack away at them.

I’ll go out on a limb and say that nobody really needs tens of thousands of photos to represent their day-to-day lives. So it’s time to roll up your sleeves and put on your media management hat.

The Good News
In the process, you might come across some unexpected fast lanes to free up space.

To do that, first review your iPhone’s storage report:

  • Click on iPhone Storage in Settings.

You’ll see a graph illustrating what types of files are sucking up your phone’s memory. You might spot a category that can be easily cleaned up. I did…

Delete All of your Downloaded Podcasts!
I found that I had 40GB in old downloaded podcasts that I could quickly eliminate. (That was a huge surprise.) I hadn’t realized when I started ‘following’ certain podcasts a couple years back that all of the new episodes would continue to download, regardless whether I ever listened to another one.

40GB gone! Whoa!

So, if you’re a podcast listener, you should definitely check that category.

And don’t forget to change the settings to stop your iPhone from automatically downloading new podcast episodes.

  • Go to the Podcasts Settings on your iPhone
  • Turn off Automatic Downloads: Enable When Following

Your iPhone’s storage report also offers a few quick and easy methods to free up memory, such as offloading unused apps. So don’t miss those opportunities.

But sooner or later you’ll need to face all of those photos and videos. It’s time to do the hard work.

Reversing Course Takes Time
You’ve slowly brought yourself to this precipice. And it may feel like death from a thousand nicks. It’s overwhelming.

So give yourself some time to dig out. Five minutes a day can do wonders. As long as you’re deleting more media files each day than your creating, you’ve found the right path.

Take control. Your smartphone will thank you.

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