a picture of some pancakes bounded by lines indicating popular display sizes for social media video content.

Video Formats For Social Media

A guide to reformatting footage for social media videos

Here’s how we do it…

Social media video is becoming more and more popular and relevant each year, and with the quality of mobile phones increasing too, more people and businesses are making the most of what social media video has to offer.

But with the wide array of ever-changing formats and requirements for video on the major social media platforms, it is easy to get overwhelmed or simply overlook the full potential available or worse – end up creating a great video that just doesn’t work well on the channel you want to use it on.

We start here with the full widescreen frame

16by9

Native video from a video camera is full widescreen, and content is typically shot to make the most of the full space, unless you’re shooting specifically for use as social media video content on a certain channel.

There are a number of factors to consider when approaching social media video. Although each platform supports a variety of formats, it helps to know which are the most engaging for each. We tend to talk about sizes in ratios – Facebook for instance is typically best digested on an upright phone, so (4:5) and (9:16) tall and thin formats are ideal, while the (1:1) square look is typical of Instagram, with the wider (1.9:1) also becoming more popular.

In order to take full advantage of each platform and create the most engaging social media video possible, we need to take into consideration the real estate available to us. The target aspect ratio determines how we respond, one might be thinner (9:16) and (4:5), shorter (1.9:1), square (1:1) or simply just smaller than our master widescreen video.

We need to determine what the most import information is to show to our viewer. All aspects of the video must be considered, from the on-screen action, text, logos and any other graphics that gets added in the edit. We need to ensure that the focus is on the right elements and that the correct action stays in frame. We can maintain the correct focus by adjusting the position of the video, this can involve manually tracking a subject, product or action within our edit system. Having a smaller frame can also mean that movement might feel sped up or at least more sudden – this is due having less time to show an action – so we have to consider time not just space. This all needs to be done on a frame by frame basis.

Text and logos can be tricky as some things just won’t fit and making text smaller can render it illegible. So, the correct use of text is vital, particularly with many viewers choosing to view social media videos without volume. So this could mean reducing word count, incorporating animation or using iconography, the key is that things remain punchy and engaging. We need to highlight what’s important, not bog the viewer down in the details.

You can’t simply upload a widescreen video full of text and action, and convert it to different formats without making manual adjustments, and like most things in our line of work, It is not as simple as just uploading a video and pressing a button.

19:10 Format

19by10

9:16 Format

9by16

4:5 Format

4by5

1:1 Format

1to1

You can’t simply upload a widescreen video full of text and action, and convert it to different formats without making manual adjustments, and like most things in our line of work, It is not as simple as just uploading a video and pressing a button.

The Master Video

As the video landscape of social media video continues to evolve, by the time you read this, everything may well have changed again!

Ryan Booth, Video Editor

Ryan Booth of Pocket Creatives

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