Good news! You just shot what might be the world’s funniest video ever. You’re going to be a friggin’ YouTube sensation. You’re totally going to hang out with Ellen.
Bad news: you shot the video in portrait mode. Whoops! Now the entire Internet thinks you’re dumb.
Horizon is an iOS app that auto-magically ensures that your videos are shot in landscape (read: widescreen) mode, no matter how you’re actually holding the phone. Even if you rotate the phone while shooting, the video’s orientation stays the same.
Wondering why the whole portrait/landscape thing matters? Others have explained it more aptly than I probably can, but in a nutshell: pretty much every damn screen we watch video on these days is meant for widescreen/landscape content. When you shoot videos in portrait mode, you end up with big ol’ ugly black bars on the sides that take up an overwhelming majority of the screen.
With Horizon, when you start shooting a video in portrait mode, it ends up looking like it was shot in landscape. When you start it in landscape, it still looks like it was shot in landscape. And if you start shooting in landscape, but turn the phone to portrait mode mid-way through? It keeps its landscape orientation throughout, but zooms in a bit.
“But wait! Can’t people just learn to hold their phone the right way?” You’d think so. But given that mountains of crappy vertical videos that get uploaded to YouTube every day, it doesn’t seem like people are getting the idea. Alas, the people who need this app the most are probably the least likely to buy it — if they haven’t worked it out by now, they probably just don’t care. Apple ought to swoop these guys up and tuck the functionality right into the built-in app, doing away with vertical video (unless manually selected by the user) once and for all.
I shot a quick demo video using Horizon earlier today. Whenever it appears that I’m just moving toward or away from the keyboard, that’s Horizon adjusting the frame by zooming in or out. Check it out below:
So, how does it work? The video geeks in the audience have probably figured it out already. The answer: clever, on-the-fly adjustment of your video’s framing. Whenever you’re shooting a video in portrait, Horizon automatically crops off the top and bottom of your video and zooms the image a bit to fill the full frame. You lose a bit of image quality by expanding the image like this, but it’s better than having big ol’ black bars taking up the entire screen.
(Alternatively, you can set the frame to always stay zoomed in, without any rescaling as you change orientation. The downside of this, of course, is that you’re always zoomed in pretty far— so in landscape mode, quite a bit is being cropped out that doesn’t need to be.)
Oh, and just for good measure: it has filters, because the world loves it some filters. It’ll do the standards like sepia and greyscale, but it has a few trippier, cartoony offerings as well.
I’ve been using the app for a good chunk of the morning, and it’s pretty solid. It does seem like videos shot with Horizon come out a bit shakier than those I shoot with the built-in iOS camera, though, presumably because of the constant, real-time frame adjustment.
Horizon is available for iOS only, and currently goes for $0.99 on the App Store.