Our love affair with Instagram began four years ago, when we opened up our fledgling account in the hope of finding some like-minded travel lovers to share our experiences with.
Fast forward four years and quite unexpectedly, Instagram – an app we once used to add filters to our Facebook photos – now underpins our job as travel bloggers. From simple imagery, to stories and ‘going live’, we’ve enjoyed our Instagram journey as both the app and TTT have continued to grow and evolve.
Last week, however, our role as ‘passive’ Instagram users changed when we were unexpectedly invited to trial Instagram’s brand new feature. Launching on 20th June, we were asked by Instagram to create content designed for its latest feature, ahead of the launch date. Beside ourselves with excitement, we agreed, and just a few days later we found ourselves huddled in front of a video call with Instagram’s Head of Emerging Talent, Whitney Rosenthal.
Having recorded a podcast with Whitney at Instagram just a couple of months earlier, we had listened curiously as she continued to highlight one particular Instagram tool: vertical video. Nodding, we presumed her passion lay in simply creating more video content for the Instagram feed itself. What Whitney was hinting at, however, was of course something far bigger: IGTV.
A new app that is both standalone and inbuilt, IGTV allows you to watch long-form (up to an hour) vertical video. It’s an app that for us is a true game-changer, allowing us to finally bring video content immediately to our already established Instagram community.
And so, armed with this top-secret information, we set off to Finland with an assortment of filming devices, ready to capture our first vertical videos. These were, rather surreally, pre-loaded onto Instagram’s platform ahead of the big launch (view our Helsinki and Tampere IGTV videos here).
Having had a week to play around with shooting in vertical, both on our phones, Canon and GoPro, we thought we’d therefore put together a guide on what IGTV now means for creators and how to get the best experience (and engagement from it).
Here’s everything you need to know:
Firstly, why film in vertical at all? It’s a question we wondered during our podcast interview with Instagram, and one they gave us three persuasive answers to:
It was the third fact about vertical video that really stood out for us, and something we already suspected. Just like a portrait photo in Instagram, a vertical video takes up more space in your feed, thus increasing your chances of people stopping to engage. However, whilst one-minute vertical videos were already possible, creating any meaningful content in 60 seconds was difficult.
Working with a DSLR camera is our norm, and although we anticipate making some videos on mobile, we wanted to make shooting with our Canon 7D work for IGTV. This is particularly so for brand work, where the quality of our videos remains incredibly important.
Shooting Horizontally (if you still want to be producing content for YouTube)
Working out how best to shoot for both horizontal and vertical platforms with our Canon was initially the trickiest part of our venture into IGTV, but having wrapped our heads around it, it’s fairly simple:
If you’re not sure how to make a custom sequence in Premiere Pro, take a look at this YouTube tutorial, which we used! One of the great things about the software is that you can also reposition key frames within your content, i.e. if you want to move an object more centrally into the frame, you can do so.
If you’re not too fussed about continuing to film horizontally (as we weren’t), then by far the easiest way to capture DSLR vertical video is to simply film in portrait. Dependent on your make of camera model and lens, this might vary a little – however, we have had perfect results simply from using a 35mm lens and our Canon 7d, which provided an automatic 1080 ratio. Once uploaded to IGTV, it not only fitted the screen perfectly, but we lost neither any video quality nor experienced any cropping.
Converting to MP4
When using Premiere Pro, we did encounter an issue when the video was exported to our phones. As the files were saved as mpegs, we needed to convert them to MP4 first.
We discovered the quick workaround of opening our video file in QuickTime before exporting from there in 1080 presets. Once we had done this, the file could be read by our phones.
Shooting vertically on GoPro is easy, provided you have a suitable mount or grip. However, as users of the Karma Grip (a stabiliser), filming vertically isn’t possible (this will also be the case for drone footage etc). We therefore needed to find a work-around in which to shoot vertical video. Whilst not giving you perfect vertical imagery, the settings below (provided you keep what you want to shoot in the centre) means you’ll be able to lose some of the wider aspects, whilst still creating a great video.
Having tried both, and moved them into vertical video on Premiere Pro, I would recommend sticking with 4k wherever possible, as ultimately some quality will be lost when the video is cropped.
Of course, shooting on your phone is what Instagram want you to be doing. With no concerns regarding getting the dimensions right, filming on your phone is intuitive and easy.
Below are Instagram’s own suggestions regarding handy apps to both capture and edit mobile video content.
Instagram provided the incredibly useful guide below, concerning the specifications required to upload to IGTV (which can be done by desktop or using your phone). We have tried both interfaces, and experienced no problems with either.
IGTV will take a while to embed; as users and content creators adjust to an additional medium. However, whilst it’s in its infancy the opportunity offered by this new platform is as perhaps as pronounced as it will ever be.
It has been less than 48 hours since IGTV launched and our two videos went live. Conclusions so far? It’s already showing promising results. Whilst our most popular video on YouTube made it to the heady heights of 2,000 views (and our lowest 94), our IGTV videos have both currently received in the realm of 20,000 + views in 48 hours. Perhaps it’s down to the current lack of video content on the platform as creators find their feet, but we have found IGTV to be much more intuitive and effective in promoting and sharing our video content.
We can’t wait to see what the future holds.