Smartphones have powerful little video cameras that have anyone make their own short movie clips. Unfortunately, it didn’t come with some simple instructions to hold the device sideways. As many might see, Facebook and YouTube are filled with countless videos shot in portrait. We’ve all see those extremely annoying clips where the video is just a narrow pane with thick black bars on either side.
Finally after years of the Internet crying out against vertical videos, Evil Dog Window has created the Horizon app. Available for iOS, the app uses a phone or tablet’s gyroscope to automatically keep the frame in a constant 16:9 aspect ratio. Even if the phone is portrait or some odd angle, Horizon will make sure the video is always shot in widescreen mode.
Using the app, the video window is cut into a smaller 16:9 pane whilst the rest the preview remains grayed out. The downside is all videos captured through Horizon takes a cut on the resolution front. Normally an iPhone 4S can shoot footage at 1920 × 1080, however, the app cuts movie quality down to 640 × 480.
On top of cropping the top and bottom of the video, Horizon also zooms in on the image to fill the frame. The final picture in turn looks a little grainy and reduces the size of the recording window. It might only sound like a nuisance, but the effect could be used to introduce some real-time digital zoom, albeit with some fumbled phone rotation. Alternatively, the app can rotate and scale the window so landscape shots fill the entire frame.
On top of automatically correcting videos into widescreen format, Horizon has a few filters to add some flair to movie productions. From the icon on the lower left users can switch on effects like “Movie” for a warmer picture or “Sketch” to turn everything into a world of line drawings.
Horizon is a long overdue app that removes one of the most common mistakes made when shooting smartphone videos. It comes with a few drawbacks limiting the resolution of your videos and it requires users to remember to use this app in place of the built-in camera app. But the sacrifices are well worth it for ridding the world of letterboxed, vertical videos strewn all over the Internet.
Horizon is an iOS app available for $0.99 in the iOS App Store.
Kevin Lee is a freelance writer who types all day and listens to his ever-expanding music library. Follow Kevin Lee on Twitter at @baggingspam.