Mobile video app Horizon has switched to a freemium pricing model in its quest to help banish vertical video syndrome (VVS) from the Internet.

“VVS” is the bane of the web, with millions of clips permeating public video portals sporting those god-awful black bars down each side. The cause? People shooting videos on their phones while holding the device vertically rather than horizontally — this is fine if you’re watching the video back on your phone itself, but a disaster if that clip is then uploaded to a site such as YouTube for public consumption.

Launching initially on iPhone last January, followed by Android several months later, Horizon lets you record horizontal videos (and photos), regardless of the orientation in which the device is held.

It does this by using your device’s built-in gyroscope to “auto-level” the recording, so if you’re filming in landscape mode already and switch to portrait halfway through, it will keep filming in horizontal mode. The result looks fairly seamless to the casual viewer and it is pretty clever technology, though because of the way it renders vertically shot video into a horizontal format, it’s not quite as good quality as it would be if it was shot entirely in landscape.

While the Android version of Horizon was always freemium, letting users download the app and use the basic features for free, the iOS incarnation has hitherto cost $1.99, with users automatically gaining access to all additional features. By bringing the iPhone version into line with Android, the company is looking to lure more users in to try the app in the first instance.

“Our goal with Horizon is to make it the default way to shoot video with your mobile device,” the app’s co-creator, Stelios Petrakis, tells VentureBeat. “Lowering the barrier of entry to free makes Horizon accessible to as many people as possible in order to be able to always shoot horizontal videos no matter how they rotate their mobile device.”

On the free version, Horizon includes its own branded watermark, so upgrading to the premium version is pretty much a necessity — but this at least lets you “suck it and see” before committing your hard-earned dollars. Watermark removal can also be purchased as a standalone feature for $0.99. Additional tools available in the main $1.99 upgrade include access to 2K resolution, 60/120 FPS recording, HDR photo support, and more.

Version 3.0 of Horizon also comes replete with a handful of new features aimed at mobile photographers, including straightened HDR photo capturing for iOS8 devices.

It’s worth noting here that those who have previously paid for the app won’t have to pay anything extra to gain access to the premium version.


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