The NextWeb (TNW) brought a detailed report on how far the Chinese have gone in developing special video content that is best suited to be viewed on mobile phones. While giants like Instagram, Netflix and Spotify are coming up with 30-second previews and vertical music videos, and Snap came up with their Snap Originals, it is the Chinese who have gone the farthest in developing special content meant to be viewed on mobile phones.
Tencent, one of China’s biggest companies, was first to start developing so-called vertical dramas in 2018. Baidu, its big home turf competitor, started developing their own vertical drama content in 2019. Other, smaller Chinese companies have seen the new form’s potential and are starting to chip in new content as well. Most of these are soaps and romantic comedies.
The specifics of these shows is not that they are simply cropped for vertical viewing, but as the TNW puts it, “these shows are specifically imagined for the mobile screen from the ground up.” These shows have three common characteristics – super short episodes, they treat vertical as a genre, and they use what is called “fragmented visual language.”
The length of vertical dramas is usually between no more than two to five minutes. This is supposed to stimulate the viewer to see as many episodes as possible, even in one go. However, most of these Chinese shows have comical content – something that is easy to take in short bursts. Finally, the directors of these verticals dramas tend to use split screens, swipes, and quick cuts, something that has shown to be the right fit for this content. A new trend might be on its way.