Quibi, the new mobile content platform from Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, is using new technology that allows its videos to instantly flip between vertical portrait framing and horizontal landscape framing as the phone moves.
The technology, dubbed Turnstyle, will be able to instinctively toggle between portrait and landscape.
The platform’s content, targeted to millennial-aged audiences, will leverage Turnstyle as a key narrative feature. Chief product officer Tom Conrad demonstrated the feature at CES 2020 by showing off a clip from the short-form series Nest, in which a terrified woman tries calling her husband as an intruder shows up on her Nest Wi-Fi doorbell. The idea is that the viewer is inclined to watch in profile mode the portion of the video that unfolds on the woman’s smartphone, as she desperately tries to call her husband. The viewer then toggles back to landscape to view more traditional narrative scenes unfold, such as the intruder kicking down the door.
It means content creators are being asked to deliver two edits of their projects, one with horizontal framing and one with vertical. The team at Quibi then stitches that together so that regardless of how viewers are holding their phones, they are seeing the shot that the filmmaker wants them to see.
To avoid lag time as a viewer switches between the vertical and horizontal orientations, Quibi’s streaming technology is designed to always be “side-loading” some of the other video offscreen, Quibi’s CTO Rob Post told the Hollywood Reporter, “so as soon as you turn [the phone], it’s there and it’s ready to be displayed. There’s no rebuffering, there’s no audio pops.”