Contrary to popular belief, rotating and flipping videos are not the same thing. Although at times the terms are used interchangeably, they actually represent two very different types of transformations.
It is important to you understand the difference between rotating and flipping videos. It will help you to better appreciate what each one does, and when you may want to use it.
What is Rotating a Video?
Rotating a video essentially means that you will spin the image on its axis by a certain angle. The content of the image itself remains unaltered, and it is just its orientation that is changed.
Normally videos are rotated for either because they were accidentally recorded upside-down. To fix that a 180-degree rotation is used so that the video is rotated around its axis and appears the right side up.
Another very common way in which videos are rotated is to level them. For example if you recorded a video where the horizon is a bit tilted, you could rotate it by a few degrees so that it is level instead.
However if you are going to be rotating the video in this way you will also need to crop it at the same time.
What is Flipping a Video?
Unlike rotation, flipping a video involves reflecting it in either the horizontal or vertical axis. That will basically ‘mirror’ the image, and reverse the composition within the constraints of that axis.
The easiest way to think of flipping is as a reflection. It can change the relative orientation of the elements, but it does not alter their position.
The reason why flipping and rotating are often mistaken for one another is that flipping is also sometimes used to correct videos that were accidentally recorded upside down. By flipping the video along the horizontal axis, it will appear the right way up.
However if you compare a flipped video to one that was rotated by 180-degrees, you’ll see that they are mirror images of each other.
The exception to this is videos that are recorded using the selfie camera – which are often mirrored and can be corrected by flipping, not rotating.
Which to Use?
Now that you understand what flipping and rotating both are and how they are different, the main question that you’re bound to ask is: Which one should be used?
The answer to that is actually quite easy: If you want to keep your video composition the same then you should only ever rotate the video.
However if you want to change the composition and mirror it (and fix selfie-videos in the process), then flipping the video is the way to go. It may be helpful to experiment and see how flipping affects the video composition, and for example you can use the flip video web app to try it out.
All in all it should be noted that although rotating the video is more generally useful, flipping the video is a much more interesting transformation and can make a bigger difference to your video. However it should be used carefully, and only in specific situations where you want your video to be mirrored.