How to Make a Reaction Video

You could become YouTube's next big thing

Reaction videos are a popular genre of online content, especially on YouTube. While reaction videos are easy to make, it's the creator's personality that has to shine through to get those clicks.

If you plan to have some fun watching a video online, record yourself as you do so, then upload the reaction video to the site of your choice.

What Is a Reaction Video?

Reaction videos are videos of people watching another video or a piece of content for the first time and reacting to it in real time. The video is the record of their response, which may include thoughts, emotional reactions, or analysis.

You often find reaction videos tied to cultural events, like the first trailer for a highly anticipated movie or a viral video. There are all kinds of reaction videos to all kinds of content.

Copyrights and Reaction Videos

One point of concern with reaction videos is in using copyrighted content. Videos have been removed for showing copyrighted content as part of the footage or included in the audio. Even if a song is recognizably playing in the background of a video, and is otherwise not a part of it, the video may still be taken down by an automated system.

The most effective approach to this is to avoid showing the relevant media. Represent it by using promotional photographs posted online by the content owner, like movie posters or album covers. Listen to audio over headphones. Don't include the copyrighted audio within the audio stream of your reaction.

What You Need to Record Reaction Videos

Before you make your reaction video, you'll need a few things. Some of these items aren't necessary but make the process easier.

  • A room: You'll need a quiet space, preferably a room with decent lighting. It should be a space you can pick up and clean easily, and that fits your equipment and setup.
  • Camera: Use a high-quality camera that records 1080p video. This can be a webcam, a smartphone, or a standalone video camera.
  • Camera support: Don't set your camera on a table. Use a tripod or a similar stability tool to keep it in place. There are all sorts of small camera gadgets that let you place cameras in surprising places, so take a few minutes to learn about them.
  • Lighting: While you don't need a professional lighting kit, you should have a few small LED lights handy to make your face visible. You may want to replace the lights in the fixtures with brighter bulbs to lift the amount of light in the room.
  • Microphone: A simple microphone from an electronics store, or a USB microphone, is good for recording audio. Even if your camera records audio, record audio independently as a back-up or for better clarity on what you're saying.
  • Headphones: Good quality headphones help you listen to audio and ensure you're clear in the video. It also helps you when reacting to media.
  • A computer: Use a relatively recent computer, as you'll need to at least playback video and record audio.
  • Video and audio editing software: There are several options available for content editing. Choose something that fits your comfort and experience level, especially since you likely won't do complicated transitions or effects.

Test Your Reaction Video Equipment

Before you film your reaction video, test the camera and microphone.

Camera Setup

Have a friend or cutout stand in for you, and place the camera in a few different places to get the best shot. Ideally, your face should be in the center of the frame, and there should be little in the background to distract your audience from you.

A well-framed reaction video shot

You should also place the camera so that you have room to move. When recording, it's easy to sit back or lean forward, so frame your shots so that you don't get lost and move off the screen.

Microphone Test

Plug in your microphone and test your voice. Don't worry about sounding like a radio announcer. As long as your voice is clear and others understand what you say, it will fit the format. Speak loudly and softly to test how well your voice is picked up.

After Filming Your Reaction Videos

Even a simple video tends to benefit from proper editing. Watch some reaction videos on YouTube to see how those are edited.

For example, many YouTubers aren't shy about using jump cuts, where footage is trimmed from a continuous shot and the subject seems to jump around the screen. This is done to eliminate spaces where not much is happening. Feel free to do the same on stretches of video where you don't feel it's relevant. Your reaction is what's important!

You may also want to sync the audio you recorded to the video you shot. The best way to do this is to put your hands in front of the camera and clap before beginning the video. The clap makes a loud noise, which is easy to match with the action of your hands.

Once finished, watch the video to make sure you're happy with it, then upload to YouTube for fame and fortune, or at least a little shared geeking out over something special.

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