Lots of different types of videos are successful on YouTube, from unboxings and reviews to stop-motion movies and time-lapse. But one of the most popular types of video is the “reaction” video.
Made famous by brothers Benny and Rafi Fine (who for reasons we can’t quite pinpoint, are better known as the Fine Bros), reaction videos essentially feature a person watching or experiencing something, and record their reaction.
It’s that simple, and it’s made the Fine Brothers a lot of money.
Like many YouTubers, these guys struck gold by doing something surprisingly mundane and making it cool. But how do you make your own reaction video?
What Is a Reaction Video?
Put simply, it’s a clip of someone reacting to something else. It might sound like an appointment with Dr. Dull of Dullsville, but it really is a popular genre, so much so that the Fine Brothers have gained a lot of fame from it (and quite a bit of criticism for their attempts to trademark the word “react”…).
As a format, it is so simple you wouldn’t believe it. Essentially, the item being viewed – a film, TV show, or video game – is displayed in the corner of the video clip, using picture-in-picture software.
Meanwhile, the main chunk of the window is you or your subject, and the camera pays considerable attention to them as they enjoy (or detest…) the experience.
Use a Decent Video Camera & Mic
It doesn’t matter whether you’re using a smartphone, PC mounted webcam, or an external digital video camera – it needs to be good quality. This is a maxim that can be applied to any YouTube video, but it is surprising how many people tend to forget about making a video of sufficient quality for people to enjoy.
What device you choose for your reaction video may well influence your choice of software. Desktop software and mobile apps can be used here, so if you’re using a smartphone with an app designed for recording reactions (see below), then you’re at an advantage.
On the other hand, you may prefer the option to be able to record reactions and edit them on your desktop, thus giving you a more polished result.
Either way, don’t forget that your camera will require something to mount it on. This might be a standard tripod, or box – just something to get it to the right height to capture you with something approaching a flattering angle. You don’t want to record yourself with the camera pointing up your nose… In terms of quality, while a laptop’s integrated webcam might be a good option, there’s a chance that vibrations will cause it to wobble slightly, so this should probably be avoided, long-term at least.
As far as a microphone goes, if you’re using a standalone digital video camera then this will come with a built-in mic. Using a PC to record video and audio? A good quality PC-compatible (or USB) microphone should suffice. It really depends on whether you’re going to be verbally reacting in your reaction video, or just sobbing.
Note that the mic will pick up audio from the video you’re reacting to, so remember to preview the quality of this. With a quality mic and speakers, it may prove okay, and you might leave things as they are. Of course, you might prefer to overlay the video’s audio (after first stripping it) if the quality isn’t good enough through your mic. You can also listen through earphones to stop the mic picking up anything but your voice.
Make Space in Your Surroundings
Start by finding a space where you won’t be disturbed. If this means putting up a sign, locking a door, or whatever, then do so, as interruptions will ruin the video completely.
One regular problem with reaction videos is that the creator can often find that they are encroached on by the video insert. To avoid this, you need to make sure that there is plenty of space for you and the clip in your reaction video.
Get an idea of how much space you’ll need and what angle is required from the camera by placing it, recording for a few seconds, and then checking the footage. Are you sat too centrally? Position yourself more to the left or right. Too close to the camera? Move back slightly! Remember that the viewer wants to see what you’re watching, so don’t leave yourself in a situation where the video is too small for anyone else to see.
As far as visibility goes, you might also consider adding a good LED to light up your face, which creates a more professional result.
Test runs are a good idea, regardless. You could even make a few reaction videos for your own amusement to polish up on your presentation (and, perhaps, your reaction) before uploading.
Finding Something to React To
You have different options when it comes to finding something to react to; it depends on what hardware you’re using to view the material, and how you’re recording it.
Some might find it easier to simply view a video on their computer, phone or tablet; others may prefer to download or stream the material. You could, for example, download a video from YouTube if that’s the path you want to take, and this can be captured – along with your reactions –equally well with a mobile or desktop app. It’s better to download than to stream. Buffering can make your reaction video somewhat ridiculous (unless you’re specifically recording a buffering reaction video!) and will force you into some unnecessary editing.
Or you might prefer to record your reactions to a game (as above). In this situation, make sure your hardware is up to playing and recording at the same time.
React to Something You Love, or You Hate
No one wants to watch you quietly enjoying the latest James Bond movie. They want you to either LOVE it or HATE it. Extreme reactions work best for YouTube reaction videos, so make sure that you are giving it the full-on emote, especially at the key scenes – the big moments that people talk about.
If you love something, make it clear that you are loving it. If you don’t like it at all, use facial expressions, body language and verbal communication to distinctly relate your feelings. Be yourself, and be honest – but communicate in a positive manner, even if you’re not enjoying it.
And if you’re recording someone else’s reactions, stick to the same principles. But in both cases, remember to hit record!
Editing a Reaction Video on the Desktop
One popular way to make a reaction video is to rely on desktop software. Several options are available, and as long as you have a webcam (or a mobile device setup as a webcam) and desktop screen capture software, you should be able easily create your reaction video.
For instance, one option is to use, Open Broadcaster Software, which can be downloaded for Windows from https://obsproject.com/, but as its free and open source, it can be unstable, and is difficult to use. If you have experience with already, by all means use it.
If you’re using a desktop application, however, the best option is to use professional video editing software, such Adobe Premier or Sony Vegas Pro. You can then use this to merge the footage of your reactions with the show/game/pop video/whatever you’re watching, add any video effects that you feel are necessary, and output to a format ready to be uploaded.
Note that as well as desktop video suites, you can use online video editing tools. However, if you don’t have the bandwidth for online editing, and Adobe Premier and Sony Vegas Pro are beyond your budget, you should take a look at the VSDC Free Video Editor. Note that upon installation, you’ll need to take care not to inadvertently install crapware.
Create Your Reaction Video with VSDC Free Video Editor
Before starting with VSDC Free Video Editor, ensure that you have recorded your reaction to whatever you were viewing, and saved the video to your computer. You should also have a version of the video you are reacting to, stored on your HDD.
Once installed, the VSDC Free Video Editor will attempt to guide you through your project with the help of a wizard. You can ignore this, however, and select New project…
From here, select the Resolution you want (I used the HD 1260/720 pixels option) and any other changes you deem necessary, then Blank project and Finish. From here, open Add object > Video, browse for the file of you reacting, and click Open. A new window will open, asking you to select where the video will appear. Before proceeding, ensure that From cursor position is selected, then OK.
You will then be able to resize the video using the handles, and drag it around the screen. In this case, however, you should be creating a full-screen video, so ensure it covers the black background. Next, repeat the process for the second video – the one you are reacting to. This time, however, size the video to it is smaller, and roughly at the end of your gaze.
This might take a bit of effort to size and position correctly, but can be achieved with patience.
Now, with both videos imported, it’s time to click Preview and see how they work out. Note that if there is any time discrepancy, you can nudge the two files back and forth along the timeline until they match up. This can prove time intensive, so again some patience is needed.
You should end up with something a little like this:
Am I Breaching a Copyright or Trademark?
You probably heard all about the Fine Bros’ attempts to trademark the format of a react video. Basically, as they withdrew their nonsensical plan (react videos predate not only the Fine Bros YouTube channel, but YouTube itself), this should no longer be a concern.
React in any way you like!
Mobile Apps for Reaction Videos
To assist in the production of reaction videos, you can load up the footage you’re planning to react to onto your mobile device, and use an app to record your reaction. Apps are available on Android and iOS for smartphones, and on tablets.
Android Reaction Video Tools
Aangle Reaction Video – The best dedicated reaction video tool for Android, this app enables you to record whatever is on your screen and captures your face as you enjoy or dislike it. Aangle also lets you record from both cameras simultaneously, thereby capturing your reactions to live events.
AZ Screen Recorder – This app needs to be upgraded to the PRO version to unlock the front camera recording feature. This is around $4, but other features are included in the upgrade.
Screen Recorder – Another app that is free with paid upgrade, you’ll need to enable the Record face feature before recording a reaction video on your Android device. Purchasing a $1 license will remove ads and recording duration limit.
The following reaction video was produced on my Sony Xperia Z5, which has a built-in screen recorder app. Among the features of this app is picture-in-picture view, which means you can record your reactions using the device’s front camera…
Reaction Video Apps for iPhone and iPad
Moment Catcher – Designed to film people watching videos on their iPad or iPhone, this app supports onboard media and streaming content from YouTube.
Reactions – Watch them Watch! – With this app, you don’t get to choose what to react to, as it plays videos for you automatically for you to react to. The results can then be shared online, so let’s hope they’re good!
Gugu – A more straightforward approach, Gugu lets you view videos on your device’s camera roll, while recording the clip and your reaction to it. You can then share the reaction as you see fit.
Letsplay – Video in video commentary – This app will let you record reactions to videos, games, even make game walkthroughs and product reviews, while recording your face and/or voice. The app also features some editing and tweak controls.
Uploading and Finding Viewers
With your reaction video uploaded to YouTube, you’ll want to find an audience. As you’re uploading the video, you’ll be able to set tags and specify that it is a reaction video. This detail should also appear in the video’s title.
Similarly, you should add information in the video description that clearly mentions that the video is a reaction. With these details specified, your video should be easier to find. But you can also do more.
— Christian Cawley (@thegadgetmonkey) February 5, 2016
Open your YouTube Settings (click on your profile picture) then use the Connect your accounts screen to Connect to Twitter. In the resulting pop-up, Authorize the connection, enabling you to instantly alert your Twitter followers when a new video is uploaded. Although it isn’t possible to connect to Facebook in this way, there are methods and tools you can use to use Twitter to update Facebook.
Have you made a reaction video? Has seeing how simple it is inspired you to make one? Dislike reaction videos? Tell us all about it in the comments.
Image Credits:girl has a happy face by Pablo Rogat via Shutterstock