Reaction videos are all the craze in 2021, and they’re surprisingly easy for hobbyists, amateurs, and professionals alike to make at home. Still, there are some dos and don’ts to the process, especially if you want to avoid copyright infringement.
Here’s how to make a reaction video in 2021:
- Learn about fair use.
- Find your niche.
- Choose a channel to make reaction videos for.
- Get the right equipment.
- Find a crew.
- Use OBS to record and format reaction videos.
- Optimize content and avoid copyright infringement.
- Cite your sources.
In this article, I’ll guide you through all the steps it takes to make a top-viewed reaction video in 2021 and teach you everything you need to know about becoming a reaction YouTuber. I’ll also give you tips on how to avoid copyright infringement and work with music videos. So, let’s get started!
1. Learn About Fair Use
Before you start making reaction videos at home, you’ll need to understand what you can and cannot post on Youtube. That way, your content will follow the guidelines and regulations that keep you from infringing other videos’ copyrights.
Most internet videos and content comply with Fair Use, a legal doctrine, though YouTube doesn’t enforce it. Only a legal court can enforce Fair Use.
Fair Use is an exception to copyright law, and it allows you to use other internet videos on your own as long as your content is transformative. That means that you have to add criticism, commentary, research, teaching, or news reporting to your reaction video to comply with Fair Use.
So, to better understand Fair Use, let’s look at an example: say I wanted to make a reaction video for a brand new video on Youtube.
If I made a reaction video but didn’t say anything or add any of my own original content, I would not have complied with Fair Use.
However, if I frequently paused the original video and talked about it using my own words and ideas or added unique visuals, jokes, criticism, editing, and commentary to my reaction, I would comply with Fair Use.
The more of these transformative elements I used, the more likely it would be that my reaction video would comply with Fair Use.
Still, Fair Use isn’t always as simple as that example. You might be more likely to experience demonetization or lawsuits that have to do with Fair Use if:
- You copied large portions of another person’s original content or used the entire original video in your reaction (includes music and/or visuals).
- You’re attempting to monetize your Youtube video.
- You used fictional or musical copyrighted videos in your reaction.
- Your reaction interferes with the original artist or producer’s ability to profit from their original video.
Regardless of whether you fit these criteria or not, you’re always risking a Fair Use lawsuit anytime you use someone else’s content without their explicit permission.
So, if you can, you should seek explicit consent before making a reaction video.
However, getting permission isn’t always an option with famous and busy producers and musicians. In that case, try to make your reaction video as transformative and original as possible and promote the content’s channel.
It’s also important to note that just because you include a copyright disclaimer, that doesn’t mean you won’t experience demonetization or a Fair Use dispute.
As a general rule, always be prepared to defend your content and only create content worth defending.
2. Find Your Niche
If you want your content to be as original and exciting as possible, you’ll need to find the right content for you to react to.
You want to be able to easily criticize, joke, and offer insights into the content you react to, so picking a niche that fits your passions is crucial if you’re going to stay monetized and get millions of views.
Some popular YouTube reaction niches include:
- DIY and Lifehack channels
- Celebrity drama
- Music videos
- Career-related videos (doctors, lawyers, business owners, nutritionists, teachers react)
- Tiktok videos
- Fashion, style, and design
- Video games
- YouTube comment reactions
- Older youtube videos
- Internet challenges
- Movie trailers and movies
- Product reviews
Still, there are tons of videos out there to react to. So, think about what you like to watch on YouTube and react to it on screen. That way, you can be sure that you’ll always have something to say.
3. Choose a Channel To Make Reaction Videos For
Some YouTube channels don’t allow you to upload reactions to their videos at all. That’s because some channels want to protect their content from being re-uploaded or reused by people who may or may not add publicity to their productions.
Still, as a Youtuber, it can be challenging to find channels you can use in your reaction videos since most permission is implicit and never clearly stated in a video’s description.
Some popular channels that many people react to (and that aren’t likely to place a copyright claim) include:
- 5-minute crafts
- Trend Nation
- Watch Mojo
- Planet Dolan
- Be Amazed
- Origins Explained
- The Richest
- The Infographics Show
Ultimately, if you’re unsure of what videos you might have permission to react to, browse YouTube for other reaction videos. Look down in the video descriptions and take note of their sources. Then, check out the original channels where the videos came from and find a video you want to react to.
Also, it’s important to note that reaction videos have become a competitive niche on YouTube, and being the first to post a reaction can give you tons of new subscribers and views.
So, if you’re in a music niche, viewing the video premieres and posting your reaction the same day is an excellent way to get more traffic on your channel.
4. Get the Right Equipment
Creating reaction videos is an easy way to learn the basics of becoming a full-time YouTuber since you don’t need too much equipment or any special skills to make them. However, you’ll need some baseline equipment to get started.
To make reaction videos, you’ll need:
- A video camera or phone/computer with a built-in high-resolution camera
- A computer
- A microphone or headphones with a built-in microphone
- Bright lighting
- A pleasant background/studio space for filming (optional)
Most people already have these things lying around their homes, which makes getting started simple.
However, if you want to up your game and create high-quality videos, an excellent video camera and a quality microphone is a must since people are more likely to watch aesthetically pleasing content that sounds good.
Also, never doubt the importance of good lighting. When you react to other videos, your face needs to be clear and visible to your audience. That way, they can see your reactions.
In addition, creating an enjoyable atmosphere for your reaction videos could help you make more original, transformative content, so feel free to add as much art, decor, and ambiance as you see fit.
Depending on what kind of video you want to react to, you may want to set up a studio space in your home or get props.
For example, suppose you want to react to DIY videos or ‘life hack’ channels. In that case, you may need some extra materials and crafting tools to make your content as engaging, original, and enjoyable as possible.
Overall, the better your video looks, the more likely you’re to get plenty of clicks and views, so personalize your space and capture it in a way that fits your style!
Doing so could even help you avoid a Fair Use dispute.
5. Find a Crew
Although you can make reaction videos on your own, having a partner or team makes the video more exciting and relatable for your viewers.
Working together also makes your commentary more original and easier to develop, so if you want to aim for success, find yourself a family member, friend, or colleague to help you film.
Also, with the convenience of split-screen filming, you can always work with other content creators via video chat. That way, you can ensure that your reaction stays lively and transformative, even if your partner is miles away.
Having a partner or crew to work with makes entertaining your audience significantly easier. That way, you can work together to spark up conversations or debates while you react.
6. Use OBS To Record and Format Reaction Videos
Although you can use other software to film your reaction videos, OBS is by far the most popular software among YouTube reaction channels.
OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) is a free program that allows you to optimize your video’s visual setup while filming or live streaming. You can use it with any computer camera or external webcam, and it’ll work with USB, headphones, or built-in computer microphones.
If you haven’t used OBS, I’ll help you set up the most standard reaction video format and teach you how to record a sample reaction video.
- Launch OBS from your desktop.
- Click on the “+” at the bottom left of the OBS window under “Sources.”
- Select “Audio Input Capture” and add your microphone.
- Go back to the “+” menu.
- Select “Video Capture Device” and pair your camera with the software.
- Select the “+” again.
- Go to “Window Capture” and click the box for “Show Windows With Empty Names.”
- Select your web browser window or any other open window on your desktop, such as a video player, and save your changes (OBS may need to restart now after you permit it to record your screen).
- Reopen OBS and click the “+” menu, then select “Window Capture” again.
- Select your Browser and wait for the screen or a black screen to appear on your pop-up menu.
- Select “ok.”
- Check your video window for an image from your video camera and another box with your computer screen in it.
- Click on each video image and use the red brackets to adjust the size and position of each live video.
- Use the “Audio Input Capture” volume gauge to adjust the volume of the video you want to react to.
- Use the controls panel in the bottom right corner of OBS to start and stop recording.
- After recording, select “file” from the top bar of your computer’s desktop.
- Select “show recordings” from the drop-down file menu.
- Your computer should open your recordings.
Those are the basics of using OBS. If you need more help getting started, check out this fantastic tutorial from a fellow reaction video YouTuber, Quamax:
7. Optimize Content and Avoid Copyright Infringement
The video editing phase is your last chance to make your content unique and original.
In editing, try to use your own graphic designs and use as much free, open-source music from the YouTube Music Library or another Royalty-free Music Library as your video allows.
While you’re editing a reaction video, it’s essential to remember that your commentary and criticism need to take center stage. That way, you can create new content that racks up views while also avoiding copyright infringement.
It would be best to make your content more engaging and louder than the video you’re reacting to. Your commentary should take up at least 50% of your audio time, and you or your partners should be on screen at all times.
When you arrange your video screen, your reaction should be your video’s most significant visual component. If you choose to play the video you are reacting to, ensure that you’re always on-screen in one of the corners of the video.
You may also want to cut out the audio or visuals of the video you’re reacting to strategically to ensure that you don’t include too much of it (to protect yourself from a Fair Use dispute).
Cut out the audio when you have something interesting to say or when you tell a joke. Turn off the video when you do something interesting on-screen. For the best results, alternate between turning off the audio and visuals of the video you are reacting to.
That way, you still include the content, but you’re not risking a Fair Use dispute as much.
8. Cite Your Sources
When you create a reaction video, include stable links to all content creators involved. That includes production teams and channels cited in the original video that you reacted to.
That way, if you have a Fair Use dispute or copyright claim, you’re covered against any suspicion that you tried to harm the market of the video that you reacted to.
In addition, keeping your video title and description accurate and original is another way to ward off copyright claims– or at least to help disputes resolve in your favor.
One trick that many reaction video YouTubers use is listing their video as a review. Reviews often include less content from the video you react to, so labeling your video as a review often results in fewer copyright claims.
How To React To Music Videos
Music videos and musical content go by their own unique rules regarding reaction videos and reusing content. That’s because musicians and music production companies don’t want you to cheat them out of their income, which they make by selling and spreading music, after all.
When you react to music videos, it’s essential to:
- Know when to pause.
- Only use some of the video.
- Contribute tons of commentary and criticism.
- Always cite your sources.
Say you created a video that used the same content as an artist’s music video. In that case, people might watch your version of the video instead of the original one, taking views, likes, and comments away from the artist and their production company.
So, if you don’t carefully follow the guidelines for reacting to music content, your reaction video’s income will go to the original musician and their production company, or you’ll have to remove your video.
1. Know When To Pause
If you don’t want to talk over the video you’re reacting to, pause it. Pausing your video will allow you to add more original content to your reaction, helping you stay within the terms of Fair Use.
In addition, people who watch your reaction video want to hear your reaction. That’s why they clicked on your video in the first place. So, always keep the conversation going and pause the video when you want to talk about your ideas.
Pausing is also another excellent opportunity to engage with your viewers and ask them to leave some comments.
Ask your viewers if they agree with your reaction, or ask them if they feel the same way about things that happened in the music video.
When you do, you’ll connect with your audience, ultimately giving them a push to come back to your channel. In the process, you’ll also make your reaction video more original and ward off demonetization.
2. Only Use Some of the Video
Although some reaction YouTubers use the entire music video in their reactions, pausing and skipping sections will help make your video more unique.
When you edit your reaction, if there are dull moments or silences, edit them out. Keep your video lively and exciting, even if that means cutting some footage.
That way, you’ll be less likely to lose the attention of your viewers, and you’ll avoid copyright claims in one fell swoop.
3. Contribute Tons of Commentary and Criticism
In a music video reaction, you need to react constantly.
Describe what you see, use interjections, tell jokes, laugh, and talk about what you think of the content. Don’t be afraid to go over the top– your reaction should always overpower the original video.
In addition, since music videos are one of the most common copyright-claimed media out there, feel free to get creative. Dance, move around, use props, make fun of the content, or express how much you love it.
Being yourself and expressing your feelings is what makes your video unique and transformative.
You should also spend a minute or two talking about your expectations and feelings regarding the music video before and after watching it. Your commentary will make all the difference when it comes to attracting and holding an audience.
4. Always Cite Your Sources
Nowadays, YouTube offers a “Music in This Video” section of your description, which helps credit all of the content creators featured in your reaction video.
If you’re creating music video reactions, always use this section to cite the music video you’re reacting to and include another link to the original content at the top of the description box.
These description details automatically cite the music artist, the recording label, and all of the parties affiliated with the video’s production, helping you avoid copyright claims and give the artists the credit they deserve.
Navigating Copyright Claims
As aforementioned, copyright claims are widespread when it comes to reaction videos. In some cases, they’re simply unavoidable. So, what do you do if you receive copyright claim notifications for your videos?
If your video gets a copyright claim, your video immediately becomes demonetized. However, you can dispute the copyright claim if you believe you complied with Fair Use when you made your video.
Your copyright dispute will take a while to resolve, but if you don’t hear back within 30 days, your video will be remonetized.
If your dispute is denied, your video will either become permanently demonetized or blocked.
Still, if you want to put up a good fight, you can dispute the blocking of your video, and if no one resolves the issue within a couple of days, your video will be remonetized until someone looks over the dispute.
So, even if you get copyright claims, there are still ways to get your video back up and running on YouTube.
For a helpful explanation from another reaction video YouTuber, check out this video from Jacob Restituto:
Making a reaction video is easy as long as you follow the guidelines for using other peoples’ content in your YouTube videos. Hopefully, this guide has given you the information, tools, and encouragement to film your own reaction videos and share them with the world!
- YouTube Help: Frequently Asked Questions about Fair Use
- U.S. Copyright Office: More Information on Fair Use
- OBS: Open Broadcaster Software
- JD Supra: Reaction Videos and Fair Use
- YouTube: What Can I Do About a Content ID Claim?
- YouTube Help: Music In This Video
- Nolo: The Four Factors Courts Consider In a Copyright Infringement Case
- YouTube Forums: What Recording Software Do Big Youtubers Use?
- Youtube: 5-minute crafts is a DIY
- Youtube: Jubilee
- Youtube: Trend Nation
- Youtube: Watch Mojo
- Youtube: Planet Dolan
- Youtube: Be Amazed
- Youtube: Origins Explained
- Youtube: UnusualVideos
- Youtube: The Richest
- Youtube: The Infographics Show
- Youtube: How To: Avoid Copyright Claims in Reaction Videos
- Youtube Academy: What can I do about a Content ID claim?
- Youtube: How to make Reaction Videos in 2021!
- YTTalk: What Recording Software do Big Youtubers Use?