Unsure of how to create reaction videos? Learn why people like them, what to remember when shooting your own, what to avoid, and more.
What is a reaction video?
A reaction video does what it says on the can: it’s a video in which someone reacts to something. Reactions to viral videos, movie trailers, and music videos are all super popular on platforms like YouTube and TikTok.
You can also find reactions and playthroughs of videogames on YouTube, and more likely Twitch, where streamers will play along live.
The subject of a reaction video is usually, well, something that'd elicit a strong reaction – whether that be a laugh, a scream, a gasp, or something else entirely. The aim is to draw out a similarly overblown reaction from the viewer, keeping them entertained.
Why do people love reaction videos?
People love reaction videos for several reasons. They’re relatable, they’re often funny, and they can introduce audiences to movies, TV shows, artists, games, and a bucket-load of stuff they wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
It’s worth noting that music and sound effects can play a vital role in reaction videos. A well-placed PANG, a moody electronica undercurrent, or an off-the-chain explosion of hyperpop can inject your content with that extra bit of emotion. A little more tension, excitement, sadness, humor – music and sound help convey these feelings just as much as visuals.
So, do you need a soundtrack to make your reaction video shine? We’ll handle it. Explore our catalog of 40,000 royalty-free tracks and 90,000 sound effects, and sign up for a 30-day free trial below.
What makes a good reaction video?
Now that you know what a reaction video is and why people like them, what makes the best ones truly the best? Let’s dig into what makes a good reaction video, and what you should avoid.
Make the reaction visual… but not too visual
People aren’t tuning in to watch you look bored. Emote. Get a little exaggerated. Have fun with it. An over-the-top reaction works better than a ‘regular’ one, which would usually just be a little chuckle, a furrowed brow, or a disapproving tut. A reaction video is basically a performance.
At the same time, don’t get too hammy. If you’re sweating and screaming while reacting to a cute cat video, some people might think you’re being a bit fake. Do what feels natural to you, but just dial it up.
Watch the content fresh
It’s a reaction video, after all – people want to see your initial reaction, rather than what you think someone wants to see. Watching something for the first time and filming it captures your honest feelings, which can’t be scripted.
If you’ve already watched the content, you run the risk of sounding scripted or looking wooden. If you know what’s coming, the video’s not going to feel spontaneous.
Think about why you’re watching the content
And why people want to watch you watch the content. Are you a retired choir leader watching death metal videos? Or a young sci-fi fan watching ancient episodes of Star Trek?
This push and pull can carry your reaction videos a long way. It’s not the only way to make them, but it can certainly spice them up. Unless you’re a well-known expert, viewers are unlikely to click on ‘Fan Of TV Show Watches TV Show.’
Nail your audio levels
Ensure your audio mix is smooth as butter. Your voice and the video you’re reacting to should be balanced nicely, so you can be heard over the original audio, but not overpower it. If you want to make your reaction videos pop, check out our guide on mixing audio for video.
It’s a delicate process, and one you won’t nail the first time. But it’s something worth practicing. People will tune out of videos or livestreams with poor-quality audio, even if your actual video is top-shelf material.
Edit your video
Unless you’re livestreaming – or using something like TikTok’s Green Screen Video tool – you’d be best off employing third-party video editing software for your reaction video. Any mistakes or awkward silences can be smoothed out or redone, and you can add a bunch of useful extras like captions, lower thirds, bespoke intros for YouTube, and more.
If you don’t edit your reaction video, it could come off as amateurish. It could work, but even pro streamers and content creators will edit their footage rather than upload a continuous, one-shot reaction video.
Export for the platform
Once you’ve edited your video, make sure you export it in the correct format and ratio. For example, the aspect ratio for TikTok is 9:16, whereas it’s 16:9 for YouTube.
Pay attention to resolution, too. TikTok’s maximum resolution is 1080p; if you upload a 4K video, it'll just get downsized, causing unwanted quality loss in the process. It’s worth exporting your video several times if the platforms you use have different requirements.
What are some of the best reaction videos?
So, you’ve learned how to make reaction videos. Want to see some of that best-practice advice in action? Check out our picks below for a flavor of the best reaction videos.
Kids React to Nirvana
The whole ‘kids react’ genre is such a novel idea. Children don’t have a filter, nor do they have much frame of reference. Showing a kid something for the first time is one of the most honest, wide-eyed reactions you’ll get, because they have no reason to react any other way.
Nirvana are a classic band. But to kids? They probably don’t know who Kurt Cobain is. Why would they? Watching a child ask ‘Is he saying crocodile?’ during ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ is an off-the-cuff, genuine reaction you just wouldn’t get from an adult.
Tega Reacts to Glass Breaking
TikTok’s home to some weird stuff. Here, TikToker Tega Orhorhoro has done a duet with… a video of some glass smashing. Yep. Just a bunch of fragile objects rolling down the stairs.
Tega embraces it, providing a running commentary. It’s really silly, and that’s what makes it work – where else would you find someone reacting to this?
Vocal Coach Reacts to T-Pain Singing
T-Pain is notorious for his autotune usage, despite being able to sing like an angel. Vocal coach Tristan Paredes goes in cold and reacts to T-Pain’s regular singing voice – naturally, he’s blown away.
If you’re an expert on a subject, your reaction will have more weight. After all, most people watching T-Pain singing without autotune would just remark, ‘Huh, turns out he can actually sing!’ They probably wouldn’t be able to explain why his delivery of vowels is so rich, though.
Do reaction videos violate copyright?
Are reaction videos legal, and can they be monetized? This is where it gets tricky. After all, to make a reaction video, you’re using someone else’s work to generate content.
One would assume that you can get around copyright issues by claiming your video is fair use, but it’s harder to check all the boxes than you’d think.
The four factors of fair use
The four factors of fair use are:
- The purpose and character of the use: Educational or non-profit usage is generally favored over commercial usage. You’ll be more likely to swing it if your video is ‘transformative’, rather than just an entire video with you talking over it.
- The nature of the copyrighted work: Non-fiction videos like news or speeches are more likely to pass the fair use test than creative content, as they’re more readily available and ‘public.’ However, video game publishers are usually more relaxed, as playthrough reaction videos from big influencers help sell their games.
- The amount or substantiality of the portion used: The more content you use, the less likely it will be considered fair use. The context may also be taken into account. For example, a key plot point or spoilerific scene might lower your chances of claiming fair use.
- The effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the work: A reaction video essentially reproduces a published work, with your contributions on top. If your video is considered to have a negative effect on the original content’s potential market, it might be difficult to classify your video as fair use.
Put simply, if your video isn’t outwardly commercial, doesn’t prevent the original rights-holder from monetizing, and doesn’t use the original content in its entirety, you’ll stand a better chance of avoiding copyright issues.
However, it’s not cut-and-dry, and whether your reaction video falls into the fair use category can always be up for debate.
Do reaction videos get monetized?
Do reaction videos make money? Yes and no. We’re aware that it’s a bit of a fluffy answer, but it really does vary. Some rights-holders will claim that your reaction video isn't in keeping with fair use, and may take action. Others might not be fussed.
Depending on which camp the rights-holder of the original content falls into, you could stand to monetize your reaction video. If someone does pull you up on it, though, your content could be demonetized or even removed.
An interesting example of reaction videos making money is Reaction Time. Hosted by Tal Fishman, the channel reacts to viral videos, Google searches, and urban myths more than professional content. However, Fishman has occasionally made content reacting to music videos.
Do I need permission to create reaction videos on YouTube?
You don’t need permission to create a reaction video. You can publish it without contacting the original rights-holder. However, this method leaves you wide open for copyright claims and takedowns. If possible, seek written approval from the rights-holder beforehand. That way, you’re covered.
However, if you’re using Epidemic Sound’s music during transitions, intros, outros, or the content itself, you can rest easy. Why? Well, our catalog of 40,000 tracks and 90,000 sound effects is royalty-free.
Royalty-free music is music that you can use in content without having to pay royalties to artists or rights holders every time it’s played. But royalty-free music companies aren’t always alone in owning the rights to the music in their catalogs. This means you might still get copyright claims from other rights holders and lose the right to monetize your content when you publish it on digital platforms. Confusing, right? We’ve got it covered.
We exclusively own the rights to all music in our catalog. This lets us offer you a subscription with a license including all necessary rights to use the music and sound effects from our catalog in your content. You can publish it anywhere online, without having to worry about problems with copyright. Additional fees or royalties? Forget about it.
It’s more than royalty-free. More like worry-free. Check out the 30-day free trial, give your reaction videos the glow-up they deserve, and start soundtracking the world today.