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How Sydney Morgan creates the smoothest makeup transformations

Known for her killer special makeup effects and transformation videos, Sydney Morgan tells us her tips on how to create the most dramatic transitions in your videos to engage and retain viewers.

When you think of beauty tutorials or videos on YouTube, the first thought that comes to mind might be a how to guide on prom looks, no-make up makeup or perfecting the Kim Kardashian-worthy contour. For Sydney Morgan, those types of content were getting stale and she felt there was room for a quirkier side to makeup. “The other day I turned myself into the Roblox guy,” she says, laughing. To her, beauty wasn’t necessarily about creating pretty looks, but transforming herself entirely.

In Sydney’s Shorts, you’ll often see her rapidly change from an everyday look to a variety of incredibly detailed characters — from Super Mario and Baby Yoda to a Smurf or the Grinch. But what are her tricks to making those videos so captivating that viewers can’t help but watch through the end?

We caught up with the one and only Sydney herself for her best tips to boosting her viewership.

Hook them in the first 3 seconds

This is especially crucial in YouTube Shorts videos, where you’re competing for shorter attention spans, she says. “You want those first 3 seconds to be thumb-stopping content,” Sydney says. “Make sure it’s clear to people what they’re about to watch. For me, I tell my audience ‘I’m doing THIS makeup look’ and people who want to watch will stay until the end.”

Being clear with your audience is not just helpful, but is honest and sets the right expectations.

Create an infinity loop with clever phrasing

I’ll have a video that starts with me saying "5 mistakes people are doing with makeup" [and] end that same video with "...and those are." Now you've created a loop.”

Sydney Morgan

“If you can get people to watch that video not only once but more than once, that’ll skyrocket your retention,” she says. There are two ways she does this: the first is with words. “Maybe I’ll have a video that starts with my saying ‘5 mistakes people are doing with makeup,’” Sydney says. “I’ll end that same video with ‘and those are.’ Now you've created a loop.”

She implements a similar idea for motions, where if she starts a video with her face turned to the left, she’ll turn her face to the right so that when the video starts over, it completes the transition of her face fully rotating towards the camera.

Use fast motions

The human eye can detect 30 to 60 frames per seconds, so when it comes to making an impact transition, you need to move fast. “When I’m doing beauty transitions, I move my hands so fast people aren’t gonna know when it cuts to the other clip,” she says.

Also, keep your camera in place if you can help it. If you can’t or you end up reframing the shot a little, Sydney’s trick for making sure her head is level again is physically dotting the screen with a makeup pen to remind herself of where the top and bottom of her face is. “This will help your face line up in the same spot.”

But even when you film everything as best you can, her advice is that most of the cleanest transition work comes in editing. “I used to sit there for hours lining up the clips when you can just cut off a tenth of a second and you’re done.”

Use stats to your benefits, but don’t overthink them

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“I look at my retention stats every day because it’s a good gauge of whether people are liking your videos, and if it’s not retaining folks then you can dive into why not?” she says. “I use this a lot when I’m trying out content styles and keeping that in mind when I come up with future ideas.”

For example, she’s used retention data to figure out whether 60-second videos are even too long on Shorts, and whether she should bump them down to 30 seconds. Or if folks are leaving half-way through a video, she says these drop-offs can indicate that you can insert quick cuts or zooms to build engagement.

But while those stats can be helpful to ensure you’ve found a good rhythm and balance between transitions, narrations or intro and outro lengths, Sydney reminds everyone that stats aren’t necessarily the end-all be-all.

“Don’t get caught up in the stats to the point where you become a robot and get too stuck in a box,” she says. “I’ve done this where I get too caught up in getting the exact format to feed the algorithm and you’ll just lose your sense of creativity.”

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