MrBeast Changed YouTube Editing Forever, Can It Go Back?

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In Jimmy Donaldson’s latest MrBeast video, the YouTuber is in an abandoned city with three friends. Over the next 17 minutes, Donaldson and his cohorts build shelter, explore the area, and try to survive on rations for seven days.

Like most of the MrBeast catalog, the video is an expensive and over-produced spectacle. It amassed tens of millions of views in just a few days. But according to the chocolatier, entrepreneur, and content creator, he’s trying something new. 

According to Donaldson on Twitter/X, for this island adventure and the three other videos he released so far in 2024, he “yelled less,” made “longer videos,” and spent more time focusing on “personality.” 

The new YouTube editing strategy is to slow down videos, “focus on storytelling,” and let “scenes breathe.”

“My fellow YouTubers let’s get rid of the ultra fast-paced/overstim era of content,” Donaldson wrote. “It doesn’t even work.” 

How We Got Stranded

That style of YouTube editing that Donaldson thinks is no longer viable was what he used to get to the top. If you watch a video MrBeast created in the past five years, he inundates you with screaming, fast cuts, simple jokes, and a premise that’s easy to understand.

In earlier videos — like when he spent 24 hours on a mountain or his friends competed to keep their hands on a house — the editing was so fast-paced that a single shot couldn’t last for more than five seconds.

“In my mind, it boiled down to the comedy and timing of the cuts to make the viewer as entertained as possible,” former MrBeast editor Trey Yates told Passionfruit. “Back in that time, there wasn’t any room for them to think a joke wasn’t coming or that something funny wasn’t going to happen.”

Yates, currently an editor for YouTuber Jacksepticeye, worked on multiple MrBeast channels and videos from 2018 to 2021. During his tenure, videos on the main channel needed to be “focused on the story.” They needed to always “have tension,” giving viewers a reason to stay glued to their screens.

The idea of “staircase storytelling,” where you start with something small before moving to a larger goal, was the driving force behind videos where things started at $1 before getting progressively more expensive.

We know that Donaldson is a very data-inclined creator, constantly studying the algorithm. He even launched his own analytics platform late last year.

According to Yates, that fast-paced YouTube editing style resulted from looking at “analytics.” Number-crunchers told the YouTuber that “the personal stories of the people in the videos don’t matter. People are watching just to get to the end product.”

Can YouTube Editing Ever Go Back?

The editing of MrBeast videos has crept its way into nearly every corner of the platform. YouTubers like Brent Rivera, Dylan Huynh, and Matthew Beam have earned hundreds of subscribers by copying Donaldson’s formula.

Other YouTubers have certainly had their editing styles influenced, using flashy captions and loud edits to retain as much attention as possible.

“The biggest creator on any platform sets the example for what works,” video editor Devin Robbins told Passionfruit. “MrBeast’s channel has always been a good compass for teaching the ‘rules’ of the platform.”

Robbins worked in traditional media for years, editing for Canadian reality shows like Big Brother, MasterChef, and The Bachelor. But in 2021, he saw the writing on the wall and switched over to editing for creators. Robbins now edits for author Mark Manson.

He says he learned from MrBeast to keep “video intros tight and snappy.” He also learned to “deliver value to the viewer as early as possible.” Sometimes, he “sat and wondered about shortening or lengthening a cut by even just 1 frame.”

But YouTube viewership has changed a lot in just the past few years. Nearly 45 percent of YouTube viewership takes place on TVs, up 15 percent from 2020.

Without the need to capture a person’s short attention span while doom scrolling on their phone, longer videos that allow character development and room to breathe are becoming more viable. 

“This lengthening has changed the viewer experience,” Robbins said. “YouTube isn’t as much the place you turn to when you’re commuting to work, school, or when you have a few minutes to spare.” 

As YouTube video editing trends grew longer, so have the more popular videos on the platform. Last year, for example, Hbomberguy went wildly viral after posting a nearly four-hour video discussing plagiarism. 

“There’s definitely something in the water as far as long videos go and why they’re doing so well,” Yates said. “Because YouTube is a free platform with all this content, they don’t want to watch highly engaging, just like energy, energy, energy videos all the time. They just want something to sit back and relax to.”

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