YouTube’s new tool lets creators turn their own videos into Shorts

YouTube wants to quickly ramp up the number of short-form “Shorts” videos available on its platform in order to better compete with TikTok. To aid with this effort, the company is today rolling out a new creator tool that turns existing YouTube videos into Shorts in a matter of moments. The update, now available on YouTube’s mobile app, allows a video’s creator to easily select a segment of any video they’ve uploaded previously, then publish that clip as YouTube Shorts content.

The company was already converting users’ uploaded vertical videos under 60 seconds as Shorts videos, even if the content had been originally uploaded as a standard YouTube video. (Not all creators were fans of this idea, we should note.) Now YouTube is hoping creators will more actively help build out the Shorts library even further with the launch of this new tool that allows them to clip interesting bits from their longer videos.

The move may signal how much YouTube parent Google is worried about TikTok’s dominance in short-form. Clearly, it doesn’t think that allowing YouTube’s Shorts library to grow organically through new, original content uploads will be enough to compete. Instead, YouTube has been relying on leveraging its existing long-form content to create more Shorts. This April, for example, YouTube announced that any public YouTube video could be “remixed” into YouTube Shorts unless creators opted out.

The new tool, meanwhile, at least puts some of the power back into creators’ own hands.

The updated mobile app allows creators to select a part of their video up to 60 seconds in length and turn that into Shorts content using the same editing tools they’re familiar with inside the app, explains the company. If their selection is less than 60 seconds long, they can then shoot additional videos using the Shorts camera or they can add gallery videos to complete their 60-second Shorts content.

Creators may be motivated to use the tool as a means of generating interest in their long-form content, as YouTube notes that Shorts created using VOD (video on demand) content will automatically link back to the original.

YouTube has been touting Shorts’ ability to drive views to creators’ long-form content as part of a trend it referred to as “the rise of the multiformat creator.” In June, the company said Shorts had topped 1.5 billion logged-in monthly users but only had anecdotal data to suggest that Shorts were helping to grow critical metrics like watch time or subscribers.

In the meantime, the fact that YouTube is leaning so heavily on its existing long-form content to build out Shorts suggests a possible lack of creator interest in filming original Shorts; or it could also mean that YouTube ultimately still sees more potential as a long-form platform — but it envisions Shorts as a marketing mechanism to boost views for its better-monetized content. 

The new Shorts creation feature is rolling out starting today on YouTube’s mobile app for both iOS and Android devices, the company says.

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