4 October 2015 | 41 Comments
A few months ago I wrote to my advisory board about the project video for Scythe. I was on the fence about filming the project video the way I’ve always done it–on my iPad–or hiring a professional designer to do it.
Most of my advisers said that we’d probably be fine either way, but it might be worth trying out a more polished, professional video. So that’s what we did. I’d like to share with you how the various parts of the video came together to form the final game trailer, which we released on Thursday (it’s at the bottom of this post).
Selecting the Designer
I had previously connected with two video designers (editors? Producers? I’m not sure of the right term here) whose work I liked, so I reached out to both of them to get a quote. The list has since expanded to include the following:
- Josh McDowell (www.behance.net/mcscowl), who created the Gloomhaven project video
- Bryce Walter (We Make Teasers), who created the Evolution project video (and others detailed here)
- Tomasz at Hexy.pl
- Kushal Ruia (firstname.lastname@example.org) at www.moovix.ca
- The Rules Girl (email@example.com) at rulesgirl.com. The Rules Girl focuses on how-to-play videos, and she handles everything: script, storyboard, animation, voiceover, and editing. They made our Viticulture video.
- Mad Genius Inc, which made the brilliant gameplay highlights video on the Who Goes There? Kickstarter campaign.
These people are both very capable, professional, and communicative designers. In fact, they were so close that it was essentially a coin flip for me. I went with Josh, and I ended up contracting Bryce to create the GIF of Scythe’s extended board.
For privacy reasons (every video is different, so you should get a quote on what you want), I won’t divulge the exact cost of our video, but I’ll say that it was higher than $0 and lower than $2,500. It is most definitely an investment.
Storyboarding the Video
I used PowerPoint to create a series of slides for Josh to implement and animate into the video. Each slide had one or more of artist Jakub Rozalski’s images, as well as some text for narration and some director’s notes.
I sent this storyboard to my advisory board and got some great feedback about what was or wasn’t compelling to the audience. This is a really important step (getting early feedback), because it’s much more time-consuming and expensive to change the video after it’s been created.
The best advice I got was to read the narration out loud to determine the length of the video. My original storyboard had 20 slides, and it took over 3 minutes to read, which is twice as long as the 90-second sweet spot for a project video. So I trimmed it down quite a bit.
Finally I uploaded the storyboard, high-res art, and 3D files of the mechs and characters to Box.com for Josh to start working on the video.
I’m not a big fan of my narration voice, so I figured if we were making a professional video, we should have a professional do the voiceover. There are tons of options out there, but from personal experience, I’d recommend one of the following:
A.T. was one of the people who read for the audiobook version of my crowdfunding book. I didn’t think his voice was ideal for that book, but for an epic movie-trailer-style video, it was perfect. Eric is also very well known in the board game space, and he does great work.
There are lots of places to get free music–your designer will probably have some suggestions for you. I got a little lucky here, because a composer named Michał Woźniak had already taken an interest in Jakub Rozalski’s work and had composed some music for him. So I reached out to Michal and asked for a shorter version of his music, which he was very gracious to provide.
From there, it was just a matter of reviewing what Josh sent me. This was actually harder than I thought, because every time Josh sent me a clip, Jakub and I were so awestruck by it that we overlooked little details that needed fixing. So I literally had to step away from the computer for a few hours after watching each clip and then return with fresh, less biased eyes.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the video is that it doesn’t actually contain any video footage. These are all still images that Josh brought to life. Does it suffer from not having me talking to the camera? Maybe a little. But I tried to make up for it by appearing in the gameplay video, which is also on the project page.
The process took a few weeks, at the end of which Josh uploaded the final video to Box.
I downloaded the video and the uploaded it to Kickstarter. This takes a while, but it’s not difficult.
Kickstarter now offers a pretty cool closed-captioning system that lets you type in the spoken words so people who are hard of hearing (or want to watch at work) can follow along. You have to be really focused and precise when you do it, but I think it’s worth the effort.
I decided to share the video on our October 1 e-newsletter rather than waiting for the Kickstarter launch. My thinking was that I wanted to share something cool that I hadn’t already shared in a previous e-newsletter, and I wanted to give the video the chance to be shared on YouTube, not just on the project page. Plus, there’s a lot to look at on the project page, so I figured some people can now skip the video and browse the other content instead (some will do this even if they haven’t seen the video).
Without further ado, here is the video I’ve been talking about this whole time:
If you’re a project creator with a limited budget, you certainly do not need to pay for a nice video like this. But I think it has the potential to make a big difference to help capture peoples’ imaginations and give them a look at the key qualities of your product that you want to highlight.
What do you think? Worth it?