23 January 2013 | 43 Comments
Having written about 5 key things to do months before you plan on launching your Kickstarter project, we’re now on a topic that you need to work on about a month before the campaign: The project video. (Note: You can get lots of great tips on the video directly from Kickstarter.)
Do You Need a Video?
Yes. I’m sure there are anomalies out there, but I can only think of one highly successful project that didn’t have a video, and it was for an expansion to a game that already had two highly successful Kickstarter campaigns. So if you’re a first-time Kickstarter creator, you definitely need a video.
What Do You Need to Make a Video?
Ideally, you need a friend who is an expert cinematographer with top-of-the-line equipment and plenty of time on their hands to edit the video for you. Then your video can look like this one, this one, or this one. However, it’s more likely that it’s just you with your smartphone or webcam, which is fine. I used my iPad to film and edit our video, and it worked just fine. I’d recommend getting a tripod for it and a way to mount it on the tripod.
I would also recommend that you storyboard your video. Take a big sketchpad and frame every shot, as well as what you want the people in the shot to say. This is particularly helpful if you film in multiple locations, because you can film out of order based on convenience.
What Content Should the Video Include?
Okay. This is one man’s opinion here. Most importantly, I’d encourage you to watch a bunch of Kickstarter videos and take notes on what you like, dislike, and what compels you to back the project. That’s much more important than anything I’ll say here.
- Your video should be about 2 minutes long, plus or minus 30 seconds. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point.
- Your video should convey your excitement and passion for the project.
- Your video should clearly convey what the project is.
- Your video should clearly convey what makes the project unique and interesting.
And that’s it. I wouldn’t recommend going into reward levels or stretch goals or anything else like that. Also, don’t use Viticulture’s video as a shining example. Although it was fun and whimsical, we didn’t do a good enough job showing the game itself and what made it unique.
I wish there were some sort of magical formula for creating the perfect project video, but there really isn’t. Just know that it will take a lot more time than you think to film and edit it. Like, 10x longer than you think. No joke.
Also, remember that you don’t have to cram everything into your main video. Many projects have secondary videos that delve deeper into the project or the process for creating the project. So keep your main video as focused as possible while knowing that you can post longer videos on the project page.
As much as I love a basic, homebrewed project video, for a while now I’ve been really impressed by videos that resemble theatrical trailers. They’re the type of videos that immerse you in the world of the game while still maintaining the core elements mentioned above.
Recently I found a producer who makes such videos at a reasonable price. He’s the producer and creator of the Gingerdead House video seen here. Bryce Walter can create a video for any creator for about $750, and he’s offered Stonemaier Games readers a 10% discount. I haven’t personally worked with Bryce yet, but he’s very communicative and responsive, and you can see how polished his videos are from the Gingerdead example. Here’s his website.
Update: I’ve also now worked with Josh McDowell on the Scythe video, and he did a fantastic job!
What is the best Kickstarter project video you’ve ever seen?
- The Project Video: Research, Storyboarding, Animatics, and More
- Kickstarter Lesson #166: Creating a Polished Project Video
- Kickstarter Lesson #7: The Funding Goal
- Free Music for Videos (from an external website, credit to Jason McCoy)
- Hitchhiker’s Guide to Video Talent (James Mathe)