9 June 2014 | 6 Comments
Recently a Kickstarter creator named Steve Venezia reached out to me with an idea for a guest post based on his experience filming the project video for his card game project, Bedtime Heroes. Steve has some great insights that complement my existing post about the project video, so I hope you enjoy them. Thanks Steve!
I know how important the introductory video can be and in the end it took us 3 separate attempts to get something I was happy with.
For the first video we went all-out; a friend in the TV industry came to my house with a studio camera, I hired a lighting set-up, dressed up a room and invited 3 friends to come over and help me demonstrate the game.
After a day of recording and half a week of editing we had a really great video, but it was all wrong; it was 8 minutes long! That’s well over the 2-2:30 recommended by most people.
I decided to keep the video as a ‘playthrough example’ and record a new intro, but I no longer had access to the studio-quality equipment. Going for something much tighter this time I recorded a 2-minute long video of just me talking about the game and the Kickstarter project, with a plan to overlap some graphics to break it up a bit.
Our attempt failed as I came across very poorly; I’m not a natural TV presenter and the resulting video was awkward and cringe-worthy. Also we tried to be quirky with me being in a suit and saying my lines in bed (the game is about bedtime monsters) but it just looked weird and out of place.
Take 3! I roped in an American friend who happens to be a girl (and a big fan of the game) to be my co-presenter, and this time it finally worked. By now I had learned my lines, lost a bit of the ‘red light syndrome’ (where you get awkward as soon as a camera starts filming you) and after all the recordings and edits I knew exactly what we needed to do.
I learned a bunch of lessons along the way and this is how I’d summarize them:
Have a practice round
Before you start roping in friends to help you, set up a camera and record yourself going through your lines, and then watch the outcome . By giving yourself a practice run you’ll remember your lines easier when the big day comes and you’ll also learn to overcome the dreaded ‘red light syndrome’.
Lean on friends
Having a co-host to help you along can be hugely beneficial. Not only will the video be more dynamic with the lines broken up between two people but you should also find it easier to relax and be yourself with a friend there to help.
Having multiple light sources is essential to getting decent quality footage. You don’t have to spend any money on this (although renting a studio light can be very cheap) – just reposition some lamps in your house so that the recording room is filled with light. It may seem too bright at first but this will help your camera obtain a higher resolution.
Record multiple takes
After filming we decided to do some simple backup shots for the opening and closing scenes just in case we didn’t like our original recordings, and I’m so glad we did. After watching our original intro I wanted to curl up into a little ball and die; thankfully I didn’t need to as we had the backups. So do yourself a favor and while everything is set-up, record a simpler version of your video.
This is easy to say, but try to have fun with the friends helping you record the video. Leave the camera rolling as much as possible to catch the silly bits that happen between takes. In our video I did a series of Anchorman-style sign-offs that were totally unusable but it helped to relax us and lead to a much more natural performance.
This is Jamey again. I wanted to add that I recently learned about a video app for iPhones and iPads called Videolicious. It does something that I’ve had a hard time replicating in iMovie, which is being able to switch from you talking to the camera to video of the components/gameplay without altering the audio. It’s so seamless you probably don’t notice it in project videos and documentaries, but it makes any video seem more polished.
Do you have any recommended tools for putting together a great project video?