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How to make your own Kickstarter video (and what to avoid)

Getting a professional Kickstarter video done for you can be expensive. At the same time, it can be a good investment if it draws in a lot more backers than you expected. But sometimes you just don’t have the money to invest in a professional Kickstarter video or you might decide instead to allocate most of your funds for other purposes, such as prototypes, art, or marketing.

I have used the amazing services of Kagan Productions to create a Kickstarter video for each of my previous 2 projects (Relics of Rajavihara and the expansion, Montalo’s Revenge) and I was very happy with the results. Both of the videos received a lot of compliments.

However, for my latest project, 14 Frantic Minutes, which is currently on Kickstarter and fully funded, I decided to take a different approach. I ended up spending more money on art and the rulebook than I expected, so I had fewer funds available in my budget for a Kickstarter video. However, even before all of these expenses, I was strongly considering making a live-action video for this campaign myself anyhow.

I wanted this video to be more personalized and set the tone with a great location. I also wanted to show people actually playing the game, trying to put their circuit pieces together in order to complete the circuit and advance to the next room, while also feeling the tension of being chased by an evil genius. It was really important to capture the fun of solving the puzzles as well as the tension of playing in real time and being chased.

I thought it would be helpful to walk through the steps we took in making our own Kickstarter video so that you would be able to create your own video in the future, if you choose this route.

Start with a Script

The first step is to create a draft script. Outline what you’d like to include, the order of actions and different shots, and the words you want your voiceover artist (which may just be you!) to say.

I strongly recommend that your video focuses on 2 things:

  1. Getting people excited to learn more about your game.
  2. Show people how your game is played

Some Kickstarter videos are all hype and marketing. While it’s a really good idea to get people excited about your game, you also have to show them how the game plays. Otherwise, they may walk away thinking it was a cool video, but they will have no clue what your game is actually about or if it is a game for them.

Conversely, you don’t want your main Kickstarter video to explain every rule in your game step-by-step. That’s more of a “how to play” video, which you absolutely should have further down your page, along with a link to your rulebook and a brief description of how to play. But you also need to make people enthusiastic about your game so that they will consider backing your project.

So, both of these elements need to be part of your Kickstarter video.

Also, make sure not to make the introduction too long. This is not the time to talk about the lore of the game for the next two minutes. Get to the action early on and show people what’s awesome about your game and what makes it different. Give them a strong reason to back your game right then and there.

Aim for a 60-90 second video. Make sure this includes time for imagery (particularly at the start and the end) and breaks from the words being spoken.

Get your first draft of a script written, including the words, actions, scenes, images, etc. quickly, then take your time to polish and edit this.

Pick a Location and Actors

The location for shooting your Kickstarter video can be important, especially if you want it to feel thematic. We looked for locations that were either sterile or high-tech, to replicate the feeling of being trapped in a lab that you needed to escape from. We were fortunate to be able to book a quiet wing of a hospital for a few hours on a weekend.

If the theme or background doesn’t matter as much for your video, you may be able to film at your home or another location that you have access to.

You also want to find some actors. These can simply be friends and family who are willing to be in the video. Often, you will just need to record gameplay and maybe some thematic action, then you will edit everything together later, adding in a voiceover and perhaps some music.

It’s also a great idea to show diversity in your video. Try to include people of different backgrounds. Backers will appreciate and relate more to your game if they see other people in your Kickstarter video that look like them.

You’ll want to book everyone for at least a few hours on the day of the shoot. It’s amazing how much material you’ll need and how much time it will take to shoot the video in comparison to the final length.

We ended up with an hour of material that we needed to down to just 60 seconds!

Lights, Camera, Action!

Ok, the day is here and you’re ready to film. You’ll want to make sure you have a good camera (or you can use your phone if the quality is really good), lighting, mics if you are picking up sound, batteries, chargers, extension cables, props, costumes, and of course, your script!

There are plenty of videos you can find on Youtube to help you learn about lighting, angles, etc. It’s not my area of expertise and they would do a much better job of explaining techniques than I could in this article, so I encourage you to do some research here to get this right.

It’s also a good idea to have water on hand for all your actors.

You’re going to be the director. So, make sure you have a list of all the shots you might require. It’s much better to record more than you think you’ll need rather than having to arrange to get everyone together again in the same location.

Record your various segments, making sure to film from different angles and perspectives. This will help you to create a video with more action cuts that will improve your video overall.

Just make sure to do this with the same camera. I took most of the video with my Canon camera but also some different views with my camera phone and the framing was different on my phone, so we were unable to use some material.

Record multiple takes. Check and double-check that you’ve got all the material you need. Again, it’s better to record too much rather than not enough.

It’s a really nice gesture to take everyone out for a meal afterwards, just to say thanks.

Time to Edit!

Once you have all the material recorded, upload it to your computer and review all the different takes. Make notes about which takes were better than others and where the different shots will fit into your Kickstarter video.

If you are using music or a soundtrack, you can also time musical changes to your video segments. For the 14 Frantic Minutes Kickstarter video, we were using the soundtrack that is also used in the game itself. It has a nice, increasing tempo, including what sounds like a heartbeat. This fit the jump scenes perfectly.

Remember to keep the intro short and get to the gameplay early. Use your video footage to show what’s exciting and different about your game. Make it engaging and thematic.

You’ll spend a lot more time editing and perfecting your video than you did recording it. I know we certainly did! So, make sure to give yourself a large window between the recording date and your Kickstarter campaign.

We were also fortunate to get the help of my co-designer’s son, who works on film. His editing skills came in very handy. If you know someone with great editing skills, see if you can call in a favour. It may help to make your video that much better!

It’s also really helpful to share your video with others. After you create the first draft, show this to people whose opinions you really respect, especially those who will be 100% honest with you. Listen to what they have to say and make improvements to your video. Keep tweaking it until you’re happy with the final result.

Wrapping it up

Recording your own Kickstarter video is possible and it’s been done by many other independent creators. It’s all about highlighting what’s great about your game, getting people excited about your project, and ensuring people understand enough about the game to know whether it’s right for them.

This can often be done with what you have on hand. It may require some additional props and equipment, but if you can capture the style you’re looking for, this can be done for way less than paying a video production company.

However, this isn’t for everyone. If you have more funds than ability in this area, sometimes it’s best to hire a professional.

If you’d like to check out the video that we created for 14 Frantic Minutes, you can view it on the live Kickstarter page. If it looks like a game you’d enjoy, you can learn all about it on the project page.

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