How to create a great pitch video for your idea

Creating a professional video is expensive and extremely time consuming. When done right, a video can be very effective in getting users and spreading your idea to a large audience. For a small startup, videos might end up taking their entire marketing budget! I’ve been exploring ways to pitch an idea effectively while keeping time and cash investment to a minimum. Here’s how I got a great video done in 2 days and $35 for AlwaysHungry.

 

Researching for great videos

Epipheo is a great place to start. There is no doubt they make the best pitch videos! They are fun, clear and informative. I love their focus on relaying an idea instead of showing feature X and Y of a product. Of course, these videos also cost around $20,000 to make (I asked).

Take a look at their YouTube channel for some inspiration.

 

Storytelling tools

I looked for a tool that might help me tell a story specifically. I found Adobe Voice!

Adobe Voice is an awesome app that focuses on just telling a story. It only allows you to use icons, graphics and pictures coupled with music and a voice over. If you have a wonderful voice and happy with very simple graphics, this is your stop.


A little more Jazz

I wanted something a little better for AlwaysHungry. So what is similar to Adobe Ideas but has much better animations, and gives you more control over your content? Keynote! Keynote has slides, animations, graphics and all the other bells and whistles you need for a basic video. It also has a nifty feature that allows you to export your slide deck to a movie (mp4 file).

What about the icons? I immediately noticed that Adobe Voice used TheNounProject icons. It just so happens that AlwaysHungry icons are taken from TheNounProject too!

I wrote a script. You have to write a script. It helps you organise your thoughts and keep your narrative concise. You can start storyboarding your idea as you progress the script. Here's the final version of my script: Video Script.

... 
[Subway icon comes in] 
you constantly end up eating the same old thing, because you are too hungry to make a decision! 
[tone and emotion we want to convey is that it’s a downer]
...

I used simple icons, text and graphics to come up with a set of slides on Keynote. I focused on creating slides that supported the ideas conveyed on the script, sprinkling in animations where relevant. All of this turned out to be an exercise in creativity: trying to use the most basic elements to tell a story. I believe this kept me true to what I was trying to achieve.

Additionally I added some screen recordings from my iPhone to show off the app.


Searching for a voice

The right voice helps a video convey its message really well. VoiceBunny has a large number of voice actors who posses many unique attributes. They will deliver audio recordings within a day or two. My script came to about $100 all up for a VoiceBunny job.
#protip: email their support and ask for a discount :)

Another place you can find voice actors is Fiverr. Freelance community has a lot to offer on the Internet. We found @drewthedj who offered to do the voice over for just… $35! As you might have guessed, we went with Fiverr.


Getting it right first time

If you have a small budget, you want to get this audio recording right the first time around. Here’s what I did:

  • I imported the movie produced by Keynote to iMovie.
  • I started reading the script out loud while continuously playing the iMovie file over and over. 
  • Each time, I would shorten or extend the length of a section, based on how long I took to read out the script comfortably.
  • Following these steps, I ended up with about a minute long silent movie. I went on to edit the script and iMovie project further to get it down to about 50 seconds. I found that people generally leave around 50s mark for other YouTubes I've made. 

I sent the silent movie to @drewthedj. Drew was extremely professional, sent me back files with these formats: WAV, MP3, and Video with audio + background music!!! Whoa! If you need some royalty free music premiumbeat.com is great too.

I went back to iMovie and synced the audio file with my video timeline. Exported the video at full resolution and… DONE!

 

Concluding thoughts

The AlwaysHungry pitch video only took a weekend to make and it turned out to be better than a lot of expensively made videos out there! It is really a matter of channeling your creativity through some of the basic tools available to make something awesome. Focus on what matters: conveying the idea. Don't get distracted with showing off everything you have to offer. Simple things are easier to understand.

Getting The Story Right

Products are only as good as the story they tell. Whether it is an app or an electric toothbrush, the creators have to think about how it is going to be a captivating story. If the product cannot form a relationship with another person at an emotional level, then they have no reason to buy it. If no one can find anything interesting to say about what you’ve made, chances are, word will never get around...

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Making 60Hz App Demo Video

Product demo video can go a long way in promoting your product. However, getting a video done is quite difficult. Usually an app developer isn’t equipped with video skills. External sources can quote for a video anywhere from $5k to $20k, which is quite steep!

With the launch of 60Hz 2.0, we wanted a video to tell our story. We have excellent UI and it is dead simple to use. So here’s how I created a video for 60Hz with the help of my trustees Suneth (other half of M2D2) and Dilani. If you want something similar done, approach me or follow these steps!

First, the end result:

 

1. Thinking...

This is my first ever video creation. I do watch a significant number of TV shows and movies so I understand a little bit about what makes a good video: It is a good storyline, coherently captured in a series of sequences, and stitched together with an uplifting track.

A lot of product demos come with a narration to help the story aspect. However, it was obvious that there wasn’t enough time for that; I had to get this done in 2 weekends to kick off marketing.

2. Writing the Script

Every good movies and shorts start with a script. Ever heard of “failing to plan is planning to fail”? Same goes with a movie script. This is where planning starts.

I came up with a tagline / theme for this video: ”tvQ: keeping up with the story”. This proved to be an important part of making the movie. Everytime I had to make a decision, I asked myself, does it help me get to my theme?

IMG_8284.JPG

This theme is exactly what 60Hz (formerly tvQ) does; it helps me keep up with all the great stories on the telly. Being in the country where back to back episodes are almost never from the same season, it makes me less frustrated too!

I wrote down how I would tell someone about 60Hz; a little pitch. I presented the problem I was having keeping up with times, downloads, repeats and how 60Hz just lets me consume everything in order. I took the script to Google Docs and had a shared editing session with Suneth (other half of M2D2) and Dilani (trustee M2D2 sidekick advisor, aka Suneth’s wife).

3. Storyboarding

All good videos need to be storyboarded. We did the same with 60Hz video. This is a very important step. I don't quite have a pretty storyboard so here’s a substitute from Momento Jar (a video that never got made):

MJ Storyboard

MJ Storyboard

This was important because between the storyboards and the script, I could write down a list of sequences and estimate length of the sequences I required to complete the video. I wrote down a long list of shots, including zoom levels, to shoot. The list also had things like still shots I made in Photoshop afterwards.

It looked something like this:

Required Scenes

  • Pressing on icon ( < 1s )
  • Start screen up, scrolling down ( 2s )
  • Pressing community episode on the main list, reading the synopsis
  • (Zoomed In) new show being added (probably do a few and make it a cool sequence)
  • ...

4. Quick Hack

Then I did something silly and unexpected: I shot a quick video!! I was impatient and just wanted to learn iMovie (never used it before). So I spent the next 4 hours on making a self shot quick video around my script. I cannot post it here due to copyright restrictions on the music I used (Change of Seasons by Sweet Thing). Message me privately for a link.

Something great came out of this exercise: Lots of feedback!!! I figured out everything good and bad witch what I did and carried on to shooting it all properly.

5. Lights, Camera, Action!

Equipped with a list of sequences, we got shooting. Interesting lessons learnt:

  • Mid morning shoots are the best for the right kind of light. iPhones screen causes havoc on contrast balance on them point and shoots. I wish I owned a DSLR.

  • Tripod is a must.

  • Little details matter, like arrangement of icons on the iPhone home screen.

  • Let the video start and run off for 5 to 10s at least. Helps during editing.


6. Editing

With my newly acquired iMovie skills, editing the video wasn’t a problem. Just have to play around with transitions, cuts, speeds, sounds etc.

Music is the one big problem. Most music is out of bounds due to copyright restrictions. YouTube automatically detects and flags your video if you misuse stuff, which is why YouTube is full of covers. EMI Music was asking what our payment was going to be so we looked to royalty free music. Here’s a great site: www.premiumbeat.com - $40 for a full track.

Conclusion

In the end, the video looks great. It gets the point across and shows off our apps. I think it’ll make a big impact on our way to the 60Hz launch on 10th of May. I hope people will appreciate the effort spent. It’s just as fun to make a video as it is to make the app itself. If you need help with your video, send me a message ;).

Remember to get your free copy of the iPhone app for FREE on launch day. 

https://www.facebook.com/tvQapp