Amanda of Spiderworking helped me to plan my video for my crowdfunding campaign last summer, she also came up with some brilliant ideas and edited it very competently. I invited Amanda to share her experience and tips with us on how to create such a good video that it will maximise your chances of success with your crowdfunding campaign.
The problem with crowdfunding is that you are relying on strangers to invest in your idea or product. Pledges from friends will help get you going but if you are going to attract those who don’t know you personally, it is essential that you create a compelling video pitch. It gives potential investors the opportunity to meet you, to find out more about you and your project, it makes you look more credible.
It’s not good enough to sit in front of your webcam and talk. If you want to be successful you need to put some time into planning before you even pick up a camera.
Here’s what you need to consider before you get started.
You don’t need amazing equipment to make a good video. Most of us carry a fantastic video camera and sound recording device in our pockets, the humble smart phone.
**Note: If you are using your smartphone to shoot your video make sure you are holding it in the landscape format not portrait, this will ensure your video displays correctly on YouTube and other video channels.**
If you want a bit more of a professional finish most digital stills cameras have a video function. Be sure to clear off your memory card before you start or even invest in a large capacity memory card as video can take up a lot of space.
I use a Sony Bloggie touch for my videos, I like the quality of the videos that it shoots, it’s easy to carry around and most importantly for me it’s Mac Compatible.
Using a tripod makes it easier for you to shoot good quality video. It eliminates the shake and means you don’t need an exclusive team member to operate the camera. I shoot all my videocasts myself with no extra crew, this wouldn’t be possible without my trusty tripod.
If you are using your iPhone you can either enlist someone else to shoot the video for you or get an adaptor that will secure it to the top of your tripod. I picked up one on e-bay for under €5.
Wherever possible I’d recommend shooting with available light. Choose your location carefully, a room with lots of natural light or an outside location will serve you well.
Having a few practical lights like desk or standard lamps to hand can help you brighten up a subjects face if the natural light is not enough. Avoid pointing them directly at the subject as it will dazzle them. Bouncing off a white surface towards the subjects face works much better. I always carry a white A1 sheet of mounting board with me in case there aren’t any white reflective surfaces on location.
If you have a smartphone you have the perfect sound recorder in your pocket. As long as you are able to hide the phone within a foot of your mouth, in a top shirt pocket for example, you will get good quality sound just using the ‘voice memos’ app. You can add this recorded audio track to your video in the editing phase.
If you want to be more sophisticated or if you need to use your smartphone to record the video you can buy reasonably priced tie microphones on e-bay. Here’s the one I have for my iPhone. Be aware, if you are using an iPhone you can’t use a standard microphone, you will need one specifically designed for iPhone as it has three connection rings on its jack.
iMovie for Mac or Movie Maker for Windows are both really user friendly editing solutions. You can quickly and easily edit simple videos using these applications and very often this is all you will need.
For the more advanced user I recommend Camtasia, it has lots of additional functions and seems to deal with files better.
You will need a lot of space both storage wise and memory wise on your computer to edit video. Make sure you close all other applications on your PC when you are editing and clear off a large chunk of space on your hardrive for storing your files.
I like to add graphics to my videos as they can add additional impact, keep the audience interested and highlight specific points. You can easily create graphics with transparent backgrounds in PicMonkey and add them to your video at the editing phase.
Choosing good locations can really enhance your video. What is in the background of your shots will tell part of the story so choose locations that will compliment your campaign. It’s a really good idea to scout your locations in advance of your shoot. Here’s a few things you should look out for.
Natural light: How much natural light is available at the location? Are there practical lamps available or will you need to bring your own?
Power: Do you have access to sockets to charge your devices or to plug lights into? Will you need to bring extension cables?
Sound: If you are recording a voice over or interview you need to be aware of the background noise. If it’s in an office does the phone ring a lot? Do the employees need to chat to customers during your shoot? Is there machine noise in the background or if you are in the countryside are their noisy birds or animals? If in doubt record a short snippet of your voiceover whilst you are there. Does the background noise make it hard to understand what you are saying?
Storytelling & Scripting
The best videos tell a story, it doesn’t matter if it’s a six second Vine video or a 3 minute Youtube video it’s important to have a beginning, middle and end. The simplest story for you to tell for your crowdfunding pitch is:
Beginning: Where you are now. What has prompted you to start this crowdfunding project
Middle: How did you get to this point, who are you and why is this a viable project, what experience do you have in this field.
End: Show what your project success will look like, how is the money you raise going to help you achieve your goals.
If you are still stuck and don’t know where to start take a look at these crowdfunding videos from 2012. They should get your brain ticking over with ideas.
This can be one of the most challenging areas for a video newbie. I remember being forced by a lecturer in college to sit down and write a list of shots used in a specific scene in a film. It taught me pretty quickly how to put shots together to tell a story.
I’d recommend the same exercise. Find a video that you like and think is compelling. With a pencil and paper sit down and log each shot in sequence from the video. Make a note of the duration of the shot, what is in the frame, what happens in the shot and what type of shot it is (e.g. close up, head to waist, head to foot).
Now it’s time to create your own storyboard. You can download templates online. Here’s some that I’ve used and find helpful. Now break your story into shots and draw your shots into the boxes. You don’t have to be an artist, stick men are perfect.
Now you are almost ready to shoot but first you will need to make some lists to ensure that you have everything you require when you arrive on location. Here are some essential lists you need to create and check off before you leave:
1. Equipment list: List every last piece of equipment, camera, microphone, light that you will require for the shoot.
2. Props list: What props do you need to bring with you? Props are anything that you want to feature in the shot that aren’t already on location.
3. Hair, Make up and wardrobe list: Plan what you are going to wear in advance and don’t forget to bring a hairbrush and some powder to take the shine off your forehead or nose!
4. Shot list: Make a shot list from your storyboard to ensure you shoot every piece of footage that you need.
You will save yourself a whole lot of time and effort if you log the shots and sound you take as you are shooting them. This means that when you get to the editing stage you will know which shots to abandon and which worked really well. You can download a template for logging your shots here.
All this planning may seem complicated and a little overwhelming at first but by putting some time into preparation you can have more fun when you shoot your video. Don’t worry if you go off plan and shoot stuff off the cuff, just make sure you get the shots you originally planned.
I hope you found those instructions and tips useful. If you would like to do a short course in preparing for and running a crowdfunding campaign, do check out our two-week online course. If you have any questions, do ask in the comment box below.