10 Tips for a Kickstarter Video for a Game Project

Here is some general advice I've figured out while running Kickstarter campaigns for Happy Birthday, Robot! and Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple. Bear in mind that this is focused just on the Kickstarter video for a game-related project, though a lot of the advice is broadly applicable, too.

1. Prepare well.
Your video shouldn't look like you recorded it in one take and posted it without any further thought. Taking the care to make a good video shows that you value your backers' time and attention. First and foremost, Know your audience. When you write, plan and outline, throughout it all you should have a strong sense of who your audience is for this video and for the project as a whole. Consider whether this audience prefers funny content, dramatic content, straightforward content or what.

2. Outline your video for time.
Keep the video under 90sec. Spend 30sec as a short ad for what your project will produce. In other words, a TV ad for your game. The following 60sec is spent talking about the Kickstarter campaign itself. You can go longer than 90sec, but you should have a really compelling reason, like making a trailer or a funny skit.

3. Write a script and know your stuff.
Ideally, you don't want to memorize, you want to internalize. You want to know your project and your cause so well that you can speak to it knowledgeably and comfortably.

4. Plan a storyboard.
Storyboarding and scriptwriting are all massive skills on their own, beyond the scope of this post. However, you should at least plan a simple sequence of visuals that will be in your video. No need to be a master artist here, especially if you're working on your own. Just know what will be on-screen, in what order.

5. Answer the right questions.
Questions you should answer: Who are you? What are you doing? What's in it for me? What's in it for others? Anyone noteworthy involved with your project? What will I get at extra pledge levels? What else is in it for me? Any past successful projects? Questions you should not answer: How is each penny spent? What are the specific production hurdles? What is your personal history? (Unless it's relevant.) Remember that you have other channels available for more detailed content. Keep the minutiae to the project description or updates.

6. Don't make a "talking head" video unless...
You are standing and/or moving. You are relevantly dressed. You are in front of a relevant background. You are one of several talking heads (possibly talking to each other). You keep any continuous shots under 10sec. A simple way to make a good talking head video is to introduce a speaker on-screen, then cut to other relevant video content while the voiceover continues.

7. Save the demos for later.
It's tempting to include a demo of your game in the main video, but these often take a long time to properly demonstrate. Save that content for video updates as the campaign progresses. You want to"express," not "explain." By all means, you can show your game being played, especially if you can show people having fun playing it. You want to entice curiosity, not satisfy curiosity.

8. Post video updates.
Video updates are great and can be less production-intensive than the homepage video. In my case, I posted weekly 30sec video updates about the project's status, new production milestones and new unlocked pledge levels. While I refrained from being a talking head in my main video, I did allow that luxury in the weekly video updates. However, these updates were heavily edited to be less than 30sec. (Aside: When Amelia Raley http://kck.st/dyuVcu dedicated fun, surreal video performances to high-level backers. Great way to create new content during the campaign and encourage further support.)

9. Choose the right music.
Find music that is relevant to your project's theme and make sure you have permission to use it. What qualifies as the right music is highly subjective, so this is where it pays to know your audience well. When you mix the music with your video, make sure it doesn't interfere with any voiceovers or dialogue.

10. Speak clearly.
You don't need a pro-quality microphone, but make sure you at least enunciate clearly, speak in a reasonable pace and have as much quiet in the background as possible. This saves you trouble when mixing it with video later. Look up some advise from podcasters.

When I create a Kickstarter video, my goal is to let a potential backer know they're a potential backer. We've had some monumental advances in video production levels since I ran my last campaign, but don't be intimidated. The point is to do the best you can with the resources you have. The one resource you have a lot of is time. Take the time to consider and plan all of these details for your video before you launch. That video will be your hero during your whole campaign.

» Kickstarter's Own Advice for Video Production
» Photo: CC-BY-NC-SA Nathan Gibbs
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.