Kickstarter has made it possible for dreams to come true. Video-game designers, self-publishers, filmmakers, and inventors of all stripes have seen passion projects brought to life thanks to the generous investments of others via the platform. But dreams need a little assistance — especially when you’re asking strangers to help realize them with their hard-earned money.
A compelling video is one of the most important parts of a great Kickstarter campaign. For many, it can be a make-or-break moment. That’s why we picked five videos from successful campaigns and looked at what made them great. Yes, many of these were helped by already having big existing fanbases, but there are still valuable lessons you can learn from them to help you create videos for your own campaigns, or someone else’s.
1. Exploding Kittens
The video for quirky card game Exploding Kittens isn’t anything elaborate. It’s a short one minute and forty-three seconds long, it has minimalist visuals — courtesy of The Oatmeal’s Matthew Inman, who designed the game — and the narration audio isn’t even the best quality. None of that really matters, though, given that the project raised almost $9 million dollars, when all it asked for was $10,000. What does matter is that the video is irreverent, has personality, and captures your attention instantly. More significantly, it doesn’t overthink things. It lets the product’s simplicity speak for itself. A quick explanation of what the card game is, how easy it is to play, and that’s it. Sometimes with a campaign video, simpler is better.
2. Double Fine Adventure
If you’ve played 1990s adventure video games like Day of the Tentacle and Grim Fandango, you’ll know that Tim Schafer, one of the men behind them, is a very funny guy. Double Fine Adventure’s campaign — for what would become the game Broken Age — demonstrates the value of putting someone like that front and center in a video. Humor is invaluable for making an immensely watchable video — especially this one, which smartly uses laughs to both entertain and inform. Potential funders get some info about what they need to know about the project, and then a joke swoops in to keep it engaging. Now, if you’re worried you’re not funny enough, don’t worry, says Schafer. “There’s no reason to do comedy unless you’re really sure you can pull it off. It’s just as effective to be heartfelt and sincere and to the point.”
Another lesson you can apply from this Kickstarter video is its quick pacing, which was inspired by the speed of Schafer’s script. “It felt snappy, so it lent itself to a snappy video,” said the filmmaker behind the video, 2 Player Productions’ Paul Levering. “We decided to keep the pacing as fast as possible.” His advice for doing that? “Keep moving, keep on topic. Make use of the setting and try to give purpose to each shot. You want the viewer to be engaged, and just standing around in the same spot talking is a surefire way to make people tune out. Breaking things up into lots of shots makes for less dialogue that needs to be memorized all at once, and that means less takes to get it right. Don’t waste time being self indulgent either. Get to the point and respect the viewer’s time.”
3. The 360cam
What the video for Giroptic’s 360cam Kickstarter campaign does really well is execute a vital storytelling rule: “Show, don’t tell.” After highlighting the camera’s technical specifications with simple but effective graphics, the video goes on to shrewdly show how easy it is to use the camera and its features. There’s no voiceover, no talking head (well, only quickly at the end), just footage of the camera in action. That’s key with campaigns for tech meant for day-to-day use. A video needs to convince possible investors that the product is something that they’ll actually want to use — so you show them. That’s a lesson you can also apply to videos that aren’t about tech. People aren’t looking to just fund something. They’re also looking to use it. Sell the campaign and the final product.
4. The Winnebago Workshop
The Kickstarter for mobile photography classes led by renowned photographer Alec Soth shows one simple thing: the power of a beautifully shot and skillfully edited video. It just looks good. The gorgeous footage draws you in, and the snappy (often cheeky) editing pushes you along and helps keep you engaged. It has a documentary-like feel that keeps things lively with a range of visual footage (interviews, inserts, classes in-action); but more than demonstrating the importance of a professionally put-together video, it does one more vital thing: it lets Soth’s passion for the project come out. Map great visuals to genuine passion, and you get a great Kickstarter video. Actually, that’s a recipe for great video in general.
Some Kickstarter projects represent inventions that nobody has seen before. The videos for those campaigns have one job: convince funders that the product will actually work. Loopy — a clever iPhone case with a strap to prevent it from being dropped — does that really well. It spends time selling you on the product, and showing you more of its benefits as you continue watching.
It’s smart, because it creates momentum, so that you want keep seeing what else it can do. But for an important purpose: in the words of co-founder, JT Wangercyn, “Showing your product’s features is important, but displaying how it adds value is the true art. For example, Don’t tell them they’ll have 500g of memory; show them how having all of their songs, movies, and media on just one device feels.”
Of course, these are just five examples of hundreds, but each provides an important lesson. And don’t forget, if there’s a particular visual or sound you’re looking for when crafting your next video, chances are you can find it in the Pond5 collection! In the meantime, are there other Kickstarter campaign videos that stood out to you as especially effective or memorable? If so, share them in the comments!