Making a Crazy Kickstarter Video Part I: Inception, Animatics, Budgeting

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When Kickstarter gives you guidelines for making a video, they tell you over and over again to "tell a story." I knew I wanted to make a very polished, entertaining, and humorous video, but it still took awhile for the all important "story" to gel together.

I completely owe it to my girlfriend, Nola, who came up with the idea that the video should just be me, sitting in my chair, disheveled from working on Clarence, talking to the camera, only to be reborn in an athletic montage whereby I yell about how excited I am to share the book with everyone. It was obvious and pretty much what was happening in my life at the time, so I kicked myself for not thinking of it sooner.

I immediately created an animatic:

Animatic for my Kickstarter video

he idea behind an animatic is to create something you know will work even before you shoot it. Drawing sloppy doodles costs virtually nothing and editing them together beforehand allows you to work things out like pacing, blocking and how few shots you actually need.

Plus, you can show an animatic to whomever is helping you shoot the video so they can understand your otherwise crazy abstract ideas:

At this point you might think, wait a minute: green screen, dummies? This video must have cost a ton of money to make, right?

Jeff running nowhere in front of a green screen. Eric on camera. Blake on sound.

Jeff running nowhere in front of a green screen. Eric on camera. Blake on sound.

Well the answer is that it did, and didn't.

Here were my out of pocket expenses:

-Green screen rental $35.00

-Pizza $20.00

-Fat man pajamas and shirts $25.00

-Head band $2.00

-Pillow (fat suit) $0.00

-Jogging outfit (already had one) $0.00

-Dummy (cardboard, duct tape, paint) $6.00

Jeff and his cheap dummy made out of garbage, duct tape and paint. Can you tell which one is the dummy!?

Jeff and his cheap dummy made out of garbage, duct tape and paint. Can you tell which one is the dummy!?

Total Video Cost: $88.00

To be completely up front though, being a filmmaker, I already owned a decent iMac with editing software (FCP 7), and had access to camera, and sound equipment through friends: 

-Sound equipment (thank you Blake)

-Camera (thank you Ben and Eric and Blake)

-Peoples' time (thank you Nola, Jake, Ben, Eric, Blake)

Total Additional Cost: $0.00

Total Additional Value of Your Friends' help: Priceless.

Blake really getting into the sound.

Blake really getting into the sound.

All the fancy gear and filmmaking friends in the world do not necessarily make a filmable video though. It was important that all the locations were close and easy to access, that everything was broken into quick easy-to-shoot chunks. As I was at the mercy of everyone's free time, I had to beg them here and there, and tons of time and planning were essential to making sure things came together at all.

I can't overstate the importance of planning, and that's why, when you look at the animatic and the final video side by side, you'll see they are very similar:

Final Video vs. Animatic

Final Video vs. Animatic

HIGH BUDGET VS. LOW BUDGET

Technology keeps making crazy leaps and bounds in affordability. Some current cellphones shoot the same resolution HD video as the nicer cameras I used to shoot my video with. I also used a fancy shotgun microphone AND a crappy $20.00 Radio Shack mic. I used a standard DSLR (Canon 7d) as well as a very fancy video camera, (Canon c300). Can you spot the difference throughout the video?

At the end of the day, it's definitely how you use the equipment, light for video, and record the sound that makes all the difference.