Last week I wrote about making a short description for your game. Since the other requirement for entering The Board Game Workshop Design Contest is a pitch video, I thought that would be a good topic for this week.
Most design contests, including The Board Game Workshop’s, don’t judge you on the quality of your video. However, a low quality video can make it more difficult to get the necessary information across.
Since this isn’t about producing award winning cinema, I’m going to stick to some of the basic things that will help your video even if you are working with nothing but a smartphone.
The camera is the most important piece of equipment. Without it you don’t get video. For our pitch video almost any camera will do. A high end video camera, a DSLR, or a smart phone will all be able to get you decent quality HD video.
Higher end equipment will usually give you more control over settings and can be helpful in more complicated shooting situations where you can’t control the location. If you are working with limited equipment, you can improve the quality by controlling your location.
All equipment is different and you’ll have to learn the functions of your camera to make the most of it.
Microphones can be a big help in getting clear audio. Audio is much less forgiving than video. People will put up with blurry or shaky video and poorly framed shots, but unclear audio is pretty hard to listen to.
Video cameras usually have a decent microphone if you are close enough to your subject. DSLRs tend to not be great at audio and can benefit from an external microphone. Smartphones can range in audio quality, but being close to your subject is always better. Having an external mic with a cord allows you to have a wider shot while the mic is still close.
Lighting is very important for video. No matter what camera you use it will want a lot of light. Higher end equipment might be able to work in darker situations, but a smartphone wants as much light as possible. Cameras are not as sensitive as the human eye. So even if your room seems well lit to you, it could be very dark on camera.
If you don’t have some powerful lights, your best light source is the sun. Shoot near a big window or outside if you can.
A tripod or some sort of stand is very helpful, especially if you are shooting alone. It gives you a steady shot and allows you to focus on presenting your game.
As mentioned above this is how you can make up for any limitations in your equipment.
Shoot in a quiet location so the audio will be clear. Turn off any electrical devices in the area if you can. You may not notice the hum of your AC during the day, but you will really notice it in your video.
Shoot in a bright location, but be careful of the direction the light is coming from. Don’t have the light behind your subject, the camera will try and adjust for the bright light and the subject will be a shadow. Also, watch out for your subject squinting from light in their eye or glare on your components. Card sleeves are mighty shiny from the wrong angle.
You want your viewers to focus on your content. So shoot in a location that is not distracting. You don’t want a bunch of things moving in the background or anything that will draw the viewers attention.
The content is the point of all of this. The tips for everything else are mainly ways to not distract from the content.
Plan ahead. You don’t necessarily need to write up a script, but having a list of points to cover will help a lot.
For The Board Game Workshop Design Contest pitch video you only have 2 minutes to get your idea across. Make sure you maximize every second of that time. Having a clear idea of what you want to say and show will help that. Practice and record multiple takes until you have the best you can do. It will be a better video and save you a lot of work in editing.
For your pitch video you want to get across the exciting part of you game. Much like the short description, you should start with something that will grab the audiences attention.
It might be tempting to cram as much information as possible into your video, but that can be overwhelming and instead of getting more information, your audience tunes out and gets less.
Focus on the key points of your game in your narration and use the visuals to get across additional information. If one aspect of your game you want to highlight is that it’s an epic space empire game that will cover the table, you can get that across more accurately and quicker in a few seconds of video than with words.
Be careful if you use text in your video. Your viewers won’t be able to read it as fast as you can and a lot of text on screen at once can be overwhelming.
Don’t shoot vertical video on your phone. Since most video hosting sites don’t support vertical video, you end up having your video be very small with a lot of wasted space on the sides.
If you are moving your camera, keep it smooth. Shaky camera work can make viewers sick.
Don’t be afraid to get close to your subject. If you have a wide shot with a lot of things, your audience may not know what to focus on. Don’t show the entire table, show the card you are talking about.
Editing software is pretty easy to come by these days. Many computers and smartphones come with at least a basic editing program. Use it. Even simple cutting will help your video a lot.
Cut out dead space. Use the best parts of multiple takes so you don’t have to decide between the take with the bad opening or the one with the bad closing.
If you have the ability, it’s great to be able to show shots of your game over your narration. And editing gives you a lot of control over this.
Editing also lets you keep your video within the time limit.
The most important thing in your video is the idea you are pitching. Your goal should be to make that as clear as possible.
Use the video and audio to get across as much information as you need without being overwhelming.
Make sure the video and audio are clear so the viewer doesn’t have to struggle to understand it.
Make it engaging. Be excited about your idea. If you aren’t, why should we be?