Some of the most popular questions we get are from people who are setting out to make their first Kickstarter, IndieGoGO or other crowdfunding video. There are lots of tutorials out there about what to say, but not a lot about how to make them. I’ve worked on multiple Kickstarter videos, both successful and unsuccessful. In terms of the technical stuff, the key is to make something that is easy to watch and easy to listen to. You also want to make something that is representative of the quality of your finished product. If your finished product is a video or film, that can put a lot of pressure on your fundraising video. My suggestion is to keep the production simple. A good portion of your video should be a direct appeal, with one or more people talking directly to the camera.
What kind of camera should we shoot it on?
To make this work, you’ll obviously need a camera. For most productions, the quality of a camera doesn’t matter a great deal. If you’re running a 4-digit campaign, any HD camera you can put on a tripod will do. You just want to be sure the audience can see you. If you’re comfortable shooting on a DSLR, you can rent a budget DSLR camera kit. If you’d rather set-it-and-forget-it with autoexposure and autofocus, you can use a camcorder that can do that for you.
As long as you’ve got enough light, an affordable camera shouldn’t hold you back. Most productions don’t need to rent a second camera. If your appeal is completely scripted, you can easily edit single-camera footage. If your appeal is not scripted, you may appreciate having an alternate angle to cut to when things get weird and need to be edited out.
What audio equipment do we need?
For a Kickstarter video, audio is more important than video. Your audience needs to hear and understand you clearly, or the whole point of the video will be lost. The easiest way to get great audio is to use good audio equipment. If you shoot on a $5,000 camera, you probably have a great audio system built in. For budget cameras, it’s easy to use a separate audio recorder kit. You can use a shotgun mic on a boom, or a lav mic, depending on what is easiest for your production and crew. A basic sound recording kit includes everything you need for clear audio recording.
Do we need to use lighting?
In a word, yes. Good lighting is the difference between looking shifty and looking trustworthy. Remember, most of the people who will watch this video have never met you. This is your first impression, and you want to be in your best light. That doesn’t mean you need to rent a huge lighting package, but you at least need to be conscious of how the available light is affecting your shots. Shooting indoors is usually easier for sound, but it can be too dark for some cameras to look their best. That means you probably want to be near windows, and not directly under any lighting fixtures that can cast weird shadows or leave eyes looking dark.
Adding one flattering, soft light over the camera (working as a key light or eye light) can help make people look their best. The Kino Flo Diva is my favorite fixture to use for this, but budget filmmakers often get creative. For under $30, buy a 500-1000 watt painters’ light and sheet of white foamcore. Bounce the light into the foamcore near your camera and onto your subjects’ faces.
When you’re mixing light sources, you have to be aware of the different colors from the different types of light. Pro fluorescent and LED fixtures can match a variety of lighting conditions, but mixing budget lighting with daylight is much more challenging.
How much should we spend?
Never spend more than 10% of your fundraising target on your appeal video. Most of the budget will probably be equipment, but it’s a good idea to borrow what you can from friends and family. If you have to rent everything, you should still be able to get all equipment in under $250/day for most productions. Crew time should be donated. If you do need to rent, we list all our rental rates on our product pages to make budgeting as easy as possible.
Posted by Jon Kline