I've stepped onto the path of being an amateur RPG publisher via Kickstarter. I want to see how far I can travel from zero-to-hero and I'm looking for help along the way. These series of posts are in part just me thinking aloud, but also asking specific questions as I put the pieces together to achieve rpg publishing victory.
Having a video to present your project is something that you need to consider. One thing that was a surprise though in the survey I took is that simply having a video did not translate into success. For the successful projects 74% used video, but even for the unsuccessful projects there was still 66% that used video.
There are a lot of reasons why crowdfunding succeeds or fails and when looking over 150 of these projects I saw videos which were painfully long, or otherwise cringe inducing in their production, but which nonetheless did fine. There were also some projects which had decently produced videos, but the project didn't end up reaching it's goal. Further, there are some wildly successful projects that didn't bother with a video at all. So while a video can be important, there is still a lot of alchemy at work with the rest of the project to be successful.
There is also just the reality that video is its own art form. People with talent and skill will be able to put together a powerfully compelling video with nothing but the barest of tools. I have friends and family in the video and film industry and have even done a small amount of work on a few film and video sets, so I know how vast the skill and knowledge base there is to digest. I want to put that aside for the moment and just ask what kinds of digital tools should I be aiming for that I can leverage to make a compelling video?
I have access to an HD video camera. I grew up making goofy videos with friends and I think I have some natural eye to what you should do in terms of framing shots, editing, sound, script writing, etc.
In the last decade I've made some use of software to do “Ken Burns style” video productions, with all of the zooming, panning, and so on of fixed images, overlayed with sound. It works fine, but it would be great to go beyond that.
I'm a PC user, but if I absolutely have to I could borrow an older Mac laptop if need be, but it would be far more convenient to do it on a PC.
What is the InDesign (expensive, but not super expensive) of video editing?
What is the Scribus (open source and free) of video editing?
Where can I go to get inexpensive sound and music for post-production?
What is a good sound editor to trim and adjust music and sound effects to fit with the needs of the video?
How did the effects in Technoir get made? Is it completely out of reach for the amateur to pull off that level of slick effects?
I record on Photobooth and then import into FinalCut. That's what I do NOW , of course. My first couple video were just Photobooth and a little cleaning up in iMovie. All depends on what you have at your disposal.
The Road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with eager feet, Until it joins some larger way Where many paths and errands meet.
There is a particular piece of music by Bear McCreary (composer of BSG) that I'd love to use in my video. Not only is it excellent music, but it would fit with the themes I'm trying to convey. Is it available and what it would cost?
Going over to ASCAP I found the piece is in their licensing catalog and then tried to figure out how much it would cost. The licensing is drenched in legalese and I had to guestimate on the amount of "transmissions" in which the piece would be played to an audience. It looks like it would likely not surpass the minimum licensing fee of $288, which is already too much for me. Still, it was interesting to see that it isn't really that hard to get a popular and professional piece for your project and the cost isn't outrageous.
Over on BGG side of Kickstarter talks I found a link to JewelBeat which has plenty of far more affordable music for 99 cents. Of course, it all sounds very generic and so you need to dig in the catalog and then compose the video to lessen that generic feel.
In terms of audio editing there is Audacity which is free and purported to be the best free alternative to Adobe Soundbooth.
My 2c. Part of my job is making some video editing. Nothing fancy, as is not our main focus. But had some experience in the low end of these things.
- I use Virtualdub (virtualdub.org , free, open source) for basic frames cutting and moving, cropping, etc. Those simple operations are done with it easier and more reliably than with even commercial packages. - Audacity for basic sound editing, fades, making basic looping, mixing, etc. - Sony Vegas is great, nice and cheap. I recommend this one. Platinum version, or even the cheapest version they have on the site is good to go. But the platinum has more effects, and the most expensive, more FX and more stuff. Still cheap, though. All versions are good, stable, and solid. With Vegas alone you could do all the stuff. The thing I like about it is that is very easy to learn, but also th emore you work with it, the more power and capabilities you discover it has.
- After Effects by all means in the expensive side, for really being able to manipulate motion images and do crazily great stuff. - For serious video editing, at least for video games, I used to like a lot Adobe Premiere. But for making a kickstarter video look great, you, imho, don't need any expensive solution...
There are more expensive and more professional video tools. But I will stop there, as I think any combination of the above can work for the purpose.
While it's all fresh in my head here is what I ended up using for my Kickstarter video.
First, I already had Photo-to-Movie. I got this years ago to make intro movies for RPG sessions. It's designed to give the Ken Burns effect. While the company primarily focuses on Apple products, the PC version of their software has always worked well for me.
I used this since it is more specialized with the Ken Burns style effects. I would create a small 5-15 second video with PtM and then insert that into the main video editing software.
If need be I could have done an entire video using this software, just using a lot of Ken Burns style plus voice over. I decided not to as everything I've read points to getting yourself up in front of the camera as being a more compelling approach for presenting your project. Plus, I borrowed an HD video camera and wanted to check it out.
Next, I looked into Virtualdub but I was having problems getting it to import and edit HD movie files. It should be able to do it, but despite wading through some rather elaborate technical forum postings to find solutions I couldn't get anywhere.
I looked at Sony Vegas. There is an appeal there as the camera I used was a Sony Camera, but after checking out reviews I decided to go with CyberLink PowerDirector 10. It's the editor's choice on PC Mag and the reviews between Vegas, Adobe Premier Elements, and this were helpful in pinning down my own needs.
PowerDirector was the most compelling to me as it was optimized for 64-bit computers and having just bought one I wanted to get the most out of the hardware. It has a bunch of 3d stuff on it which I can't comprehend ever using, but the performance was excellent on my computer. I've made digital movies in the past with iMovie and Windows Movie Maker and the rendering on older computers usually required me to step away from the computer, go eat lunch, or otherwise preoccupy myself for a half hour. This cranked the video out in just a few minutes, and the on the fly editing was very smooth.
Third, for music I picked up a few sets of music from Jewelbeat. I could have picked up less music, I ended up buying whole sets of a track that provides several mixes depending on length. I found that only when I got my hands on the sound files, put them into the video editor and start trimming, adjusting volume, and so on I wouldn't completely know which tracks worked best for the existing footage. Creating something requires letting a lot of happy accidents come about. In the end I was satisfied and the music was inexpensive.
As for actually filming the shots. I had all sorts of ideas on how to put things together, but in the end much of it was happenstance. We have had terribly raining weather here in Vermont for awhile, so once we finally had a nice clear day my wife and I ran up a local mountain to the old fire watch tower. The place was swarming with bugs, so we had to work fairly quickly as we got bit all over. My wife's hand is a bit rocky due to this.
If I had been able to plan the shoot out more methodically we'd have had a tripod to help out with some shots, along with a third person present. One for the camera, and the other for support in terms of script prompts, or hold up a white board for lighting, or even an external mic to capture better sound. Instead it was rolling with what we had and hoping for as many happy accidents as possible. Oh... and lots of Deet for those bugs!