Planning the App Promo Video for Alter

In my last post I wrote about the decision to film the promo video for Alter – and use a film-maker to do it.

It was around this time that Dan Counsell wrote his article: How to Produce an App Promo Video. For anyone considering making a promo video – it’s definitely worth reading. I found the advice relating to planning very helpful.

Deciding to use someone else to film your video instantly changes the scope of the planning required. The film-maker is new to the project. They don’t know your app and they don’t know your vision and goals for the video.

Having made this decision, I approached the planning from two angles:

  1. Getting a storyboard in place and planning some of the execution, as I were doing the whole thing myself.
  2. Communicating my ideas to the film-maker, so their creativity could take over, with my input in mind.

After reading Dan’s article I decided to make a mockup of the video. This would allow me to experiment with key aspects of the video, but also be a tool to help me communicate with the film-maker…

Making a mockup video, first.

Storyboard and scenes. I’d already sketched out a storyboard based on one of the app’s main workflows. One person/actor and two separate scenes:

  • The place where the person receives a message containing a list of things to do, e.g. coffee shop or park.
  • The place where the person uses the list, e.g. a shop.

I wanted the film-maker to control the story and scenes, so I simply used two separate areas in the mockup video, so that we could discuss ideas and the transition/flow between scenes.

Key shots of the device. Making the mockup video really helped me here. Although my initial storyboard (on paper) included the close-up shots of the phone, I found filming them to be a different matter.

The Alter workflow can be described, simply, as:

Copy. Paste. You’ve got a list.

In practice, the sequence and duration of shots had a big impact on the message I was trying to convey.

Duration. The primary reason I decided to create a mockup video was to test the time. I had a target time of 30 – 40 seconds and wanted to know if what I was asking of the film-maker was possible.

Whether you’re making the video yourself or having someone else do it for you, I’d definitely advise timing the key sequences early in the process. It can be surprising how quickly the time is taken up.

The style. Making the mockup was useful for my own planning. When I met with the film-maker, we played with the app, discussed ideas, watched the mockup video… but it was my vision of the style, or vibe, of the video that I really wanted to communicate.

For this, I used some examples. Dan Counsell has another article: 10 Examples of Great App Promo Videos. I sent this page to the film-maker and we discussed examples of the style that I’m aiming for.

Storyboard mockup video for Alter.

At this point the video is still in production. The key shots have been filmed but the editing is still to do.

Below is the mockup video I made during this process. Since showing it to the film-maker I’ve iterated on it and generally tidied it up. Here’s why:

  • I wanted to post it here.
  • The first two rough cuts were fun and I knew it would’t take much to round it off.
  • I wanted to experiment with GarageBand.
  • I wanted a backup option.

On that last point: I’ve already identified things that I would change and approach differently if doing this again. Having not yet seen the final product I wonder if I’ve communicated the requirements well enough…

The smoothed over mockup of the Alter video: