We’ve spent most of today recording footage for the Shenanigans Kickstarter video. It’s been an interesting experience for me since all of my other games had videos supported by the same team – some things are very much the same while others are really quite different. I though that it might be nice to discuss some of the differences in technique and how they’ve affected the outcome.
The main difference between the TPO video and the 3DTotal videos was in how we captured audio. At 3DTotal we use a little microphone that clips onto the top of my shirt and has a wire that runs down the inside and attaches it to the camera. At TPO we use a directional boom microphone that involves some poor sap having the thankless task of sitting perfectly still pointing it at me while I fumble my lines repeatedly.
The difference in sound quality is enormous, the person holding the boom mic was able to mimic the tiny noises I made doing things like swallowing that would not be picked up by the less sensitive mic. We were also able to pick up every passing bus and the bleeping noise of a traffic light two floors down and halfway along the street. I’m not sure how advantageous this was.
The downside was very apparent in that we had to restart sections because the filming was ruined by environmental noise. We had to do this a lot. It was frustrating. On the other hand our editor claims to be able to do all sorts of wizardary with this level of sound quality at her disposal. Apparently editing sound reduces the quality somewhat so the amount of editing that you can get away with is related to the quality of your audio – this means that she can shorten or lengthen pauses to make it sound like I talk at a nice, consistent speed. It also may prove to be of some help when adding music and sound to the video.
Overall this difference had a definite, negative effect during the filming but apparently everything will be worth it in post production. That hasn’t happened yet, I’m sure I’ll be able to share a video with you in a few weeks so that you can form your own opinions.
Another difference in the way that we filmed was the extent to which I got direct feedback on takes during filming. During the 404 filming I got a lot of feedback on delivery, with Wizard’s Academy and Nightmare it was a little less pronounced but for this project it was almost nonexistant. One hypothesis is that over the course of several videos I’ve become brilliant and no longer make mistakes.
Let’s call this “The optimistic but deeply unlikely” hypothesis.
In part I think the difference comes because I’ve got a lot more Kickstarter experience than pretty much everyone else here, which means that on some levels I wind up insisting upon things because I’m absolutely certain that they’re best and have the data to prove it. However I think this makes other people less likely to question decisions I make or to suggest doing things differently when I’m working from a best guess. This isn’t really an ideal situation because I’m quite often wrong about things. I may need to improve the extent to which I signal the difference between “I know this thing because I’ve got relevant expertise and won’t be moved” and “I’m pretty much making this up as I’m going along, I’m totally open to discussion on it.”
There’s also a difference in preferred shots. I passed the video team at both places a script which included a bit that basically said “This is the bit where I look at the camera and tell people why they should back our project” and they wanted to frame it very differently. Last week at 3DTotal we did a shot that was a very close up face shot while wearing generic smart-casual (I hate that term) stuff, this week we did a half body shot while wearing a shirt branded with art from the game. The first shot was in front of the office diner, the latter in front of a plain wall covered in TPO flyers and posters.
I’m not sure which of these shots will be better – if I were I’d have got into a fight which whichever video team was doing the worse shot. Having seen the footage resulting from both of these shots I’m still not sure, ignoring that voice that everyone has saying “You’re not pretty, try to get out of the shot or at least be far away”. Ultimately I suspect that once I see the final Kickstarter videos I still won’t be sure which of these has the advantage, but it was different to note the different directions that the same script can be taken in.
Scripting wise there wasn’t that much difference between the projects, probably because I threw both of them together. I wonder if we’d get something out of hiring a dedicated professional for this bit – it’s always the case that I stumble the lines a few times and start chop and changing things that feel unnatural or that will make the videos drag on for too long.
These projects do differ from previous projects in that card games are a somewhat simpler medium. Rather than doing anything particularly elaborate they follow a form of “Introduce something cool about the theme of the game” -> “Show the game being played” -> “Say the selling points” -> “Ask people to back” while aiming for a total time of less than a minute (or at least less than two).
The nature of the available environment also had an impact, though I think this was often more accident than design. The ambient noise here seemed worse (though this may be a result of the change in audio equipment) and we had no natural light to work with. However in both cases we used unnatural light to augment the failings of the Earth’s sun and managed to pull something off that appears halfway decent.
Generally I’m not sure that I can say that what we did today was better or worse than any of the video work I’ve been involved in before, it’s just been a little different. Perhaps you’ve had experiences that are different again? It’d be interesting to hear about them so that we could discuss pros and cons for things where previously it wasn’t apparent how many options that we had.