We launched a Kickstarter campaign a couple days ago for a new closet and office organizing product called EZSTAX. We’re under 48 hours into it and already 75% funded! While not perfect, I’m pretty proud of the campaign we put together in a very “home grown” manner.
Unlike some of the bigger budget campaigns with the money to spend on professional video and imagery, we approached our project with a $0 budget and created everything we needed in house. This created some special challenges because we knew we still needed high quality imagery to attract backers and bloggers and other media outlets that might help us spread the word.
So we set out to create our video and images using only a Samsung Galaxy S6 phone, a ladder, checkbook boxes, and a lot of duct tape.
I’m hoping that some of the techniques we created and lessons learned will help others working with low or no budgets create high quality video and images themselves. Please note that the imagery in this blog was taken with my iphone 4 because the Galaxy was in use.
MAKE SHIFT TRIPOD
You absolutely need something to keep your camera still in order to keep images from getting blurry. This is especially important if you don’t have professional quality lighting. Since I was too cheap to spring $15 for a tripod, I made my own using the box my checkbooks came in. Here’s a good shot of it sitting on top of some noodle boxes and some building blocks in our laundry room. You can’t see it in this picture, but there’s a small AA battery taped in the box behind the phone which holds it in place and allows for a little tilting. If you watch the video or visit the campaign you’ll see some of the shots there.
TOP DOWN SHOTS
You need to vary the camera angle often to keep your viewers interested so we needed a way to do an “over the top” set of images. A ladder combined with our trusty make shift tripod and a strap of tape connected at just the right length to create the angle we needed worked great. We specifically needed the top down angle for the product video because we were trying for kind of a “Wilson from Home Improvement” look where you can’t see the ogre’s face (that’s me by the way).
Since we didn’t have production quality lighting to work with, I stole my son’s desk lamp and the lamp from his nightstand and used the ladder again to clamp the desk lamp to. The nightstand lamp is in the lower right corner of this picture with tinfoil wrapped around the back half to aim the light where I wanted it. Together with the flash from the camera, we had useful light. In retrospect, I probably should have stolen even more lamps from other family members but I think we got the shots we needed. Notice there are two versions of the makeshift tripod in this shot - one is on the red bricks angled for a down shot and the other is on the right side of the table to get front and macro shots.
When you want to create focus on your product and don’t want anything else to detract from that focus, you need a solid color background. In this case, we used a black sheet stretched over a coffee table with the back of the sheet stretched over the back of our couch. This gives the sheet a gentle rising curve at the back of the shot and gives a slight appearance that the product is “floating”. This could, of course, also be a white or any other color sheet and you’d get the same effect. Note also the importance of lighting once again. In this case, the sun was setting and we received a bit of a strange effect over the top of our shots. We were creating an animated GIF on how EZSTAX can be used as a folding pattern to get a perfect fold every time. The GIF can be seen by scrolling down on our Kickstarter campaign.
- Be creative.
- Use what you have.
- Think like McGyver in a competition with the A-Team to create whatever you need.
- Sometimes time and creativity can both be lost in the pursuit of perfection so don’t let things slow you down.
- While being creative, don’t slow down. Act like Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind where he trashes the entire house until he finishes his garbage masterpiece.
- Have fun!
By the way, I realize I might be leaving myself open to people with much more skill than me to hammer me for my amateur approach but I hope you do! Let’s make the comments constructive so if you have better approaches or suggestions on how to improve mine, go for it!
Thanks for reading!