In June 2013 I produced my first promotional video for an app – Book Creator for iPad, for the agency Red Jumper Studio, for whom I am currently the Marketing Manager.
Capturing a story
First some background. We had a promo video kicking around since 2011, which Book Creator developer Dan Amos created by screencasting his iPad and recording the result. We felt it was time to update this video given the app had progressed a lot since then, and we were undergoing some rebranding with a new website.
So the first part of the new video would quite simply be a reconstruction of the original, but with some of the new features (such as adding video) thrown in. But I also wanted to capture the other features of Book Creator which make it such a great app – the ability to easily share books, the fact that it’s so easy to use that anyone can do it, and also the amazing reality that over 1 million books have been created in Book Creator.
Tools for the job
- iPad 4 (Retina)
- Canon Legria HF M52
- Manfrotto MKC3-H01 Tripod
- Some standard desk lamps for lighting
- Macbook Pro with iMovie and GarageBand
Part 1 – Filming the iPad
There are a number of issues I found when trying to film the iPad – positioning of the tripod and camera (and how to operate the iPad without disturbing the tripod) was a big one. But without doubt the hardest nut to crack is getting the lighting right.
In my early shooting sessions I was lucky to have really good natural light coming from outside (it was in summer) and that really helped. But we found that the image quality of the iPad screen was not that good. This was partly due to filming an iPad 2, which is why we decided to invest in a retina iPad to get better clarity – especially on the shots where we zoom in close to the iPad screen.
The other issue I found was that I was picking up the reflection of the camera and tripod in the iPad screen. So with the new iPad I bought a Power Support HD anti-glare screen protector and that did the trick. There was a slight trade-off to bear in that it made the iPad screen look slightly grainy, but it was worth it remove the reflection of the lights and the camera.
In my second session of filming the natural light wasn’t as good so I had an elaborate system of lights surrounding the iPad. Curse British summertime! However, the result was not too bad – but it was not a professional set up by any means.
It took me many, many takes and a fair bit of clever editing in iMovie to create the smoothness of seeing the app in action! One tip I have here is to vary the shots between close-up and full screen to make the video more dynamic. Otherwise it gets boring quickly. I also slightly sped up the video in certain places so the video doesn’t dwell on my hand movements.
Part 2 – Extras
One of the things I wanted to convey was how easy it is to use Book Creator, and that anyone can do it. For this I wheeled in two valuable extras – my daughter and my Grandma!
They were both willing film stars, but I have a confession – you’ll see in the video that they move items around in Book Creator to show them using it. Well, to make sure it looked 100 per cent I filmed them and then reversed the film to make it look like they snapped the item into place! Otherwise it might have taken a lot of takes for them to get it perfectly in place…
Part 3 – A million books
One of the amazing things about Book Creator is the sheer number of really high quality books that exist on iTunes and in schools. I collate those that I find on a Pinterest board. I wanted to convey this, and I thought it would be nice to showcase some of that work.
So the last sequence is of a number of books appearing 1 by 1 on screen. There are probably ways to do this in other video editing software but I could not find a way in iMovie, so I literally created every shot in Adobe Photoshop, creating a new image for every book added, and then inserted each one into iMovie in sequence. You’ll notice that I tried to keep the books appearing in time to the beat of the music to add to the effect.
About the music
I spent a fair amount of time trying to find suitable music. It’s hard to find good quality royalty free music online. I did come across this site, Incomptech which was quite good. There were some possible candidates there, but none that really jumped out.
Then it dawned on me that I could create the music myself in GarageBand. The beauty of this is that I could adjust it to perfectly fit the video (you’ll notice that the very last beat of the music strikes as the last slide of the video comes in).
I had a pretty strong idea of the emotion and feeling I wanted to convey with the music. It needed to be quirky, exciting and to build up as the video progresses. In my mind I’d always imagined the intro beat to be done by clapping hands, in the end I settled for the stocatto percussion of the clave. All of the music was simply layered on using GarageBand’s preset loops. That way I could build up to the crescendo of excitement as all the books appear on screen!
It’s an easy job to then import the music from GarageBand into iMovie.
Now you get to watch the video
If you haven’t seen it already…
Do let me know what you think of the end result, how it could be improved, or any techniques I could have implemented that you’ve tried.