How We Filmed our Crowdfunding Video for Under $2,000

We’re a small startup, and we don’t have a large marketing budget. When we started working on our crowdfunding campaign, we took a look at a few of the most successful crowdfunded products:

We asked ourselves: what do they all have in common? They all had a video with excellent production value – a video that could cost anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000 or more depending on whether or not the actors were paid.

As a startup that’s bootstrapped and hasn’t raised a large round of investment, we needed to get creative. We used $2,000 of our savings to film a video that could have easily cost 10x as much. We recruited a bunch of our talented friends who are musicians, dancers, researchers, and body builders. Then, we filmed footage and edited until we reached our final iteration:

Supplies

Camera – $250 rental

Jake already had a Nikon D7000 camera for photography, which shoots 1080p HD video, so we filmed our entire video on his DSLR. If you don’t already have a DSLR that shoots HD video, you can rent them online at a huge discount to buying one.

Camera Lens – $560 rental

Camera lenses can cost a lot of money – upwards of $2,000. This would have eaten away most of our budget. Thankfully, we were able to find a good online rental service (LensRentals.com) that allowed us to rent two extremely high-quality lenses for under $600. We rented a Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 and a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, and used the lenses for a month to film the different shots in our video. The quality is surprisingly good.

Camera Track – $110

The most effective video shots are dynamic — they feature a moving camera that draws attention to the most impactful subjects in a video. Rather than only have simple pans, we wanted to create a more dynamic aesthetic by using a track — the shots depicted below wouldn’t be possible without one:

Handheld Stabilizer – $30

For shots taken off of the track or tripod, camera stability is essential. While calibrating it can be a bit of a hassle to say the least, an inexpensive camera stabilizer will save you a lot of headache in post-processing.

Tripods (2x) – $60

Jake already had three tripods we used for filming and mounting the camera track. This allowed us to capture stable shots without needing too much extra equipment, but a typical tripod will run about $30.

Microphone – $129

Photograph of the audio recording setup.

Good video needs good audio. Ajay and Shantanu both already had Blue Yeti microphones, which we used to record narrations and spoken parts. We also got pop filters and a wind filter for the microphones to make sure the sound quality was perfect. As you can see in the picture, we made heavy use of large blankets to reduce echoes and dampen the noise of the room. Although this doesn’t give the same audio quality you get from a vocal booth and a professional-grade setup, it provides a passable approximation.

Lightbox – $40

Proper lighting is essential for any type of photography, product photography being no exception. Thankfully, there are really reasonably priced solutions for lighting small-to-medium sized products. We picked up a lightbox for $40 on Amazon, which let us take awesome photos of Moment.

Photo of Moment
Photograph of lightbox used for Moment's product photos.

Adobe Creative Cloud – $60

Now that Adobe has switched to offering a monthly Creative Cloud subscription instead of a large one-time software purchase, we were able to easily afford the Creative Cloud installations for After Effects and Premiere Pro without a problem.

Halcyon Days by Mokhov – $600

We licensed the song Halcyon Days by Mokhov for use in our video, and used Audiosocket to obtain a license for commercial use.

Videohive Messaging Effects – $28

We wanted to add very subtle effects to enhance the video, so we decided to use the Videohive Text Messages package, which provided us with an easy way to add subtle animations to our video in Adobe After Effects.

Grand Total: $1,897

Locations

Freeway overpass above the I-10 in Phoenix.
Freeway overpass above the I-10 in Phoenix.
Biking around Downtown Phoenix with a tripod and track.
Biking around Downtown Phoenix with a tripod and track.
 Filming the manufacture of our circuit boards at QuikTek Assembly.
Filming the manufacture of our circuit boards at QuikTek Assembly.
 Planning and editing footage at the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation.
Planning and editing footage at the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation.
 Filming Anthony Kelly (professional dancer) at a downtown shipping container.
Filming Anthony Kelly (professional dancer) at a downtown shipping container.
 Filming Anthony Brant (musician and audio engineering specialist) at Epicentre Records.
Filming Anthony Brant (musician and audio engineering specialist) at Epicentre Records.
 Video editing at a coffee shop, and squeezing in a few extra B-roll shots.
Video editing at a coffee shop, and squeezing in a few extra B-roll shots.
Filming at Hole in the Rock.
Filming at Hole in the Rock.
Filming a body builder at the Arizona State University gym.
Filming a body builder at the Arizona State University gym.
Adjusting the exposure and color balancing clips.
Adjusting the exposure and color balancing clips.
Rendering our video on a Mac Pro.
Rendering our video on a Mac Pro.
Messy office after rearranging for filming.
Messy office after rearranging for filming.
Dinner at Ike's Love and Sandwiches after finishing filming.
Dinner at Ike’s Love and Sandwiches after finishing filming.

Author: Shantanu Bala

Shantanu Bala graduated from Arizona State University in 2014 with a double B.S. in Computer Science and Psychology.

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