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Don Ullman - Shoot A Good Video And The Odds Go Up

Shooting a video can be a really fun part of the inventing process and can really help your hit rate.

Although there are still many hurdles to licensing ideas, one thing that has become easier over the course of my career is the ability to present those ideas. When I started in the business, I always brought prototypes to physical meeting locations – usually to NY Toy Fair or to a company that was within a day’s driving distance. This was not really all that efficient or successful, at least for me. As technology evolved, the pitch evolved, using awkward camcorders and VHS videos (incredible tech for the time), and then DVD’s which were better, but still not great. Now, we are so lucky to have the tools we really need to create and pitch digitally. Phones that can record incredible video and audio, computer editing software that anyone can learn to use, and large file sharing websites make creating and pitching ideas easier than ever. It took me a long time and a lot of rejection before I was making what I consider to be good pitch videos, so I want to share some of what I have learned.

Why A Video Is Important To Your Success

  • Videos allow you to present in a well thought out order rather than under the pressure of talking through the concept while showing a prototype.

  • Videos can allow you to get the presentation out to multiple companies at the same time.

  • Videos set a feeling because you can use music. If you are showing a sample you usually don’t say “hold on while I put this music on for my presentation.”

  • Videos don’t break. If you are at a toy show constantly bringing out a prototype and then trying to put it back in the bag under time pressure, it will eventually break costing you time and money to repair.

  • Videos can make the prototype look or work better than it really does. Prototypes don’t always work perfectly or consistently, so videos help because they don’t include the misfires and are focused on the product highlights. You can even get a feel if a company has seen a concept before you invest the time and money.

Making A Good Video

  • Write A Script: Try and keep the script short – under 1 minute if possible. Try and include a very short rationale at the beginning to put your concept in perspective and show why it is relevant – maybe one line. Maybe even try and shape it into a story with one line if appropriate. For each line try to envision and call out the shot that will go with it. Try and write it like a commercial if possible.

  • Record The Voice Over: Record the voice over one line or sentence at a time and keep the pace quick. Clip the front and back sections of each segment if needed.

  • Shoot The Video: Shoot more video than you need. Shoot different angles. Shoot the product close up and shoot it further away with people playing. Make sure you follow the script and get all the shots you scripted out. Use still photos where appropriate.

  • Laugh: Try and include some authentic laughter in video clips if possible – after all, we are in the business of fun!

  • Include Music: Find fun or relevant music. You’ll be surprised what you can find. There is relevant music that can set a good tone for just about any subject.

  • Assemble And Revise: Assemble the video and then try a few different variations on shots, music, etc.

  • Don’t Overuse Effects: Most effects are just a distraction. I would just stay with speed settings and use sparingly. Use slow motion to show a cool effect or fast motion to speed up a slow segment.

I hope some of these tips can help streamline and improve your presentations!

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