90 seconds product pitch in stop motion on a $5 budget

TL;DR

We needed a product video to show Gym Hero to the world. It's an iPhone workout tracker app we made and we think it kicks ass.

We present to you the result, followed by some words about how we made this and finally a version with explicit lyrics (our favorite version, actually).

Turn on your speakers/headphones :)

The whole story

You know how it is. There was this great idea floating around in your head, you talked about it with friends and finally invested the time and work necessary to realize it. Now you sit there, all happy and proud. But nobody really knows about that cool thing you've created.

Sucks. You need to tell people about it. That's easy. No wait, it's not. People rarely read stuff on webpages (thanks for hanging on, btw.). They scan the text and discard most of it, unless…

Unless there's a video. People like videos. Fun videos especially. They're a great way to show off your product tell people a little bit about it. They're just a little expensive to produce. Especially, when you're on a $5 budget.

We discovered some great stop motion videos and found it would be a great way to present our app. Made deal! Two days and 700 photos later we had a little video about Gym Hero.

And here's how we did it

First step: sit down with your co founder, dribble some ideas and sketch up script ideas for the audio track.

It really helps to put together a rough outline of the movie. Can't stress this enough. It'll give you a goal to work towards, so you don’t get lost. Many more ideas came up while we shot the movie, though, but this is how you should start the whole thing.

Next step was creating the set. Since we would shoot the pictures over next two days it was necessary to have a good illumination in order to provide the same light in every picture. Winter is grey in Berlin. It took us quite some time to get everything together (about 10 times as much as we thought). Here you can see our set up:

Finally time to shoot some photos! This meant drawing plus doing little changes to the scene over and over again. After every change we took a picture. We repeated these steps more than 1000 times. After two days, a ‘few’ bottles of Flensburger and Becks (that's German beer, in case you didn't already know), hundreds of espressos and lots of laughter we were done. The next task was to tranform the 700+ photos we decided to use into motion.

Putting it together - the voice over

Therefore we dumped the pictures into iMovie (too bad we didn’t try Premiere Pro before, much better). A few crashes and reimports later we set the time for every picture (between 0.1s and 1.0s) to roughly match it up with the lyrics.

Hey, we're done! Well, almost. A good video needs an audio track.

After this got done we needed a voice! We both speak english but we were looking for a native speaker to do the job. Blessedly we found Will! He turned out to have some kick ass dubber skills. If you ever need someone to do a voice over for you, let us know and we'll direct you to the man. Thanks again, Will.

Experimenting with the right voice and speed we ended up with three versions of the clip. Scroll to the end of this post to check out the other two.

Explicit lyrics - Sean Connery edit

Out of nowhere Will started talking with a scottish accent, so we decided to do a quick Sean Connery edit of our video. This is Mike six months later. Fuck me, did he get big!

Trailer voice edit

Will can also do a movie trailer voice, so we did this version as well. Some people even find it easier to understand than the regular edit.

Summary

Lots of work, but a lot of fun as well. Gear we used consisted of

  • camera (Nikon D300s, but the macbook webcam does the job as well. See below)
  • markers
  • paper
  • cardboard
  • tape
  • iMovie,
  • MacBook pro
  • glass table (thanks mom)
  • microphone (again, a macbook does the job)
  • light. LOTS OF LOTS OF LIGHT.

Credits

All credit for this video goes to Avand Amiri, who inspired us to do this video in the first place. Here's his blog post, where he explained what he did in a lot more detail than us, with more numbers, a site where you can buy music for videos pretty cheap (we even used the same song as he did, he made a damn good choice). Especially if you're a hacker news reader, you'll enjoy the rest of his blog as well. Go check it out!