Video production on a shoestring: creating a promo video for Kanbanchi.
Kanbanchi is our own development here at Magic Web Solutions. It’s sort of like a child for us. So, when we realised the need to make a fantastic product promo video for our favorite app, who could we think of to best do the video production? Ourselves, of course.
This was not only because every parent wants the best for their child (wink). Also on the list of reasons was a less poetic one. We, like everyone else, don’t like to overpay. The price of video production is getting ridiculously expensive nowadays, especially when big names are involved in the process of their creation. This is not good.
This Case Study is to prove that high-quality video production is not a rocket science and does not require a big pile of money. Read our step-by-step chronicle to learn how we managed to produce one for Kanbanchi that was 10 times cheaper than it would have cost us to deal with any of the market giants.
Background – About Kanbanchi
Kanbanchi is an ultimate productivity tool for G Suite. It’s a flexible and simple way to run projects and collaborate in one place without leaving your cosy G Suite. A visual kanban board with a simple drag-and-drop interface helps you focus on what matters most: your tasks.
Idea – universal excitement about G Suite
One day we were chatting on Skype with Vlad, the founder of Kanbanchi. It was late October, a month after Google famously rebranded its business apps as G Suite. By then every man and his dog had watched their unconventional promo video (created by some gifted pros at Anomaly and directed by Giant Ant) and reacted to it in social media. It had gained a huge deal of hype!
As part of the magic of Kanbanchi is in its integration with G Suite, we just couldn’t miss the chance to join in with all of this fun. Out of the blue, Vlad texted:
If your apps all begin with a G, then you need Kanbanchi! 😀 How about getting a poem written about Kanbanchi, and if it’s any good, producing a promo video in line with the Google’s one?
The creative minds in our team were then bursting with ideas, so yeah, this is how the idea was born.
It’s just not possible to live and work in a vacuum. To succeed it’s vital to see the bigger picture, look around and see what’s out there in the world. Our collective experience here at Magic Web enables us to think around problems to solve them, understanding trends and catching a wave in the marketplace.
This case illustrates that perfectly. We managed to create a video in a short time and jump on the bandwagon of Google’s rebranding of Google Apps for Business.
Process – Producing high-quality pieces and combining them beautifully. As simple as Lego.
A whimsical, Dr. Seuss-style poem was written in no time by a writer found on Fiverr and cost just 5 bucks. All we had to do is to find our magician Dave, provide him with a thought-out brief to him. He managed to put into words (words that rhyme!) the sense of how Kanbanchi complements G Suite and transforms workflow management and team collaboration.
Voiceover talent was found on Fiverr too (a treasure trove of a site). Erika made a voice over that you want to listen to again and again, as it is such a pleasure for the ears.
It was now our turn to take it and come up with the script. We then had to combine it with a voiceover and music track before producing an eye-catching, animated promo video that would be perceived by viewers as a sequel to Google’s G Suite video.
Script – Brainstorming in a messenger? Can be done.
There were the three of us in one Telegram chat brainstorming as hard as we could. The challenge was to create a dynamic plot, which would eventually give us the poetic verses we now have. Since there is a myriad of applications for office workers depicting office atmosphere in their videos, it was really challenging to illustrate office life in a non-typical way. So, we created a storyline of a girl bringing Kanbanchi to the office one day and transforming the way company works forever and wherever – from Paris to Shanghai.
We wanted to communicate the value Kanbanchi brings and tie it to G Suite in a subtle manner. Yana came up with a metaphor for that connection to give a nice twist to the plot, which is how children appeared in the script. In the beginning of the video three kids are struggling to solve the puzzle where one piece is missing, and in the final scene, they find it in Kanbanchi.
Brainstorming the script took us three hours of intense (and very enjoyable) thinking time. A flow of fresh ideas was amply provided by our graphic designer Alex, carefully curated and polished by digital marketing girls (link to DM landing) to articulate real gems 🙂
From the word go, there’s one thing we think is integral to any work, and reading this rambling you probably have already guessed what it is. Work has to be done with a smile on the face! Especially such creative work as video production. We here at Magic Web always try to ensure that the project at hand is enjoyable for everyone involved.
Storyboard – Back to pen and paper.
Now, it was time to do production! The production team consisted of Art Director/Producer, Project Coordinator, Animator, Designer and Sound Designer, motivated and inspired by the challenge of being compared with the almighty Google. You probably are surprised with the size of the production team working on this project. It’s not a common number among traditional ‘big name’ creative agencies.
Was it possible that our brainchild could be on the same level with such a big difference in the crew size? That is precisely what we set out to discover. Our experience in software development (link to MWS SD landing) has proven time and again that a talented team lead working with two super-efficient and experienced professionals can do the work of a team of 10, 20 or even 30 people.
The first step in the production was for our Designer and Animator to draw the storyboard for the video based on the script. There was a common understanding that there won’t be much character animation in the video.
Characters would be really simple, without much detail on the faces/bodies. After some more online chatting in Telegram (we’re all remote workers), Alex and Nick plunged into sketching out the storyboard ideas.
We discussed some nuances and options in our production team, approved the version n.2 and started working on the artwork and design for the animated video.
Character Design – Video characters have to be loved.
The Designer started drawing the artwork; characters, objects, and backgrounds. There are no main characters, except for the kids maybe, and each character is different while in a similar, matching style. Once the very first drawing was done Alex previewed the picture to us to get feedback on the style. We all liked it unanimously. Here’s that very first drawing, lacking colors and shades yet:
Animation – Look for gaffes. There always will be some.
In order to be as swift as possible, we decided not to wait till all the artwork was completed. We got the animation work going as soon as parts of the visuals were ready, by putting it all together into the scenes. Nick animated each scene and combined everything so that the video was smooth and flowing.
It’s very important to keep each other updated and fix issues as soon as they arise, especially if the team is distributed. That’s why we communicated daily. The Animator showed us his work, even if it was just a little piece, and we were welcome to make comments if we saw any discrepancy or roughness. Can you spot any? 🙂
Sometimes you don’t see them at first sight, so we could be spotted staring at the screen countless times. The Producer was alert all the way through, ensuring consistency, reacting to each step in the process and making sure we weren’t going beyond our core vision. To give you a clue here’s a tricky question. What’s wrong with this piece?
It most likely would go unnoticed the first or even the second time you watch it, especially if you watch the full video. However, under closer examination, some nuances can catch your eye 🙂
Post production – A little spontaneity never hurts.
The Art Director/Producer did post production and post effects on the rendered sequences, as well as the sound mixing of voice-over, music, and sound effects. Also, at the very end of our production work, we realised that we would like to have a quirk which would make our video stand out and be different from Google’s one.
What could this differentiator possibly be? The Art Director suggested an option to make a transition from our painted world into the real world. That’s why Kanbanchi sort of breaks through the wall of animation and we see Kanbanchi on the real screen of the real laptop of the real person. It just brings Kanbanchi closer, doesn’t it? 🙂
Result – Made to last.
The video, from start to finish, had taken us under 2 calendar weeks. All the steps in the production process worked out swiftly and we couldn’t wait to see our creation live! It now has almost 30k views on Youtube and serves as a nice visual on the landing page of Kanbanchi site. Over 5 months after it was uploaded, it helps to welcome new visitors on the site and convey the essence of Kanbanchi to them. We know you want to watch it again now. Treat yourself! 🙂
If you’d like a video like the one we created for Kanbanchi, or your imagination is overflowing with different creative ideas for your promo video, drop us a note.