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Jul 11, 2019 13:33:44

Product videos

by @hum | 1285 words | 🐣 | 215πŸ’Œ

Sarah Hum

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Rewriting yesterday's post with a focus on product videos.

Potential title: Making a product video with no time and no budget


Releasing big features is exciting and worth celebrating. If you're not using video for your product launches or feature releases, you're missing out! Using video is a great way to boost brand affinity while getting more people excited about your product.

Video will make you stand out and *wow* your audience. Videos have powerful storytelling abilities and can be a lot more engaging than other types of content.

A 2016 study showed that 79% of B2B businesses use video in their content marketing (and it's sure to have gone up since then).

One of the big things holding teams back from using video is the cost required to create it (effort as well as monetary). Compared to text and images in a blog post, it seems much higher.

Of course, I'm not talking about Hollywood production value with large crews and expensive equipment. I want to talk about videos that get a message across authentically and in an entertaining way.

Here are a few product videos our team has made. We use them for both feature releases as well as explainer videos on the feature landing page.

Canny for Intercom

Canny Changelog

We made these with no time and no budget. Here's how you can too.


This phase sets the stage for all your time and effort to come. Without proper planning, you'll find yourself second guessing and changing your mind down the road. Once you involve other people, changing your mind will be costly. So plan your video thoroughly from the start.

The Concept

Start by writing out a simple brief for yourself. What is the main message you want to convey in your video?

Here's a simple outline to get you started:

  • We're releasing feature X
  • This is the problem it solves
  • Here's how to use it
  • Here's why it's awesome

Write down the key elements you want to cover. Then, we can start being creative.

Put together a quick moodboard to help kick-start those creative juices. Think about your feature or product in particular and its unique visual elements.

[Image of visual elements/mood board/word cloud]

Having a moodboard is great for our next step: storyboarding.

I know not everyone is an artist but if you can draw a stick person, you can put together a storyboard. Try to come up with at least three unique concepts and draw some basic thumbnails.

For our videos, we try to include at least a couple segments with people in them. As humans, we naturally gravitate towards other people. Having people in our videos makes it more relatable and, well, human. Videos about software can easily get dull and boring. Use people to add some excitement to what you've built.

People have short attention spans. Keep your product videos short and sweet. You shouldn't need that many frames to convey your concept. Here are our storyboards from our most recent video:

[storyboard examples]

Then, finalize your concept. Think about which concepts are realistically achievable. The best ones are fun and engaging but also easy to execute.

For example, concept one included somehow getting footage or animating a rocketship blasting off. Not easy. Not as creative either. 

Concept three was the winner. It was fun and wouldn't cost us much to pull off. 

The Script

Now that you have your concept down, you can put together your script. You'll want to refer back to that outline we used for creating the concept:

  • We're releasing feature X
  • This is the problem it solves
  • Here's how to use it
  • Here's why it's awesome

The challenging part here is condensing your script to only the most important pieces. We recommend aiming for around 200 words in your whole script. Get rid of sentences you don’t need and use short words. Make sure you include a call to action at the end.

Put everything together

Now that you have your concept and script, you can put the two together. For every line in your script, jot down what will be happening in the video.

By the end, you should have a very clear view of how this video will play out. You’re now ready to get all your equipment in order.


For the usual video, we need:

  1. A video recording device
  2. An audio recording device
  3. Light
  4. People
  5. Props
  6. Editing software

Video recording device

We usually use an iPhone. I'd say the quality is good enough.

For our future videos, we might look into borrowing a DSLR for that extra bump in quality.

Audio recording device

For our Intercom Integration video, we used the microphone on some wired Apple earpods. We probably won't do that again. If your actor wears it on them, it easily picks up sounds you don't want like the rubbing on clothing.

We ended up investing in the Samson Go Mic which is only $30 on Amazon. We think it sounds great! The voiceover in our Changelog video was done on that microphone.


No need to invest in some fancy lighting equipment. Get up early and use natural light. Free! Or borrow lighting equipment from people you know if you're lucky.


You do not need professional actors. Grab some teammates or even some nice friends. Free!


If you chose your concept wisely, props should be cheap. Put your DIY hat on and get creative.

In our Intercom video we spent $3 on confetti. In our Changelog video we spent $12 on a few canvases and markers.

Editing Software

I'm fortunate enough to have access to the Adobe Suite so I edit with Premier Pro. I would definitely recommend it but this software isn't cheap. I know there are free tools out there but I haven't tried them. Worth looking into it if you don't have video editing software handy!

For audio editing, I use Audacityβ€”it's free! Check out this video on how you can easily make your voiceover sound better.

Before shooting

Before you begin shooting, you'll want to make sure everything is in line and ready to go.

Plan the shoot

Make sure you have a clear idea of exactly what footage you want. The worst thing would be getting to your editing stage and realizing you need to bring everyone back for a missed scene.

  • Which scenes are you recording?
  • What order are you filming in?
  • What is the dialog and action in each scene?
  • Do you need any B-roll?

Write everything down so you have something to refer to during the shoot. Having a clear plan will ensure everything goes smoothly.

Set & props
Choosing the right set is important. It can drastically change the mood of your video. We recommend keeping things simple and filming against a solid-colored wall. This also helps keeping the attention on the actors.
Consider any external factors. If your location is very noisy and you need to capture dialog, you'll need to figure out your recording setup. If there are unwanted shadows, you might want to shoot at a different time. Editing anything out will be much more difficult.
If you need to prepare your props, do that before film day. You don't want to think about any missing pieces later.
Make sure you also plan out how you will be recording. We recommend using a tripod. Remember: anything can be a tripod. 
Once you have everything well thought-out, you are ready to start recording!

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