No-one likes a tease, right? Apparently some people do, and that’s what we were counting on.
The first step in revealing Kong to the world was our teaser site, which launched with the short animated video above. On the site users could sign up for the Private Launch.
Why make a teaser?
It’s part of the plan. As a startup we’ve got to be careful to take things at the right pace, so for the private launch we specifically took aim at early adopters. Here’s why: we wanted to get the private launch into the hands of tech-savvy entrepreneurial types who are gonna push the system to its limits and help us find where we can make it even better. If you’re reading this there’s a fair chance that describes you.
So as strange as it sounds, we didn’t want to attract maximum user numbers straight away. We wanted to get the kind of people who relish the challenge of using a brand-new eCommerce platform, and enjoy the odd, frustrating and sometimes hi-larious issues that come with that.
This gives us valuable real-world feedback ahead of the public launch that we can use to make things even better.
At the public launch (which is a few weeks away at time of writing) we’ll be talking a lot more about specific features and benefits. For the private launch we wanted to create something sharable but self-selecting - it’s about talking to the right people at the right time.
How we made the video
The first thing we did was look at the list of features and decide what we wanted to talk about. Kong does a lot of cool stuff so narrowing it down was not the easiest job in the world. But we persevered and made the decision to focus on the feeling of creating something customised and personal to you.
From there we figuratively wrote about a billion scripts, which then fought it out until one survived. It was a bit like Thunderdome, but with more words and fewer leather trousers.
Having wiped the blood off the eventual winner we broke out our best drawin’ pens and sketched out the action that would accompany the words. We then illustrated up the raw concept visuals into the shiny storyboards that form the basis of the animation.
Then comes the very worst part of any video for me.
The very worst part of any video for me
While producing video at agencies I quickly learned that board-a-mations / animatics are your best friend in pre-production.
The reason we make them is that they allow you to quickly feel the ‘flow’ of a video and identify where the action is going to move too fast or too slow.
The way we make them is to record a temporary voiceover (even just on a smartphone is enough) and then set the storyboards to it.
The reason they are the very worst part of the process for me is that I have to do the temp voiceovers, and I am most definitely not a professional voice artist. It does not help that I had a head cold at the time of recording this one so it sounded like I’m trying to do a terrible Batman voice. FYI this was not the case.
We like to get the proper voiceover recorded as soon as possible, as animating to the final voice timings means no time needs to be spent on correcting timings.
With the voice in place it’s time to turn the storyboards into usable assets, then off to Adobe After Effects to begin the animation. Lots of shape layers created from Illustrator artwork in this one, but that’s a post for another day :)
As the subject of the video was customisation it made sense conceptually to have one central item that kept changing to suit the point we were making. This meant lots of painstaking animation to seamlessly morph from hairstyle to hairstyle to burger to store to rocket. This was a next-level challenge for me as an animator and required a fair chunk of research and testing. If the end result feels lively and doesn’t draw attention to the transitions for the wrong reasons then it’s time well spent.
Once the animation’s completed and signed off (not that the Creative Director would just change his mind at the last minute or anything... ) we add sound effects and balance the audio, then hit Render and go for a brew.
With the final video file created, we upload it to our video hosting platform and hand over to the disgustingly talented Development team. They build it in to the site then make sure it plays and scales responsively and all that good stuff.
Then it goes in your eyes and ears and we get to here. Easy.
Witness the Fitness (for purpose)
There are always amends and changes in the course of producing content like this, especially when there’s a few of you and you’re all passionate about what you’re doing. The most important thing is to make sure that the changes make the end result better.
It’s sometimes helpful to take a wide view and check where you are ‘now’ against the original brief. This helps to ensure that cumulative changes haven’t gradually morphed the project into something that doesn’t do the job it was created for.
There were quite a few things that changed through the production of this teaser, but in the end the video still did the job we wanted it to. Think of it as Trigger’s broom*
*If you got the reference give yourself a pat on the donkey-jacket. If you didn’t, help yourself to a comedy classic here
There’s some bonus content at the end of this post that shows our ‘deleted scenes’.
We use video analytics to give us insight into how often our videos get watched, skipped or repeated. From this we get an even better idea of what our users find helpful and interesting. We use that insight to craft a better video next time, and the time after that, and so on.
Speaking of which, the next video in the series goes into more detail about some of the awesome stuff you can do with Kong. It takes the threads from the teaser and adds another level of detail. We think it looks cool.
In a few weeks from now it’s time for the public product launch, which is exciting and scary in equal measure.
Whether the teaser encouraged you to join the private launch or not, we hope that it was an entertaining 32 seconds, and that you’ll enjoy what we've got coming next.
Mike - Video and Animation Guy