Indie Devs: Get more social content and value from your trailer
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.
One of the most interesting challenges small teams face is how to maximize their reach on social media while not stealing from development time. This is especially true for projects where team members wear multiple hats; developing additional trailers, GIFs or screenshots steals away from polishing a feature or fixing a bug.
It’s a real catch-22 situation, the additional social promotion could reach a wider audience and drive more wish listing, pre-orders or sales, but the additional time spent on polish and bug fixing could increase the users’ enjoyment.
I’m not here to tell you which is the better choice; it’s a real case by case basis. I am here to hopefully show you that taking what you have, and with some splicing and editing, can lead you to having much more content than you realize. If you’ve made a trailer for your game, shared it, and are now wondering what else to do, I believe this blog post will be valuable, particularly for smaller teams.
To create this blog post I re-used a trailer one of the talented artists at Stormcloud Games made for [email protected], an ASCII inspired rogue-like for PS4 and PC. This trailer was made for the games announcement at PlayStation experience and while I was doing the social media for the game I used it a lot, however, I believe that by taking this trailer and looking to make smaller clips for social, screenshots and GIFs I could take more value from the work put into this trailer to reach more people.
We actually had a lot of video content, I made a lot of small trailers to showcase specific features, however for this example I wanted to show what was possible from a single minute long video.
Video, Video, Video
My first goal was taking the trailer and splicing it up into smaller, 3-10 second chunks I thought could be used well on social media. I didn’t think too much about what tag line I could use or the context, it was purely about getting as many quality 3-10 second slices as I could.
Once I had sliced the trailer up, I ended with 10 short clips I believed could be re-used on social, specifically Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. None of these videos would appear on our YouTube channel, the goal was to create more content to reach a wider audience via our primary social channels.
Right out of the box a few of the clips worked in isolation, I could add these to a folder of “Approved Videos” and begin working on tag lines for them, before looking at our Google Calendar to figure out when I could share them. A few others however were too short or didn't give me the feel I wanted, I instead decided to use these to make a smaller trailer.
I went over my clips and began building a small, punchy narrative for the clips before combining them into a short 27 second export.
Bar a pass on the audio, I was really happy with this short outcome for social. I spent roughly 10 minutes making this and with another 30 minutes believe I could tighten up the timing, smooth out the transitions and do an audio pass.
GIF it real good
The next step was to look at the video pieces and determine which could be turned into GIFs. I’m personally obsessed with making GIFs loop correctly, where possible, and find abrupt ending GIFs to be quite off-putting. That said, this is a personal preference so while I tried to really focus on loop-able GIFs, I also used several that while they didn't’t loop fully, looked good regardless.
This exercise proved much more useful and lucrative from a content stand point. After several passes of the video I ended up with 10 GIFs that were directly usable on our social media platforms without any real editing or alteration.
These GIFs were now ready to be added to the Approved GIF folder and scheduled into the Google Calendar, giving us additional content to push.
The final pass was going over the video and grabbing screenshots to bolster our content. This was the easiest and simplest part of the process. I went through the video frame by frame and captured 40 screenshots, after a second triage I decided 20 were useful for our channels.
Clipping the trailer, creating videos, GIFs and screenshots in total took me just over one hour. There is definitely still some quality control to be done on the videos I created, however I wanted to show what was possible with limited time and a short trailer.
If I had included our other trailers, such as our Co-Op trailer (shown below), I could have increased the pool of video, GIF and screenshots drastically. In addition I could have made more Mini Trailers for social by combining key scenes from each video. This would increase the time spent on this task, but would, in my eyes, have been very worthwhile.
To end my blog, I understand all of this content is recycled, however I don’t believe that is a problem. There is no way everyone saw your trailer, due to the nature of social media, that is, the day you posted, the time zone, the hash tags you used and so on. I believe you could build a schedule that staggers this content and looks to target a wider audience outwith your core hours - should you be worried about overlap.
I hope this blog post was useful and shows what is possible from your existing material if you don’t have the time, resources or budget to create new and unique content throughout your development cycle.
If this blog post was interesting to you and provided you value, consider picking up [email protected] on PS4 or PC. While I no longer work on the project or at the studio, i'm immensely proud of the work we did.
If you have any suggestions, drop a comment after this post or find me on Twitter: @RetroCrumpet