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In this piece, I’ll take you behind the scenes of how this video was created.
In case you’re unfamiliar, some background:
MagicBell is the notification inbox for your product. App creators can add a MagicBell to their product to notify users about announcements, billing, workflow, etc. More info here.
The project started when MagicBell Founder Hana Mohan reached out to us to discuss creating a video. In a recent call, Hana explained,
“I’ve always wanted to do a video. I saw the value in it and wanted to experiment. Plus, I’d been a big fan of Vooza for a long time.”
The goals of the video, according to Hana and MagicBell’s Founding Designer Milena Milak:
“We wanted unique content because we’d just done the rebranding. We are pumped about building this amazing company and we wanted something that would stand out.”
All this aligned well with the philosophy we use when creating client videos. So many companies are trying to seem big, official, and important. That’s all well and good, but it leaves room for startups like MagicBell to create content that’s more human, creative, and playful.
Those are the kind of videos we love to make.
Here were some of the initial ideas Hana sent via email:
From there, we exchanged more emails and then had a longer Zoom conversation about notifications, the problem MagicBell solves, and their ideal messaging.
With a solid concept/direction in hand, we went ahead and created a proposal to do the project.
FYI, the process of creating a video typically requires three stages:
Brainstorming, treatment, ideas, scripting & casting
Shooting, editing, and delivery of final cut
Promoting video campaigns on social media and other relevant channels.
STAGE 1: Pre-production
Once we agreed on the timeline, budget, and scope, it was time for a deeper dive into the product and the target audience. We used Dropbox Paper to collect notes, highlights from existing MagicBell assets, and various video ideas.
The next step was creating various video treatments and picking the best one. A treatment is a paragraph or two (and/or a few lines of dialogue) that convey the preliminary idea for the video. Think of it as a minimal viable product but for a video. It’s the quickest way to explain a video concept and gauge interest in it.
At this point, our goal was simply to narrow down concepts. After that, we could decide on the script, cast, and other specifics.
Below are a few of the treatment ideas we sent over:
End the repetition
Customer: What’s that? What’s that? What’s that?
MB: Oh, it’s MagicBell.
Customer: MagicBell? MagicBell? MagicBell?
MB: Yeah, it elevates your app’s notifications so customers don’t see the same message over and over.
Customer: Over and over? Over and over? Over and over?
MB: Right. Like when you see an alert on your phone and then on your laptop and then also on your iPad.
Customer: I hate that. I hate that. I hate that.
MB: So does everyone. Here, I’ll install it on your app. It’s super easy. There!
Customer: Wow, that’s it? (Pause) Wait, I didn’t repeat myself.
MB: Pretty cool, eh?
Customer: This is amazing! This is amazing! That was me, I meant to say it twice.
MB: Right on.
Sound healer: (Yoga/hippie type character surrounded by gongs and bells.) Welcome to today’s sound healing session. Today we’ll be relaxing to the soothing alert noises emanating from your various devices. Please turn your volume up and let’s begin the alerts. [various alert noises all start beeping and buzzing, it’s very annoying]
Sound healer: You should really feel this in your ringtone chakra…don’t forget to breathe…
Narrator: Want real relaxation? Get fewer alerts in your life. Try MagicBell…
You wouldn’t expect someone to catch three frisbees at the same time. (Show someone getting hit by three frisbees. Or maybe an animation of a person with three arms catching three frisbees?).
You wouldn’t expect someone to go on a date with three people at the same time. (Show someone on a date with three potential mates who seem confused.)
And you shouldn’t expect someone to check their phone, laptop, and iPad at the same time. (Show someone getting alerts on all three devices at different times.)
Elevate your notifications with MagicBell and stop wasting your customer’s time.
We also included a bunch of tagline ideas too. Picking the right tagline can help ensure messaging is on point and the video is communicating what it should.
Hana really liked the first idea (“End the repetition”) mentioned above:
Love this idea. I just want to make sure we can communicate that it’s the app developer who needs to add MagicBell to their app. It’s not something end-users can use directly. May be the customer here can be the app developer?
No problem. From there, we went ahead and wrote v1 of the actual script. This stage is when we try to lock down the dialogue, instructions for the actors/director, etc. Y’know, a script!
We went back and forth on the script a couple of times (mostly small tweaks) and then locked it.
Casting and location
One thing to note: In our videos, we almost always cast funny comedians and improvisers as performers. These folks get comedy, how to deliver a funny line, and when/how to riff.
That makes it so the script is a worst-case scenario. When shooting, we nail the actual script and then we turn ‘em loose to play around, riff, and add their own twist to the scripted content.
Often, this winds up being the funniest part of what we shoot. It’s the reason shows like Curb or movies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin are so funny. You get a different rhythm and genuine surprise when you unleash funny people to be in the moment and discover humor in real-time.
Once it was locked, we moved onto finding a location and casting the roles.
Peerspace is a great tool for finding locales for video shoots. We found a funky space that looked like a startup office or coworking space. Plus, it echoed the colors MagicBell uses.
STAGE 2: Production and post-production
Director Danny Hurwitz helmed the shoot. I’ve been a big fan of Danny’s since watching video series he’s directed with chef Alison Roman and Charles Gould (also a Vooza cast member). On shoot day, all went smoothly.
We nailed the scripted version and then did some fun experimenting with different options at the end.
How that works: The director and I throw out different suggestions to the performers right before calling the action and see where they go with it via ad-libs. If something strikes a chord, we’ll keep doing takes in that direction until we get something usable. Discover first, then drill down.
Then came the editing process where we winnowed down the best takes. Toughest part: Figuring out which one of the fun ad-libbed endings to use.
STAGE 3: Distribution and promotion
And here we are at the “show it to the world” phase. This post is part of the launch and we’ll also be promoting it on MagicBell’s site and social channels. (Please do share it if you like it!)
As mentioned before, the goal is to reach potential customers and show the vibe of the company in a way that appeals to future employees too.
“If you’re a job seeker, when you look from outside, all startups seem the same. So you need to create some kind of differentiation. Something like this helps in attracting people to work with you. People want to work at smart and creative companies. We’ve seen that in the people who have applied since we rebranded.”
It’s also a way for MagicBell to support other creative folks, explained Hana:
“We want to support actual creators instead of getting stuff from free sites, stealing memes, or anything like that. We can afford to pay smart creators we like to build something.”
(We appreciate it!)
The end result is a video that shows MagicBell’s personality: It’s a serious tool that has a legit impact on app creators – and it’s also a brand that’s friendly, inviting, and interesting.
“We want potential employees to think, ‘They seem smart and there’s a splash of fun in what they do.’”