How to make a great app preview video

If you are reading this then you most likely know that Apple released a new version of iOS 8 which allows app developers to publish short 15-30 seconds preview videos of their apps. As you know, the App Store is very crowded so making a great app preview video is something you’ll want to do as soon as possible!

In this article I will guide you through the process of making an app preview video as well as share some lessons I learnt while making a video for the Together app using Adobe Premiere Pro CC. The process took almost a whole day and I’m pretty sure that this post will save you a lot of time and make your video better!

First of all, have a look at the official app previews page by Apple. There are a lot of tips and advice. Also the plan provided on the page works best. Technical parameters for an app preview video can be found here.

Everything starts with inspiration. To get your dose just take your iPhone and surf the App Store for a while. Most of the featured and top charted apps have a preview video. Watch those videos and pay attention to the details: screen transitions, texts and hints, touch visualization and music. My goto-list is: Yahoo! Weather, Sky Guide, Camera Plus.

Figure out the story for your video
Your story should consist of the most important use cases for your app which justify your app’s existence. Those use cases should be mentioned in your app description in the form of features. Doing a preview video for the Together video app, we quickly listed three scenes we want to feature in the app preview video. Those were: 
videos organization feature, as it is the main screen which we want users to understand
create movies which is the main use case and the sole reason for the app development, this is the value the app brings to it’s users
Premium video editing features, to show extra value of premium subscription – isn’t it a great chance to start selling something?
The timeline for the video came naturally. Something like 6 seconds for the first and the last scene, and 18 seconds for the main use case.

Visualize touch events
In most cases you will want to add some clarity regarding touch interactions. Visualizing touch events could make it much easier for users to understand what should they do to get the results they want. You can either add video effects to the recorded video in a video editor or modify the app to visualize touch interactions.

I suggest the first option because it isn’t hard and provides a lot of flexibility. In most cases, visualizing touch events comes down to moving an overlaying picture of a circle, scaling it and changing its opacity. You could do you own kind of touch graphics in a matter of minutes in Photoshop.

The two must used methods of bringing text hints to your video are overlays and text cards between screens. 
In order to make a interstitial text card you need to prepare an image of target video resolution (I did 640×1136 for iPhones) and put it on a layer in your video. I strongly recommend making a fade in / fade out effect, if even for a fraction of a second. This will make your video smoother; the human eye notices rough cuts.
Overlay text hints should also be prepared in an image editor like Photoshop and put on a video layer above your app video. The same principle of smooth appearance and disposal of visual element should be applied to overlays. 

Music soundtrack
You may already know it, but music and sounds in your video are the voice of your app – make sure it resonates. There are several royalty free music web sites with prices from $5 to several hundreds USD.

That’s it
Finally, here is the video I ended up with for the first time – Together app preview video.

AppStore app preview video templates
Feel free to ask for app video preview templates. I haven’t prepared them yet but will surely do so in the short term.

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