Closing date for Imagine Cup 2011 Malaysia Semi Finals is just around the corner, just 1 more week left. I bet every competitors now are burning midnight oil to complete develop as much as possible on their system in order for them to show case in their video demo. While busy developing the system, competitors might want to start writing their proposal and thinking a script or scenarios for their system video demo.
Today I want to share my personal experience (team experience too) on creating video demo for Imagine Cup video demo submission. This is my personal point of view and it is NOT related with any Malaysia final round selection guide or what so ever. I would said, take it as a reference only.
- Come out a script or scenarios for the system demo. Competitors might want come out a script on what to present and what to say in the video before start recording. This can help to avoid forgetting or missing some important element when recording. (When start recording, everyone will get panic).
- Record in multiple smaller part and compile into one later. It is easier to record part by part first because you might not want to record everything all over again when something when wrong (such as system crash, mispronounce, interruption, messenger popping out!). Combine into one after finish record each part. Please don’t submit multiple part, because it is irritating and judges might miss one or two video clip (they have ton of video watch you know).
- Record in well-known video format (such as AVI or WMV). I highly suggested record your video into avi or wmv format which able to play directly using Windows Media Player or any other common available video player. I guess no one wish to get disqualified because of their video fail to view by judges.
- Narrative / Voice over on video demo. Having a sweet voice explaining the system and problem definitely is a plus point. Not recommend to use computer voice narrator, because the voice is irritating to listen for 15 minutes long. Not recommend to use subtitle only to replace the voice because judges will be too busy reading the subtitles and cannot concentrate on the system demo, but you can have both if you want and free. Highly not recommend to submit a video without any voice or subtitle explanation, audience cannot read competitors’ mind!
- Be creative, but not over creative. Add some creativity into the video demo to attract the attention of judges. Competitors might want to come out a story line for video demo to make the video more lively. Some animation or effect will be good to have, but don’t take too much time on that, because it is not the main presentation point. Don’t create a video with super visual effect and rocking background music, it make the judges dizzy only.
- Add some research element. Show some research data in order to make the audience believe how serious the problems are or how much impact the solution can make . It is better to say like this disease had kill XXX,XXX number of peoples every year instead of this disease had kill many many people every year. Please don’t present your own created number or unclaimed research data! You need to state the source of the research data or the assumption of the data given, else it is just the same as unclaimed research data.
- Make it simple, the audience may not have a computer sciences background. Try to explain the system in a simple way and easy to understand. Judges might come from different fields and they might not understand some scientific term. Judges are also have very little interested to know the technical part on how the system work, so don’t go and explain your system flow one by one… if.. else… if… else…
- Keep the video demo in time. It is recommended to follow the time limit given by Imagine Cup Malaysia. Don’t present a lengthy video demo as the audience might fall asleep before finish it. Remember, they have lot of the video to watch, not just yours one.
- Concentrate on your system demo. The video is all about the system. The video should show the feature of the system and how it can solve the problem or how it archive the millennium goal. It is alright to show some user feedback research or interview, but not too much. Don’t just show the audience some picture, the problem and nothing else any more. Who in this world will know what solution are you providing by just telling us the problems? Imagine Cup want the solution not the problem only! Hiding your solution and think that not revealing your solution to anyone before final won’t make any benefit but only risk yourself to be disqualified for the next round.
- Simple introduction will be nice. This is optional as it should be written in the proposal submit together with the video, but it is good to have some introduction. The video might want to have a few minutes telling the audience what problem the system is targeting and which millennium goal the system is trying to archive.
- Skip unimportant part. Competitors might want to fast-forward some unimportant part such as data entry. Audience do not have that much patient to wait competitor to finish filling up all the form (with irrelevant data). Skip the loading time of a website or data will give more time on other demo of the system too. Remember to show the coolest part of your system or the uniqueness part of your system and don’t just show them add, edit delete functions.
- Hide the bugs! If the system is yet to complete, competitors doesn’t need to tell the audience that they have what module, and which of them yet to develop or fail to show. This will just give audience a bad impression on the system as the system might crash anytime. Just show whatever the system currently got, if not, tell the audience what it might become when it complete. Competitors can always cover part of the system which is yet to implement by some scenario or story telling.
- Remember to give credit. Although this is not much about the competition, but give credit to the author of the song or research data obtain is good practice. Who knows one of the judges is the author and s/he didn’t see any credit given to him/her.
- Practice before real recording. It is good to have a round of practice or two before go for the real recording. Although competitor can direct read from the script they prepare when recording, but not everyone can read the script as smooth as normal way of speaking, they sure got a lot of half way full stop. Practice also can reduce Manglish or Singlish (those “eh”, “ah” and etc). It doesn’t sound nice when audience hear those “ah”, “eh”, “oh” and half way full stop. Although it is hard for most of us to reduce Manglish to zero, but reduce is better than did nothing. I did watched a video submitted last year which they ended their every sentence with “ah”, I just can’t wait to close the video! So don’t do this!
- Grammatical error and spelling check. Please don’t learn like me who is bad in English writing skill yet didn’t have someone to look for grammatical error in my blog post. If competitor decided to add subtitle or some introduction, or any statement in their video demo, be sure to find someone who strong in English writing and spelling to check for grammatical error and spelling error. If possible, gramme check on the script for video demo as well. Some audiences / judges are very particular to English spelling and grammar.
- UI design. As every competitor know, the interface design is very important because most people like clean and nice UI design. It maybe too late for competitors to redesign their UI before video demo submit. But if the competitor had done some UI design research or user acceptability research such as interviewing the users on how to position some of the controls to suit their need or why need to place particular control here for what reason, feel free to tell the audience in the video. If the system have all the cool effect and audience doesn’t find the usefulness, it is useless and gain no point for design.
- One system, not multiple modules. Present your solution as one whole solution / system instead of multiple modules. I know some of the competitors might get used to their project development module set by final year project or assignment, but Imagine Cup doesn’t really care what module is completed by who. Judges want to know this solution can solve the problem or not only. Telling audience module this can do this and module that can do that will only confuse them whatever this are looking at the same system or not. So try to present it as your solution can solve this and that, but not module this and that.
- Enough of showing off your university! I don’t know why some competitors tend to showing off their own university environment or view in their video (show off here mean showing something unrelated stuff). Spend your time show your system, problem, solution, impact and many more stuffs. No body interested in your university. This make no additional point to your video but only add boring point to it.
Those are the tips and tricks I can think of currently. I will edit and add more if I can think of any. Suggestion can be make at the comment too.
I only manage to get one of the video submitted last year. The video is from Team Celestial from USM. I think it is a good video for reference.
I will try to find some other videos to post at here if I found any. Stay tune then.