Student developers share pitch video secrets to success


Imagine Cup fever is underway! We recently announced the winners of our Pitch Video Challenge. The top team in each category won $3,000 and after the excitement settled, we caught up with team members to talk projects and code.

Still beaming from the win, many spoke of the importance of creating a good pitch and said they learned a variety of skills while participating in the challenge. Team members each brought different skills to the table. Some learned new hard skills like storyboarding, filming and editing, while others cultivated soft skills like paying attention to detail, working as a team, and project management.

Programmers learned to shoot and edit photos and use special tools like After Effects 3D. Video pros quickly learned to code. Team members said one of the most important parts of the project was learning how to effectively sell an idea and stoke peoples’ interest.

“Effective communication is important in any career, and programmers are infamous for being bad at communicating,” said Teddy DeRego of Team Hōkū, the Hawaii team that won the Games category. The game, called reForge, is a multi-player sci-fi sandbox where users build and customize their own ships. “Learning effective communication will definitely be a lifelong journey for me, just like programming.”

Speaking of lifelong journeys, Brian Hall, also of Team Hōkū, said the contest showed him how important it is to plan a project from start to finish. “I have a tendency to get excited and jump into projects,” Brian said. “If I jump in without a clear picture, that’s a waste of time and will take forever.”

Brian said his team learned they needed to assign a director, film in a variety of locations, and write a script before shooting. It was all part of the learning process in making a pitch video.

Members of Team Rapid Response of Ireland, which took home the win in the World Citizenship category, said they capitalized on the strengths of each member. The app uses a tap screen feature to help first responders quickly get to the scene of an emergency.

Brendan Flaherty came up with the idea when he was cycling and came upon a pedestrian who had been hit by a car. He was one of the first people on the scene and waited with the victim for what seemed like hours for emergency responders. He said the long wait was due to confusion over the location of the accident. Brendan decided right then to use his coding skills to make a product that would help make the emergency services process more efficient.

“It’s exciting to create an app that has the potential to save lives,” he said.

Team LifeScreen from the Czech Republic won the Innovation category for an app that helps manage open windows on your desk top. This cool app lets you take any window, cut it up and move it around, and set attributes like opacity. You can even bind hot keys for manipulating the window.

“It’s a simple concept, yet it doesn’t exist,” said Martin Roncka, who started coding in elementary school. “We believe in our project, but that is not enough. The challenge taught us how to shoot and cut videos to sell our idea. It was a great opportunity to learn how to make our users interested.”

All the teams stressed that you don’t have to be a coder to get involved in the Imagine Cup and contribute to a killer project. Brian of Hōkū didn’t learn to code until he enrolled in a master’s program. He liked it so much that he and his teammate have now started the nonprofit KeikiTech, which offers workshops on game development and animation to local kids.

Brendan, a multimedia major, learned to code in college too. “Coding amazes and baffles me on a daily basis. I get a great sense of achievement after coding my idea,” he said. ”I think that as a skill it is invaluable in the Multimedia industry.”

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