December 15, 2022

Best Product Hunt Videos of 2022

Grant Shaddick

Welcome to the third annual Product Video of the Year Awards. Where I watch every video that was posted on Product Hunt in 2022 and then pick the best.

There are four main categories:

  1. Best Product Demo

  2. Best Promo Video

  3. Funniest

  4. Best Overall

The first two categories include a runner up and two honourable mentions. Check out last year’s awards to learn more about the categories.

This year we’ve got a new special category too. But you'll just have to read the entire thing to find out what it is.

No more messing about, here are your winners.

Best Product Demo 2022

🏆 Winner: Plural

No other video had an opening as arresting as Plural’s. That’s because it starts more like a film noir confession tape than a tutorial for a data pipeline admin console.

The opening shot fades in. Our protagonist, Michael Guarino appears in a small black and white frame surrounded by dark blue. The blank wall behind Michael gives us no clues to his whereabouts.

When Micheal introduces himself there’s almost a tremble in his voice, like he’s about to tell us something very serious.

Michael doesn’t make eye contact with the viewer, instead he peers from under his brow at something — or someone — off screen. Is Michael being held hostage?

Then he glances down in front of him. His laptop? A script his captor forced him to read???

It’s all very mysterious.

Finally, (five seconds in) it looks like Michael is going to tell us what the hell is going on — but then a slide changes. Michael disappears. Darkness. And then in big white letters, “Deploying Airflow using Plural” appears on screen.

Michael is not in danger, he’s just demoing a dev tool.

The reason I like this demo so much is its style. The black and white camera, which continues throughout the demo; the projector sound effects for transitions and other animations; the clever scale and crop effects to focus the viewer on different parts of the UI; the ambient typing noises when Michael is running commands in the terminal. It’s unorthodox and creative and cool.

One of my favourite moments is at the end of the chapter called Plural Deploy. At 4:21 Michael says “everything is set up and ready to go” and then a distant, but enthusiastic “Yeah!” can be heard off camera.

Turns out Michael was not alone after all.

Michael, if you're out there, I hope you're safe. And I just want you to know that this was the best product demo of 2022.

🏅 Runner up: Thomas Frank’s Notion Second Brain

This is a 45 minute walkthrough of someone’s Notion project and it has half a million views.

Thomas Frank’s Second Brain Setup probably sets two records for 2022. The video with the most views and the video with the most minutes.

Normally long demos are a drag, but Thomas sets an excellent pace. His demo sprints into action with an engaging introduction that makes great use of b-roll and has a nice little soundtrack.

The main part of the demo, however, is a marathon. But like tables with tiny plastic cups of water on the side of the road, the layout changes that Thomas uses help us reach the finish line. Every so often we’re switched between screen + camera, screen-only, and camera-only.

Thomas takes it up a notch with some more advanced shots too. At 5:58 he zooms in to focus on the Save to Notion extension and repositions his camera to stay visible without blocking the user interface. At 5:35 we get an actual shot of his laptop — not a screen recording but the whole computer. Then at 14:30 we get a desk-view shot while he draws stuff on a whiteboard. Peak performance.

Thomas Frank has nearly 3 million subscribers on YouTube so the guy knows what he’s doing. And what he’s done this year is earned himself a spot on the podium for Product Hunt Video of Year.

👏 Honourable mention: Notion AI

Stories, screen recording, sound effects. These are the simple ingredients Notion combine to make their excellent little demo for Notion AI.

The narrator guides us through different use cases for the AI writing assistant. Each use case is a practical example that we can relate to our day-to-day. In the final example, the AI is asked to draft a tweet. It responds with a hyperbolic boast about “being the best thing to happen to productivity since the invention of the internet”. This robot doesn’t just write tweets, it also takes the piss.

Notion’s UI is iconic, and in this demo their minimalist design is emphasised. Instead of including the entire application, we see only the features that are essential to the demo. No side bars, navigation, account menu, etc. It’s just us and the text input. It makes for a very focussed and stylish walkthrough.

The finishing touch in this demo belongs to sound. A bright hum backs the main part of the video, slowly getting louder as the demo progresses. Mouse clicks and keypresses are emphasised with satisfying mechanical clacks and taps. There’s a swoosh to zoom in on the page, a ding when the AI is done writing, and a power-down sound to cue the AI’s over-the-top tweet — a self-aware acknowledgement to the AI’s current limits.

This is a great AI video, no prompt needed.

👏 Honourable mention: Rewind

One of the best things you can do to make a great product demo is make a really cool product. Dan Siroker’s Rewind is a perfect example of that.

There are no bells or whistles in this demo. It’s just a grinning founder telling us about their product and showing practical ways to use it.

When you can say stuff like “this opens an entirely new dimension of computing” and “with Rewind, you can literally rewind time” you don’t need a fancy video.

Rewind may be sci-fi, but this demo is organic.

Best Promo Video 2022

🏆 Winner: Clay

In this universe we’re all just floating aimlessly through social time and space, passing by LinkedIn galaxies and Twitter solar systems. But Clay is here to end our drift into social network abyss.

From out of the cosmos, the Clay app appears — like a Monolith. It picks us up and brings us down to earth. This earth is a new earth, where people have interesting names like Peter Boyce II and Raquel Chubut, and it’s totally normal to know a dozen realtors in one city.

Upon arrival to Clay we follow the journey of Melissa Argile, a writer who’s about to move to The Big Apple. Normally a daunting and lonely task: New York is huge, and expensive, and busy, and there’s rats and so many people. But on planet Clay, moving to New York is a joyful adventure where you can buy a place in Manhattan, meet friendly people, and land your dream job. All set to a theme tune that wouldn’t be out of place in The Sims.

In all seriousness the story, the editing, and the effects in this video are perfect. The whole thing feels warm and delightful. It also has a decent amount of the product’s user interface, giving us a good feel for the app, despite not being an actual demo.

2022: A Clay Odyssey is this year’s best promo vid.

🏅 Runner up: Tomo Club

Tomo Club is a new kind of online education for kids. This promo video cuts together a series of screen captures to recreate the atmosphere of a Tomo Club session on Google Meet.

The biggest critique levied against online learning is the lack of social interaction. When I was in primary school the most fulfilling part was being around friends, other students, and my teachers. So the first thing I’d want to know when considering online education for my own kids is how that social interaction happens virtually.

Tomo Club’s promo video totally nails this.

In two short minutes we get to know all the students in the class. Sai the child prodigy, Kavi the king of self deprecation, Zara the reader and painter, and some legend named Roshan Ford with the grill of a Ford F150 as an avatar. We see the exchanges with the teacher and the other students, and by the end of it it feels like we’re right there with them, virtually.

The whole thing is high energy and set to a fun soundtrack, like something out of a video game.

Tomo Club with tomorrow’s video.

👏 Honourable mention: iA Presenter

There’s a genre of product video that consists of big animated text, screen shots with zoom effects, and loud music. Most of them are just rehashes of the same thing, bringing nothing new to l’art de vidéo produit. This type of video is 2022's version of the animated explainer video.

But some people do them really well — like Framer.

And while Framer have been shipping great versions of these videos for years (they did at least two this year!), it’s nice to see a newer face giving this genre a good name. Enter, iA Presenter.

Their version has got all hallmarks and some nice extra touches. The iMessage conversation is a great way to add characters and create a stronger story; the text animations mimic the type of slides you can create in the app; and the laser beams at the end are sick.

iAm impressed (sorry lol).

👏 Honourable mention: Campfire

Watching 3000 product videos is hard.

What makes it harder is listening to the same horrendous background music over and over again.

You’ve got repeat offenders like this corporate ear-worm or this monstrous ode to summer. But the absolute worst of them all is the claps and stomps track. You might have a cool video but if it's full of claps and stomps, you're not making this list.

Fortunately, the Campfire team opted for real vibe with the tropical rework of 2002’s iconic Move Your Feet by Junior Senior as the soundtrack to their launch video.

Funniest Video 2022

🏆 Winner: tl;dv

I saw this video the day it launched. From that fateful day this title has never been in doubt. I could have shut my eyes for the rest of the year.

tl;dv’s 2022 masterpiece begins with the iconic speech-scene from Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. But instead of Leo’s rendition of Jordan Belfort hyping up the trading floor we’ve got Tomas Budin in a cheap suit, spinning a yarn about watching meeting highlights.

In the original version Belfort boasts how good it is to be rich and then tosses his $40,000 Rolex into the crowd. In tl;dv’s version Budin asks the audience “do you want more time in your day?” while pointing at a watch that’s draped over his knuckles. We cut to close-up of a woman crying tears of joy, mouthing thank you. Budin then shouts “Good! Use tl;dv!” and throws his watch into the air, out of shot. The video cuts back to the original footage, where a sea of hands reach for the watch as it flies overhead. Genius.

The next moment of brilliance is when The Wolf of Recorded Meetings concludes his rally. He announces “and best of all tl;dv is available for Google Meet!”.

Silence.

The crowd look puzzled. We, the viewer join the crowd in their confusion. Who uses Google Meet? But after an uncomfortably long pause Budin picks up on the vibe, and adds “and Zoom!”. This time he’s met with total rapture. Scorsese would be proud.

tl;dv are back to claim their crown with the funniest video of 2022. It’s only the third edition of these awards and tl;dv are already The King of Comedy.

Best Video Overall 2022

🏆 Winner: Amie

Most startup founders have some Steve Jobs delusion in them. We all want to be up on a stage with a big ass screen behind us, talking about our product. But most founders never get that chance.

Big conferences, launch events, and customer summits are reserved for only the most successful companies. Sure, you can go virtual but your PowerPoint presentation over Zoom isn’t the same as Guillermo Rauch wearing tailored pants talking about edge functions surrounded by indoor plants.

Enter Dennis Müller and his two year old startup, Amie.

Who needs the San Jose Convention Center when you’ve got an empty warehouse in Berlin, some sick little neon lights, and a projector screen.

As the lights blink on Dennis walks out from behind the screen rocking a goddamn neckerchief.

In between short clips showing how the apps works Dennis delivers a masterclass in hand gestures. Check the drag-and-drop at 21 seconds or classic fingertips-together at 50 seconds.

The video is shot in a hand-held cinematic style. This makes it feel like a music video, not a product video. With the dark backdrop, its saturated colours, and a few silhouette shots it’s basically a launch video crossed with Somebody Told Me by The Killers.

There’s nothing deluded about how good this year’s winner is. Congrats Amie, the grand prize is yours.

Shoutouts

As promised, there's one more special category in this year's awards: shoutouts. There are always videos that are worth a special mention despite not making the cut for the main awards. So in no particular order:

That’s all for 2022. See you little buggers in 2023. Bye!

Tella — Screen recording for creators

Tella — Screen recording for creators