At the end of 2021 I had an idea to review the best product videos of the year. The result was the first edition of the Product Video of the Year Awards.
To be a fair judge I watched every video that was launched on Product Hunt in 2021. While I was at it, I decided to watch every video from the year before too. That’s two years worth of launches, 400+ videos, and many hours of careful critiquing.
With the more topical 2021 awards out of the way, I’m taking you back in time to recognise the best videos from what feels like a lifetime ago, 2020.
So technically this is the first edition of the Product Video of the Year Awards.
How does it work? There are four categories. Best Product Demo, Best Promo Video, Funniest Video, and Best Video overall. Check out the 2021 edition for more info on the categorisation.
Let the ceremony begin.
A good demo usually goes hand-in-hand with a good product. Lobe’s no-code machine learning app is no exception. Sure, this demo is on the longer side, but it’s a VERY comprehensive walkthrough.
Our suspiciously well-spoken host shows us how to take training pictures for a model, create a model, integrate the model into an app, and how the app works.
My favourite part of the video is when, mid demo, he has to switch hands to drink the water, right above his laptop. This is a high difficulty move. Water could have gone everywhere. One can only imagine how many Macbooks they went through to get the shot.
The video features useful explanations and clear demonstrations. They are tied together with a combination of screen recordings, camera recordings, and transition slides.
Is that his real voice or just a Lobe AI? I couldn’t tell you. But I can tell you that this is a very demo, so good that it’s your best of 2020.
After this award was given the judges found out that Lobe is a product from Microsoft. The white-labelled Macbook used in the demo is an excellent diversion. Nice job Microsoft.
From beloved remote work pioneers to the eye of 2021’s cancel-culture storm, Jason Fried and his band of Twitter-celebs are never far from the spotlight.
Jason and HEY take second prize in this year’s awards because there's probably no one else who can drop a 40 MINUTE LONG demo of an email app with funny feature names and win Product of the Year.
Launch videos for info products can be tricky. Should you go through it page by page? Should you riff for 5 minutes about the creator economy? Should you read some poetry? It’s tough.
The beauty of this simple video lies in its details. When Ben talks to us he looks straight down the camera, like we’re in the room with him. When he’s showing us how the product works he looks at his screen, cueing us to do the same. The side-by-side layout means we, the viewer, look where he’s looking. This is the screen recording equivalent of the eyeline match effect.
“The mighty Centaur is on its pad at Cape Canaveral for a maiden flight”
The rocket launches
A carousel of green bars move across the screen
What’s this all about?
The beat comes in
Into a giant ball of flames the rocket explodes
And the carousel of green abruptly ends in red.
GET READY FOR DOWNTIME
The opening 15 seconds of this video is pure art. The video continues with screenshots, titles, and funny gifs perfectly cut to a beat that you’d Shazam in the club.
Instatus might be all about preparing for downtime, but there’s not a second of it in this excellent promo video.
Facial hair everywhere, three-eyed dudes, and floating bikes. This next video has it all.
Pablo Stanley needs little introduction these days. He’s a creator-god amongst maker-mortals. In early 2020 Pablo launched Open Peeps. It’s a library of illustrations that users can mix and match endlessly to create their own cartoon characters. Was this a foreshadowing of things to come? A vision of the ape-filled Twitter timelines of 2022?
The video is great though. It’s part screen recording, part stop-motion, and its endearing illustrations are edited perfectly to the soundtrack — a tune with strong early 2010 indie-pop vibes. Simpler times.
Pablo shows us the way once again. 🔮
Rounding out a batch of promo videos with excellent music pairing, we have Spline.
The way the cute 3D renders match the music’s vibe is chef’s kiss material. This video is simple and well edited. I especially like the section about parametric objects.
I don’t know if the makers searched for “uplifting stock music” but this track sounds really good and does feel very uplifting. Makes me wanna bop my head while I design NFTs.
Has Nathan Fielder launched on Product Hunt before?
It doesn’t matter because we have Ani Acopian instead.
Ani’s Product Hunt bio says ‘making things no one asked for’ and Amazon Dating might be one of those things... But risking law suits from Jeff Bezos, making the morning news, and then using that to launch on Product Hunt? Legit.
Consider this project and this video something that at least one person asked for. Amazon Dating has been added to the cart of funniest product video for 2020.
2020 is remembered for Covid, Gamestop, and this video.
When Phil Libin launched mmhmm the world was only a few months deep in lockdowns, social distancing, and remote work. But even at that nascent stage of our new reality one thing was clear: we were sick of Zoom.
mmhmm’s ‘OBS for boomers’ was the perfect antidote. It felt like they came out of nowhere. One day we were whinging about another Zoom happy-hour, the next we were nodding our heads in agreement with Phil’s vision of the video-based future.
Phil weaves the pitch, the demo, and the jokes into a seamless story. A great example of this can be seen at the one minute mark. Phil describes one of the main problems with presenting on Zoom — the ‘awkward dance’ of switching between camera and slides. Instead of explaining how mmhmm solves it Phil shows us by shrinking himself out the way while he flicks through a slide deck about penguins. A masterclass in product demo showmanship.
I still hate the name, but mmhmm’s viral hit is by far and away the best product video of 2020.