Like anything else the best way to learn how to do something is to “see” how it’s done. I wanted to create a trailer for my documentary. I’m working with a professional editor on this project but while he is getting acquainted with over 160 hours of footage, I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could create a trailer.
For me, it’s always much harder to edit a very short piece. Everything becomes more critical – every cut – every shot – every sound bite and sound effect – every slate and every high and low in the music. And trailers are the ultimate shorts. You need to peak someone’s interest and make them wanting more.
I started paying attention to the trailers on DVD’s and online. I watched them to see how they were constructed. I analyzed them and paid close attention to things like sound effects, music and slates and if it made me want to see the movie. There were a couple of trailers in particular that I really liked, each for different reasons. One trailer was for the film I Am. This trailer gave me some ideas on how to use music and text to deliver the story idea in a concise way and get people’s attention. I also liked it because it was just vague enough to intrigue me but not to confuse me. Another trailer I like is Dennis Connor’s Breaking Boundaries; the Art of Alex Masket. There are a lot of things I love about this trailer. Dennis’s subject Alex Masket couldn’t communicate verbally so Dennis blended visuals of Alex using other people’s sound bites as the narrative. He also had a beautiful jazzy musical score composed for the trailer.
My challenge was that I had to make a trailer for a film that was about 11 stories. The first thing that I needed to remind myself was that it really wasn’t about 11 stories. It was about 11 people but ultimately one story. With that thought I started pulling together my strongest sound bites. One benefit of spending all that time editing the past few months was that I was very intimate with the interview footage and I knew where to look for the gems. I was looking for provocative remarks that left one wondering and they needed to be short and to the point.
Once I got the stand out sound bites on a timeline I started looking for some live action footage and other b-roll. Then I began to interweave the appropriate visuals with the sound bites – pacing them – giving the piece a bit of time to breathe. I also added slates with text to help tell the story.
Once I got it down to a reasonable length – in my case 3:45 – which is still a minute too long – I started looking for the perfect music. I came across Neosounds.com a royalty free music site with some of the best RF music out there. Picking music for me is like picking wallpaper, going back and forth until everything starts to sound the same. After making a few painful decisions, I integrated my musical choices into the timeline. There was still something missing and that was sound effects. There are hundreds of great free sound effects that come with Soundtrack Pro. I picked a couple of them to boost and emphasize certain spots in the trailer but I wanted to keep them subtle. For example I used a sound effect of a motorcycle in one spot and a jet engine taking off in another.
What has resulted from this exercise are two variations of a trailer. I am sharing these both with everyone because I would like feedback. I don’t want to influence opinion here, other than to say one trailer has a bit of more information than the other. One is also 15 sec. longer. Any and all comments are welcome.
Which one should I use?
Watch the links in this order.