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Editing a TV promotion or a film trailer can be a very difficult task.
Editing trailers is an art form, and there are many different things that go into it: Music, pacing, length, what clips to show, what clips not to show, what dialogue to use, what your final shot should be, and there are many other factors. Here are some of the ins and outs of editing movie trailers and TV promos.
The music is usually one of the most important aspects of a trailer. For whichever piece of music you choose, you want people to associate that music with your trailer. When people hear Adagio in d minor, they think of the trailer for Sunshine and they think of the entire film. It’s very important that you use music that fits the tone of the TV show or movie. If it’s an action film, you want something that sounds “epic.” An orchestra with a lot of percussion tends to suit action movies very well. Anything from Two Steps from Hell would suit you very well. If you are making a trailer for a drama, a light piano piece would do you justice. Using music with lyrics is also a good idea if you’re going for something that’s a little more poignant. Some action movie trailers use quiet songs with dark lyrics. This creates a cool juxtaposition between the chaos that’s shown in the trailer and the subtlety of the song that’s being used. All in all, music selection is a section of the editing process where you get to have a lot of fun and decide what works best. Experiment with all sorts of different music and stretch your creativity.
A lot of people tend to get a little overzealous when it comes to compiling their trailer. A lot of people feel that every little detail from the original film needs to be in the trailer. However, this isn’t the case. While it may be easy to get a little carried away, it’s important to make sure that your trailer/promo only sticks to key aspects of the movie. Play to the strengths of your movie. When you watch a Breaking Bad trailer, you see Walter White starts selling meth and goes down a dark path. That’s all the audience needs to know! They don’t need to know the twists and turns in-between. Mad Men takes this idea to the extreme; the trailers in Mad Men are just a bunch of random clips of people talking. It’s very cryptic, but people love Mad Men to the point where they will still watch the show no matter how mysterious the trailers are.
The “perfect” length for a trailer/promo is still something that’s being debated today. As far TV promos go, you want to be able to hook someone extremely quickly. The promo shouldn’t be more than 30 seconds. You have 30 seconds to get your audience hooked and ready to see the movie. Trailers should run a little bit longer. There’s a current trend of trailers running for up to three or five minutes! That’s way too long. You don’t want your audience to get bored. Two-and-a-half minutes is usually the maximum length you want to go. That’s plenty of time.
The trailer should be structured like the movie. Think of how a movie is structured in three acts; your trailer should be the same way. The first part should set up the characters and a little plot exposition, the middle should focus on the conflict that the characters are going to face, the end should focus on what leads to the climax. In an action movie, you want the action to slowly ramp up during the trailer and immediately end before it gets too exciting. In a romantic comedy, you want to show how the characters interact and end it with a little romance and/or comedy. All in all, there are many different aspects that go into editing a trailer or a TV promo. This list encapsulates some of the most important issues you are going to face, but it doesn’t cover every thing. A lot of the editing process hinges on your own creativity and ingenuity.