Hey editors and filmmakers, I’m Chris, Lead Trainer at Film Editing Pro. Today, we’ll be analyzing a trailer for the upcoming movie ’65’.
You might call it a ‘Trailer editor reacts’ article – I don’t like those terms, because instead of telling you what I loved and hated, we’ll be talking about some of the techniques that are being used in order to achieve the various emotional peaks and valleys that you need in a good trailer.
Watch it in the video below, and read on to see what I thought of it.
Trailer Tip #1: Sound Design & Rhythmic Motifs
First, let’s look at a piece of sound design that’s cool in this trailer. You probably heard the sound in the clip below repeated several times, listen to it again and you’ll immediately recognize it:
They’re delivering something, it’s building to a moment. We call those rhythmic motifs or organic sound motifs. You can call it whatever you want, but it’s absolutely something that you get to do as a trailer editor that’s really fun and creative.
You might build a rhythmic motif based on clock ticking, or you could use it based on footsteps. The idea is to take an organic sound sample from the original source, and use it to build to a crescendo. So you get to kind of be a music composer while you’re editing your trailer, which is a lot of fun.
There’s one trailer editing lesson that we teach at Film Editing Pro about creating rhythmic motifs which is shown in the image above. For this lesson, we’re trying to make a trailer for a digital age film, so we’re going to be using keyboard sound effects, clicks and things like that. Next, we’ll mix it together with other sound design that’s more traditional – whooshes, hits, rises, and so on.
Just by looking at the timeline in the image you can see that it’s very sequential, you can’t just play a sound anywhere. So when you’re building rhythmic motifs yourself, you have to respect that rhythm as you create it. You can listen to what this sounds like in the clip below:
And this is completely created with sound design and foley, essentially. So, it’s like music – it serves the same purpose. But once you develop this type of audio, it allows you to really get from A to B in a trailer without necessarily using traditional techniques. It can also stay more on theme if you’re using samples that relate to that film.
Trailer Tip #2: Visual Storytelling
Next, something visual to take away from the trailer: it’s kind of a deceptively simple lesson, but it’s important. When you’re cutting trailers, you get the luxury of cutting around the movie, and you can do that with visuals.
Montaging with trailers is extremely common, especially in act three, but what you have to remember is that a trailer is still telling a story. It’s still filmmaking, and you still need to respect a lot of the rules of filmmaking. Especially when you’re trying to paint a picture about a singular moment.
So for example, the section of this trailer with the crash site – in the first shot you see Adam Driver. We see his POV shot coming out of the ship, and a wide shot of the crash. Next, it cuts to the front shot of him approaching, and a rear tracking shot after that, showing something awful going on in the swamp around him. The trailer moves back to his POV, which then cuts to a closer shot of what he’s seeing in the container, and then the girl’s eyes open creepily.
This kind of storytelling is very simple stuff, a lot of us know this as editors. You want to have this visual progression of information that we see here. But in my personal experience when I was editing trailers at an intermediate level of skill, I found that I was taking too many liberties. And I thought: ‘It’s a trailer! Let’s just show this shot. And this one’s cool. And then let’s show this one’. But you can’t just do that, you do still need to respect some of the rules of filmmaking and editing as well.
Overall, this looks like a cool movie, with a well done trailer. There were lots to analyze with this one, but let me know what you thought of it in the comments section below. For more tutorials about creative editing in general be sure to visit our training page. Or more specifically, trailer editing – sign up for our free video series and get more information about our full course.