Jan 19

How to Make a Fanfiction Trailer

How to Make a Fanfiction Trailer

Have you written fan fiction and think a teaser trailer would increase it’s popularity? Do you have the motivation but don’t know where to get started? Do you have no experience cutting together video or audio?

No problem! This guide will introduce you to what a trailer is, how to make one, and the best tips from beginners and pros on how to make the best possible trailer.

Part 1: What Kind of Trailer Will You Make?

There are two main types of fan fiction trailers you can make.

1. A trailer shot by you (on your phone most often) that stars you and your friends. These types of trailers are insanely fun to make, and will tell you story perfectly (as you are the actors, you can say and do as you please!)

What kind of trailer will you make

Ask your friends to help you as actors, or ask around at school (espically in the drama/arts department).

2. A trailer mixed from existing video clips and music. These types of trailers can be amazing as well, because they often feature clips from very professional videos with high production values. Make sure to use more than one source for these clips, as if you rely too heavily on a single source your trailer will lack a unique feeling of a new story, and feel like a recut of the source material.

Youtube is a great source for these videos, you can use web tools to rip the video so you can edit it locally. (www.clipconverter.cc and keepvid.com are our favorites).

Matching clips can be tricky, as different trailers have different styles. If you are trying to use one clip from a comedy, and one from a horror movie, be careful that they fit together if your video.

Cutting from one clip to another can be good (it keeps the interest of the viewer) but don’t do it too much. If your trailer is nothing but a few seconds from radically different videos, your viewer will have trouble following the story you are looking to tell with your trailer.

Part 2: How do I Edit Together My Trailer?

The first step in making a fan fiction trailer is to find software you can use to cut together the video. There are many options available, we’ll list our favorites depending on the platform you are using.

1. Web based tools

Our favorite web tool is also our favorite video site: Youtube. They have an excellent video editor that is built into their site: http://www.youtube.com/editor/.

Also worth checking out is Pixorial: http://www.pixorial.com/

2. PC

The best video editing software on windows is Vegas Video, hands down. We love this software because it is very easy to use, quite powerful, and not to hard to learn and master in a short amount of time.

Tip: try download a demo version or an older release (Vegas Video 9 for example) so that you can use the software for very cheap, or for free!

Also, try Windows Movie Maker. This is a free, in-built alternative to edit you movies is a simple but easy way.

3. Mac

Final Cut Pro is your best bet, this is what some of the pros use for cutting together professional movies and trailers, but that doesn’t mean it's right for everyone. 

If you want something more basic, check out iMovie (the built-in software pre-installed on most Macs). It will be more basic, but also easier to use and of course, free!

4: Mobile

If you are on mobile: your phone’s OS (either Apple or Android) should have a basic tool for video editing built into the system.There are also many Apps you can use, our favorites are Magisto, Montaj and Viddy.

Part 3: What Is the Structure of a Trailer?

The most important thing about a good trailer is the rhythm. All the best trailers will have a flow to it, lasting only a minute or two but leaving the watching begging for more at the end. The purpose of a trailers build up excitement and anticipation for the whole story, starting fast, ending big, and setting up the perfect bridge to your “Story Description”.

Your trailer will be made up of three parts:

Part One: An intro to the plot, the characters, and the setting.

Part Two: An explanation of the conflict the characters will be faced with, and a teasing of what the possible resolution will be.

Part Three: Intensify the storytelling and the humor, excitement, and tension. (Montages always work really well here.)

This is a rough guide, there can be four parts, there can be only one — it really just depends on the story you are looking to tell.

But three parts is a good standard, and a good place to start. But pay special attention to the main purpose of a trailer: teasing your audience. Make sure to never resolve anything, and always leave doors open and questions unanswered so your Story Description and Storyboard can fill in the gaps.

Part 4: What Kind of Music Should I Use?

While most people don’t think that music is the most important part of any trailer, it still plays an important role in the rhythm, flow, and general feel of your trailer.

A good place to start planning your music is to find three music cues (or three different songs). Why three? Because trailers (like stories) most often have the three-act structure that we described above.

It is not uncommon for a bad game/movie to have a great trailer. That’s because trailers are about selling a future story, and raising expectations. Now is not the time to be modest about your epic story! Excite and raise expectations as much as possible.

A story is created because a group of people really believe in the ideas in the story and want to bring it to life. All story ideas start out as potentially great.

By the time a story is finished, reality has come out and now judgement must be had. Is it still great? The answer is not always the same. But a trailer doesn’t reveal the whole story, It  reveals the potential of the story to be great. Often times if you leave gaps in the trailer, your viewers will fill them in with their own imagination and help you on Reupp!

What kind of music should I use?

Reupp’s Best Tips:

Take Apart Your Story, Then Build Your Trailer

To make a trailer for your story, you have to take apart your story first to find out the key points of interest your trailer will display. Think of editing your trailer like making a piece of clothing from scratch. First, you cut materials and shape them, adding some fabric here and taking some away there. But it’s not just about cutting, but also creation. A trailer is a story by itself, one meant to intro the greater concepts of your story.

The way you built up your story, you now must do the exact opposite here. That half-smile your main character gives to her boyfriend that secretly signals her love to him? In a trailer, it can only be a smile. You don’t have enough time to tell the whole story, or explain the nuance. A barking dog is merely that, a dog. Even though the actions of the dog are perhaps tied into the dramatic end scene, in your trailer it will only be a dog's bark. Your trailer will be a collection of these moments, presented only for what they appear to be. Storytellers normally are annoyed by this, but realizing that a trailer is fundamentally different than a story is key to doing a good job.

Take apart your story

Use Effects, But Don’t Overdue It

Do you have a romantic setting you are trying to convey? Use dissolves and fades and create a softer feel. Got an action sense with a lot of action? Use hard and dramatic cuts that keeps the viewers eyes squarely on what will come next. These are simple tricks, but they are undoubtedly effective because people have been exposed to them their whole lives while watching trailers. Use these tricks to create a sense of familiarly for your viewer, so they can better understand and enjoy your trailer.

Use effects, but don't overdo it

Try Subtitles

Trailers go by very quickly by design, and it’s hard to digest and read everything that happens. Text can be a good way of introducing characters and plot points that aren’t very clear by the video alone. (This is especially useful if you are using clips from other videos).

The trailer for the Swedish film: Let The Right One In, there where only three subtitles.

Use subtitles

Halfway through, one character says: “Are you a vampire?” and "Would you like me anyway?”. This is a brilliant way of of telling to important parts of a story without having to explain everything. Also this is helpful if the characters in your clip aren’t saying what you want them to, you can change the dialogue with subtitles.

Use A Voiceover

People don’t always use voiceovers because they can be hard to pull off, and also for some reason people don’t like the sound of their own voice.

You also run the risk of disrupting the feel and flow of your trailer, you are watching some really cool scene they all of a sudden a voice comes on.

If you make your trailer without any type of voiceover, it is explaining its own story in a natural way. If you shot your own trailer in real life, this is highly recommended. If you use clips from other videos, removing the music and adding your voiceover can be a shortcut to creating a single, unified trailer that represents your story.

Showing rather than telling is always the best way, but if you need to add your own voice to make sense of things, go for it! Just pay attention how your voice over will sound, and how well it matches the video you are using.

Voiceovers can be very useful if your video clips have dialogue that doesn't make sense for your story. Keep the video (and the music), but add your voice to the characters (or as a narrator) to make your trailer your own!

End Your Trailer Strong with a Strong and Memorable Line or Image

Use the last scene of your trailer as a chance to give your viewers a "parting shot" or a hook to make rest of your Story a must see! You don’t have to use something as profound or well thought out as in the first few parts, but focus on something impactful. Try to end with a smart one-liner, a provocative image or video scene, or a smash cut montage of the most exciting parts of your story.

As an expand, the movie Whiplash ends with a blistering flurry of cuts to create a tension (that can only be resolved by watching the movie).

End Your Trailer Strong with a Strong and Memorable Line or Image

During this scene, there is no dialogue to explain what is going on. All you see is the slow, steady beat of a snare drum that gradually gets louder and quicker as the cuts between clips become faster and faster. The drumming eventually builds up to a loud and powerful conclusion by stoping suddenly, and all we see is the main character staring at us as if to say “you want to know how this ends”. This ending leaves the viewer tense, excited, and wanting more, all without explaining anything about the story.


That’s the end of our fan fiction trailer guide, when you are finished with your trailer don’t forget to upload it to Reupp!

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