Film School: What Makes A Good Trailer?

Movie Trailer Expert Breaks Down 5 Trailer Styles | Vanity Fair Movie Trailer Expert Breaks Down 5 Trailer Styles | Vanity Fair

A roundup of breakdowns and tutorials on what makes an effective trailer – and how to create your own.

Creative director Jessica Fox talks through editing conventions used in commercial movie trailers (via Vanity Fair):

Fox notes that the tropes she describes fall in and out of fashion, as the goal to hook the viewer means understanding constant changes in the way media is consumed (for more on the business behind this, Fox discusses How Movie Trailers Are Created in a separate video):

  1. Information via Narration – can introduce elements such as plot, main themes, or emotional triggers
  2. Title Cards
  3. Establishing Shot – tells the audience “this film has scope, it’s big, get excited”
  4. Sound Design: Preview Pulse – using dramatic sound to pull in, swell, and eventually overwhelm the viewer
  5. Sound Design: Repetition – establishing a rhythm which is built upon can communicate emotion without showing plot points
  6. Bumper – a 6-second trailer for the trailer, front-loaded to hook the viewer in for the rest of the trailer

An example of a trailer using the pulse & repetition techniques mentioned above (and featuring some striking colour grading):

Whether or not you agree with their choice of “best” trailer, Spikima Movies nonetheless offers an interesting set of criteria, which includes “authenticity”, for what makes a trailer “good”:

Try It Yourself

Film Riot demonstrates in Premiere Pro how to think about and apply music to your video editing, and how dramatically it can affect the experience for your audience:

Further Viewing

A collection of re-edited film trailers, demonstrating how two dramatically different stories can be promised using footage from the same movie: