For this blog post, I watched trailers off iTunes from Now You See Me, The Great Gatsby, We’re the Millers, The Internship, The Hunger Games, The Heat, Monsters University, and Man of Steel. I tried to get a wide range of genres—from comedy to suspense to animated family film, to see what characteristics of trailers were specific to any one genre, and what was consistent throughout.
Overall, there were no really long shots in any of the trailers. That makes sense though, because if you have about 2 minutes to explain enough of a story to make it entertaining and appealing to viewers, while still leaving enough hanging for them to want to find out more, there’s a lot of plot that needs to be briefly included to make it coherent. What I did notice though, is that the more suspenseful trailers (Now You See Me, The Hunger Games, and even the faster-paced parts of The Great Gatsby and We’re the Millers) had many more fast shots. These were essentially screenshots of moments in the film played rapidly together to give viewers a snapshot idea of the action in any particular film. Other movies were more focused on getting more of the plot to viewers, so Man of Steel, We’re the Millers, Monsters University, the end of The Great Gatsby, and the beginning of The Heat used longer shots to set up the story.
Some of the trailers had music throughout, while others used moments of silence to really emphasize a moment. The music ranged from easily identifiable popular music to slower instrumentals that served as a background for the rest of the dialogue to build on.
The longest trailer I watched was Man of Steel, at 3:04, while the shortest was Monsters University at 1:24. Most varied between 1:30 and 2:30.
There was no narration in any of the trailers I watched, excluding two trailers that had an outside narrator say the film’s title at the end. All of the audio used to explain the plot was dialogue taken directly from the movie. Some was matched directly with the corresponding video, while others had audio over different video. There was variation between fonts in typography, from simple black background with a white serif font, to sans serif fonts in big bright bold colors and jagged fonts. It was used sparingly, usually no more than 5 words in any given shot.
I found three different recut trailers, one converting Titanic from a romance to a horror film, one converting Mrs. Doubtfire from a family comedy to a horror film, and one called Upception, which combined the video from Up with the audio of Inception.
Upception had the most difficulty matching synchronization, which is understandable since the audio if from an entirely different movie. However, they matched the words surprisingly well for what they had to work with. Titanic didn’t use any of the matched dialogue, while Mrs. Doubtfire matched everything spot-on.
All three recut trailers I watched used different methods to tell the story. Titanic relied mainly on footage, typography, and instrumental music, with one original cut of audio of Jack screaming “Rose!” The Mrs. Doubtfire recut used all the same audio from the movie, with the addition of suspenseful music to change the tone of the video footage. The Mrs. Doubtfire recut also used typography to explain the story five times. Upception used the exact audio from the Inception trailer, and two instances of typography. None of the trailers used an outside narrator, and the type wasn’t completely crucial to Mrs. Doubtfire or Upception. Titanic needed it to make it clear that Rose was trying to escape from Jack, and not a sinking ship. While the typography helped the viewer, most of the storytelling was done with the cuts of video paired with the right cuts of audio.
My favorite recut trailer by far was Upception, the video from Up combined with the audio from the Inception trailer. The reason I found this trailer in particular to be so clever was because the concepts were completely different. The other recut trailers I watched used video that essentially meant the same thing, but was cut short or played faster to make actions appear different. Upception, however, used the audio to completely change the meaning of the footage from Up. The whole premise of the movie is taking reality from the world of Up and making it the world of dreams you see in Inception.
These brief two minute snapshots we see of trailers are crucial to the film industry as a whole. The art of making a trailer interesting without giving away too much is already interesting, but now the concept of recut trailers change how we see any given movie.
Trailers: Now You See Me, The Great Gatsby, We’re the Millers, The Internship, The Hunger Games, The Heat, Monsters University, and Man of Steel.