Billy Madison: from misfit to inspiration.

For this blog post I watched eight different trailers spanning a wide variety of genres including science fiction, comedy, romance, war, and drama movies. While each trailer is unique, I sense there is a general pattern or blueprint used to create trailers. For example, they all seem to be a similar length (around 2:20) and tend to use fast pacing and quick transitions to show the span of time that the movie will cover. In the following post I will talk about some of the things I noticed were similar from trailer to trailer as well as some of the things that stood out.

First I’ll talk about the actual videography. In the more action packed/suspense heavy movies, the shot length was short. Generally shot after shot flew by on the screen at a very fast pace to give just little snippets of information and to build excitement about what is going to happen. It matters less what is happening than that it is very exciting. Examples of this are in trailers for AvatarEnder’s Game, and Divergent. In the comedies and romances, the shot length was rather longer. Rather than putting a lot of information into it, they focus on key dialogues that give the idea of the movie and the personality of the characters. I found transitions to be similar in nearly all the trailers. When the trailer was explaining the premise or building suspense, the fade transition was used. The rest used just normal shot cuts that helped the story of the trailer flow as one coherent work. The pacing varied depending on the genre. As I mentioned before, the action packed ones were very fast-paced, a good technique to build excitement. However, the comedies and romance movies were drastically slower. This makes sense seeing as they focus more on dialogue and getting the story line across. The lengths of the trailers were similar with the shortest at 1:58 and the longest at 2:37; however, most of them fell around 2:30.

The trailers each used very different narration, typography, and music. Interestingly enough, narration wasn’t used in a majority of my trailers. Most of them relied on actual dialogue between the characters to explain the premise of the movie or used one line from the actual movie played while different shots are going on explaining what is happening. In the trailers where narration was not used, the story line was told through the written words on the screen. Each typography was set to match a theme of the movie. For example, in Avatar the letters were skinny and blue, much like the avatars themselves. In The Perfect Score they typography contained a lot of numbers, highlighting the fact that the movie was about an SAT score. Anchorman 2 used a black background with bold, sparkling letters, accentuating the glamour and flash of the movie. Similarly, the music is set to match the pacing of the trailers. In About Time, a romance, the music goes from being upbeat and pleasant to sad when the spin of the movie is introduced. The music tends to lend itself to whatever mood the trailer is trying to communicate.

The recut trailers I watched were made very well. The audio synchronization problem was solved by using one line from the dialogue and playing it over multiple clips showing what the editor was trying to convey. This matched words that had nothing to do with the scenes playing in order to convey a completely different message using two different parts of the movie. The three recut trailers I watched all relied on either typography or narration from the movie to change the story. They had at least seven to ten instances of typography across the screen to assist with creating the premise of the story. The music was actually the factor that helped the transition of genre the most – it was able to set a completely new mood in which the movie could make its transformation.

Trailers: Avatar, Ender’s Game, Divergent, About Time, Lone Survivor, Anchorman 2, Wedding Crashers, The Perfect Score. 

Recut Trailers: Billy Madison (comedy to inspirational drama), American Psycho (horror to romantic comedy), Braveheart (drama to comedy

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