The Science of Movie Trailers

One very interesting thing I noticed when watching the eight regular movie trailers was that they were all around two minutes and twenty seconds long.  Many of them were exactly two minutes and twenty seconds on the dot. The shortest trailer I watched was the trailer for Mortal Kombat: Legacy, which was two minutes and fifteen seconds long.  The longest trailer I watched was the trailer for Hercules: The Legend Begins, which was three minutes long.I found that shot pacing largely depends on what type of movie the trailer is for.  I saw that action movies have trailers that are usually more fast paced.  This pacing works well for action movies because they generally do not need to have as much plot setup as other types of movies. In contrast, comedy movies are more slower paced and have more plot setup.

Narration varied a lot in the eight trailers I watched.  In the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, there was no actual narration, they just used the audio from the movie.  The trailers for Homefront and The Hangover Part III did the same thing.  For movies like those whose trailers have a lot of plot setup, the use of audio from the movie helps the plot setup along.

The trailer for The Hangover Part III did some cool work with the music and sound effects.  A lot of the actions in the video of the trailer were made to sync up with the music and sound effects of the trailer.  The trailer for Homefront did something like this as well.  In the trailer, they have sound effects sync up with the screen transitions.

Typography is a very important factor for both the regular and recut movie trailers.  In almost all of the regular movie trailers I watched for this blog post, a white and sort of bland font was used.  This worked for these trailers as the words were either on black slides or put onto scenes were the set is kind of dark.  In one recut I watched, which turned Harry Potter into a spring teen comedy, there was no actual typeface used.  This worked for this particular recut movie trailer, as it used upbeat music to change the genre of the movie.

In the Harry Potter recut trailer, the audio synchronization with the lips of the characters was very good.  It appears that either whoever made the recut trailer is very good with film editing software, or they did not split up the audio and video in the clips they used from the movie.  In another recut trailer, which turned Twilight into an action comedy, did not do to well with the synchronization of audio to the lips of characters.  They did split up the audio and video from the scenes they used, but they did not do a great job matching it up in the places they used the audio.

The recut trailers I saw did not really use much explanatory type.  In the case of the Harry Potter recut trailer, it did not really need any explanatory type.  The trailer was very straight forward and I could easily tell what genre it was going for.  The Twilight recut trailer I watched did not have any explanatory type, but it really needed some.  If it had had some explanatory type, it would have been easier to tell what the new intended genre was.

***Of the three recut trailers I watched, none used typography


Trailers: Robocop, Captain America: Winter Soldier, 300: Rise of an Empire, Mortal Kombat: Legacy, Hercules: The Legend Begins, The Dark Night Rises, The Hangover Part III, Homefront.

Recut Trailers: Harry Potter (Fantasy Adventure to Spring Teen Comedy), Twilight (Fantasy Adventure to Action Comedy), and Mrs. Doubtfire (Comedy to Horror).

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