The Truth is Out There (On Youtube)

Most of the trailers I watched had credit sequences ranging from about 26 seconds for the shortest, Gray’s Anatomy, to about 1 minute 30 seconds for the longest, Twin Peaks. The average length was approximately 50 seconds. The length of the trailer seems roughly directly related to the length of each shot; in a short opening like CSI: Miami, the shots are very short and sometimes overlap each other, while in the opening to Twin Peaks, the shots were languid and long. This has the effect of telling the viewer about the pace of the show; a condensed crime show for CSI and a slow drama for Twin Peaks.

One thing I noticed about the trailers is that typography usually corresponded with genre. That is, dramas like CSI: Miami and X-Files had blocky, futuristic type, while a more lighthearted TV show like Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a more rough, jagged typeface. Also, very few of the TV introductions had narration; this is probably because as a type of regular serial media, television doesn’t need as much exposition as a preliminary movie trailer might need. The one exception to this was The Twilight Zone, which featured the vocal stylings of Rod Serling over a surrealistic tour through the eponymous Twilight Zone.

One component shared by many of the intros was what I call the “character shots,” a brief collection of short shots that serve to give a snapshot of a certain character’s role in the show. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, each major character is given 3-4 shots showing them laughing, smiling, stabbing demons, reading books, etc. The use of character shots seemed to be independent of genre. However, Twin Peaks, Grey’s Anatomy, and Game of Thrones did not use the character shots.

An interesting distinction between TV intros and movie trailers is that all of the TV intros used a theme song, without exception. The music used strongly influenced the intended theme of the program; lighthearted shows use lighthearted, cheesy music; Full House used “Everywhere You Look” by Jesse Fredrick and Bennett Salvay. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a character-driven drama with a healthy dose of humor and cheese, and the instrumental theme song reflects a certain campiness.

Type was only used for the title and the credits; actors, producers, directors, and writers. There was no type used for exposition.

The trailer closest to the style I hope to emulate in my project is X-Files. It had quick shots, pictures that showed the theme of the show (aliens, mutants, supernatural objects), and serious character shots. I hope to use the elements that made this show a supernatural detective story to do the same to Arrested Development.

Trailers I used: Full House, Twin Peaks, CSI: Miami, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gray’s Anatomy, X-Files, Game of Thrones, and Supernatural.

Recut Trailers: Lost (Drama to sitcom), Game of Thrones (Fantasy drama to 90’s sitcom), and Mrs. Doubtfire (family comedy to horror)
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