I loved making the trailer for My Frankenstein. It was a fun creative process that turned out to be very easy and affordable. If you have Windows you already have Windows Movie Maker. Then it’s just a matter of a few steps.
STEP 1) Get some royalty free images. There are a number of royalty free image banks on the net. Just do a search. Royalty free doesn’t mean for free however. You will have to pay a little bit if you want a photo without a watermark. Shop around as prices can vary greatly.
STEP 2) Obtain some royalty free music. Unlike the images most of this will be in the public domain so there will be no charge. Again a quick search under royalty free music will give you plenty of options. Make sure it matches the length you want. No need to edit the music if you don’t have to.
STEP 3) Start Windows Movie Maker. Take a look through Programs on your computer. Chances are it’s there. Please note that the program does have a Help menu to assist you in case you get lost.
STEP 4) Here’s where it gets a little tricky. In Movie Maker go to the view tab and change to the Storyboard view. The track on the bottom of the program will change to show a row of big boxes with little boxes between them. The big boxes are images. Each big box lasts 5 seconds on the finished trailer. Import the royalty free images you downloaded using the tool on the left hand side that says “Import pictures”. Your images should appear in the big white space in the center of the Movie Maker screen. Now just drag the image you want into the big boxes below. You’re now making your own book trailer! The images will appear in the order you lay them down on the Storyboard section, each lasting 5 seconds. You can delete an image from the storyboard by clicking on it and hitting the delete key. There’s a player on the right hand side where you can see your trailer and how it’s progressing.
STEP 5) You can apply a variety of effects on the images (such as turning it into a black and white image). You do this by clicking on View Video Effects on the left hand side. It will show all the effects available. Then you just click and drag the desired effect onto the image in the Storyboard. Transitions are how one image changes to another. The default transition is a straight cut which is what I used. That is one image is replaced by another. Say you want one image to slide in on top of the previous one. In that case you click on View Video Transitions. Just like the effects you click and drag only this time you drag the transition you want into the small boxes on the Storyboard; the ones between the images.
STEP 6) Add titles. Click on an image in the Storyboard. Then choose Make Titles or Credits. The center screen will be replaced by the Title writing screen. Don’t be alarmed if your image is replaced by a green field with a blue sky. Your image is still there. That does mean however that you’ll have to wait until you replay the trailer to truly see if the font and coloring is working for your trailer. If you have a lot of black and white in your images you’ll have to change the color to something brighter. Editing a title however requires you switch views. Click on view and choose Timeline. The Storyboard will be replaced with the Timeline view which has images, audio and titles running in three separate tracks. You can then click on the title you need to edit and change it.
STEP 7) It’s in the Timeline view that you add the final piece of the puzzle, the music. Go to the left hand side again and click Import Audio or Music. Then just drag the music file down to the center row of the Timeline, the audio track. Hopefully you’ve picked a track that fits the length of your trailer so there will only be minimal cutting. I didn’t have to cut anything so you’ll have to refer to the Help section if you need to do that.
STEP 8 ) Very important. Throughout the process you’ve hopefully been saving your work as a project. When you click File your first option is to save as a project. But once you’re done you need to save it as a movie. There’s a command Save Movie File just under the Save Project command in the File menu. This is important because Youtube will only allow you to upload Windows Movie files NOT Windows Project Files.
Hopefully I got you excited and gave you enough info to try this on your own. Also another word about length. You should probably try for 30 seconds because that is the minimum length for a broadcast commercial. Sounds too ambitious? Well you’re local pizza joint is advertising on TV and his production values are pretty low too.
Check out my book trailer for My Frankenstein!
Michael Lee is a script judge, reader, creative executive, and consultant. He also blogs about stuff on the Wrap.com and has this ebook out. “I got the writing bug early and it never left me. I’ve been studying storytelling and writing ever since. I keep studying because this is a craft you never master, there’s always something else to learn.”