Film Trailer Tutorial | Setting up the Trailer

This is for getting the feel of sound design & music placement for film trailers.

Download the Ableton Live Pack for the Nightcrawler JC Trailer below.

I am just getting started on the road to making movie trailers. It has been something I have been interested in doing for a long time. Crazy enough, I think a lot of trailers are better than the movies themselves. I now know enough about sound design, music composition, and basic film editing to be able to try it out.

You can check out my first full length sound design project in this recreation of the teaser trailer of World War Z. I didn’t go full music composition for that one, but I still think it came out fairly well for a first go at it.

You can also check out the second attempt which was my trailer remix for Nightcrawler. This was more involved and includes music.

A guide to setting up the trailer shell.

What needs to be / should be done before you get to music and sound effects? Here is my process.

I think it is best for us beginners to try and mirror, to some degree, the professionals. The way I do that is first find a trailer that I like and feel I can work with well. For instance, the trailer for NightcrawlerOnce I have decided on the trailer I download it from youtube using I download two versions. One is the original with the highest resolution possible. The second version is the file I will use in Ableton Live, the audio program I use for my music and sound effects.

Your program might be different, but Live only allows for Quicktime formats. The clipconverter website has a built in converter, which makes everything super easy. I covert the movie from its original format to .mov and choose the Standard Quality 360p file size. I don’t need anything larger when design the music and fx, that would only bog down the CPU. The original file will be what we use for the final product.

Next, I need to get my hands on a full digital copy of the film. Then I need to find its time mark in the actual film. I do this because the trailer already has music and sound effects, but the movie itself has a lot less going on.

I suggest writing down all the lines of dialogue in the trailer and then watching the entire movie marking the time code for each line. Keep in mind that some trailers have lines of dialogue that aren’t actually in the film. This is because sometimes they get their assets before the final cut of the film is made. If you run into this problem try to solve it creatively. There are several lines in the World War Z trailer that weren’t in the film.

After you have marked the time codes for each line it is time to get that audio from the film and into the trailer project. You can do this a number of ways. I use a number of methods. My favorite is to use Adobe Media Encoder to rip only the audio from the original film file. Then I import that audio into Ableton Live and use my time code notes to find what I need. *note: if you are using Ableton Live read this about importing large files

You can also go about recording each individual piece. A third option is, which allows you to upload an entire film and then download various audio codecs. It can take some time, depending on your internet’s speed.

Now it is time to line up the dialogue audio from the original film with the dialogue audio from the trailer. This can take some time as well. You can also use the foley audio from the original as well, and it might be the best choice for car, machine, gun, explosions… You may need to recreate some though, because of background music or dialogue, but that is the fun part!

Once you have as much of the dialogue and sound from the original as you can get without that pesky original music it is time to add some of your own! That will be in the next tutorial 😉

Download the Ableton Live Pack

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Author: Joshua Casper

Joshua Casper is an Artist, Musician, and Blogger.

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