Making Movie Trailers from Vacation Videos

Making Movie Trailers from Vacation Videos

When you see a preview of a coming attraction at a movie theater you’re watching a “trailer.”

Movie Preview

Unlike a trailer towed behind a car, a movie “trailer” is like a cart set in front of a horse: It comes first to pique your interest in seeing the film when it is released at a future date, and it may even include scenes that end up on the “cutting room floor” and not in the movie itself.

A “trailer” can be a highly entertaining mélange of scenes: Car chases, dramatic landscapes, and intimate encounters, all rolled up into a two to three minute mini-movie.

If you shoot video clips when you travel, you can assemble them into a “documentary” or “dramatic” movie.

It could take several hours of editing to produce an “epic” movie. But here’s how you can quickly create a “trailer” that will entice your friend and family into watching your “feature-length” film when it’s ready for “prime time” viewing.

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Gear You’ll Need

You can use any digital camera—DSLR, point-and-shoot, camcorder, or one built into a smartphone—to shoot the footage you’ll need for your movie. Most will shoot “HD” (“High-definition”), producing very sharp, clear images.

Video clips take up more space than still photos on a camera’s memory card. Your camera’s manual should tell you how many minutes of video you can record on a specific size memory card. So plan on buying either more cards, or larger cards, than you would use for taking photos.

To edit the “raw footage” into a movie, and to create a movie trailer, you’ll need a computer, tablet, or smartphone, and video editing software.

A Tale of Two Trailers

The first of the following two “trailers” was created on an iPad using Apple’s iMovie iMovie app for iPhone and iPad.

httpvh://youtu.be/Y95uzKfu_Es
This second “trailer” was done using the fuller-featured iMovie program on an iMac desktop.

httpvh://youtu.be/icMi1OguERE
The video footage was all shot on my iPhone 5; some of the still photos were taken with my Canon SD 970 point-and-shoot camera.

Avoiding “Vertical Video Syndrome”

Remember renting movies on VHS tape from the video store? You could get them in a more or less square format that played fine on older TVs whose screens were also more or less square. But the ends of those movies were either cutoff, or the movies were “squished” inward. The alternative was a “Letter Box” version of movies which filled the screen from side to side, but had narrow black bars above and below the film.

When shooting video with an iPhone you’ll tend to hold the phone vertically, as you would if you are making a phone call or using my iPhone apps.

Holding the phone in such “Portrait” orientation is fine when you are photographing someone or taking a still photo of a tall building. But it’s a “no-no” when shooting video because you’ll get black bars on either side of your video, making it suffer from “Vertical Video Syndrome.”

The iMovie iPhone/iPad app automatically crops a video shot in vertical or “portrait” orientation so you’ll never end up with “Vertical Video Syndrome.”  But with the Mac version of iMovie, you have to use the “Crop” function to select the portion of the vertical clip that you want to appear in horizontal orientation without those “black bars” on either side.

Pre-production Planning

The two “trailers” I created using iMovie were made from footage shot “on the fly” during a group hike. Even though I was familiar with the area from past outings, I hadn’t prepared a “shot list” of scenes I wanted to capture. You’ll probably shoot your own travel videos in the same unplanned, serendipitous, in-the-moment manner.

But if you have the opportunity to scout out a place before filming and plan your shots, your vacation trip movie and its “trailer” will probably turn out to be much more engaging.

Hollywood movie-makers use a process called “storyboarding” to visually map out each scene. Even if you don’t want to shoot your video with an iPhone, if you will be using iMovie to create the “trailer,” you can look at the “Storyboard” on an iPhone (or iPad, as shown below) to see how many shots of each type (such as “Action,” “Group,” “Landscape,” or “Closeup”) that you’ll need.

iPad iMovie Storyboard

(The Mac computer version of iMovie lets you view and print out either the Storyboard or a “Shot List”.)

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Assembling Your Movie Trailer

There are only three steps that you’ll need to take to create a movie “trailer” using iMovie.

First, pick one of the dozen template “Movie Trailers” (such as “ Expedition,” “Narrative,” or “Swashbuckler) included in the iPhone/iPad iMovie, app or the 15 (like “Action,” “Adventure,” or “Documentary”)  available in iMovie for Mac computers

Next, you’ll complete an “Outline” that includes the movie’s name, a list of “cast” members, the “studio name” (mine is “Tales Told From The Road”) and logo style that you want to use, and information for the “credits” that will roll at the end of the movie.

Complete Trailer Outline

Finally, you’ll pick the video clips that you want to use and insert them into the Storyboard along with text that will display between the clips. If you add still photos to your “trailer,” iMovie will apply the “Ken Burns effect” that zooms in and out, and pans across the photo.

Completed Trailer Storyboard

You can preview your “trailer” after you’ve assembled it, then go back and make changes to it.

iMovie will automatically pick a music soundtrack to add to your “trailer.”

Sharing Your Trailer

The iPhone/iPad iMovie app lets you add your completed “trailer” to the Camera Roll or iTunes. You can also share it on YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, and CNN iReport.

The full version of iMovie for Mac computers also allows you to share your “trailer” to iDVD and the Media Browser, or export it (such as with Quick Time).

Be a Movie Mogul

Those “home movies” your father shot when you went on vacation were pretty boring. But using iMovie, you can make “blockbuster” films and “trailers” that look like they came straight out of a Hollywood studio.

(The $4.99 iMovie app is available for both iPhone and iPad from the iTunes App Store. The full version of iMovie program for Mac runs $14.99 at the Mac App Store. Purchases made from Apple through links on this page helps Tales Told From The Road continue to bring you a wide range of travel-related stories.)

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