Sunday, July 25, 2010

Book Trailers, Part II

The book video for The Babylonian Codex:



Some thoughts on the making of this trailer: This one was much easier to do than the two historical mystery trailers and turned out much more effective, I believe. The main reason it's more interesting and striking is because, since it's a contemporary, I could incorporate photographs. All of these shots are my own photos from a couple of recent trips (that's my daughter, in Fez, staring at the camera in that one shot; it has a strange, haunting quality, doesn't it?). The winged cherub is a picture I took in St. Louis cathedral last fall, never dreaming I would use it this way. The nice part about relying on my own photos is that I didn't need to worry about copyright violations.

But what really makes this trailer dramatic is the great score. Where did the music come from? Again, the need to respect copyright makes things difficult. But a composer and musician named Kevin MacLeod has a wonderful site up on the Web with all different sorts of music, all categorized, which is free to anyone who wants to use it. All he asks is a donation and credit, which I was more than happy to give him. He has some great stuff, and I would highly recommend him to anyone.

I did all three of these trailers in a day and a night. Many of those hours were spent relearning the program. I also devoted a lot of time to looking for music (even after I found MacLeod, I needed to listen to a lot of clips to find ones that were just right). And I tried out different photos and some variations in the text before I settled on what I liked best.

Will I make another one? Yes; it was fun. But for my next historical mystery trailer, I plan to take the time to search out photos that I can use to make it more like the Codex trailer.

Next up: the Shadows trailer, and some thoughts on just how effective are these things, anyway?

14 comments:

Steve Malley said...

Okay, so you're talking me around... And the trailer looks great, btw.

So what program do I need to learn now that I'm going to make a foray into video? :-)

Lainey said...

The baptismal font cherub was a stroke of genius. The music triggered anxiety and anticipation. And Sam's cameo was perfect!
I want this book! Now! :)

cs harris said...

Steve, I have a Mac so I used iMovie. The instructions are less than complete, so I spent a while bumbling around before I figured out a few key elements. But that's probably just me being slow. I made myself a video with instructions in case I forget next time!

Lainey, not long!

Charles Gramlich said...

Pretty cool. Definitely the music worked with the visuals. I suppose one of these days I should make a book trailer. I never thought I'd hear myself saying that.

Pax Deux said...

Loved the Babylonian Codex Video... Great effect of the cherub, and the transition from the picture of your daughter to the cover of the book. BTW, did you set out to make your the heroine look like your daughter, or it just worked out that way? ;-)

I also think that given the limitations you described, the Heaven video is also effective. Zooming into the cover and focusing on details of the pictures made me feel I was taking a peak at the storyline. So I guess despite your frustration with the cover, your made it work for you.

orannia said...

Oh, I do like the sound of this book :)

cs harris said...

Charles, it really didn't take that long. And while I don't think a trailer would by itself inspire someone to buy a book, if they're already interested, it could tip the balance.

Pax Deux, thank you! And actually, Tobie has "honey colored hair", but otherwise, yes, she does look like my daughter. And you do have a point--zooming in on the cover helps create that sense of being given inside information.

Orannia, it's a fun book. But I'm also worried it might rile some people who'll forget it's fiction!

Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

I think you've mastered the real trick to an effective trailer, which is keeping it somewhat short. The one time I had a trailer made, it was too long (hindsight, meet 20/20) to the point where even I was bored by it. Considering that this was by a company whose business is making trailers, I've developed a healthy skepticism over how potentially effective they can be. I'll be interested in seeing the next post with your thoughts.

Barbara Martin said...

I really liked this trailer, Candy, especially the eerie music.

cs harris said...

Barbara CF, yes, I think keeping them short is very important. I'd be interested to hear what your experience was with a professional company. Did you hire actors to dramatize a scene?

Barbara Martin, thanks. I do think the eerie music is a big part of what makes it work so well.

Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

That's the thing, Candy-- it wasn't a whole lot different than what you did yourself. Stock photo stills, stock music-- the real work was in editing it together and then, where I think the real money went into, was in distribution. They have the connections and are able to put the time into distributing the trailer to multiple sites across the web. They also managed to get it on the front page of MySpace, when MySpace was still relevant, and featured my blog there for a week.

How effective was it?

Well, my sales on that book (my second) were worse than the sales on my first book into which I didn't put that kind of marketing effort.

So there you go.

And did I mention it was EXPENSIVE? As in $1500 and that was for one of the smaller packages where they used the stock imagery and music, versus custom music and hiring actors, which would have pushed the price into places I wouldn't even consider.

Anonymous said...

Wonderfully menacing. And is the girl running your daughter also? Were you aware you have quite an artistic talent?
Diane

cs harris said...

Barbara, that's very interesting. Thanks. Although I've seen many professional videos, you're the first person I've talked to who had one made.

Diane, the artwork of the running woman is actually from the cover's stepback, so I can't claim any credit for that! I do like to draw and paint, but I know my limitations.

Kate Sterling said...

You had me at remote viewer. :)