Video book trailers are becoming more and more common. YouTube and other video hosting services have created a way to distribute a video to the whole world without charge and the tech revolution has allowed high quality video equipment to be available to almost anyone, along with the software to edit it and make it look good.
Equipment, software and online hosting are not the only things you need to create a book trailer. If you are creating images within a video program you need an idea, a script or storyboard, and a narrator. If you want a live-action trailer you are going to need all that plus actors, one or more locations, lighting, a director and an editor. You can take on more than one of those rolls yourself if you want to, but remember that if the trailer looks amateurish, it won’t do your book any good!
We cheated, or at least some of you might consider some of what we did to be cheating, since we were able to do a lot of the work without having to hire people to do the work for us. Eric majored in Film and Television in College, and has taught college courses on video editing and special effects software for several years. This is not to say that creating either video was simple or easy! It just meant that neither of us had to learn how to run video programs before starting on either project.
So here’s what it took for us to create our two video trailers:
The story behind the first trailer is straight forward. As a teacher, Eric is always looking for new ways of teaching the same material, and keep current with the newest versions of the software he teaches. While working on an After Effects project he became interested with the image of dripping blood, created with just the program. It’s not a simple process, especially when trying to be realistic. Blood drips at a specific rate, and has a unique color. Since there is no “Dripping Blood” command, it took time and patience with the variables to get it right.
The story behind the second trailer is more complicated and includes a lot of good timing and luck. We have a friend, Ralph, who has worked in video production for years, and currently produces online videos for a well-known YouTube channel. His passion for storytelling goes beyond his day job, and he and other friends have helped each other create their own videos on their time off. The project he was producing that month was “Casey & Aimee,” a short sitcom idea about roommates coping with each others quirks. It’s fun and a little raunchy, take a look and see for yourself!
The week before shooting, he called on the Monday with the news that he expected to have an extra hour or two at the end of his shooting schedule and generously offered to film a trailer for us, but we would have to get a script to him by Wednesday for a table reading and any special props or costumes needed to be on hand for shooting on Sunday. What Ralph would provide is two actors, one male one female, the crew and location – an apartment.
This was a huge gift but it meant that we had to move very quickly. We sat down right then and started brainstorming ideas for the trailer. Since we didn’t have the time or money to bring in anyone else we decided against trying to make them characters from the book. We focused on trying to capture the mood of the novel, and introduce the world.
We worked out a simple idea, a guy coming to pick up his date at her apartment and running into a blood bag in the fridge when he’s trying to stick in a bottle of wine. The only difficulty was getting our hands on a hospital style blood bag. We thought we could go to a medical supply store, purchase an empty one and fill it up with fake blood. Simple… Easy…Wrong.
Blood bags aren’t available to the general public, not even empty ones. After hours of searching for alternatives we lucked out and found our blood bag on e-bay. It was a prop from the True Blood series, an old one that they didn’t need. Through the miracle of overnight shipping we were able to get it to Ralph Saturday night before the shoot. (Barely. Liz waited by the door for the delivery and then jumped in her car to get it to Ralph’s place.)
Ralph and his crew had enough time to do several takes and try out different versions of our very short script. During the next week Ralph sent us the footage to look at (ok, sent Eric the footage, Liz isn’t the video editor in the family) and it was exciting to see someone act out an event that could happen in the world of Plague of Vampires. The only problem we had was realizing that there was no shot of the date putting the wine bottle into the refrigerator, and knocking the blood bag to the floor. Without that the story didn’t work! Thankfully, Ralph still had the camera that shot the original footage, so we got together for dinner a few days later and shoot video of Eric’s arm putting the wine in the fridge and knocking things over.
It then took Eric a few more weeks to edit, add music, and credits and complete the little movie. The final movie trailer is here:
Does this trailer set the world on fire? No but we hope that it will intrigue people to want to learn more about the Plague of Vampire book and world. It also serves to create links between our regular website and the youtube channel. Also several of the book sales site allow us to put the video up as part of the sales page.
Over all I am very pleased with the way that it came out and can’t thank Ralph, the cast and crew for all their hard work with our project. Working with friends and making new ones has proven the most positive thing in creating this novel. This one book might not make us rich with dollars but it has made us rich in many other ways.
Let us know what you think.