Making a Trailer on a Tight Budget



The last week has seen us preparing for our new, improved (surely that’s not possible) and accessible Snoovies. Exercise and diet regimens have been put on hold as we sit in front of computer and tablets and stuff our faces with pizza, smoothies and venerable fermentations. Roger has been in New York  preparing for our expansion into the Wild West, Viana has been slogging away on improving her skills on digital marketing and I (for that is my name) burrowed into a dark and swamp like area, officially called the Editing Suite.


And verily it was here that I constructed ….


This has been an epic process in itself and deserves its very own The Making of Snoovies 2015.

For it must be said that this has also been a frustrating process in which I learnt to be a better editor but where I became so involved in the minutiae of the work that I couldn’t see the wood for the trees.

Five Points that Helped Me

1. Music

Roger thought that what was needed was something bold and brash. A blockbuster epic with a power voiceover that would inevitably lead to people checking out our app or face certain death. Roger suggested checking out the trailer for Exodus (hmmmn – ’nuff said). So I decided that the starting point should be the music. It needed to be powerful and driving and I spent one day just trying to find something that had a free license. Those last two words are the tricky part and if you’re new to this you might want to pay attention here. Luckily, in the course of her researches, Viana discovered this very useful sight for info regarding royalty free music. One of the important points is that for most video work that isn’t commercial or money making, the music on these sites can be used for free and doesn’t even always need to be credited (though I think it’s just nice to support these guys). I spent ages trying to find something contemporary but I already had an idea that I wanted the tempo to increase throughout the piece. While I discovered some great artists out there, such as Gramatik, I  couldn’t find what I was looking for. Until, that is,  Edvard Grieg’s Hall of the Mountain King. It’s ridiculously over the top and perfect. I found it on Kevin MacLeod’s site which is a pretty awesome place for royalty free music. He just has a great attitude. It’s great for accompanying music but you might want something more authentic for a title sequence.

It turned out that choosing the music was the easy part.

2. Editing software

screen 2

The next three days I spent trying to get the video clips from our short films to flow with the music. Luckily there is a natural, completely mad, almost chaotic climax at the end which naturally called for ever shorter cuts (about a half second). I have to say that FCP 10.1 is a pretty awesome piece of kit and anyone who wants to do anything with video other than splice together a holiday montage really needs to invest in FCP (£230) or maybe Adobe’s Premiere Pro (which you rent by the month). You might think professional software is more complicated to use but I actually find it easier to achieve what I want than by using iMovie or the free software that I’ve tried. If you’re not sure what a button does, FCP will explain its function when you hover over it. Do you want a title from the database but the dynamics or colour are a bit off? You can simply adjust them as you would a clip either globally or with keyframes. By the way, everything I’ve learnt has been by trial and error so some of my terminology may be off. Also, FCP is very good at offering different approaches to the same task so I’m sure that some of you will have more efficient techniques.

3. Sound

screen 3

You know, I’ve worked on a couple of films that were well directed, well filmed and well edited. But the sound was crap. And you know what? That immediately made all that effort look amateur. In general, I would say you don’t have to have the most amazing microphones in the world but you do need the best you can manage and, more importantly, you need to constantly be aware of sound while shooting your film. Does the sound match throughout the scene? Are the levels correct? Is the microphone too far away and the sound tinny? What about background sound? That said, great recording isn’t the end of the problem. One of my early painful lessons was that FCP doesn’t always work well with all sound files (even if recorded on the iPhone!) and that you only discover this after you have completed a project and exported it to discover clicks at every sound peak. I’m not sure if this is still the case with the newer version but I ain’t takin’ any chances. Before anything else I import the sound from all clips that I’m going to use into Audacity (see free resources below), then I export them as AIFF files with 48kHz. I then match the clips and .aiff sound in the timeline, detach the original sound from the clip and erase it and finally make a new compound clip with the .aiff sound. Obviously for precision I have the sound waves to help me.

4. Organisation

screen 1

Actually this is something I still haven’t learnt properly but it’s so important it should actually go first but hey, I wanted to keep the best ’til last. This is the real key to editing. I use a bottom of the range iMac which is a thing of beauty but it only has 500Gb of disc space. As time has progressed I have learnt to use less space each time I edit and I will continue to do so but for now a couple of useful tips.

If I need to use a lot of original source clips I would import them into my FCP Event , bring them one by one onto the timeline, replace the sound with .aiff sound, chop out what I need and, if I have enough memory, repeat along the timeline. Once I have a time line with all the clips that I’m probably going to use, I might place blank spaces between them, so they’re easier to find, and create one great big new compound clip or leave the spaces out and make individual compound clips. Either way FCP has just created optimised media in the library from scratch (so no referencing to the original media) which means you can bin all the originals. Empty the bin and suddenly you’re only using 10Gb instead of 100 and your computer works properly. Sometimes life is just too good.

Every now and again I would backup your whole library on to a DVD and date it so that if there were any disasters (hard drives do just fall off the bearings sometimes – I managed to knock the computer over this week) your whole existence hasn’t been for nothing.

5. Getting a second opinion


Well, finding music was tough. Editing the clips was intricate. Finalising the sound was a pain and organising everything was a flaming’ nightmare. But the toughest part is when you’ve finished your film and are ever so pleased with all that fancy stuff you’ve been working on, those days coming up with voiceovers, the intricate matching of sound and video and then you show it to THE BOSS.

And he doesn’t like that bit or this thing.

So, be warned. When you think you’re done, you probably aren’t and you need to tear it up and redo it. Not all of it. But it will feel like it. The irritating thing is the people seeing it with fresh eyes are usually right.

And now the bit you’ve all been waiting for:


Audacity – For sound editing

VideoPad Video Editor – Alternative to FCP and one of the better free editors but less functionality.

Handbrake for Mac – Once you’ve exported your .mov videos you’re probably going to need to compress them. Handbrake is brilliant and offers lots of tweeking so quality can be maximised as much as possible.

Burn for Mac – I prefer this simple utility for burning files onto DVD’s.

And, of course, Snoovies – free to download and watch straight away!

appstore   googleplay



Text by Karsten Huttenhain

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *