All in the Audio


In looking at various films and their “official” movie trailers on YouTube, there were many similarities. First, all of the trailers fell between the time of 1 minute and 16 seconds and 2 minutes and 32 seconds, with the former being an outlier. All but two trailers lasted between the times of 2 minutes flat and 2 minutes and 32 seconds. Mostly Sans-Serif fonts were used, with the exception of Serif fonts used to display film awards, festivals, etc.

All of the films that seemed popular, mainstream, and big budget (Mean Girls, Little Miss Sunshine, 10 Things I Hate About You, It’s Kind of A Funny Story, Juno, and Harry Potter) had very dynamic audio tracks. That is, they all seemed to end differently than they began, telling an auditory story as the trailer progressed with its visual one. For example, Juno begins with a slow, sunsure beat that turns inspiring. Next, a new fast-paced upbeat rock song is played. Similarly, Juno and the other films mentioned above seem to pace the clean cut transition (with the exception of Harry Potter, which uses slow fade transitions) of medium and close-up shots consistently with the beat/rhythm of the music, with the interruption of strategically placed scenes of dialogue to create interest and allow for context, especially that of familiarizing the audience with vital character information (Juno, Mean Girls, It’s Kind of A Funny Story, Little Miss Sunshine). This dialogue is then overlapped onto non-corresponding (the character is not seen talking) shots. Then the pattern repeats and continues.

Though this type of storytelling worked for most films, 10 Things I Hate About You seemed to tell almost the entire plot within its trailer due to the addition of an omnipresent narrator, who talked us through each part of the film. This seemed too obvious and unnecessary. Non-mainstream film trailers, Rams and Exit Through the Gift Shop explored a constantly paced audio track with a steady beat, which allow the visual shots to hold more importance. Rams uses extreme long shots to emphasize location (Iceland), while Exit Through the Gift Shop emphasizes jerky camerawork (1st person documentary style) with low quality images and shocking (unpleasant) audio.


Robin Williams turns into a revenge-seeking pedofile when his former parter decides they must split for good in the Ms. Doubtfire Recut Trailer.


“Remixed” trailers have a lot to offer in teaching us what really enhances the audience’s experience by altering content we thought we were familiar with and making it unfamiliar. Ms. Doubtfire becomes almost unrecognizable with eerie twinkly string music playing and five instances of text (Sans -Serif) that are used to narrate the story of a mysterious nanny. Another example of this is when dialogue, long silences, and sparse piano playing are accompanied by strong visuals, close ups and long shots, all used in conjunction with slow motion (and no explanatory text!), effectively shown in a “remix” of Ferris Buehler’s Day Off.  Besides obviously using selective shots of the film, a “remix” of Deadpool transforms the film’s genre completely by only changing the audio to heartfelt and sappy orchestral music. None of these used a narrator’s voiceover. There were scenes in each of these “remixed” trailers where dialogue did not have a speaker visually attached to it; in other words, the spoken audio tracks overlapped uncorrelated shots so that they did not have to deal with the problem of lip movement not matching the audio. 

Trailers: Mean Girls, Little Miss Sunshine, 10 Things I Hate About You, It’s Kind of A Funny Story, Juno, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Rams, and Exit Through the Gift Shop.

Recut Trailers: Ms. Doubtfire Recut Trailer (comedy film recut to thriller) , Ferris Buehler’s Day Off Recut Trailer (teen film recut to indie drama), Deadpool Romantic Trailer (comedic action film to dramatic romance)


This entry was posted in Blog #4. Deconstructing Movie Trailers, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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