Every type of media tries to convey a message, and that message is sometimes particular to the medium. For movie trailers, the message is to convey information about a feature film in a manner that will attract people to go see the movie. However, the task is tough since people will not dedicate much time to watching the trailer; the trailer needs to get people’s attention quickly and keep it for as long as possible to spark interest. The magic mark for trailer length seems to be in between 2 to 2 1/2 minutes in runtime, as all 8 movie trailers researched were in this time zone.
In the trailers, there were action sequences that quickly transitioned from one cut to the next, usually with black crossfades that allowed for an easier visual transition from cut to cut. On average, the trailers had very short cuts that allowed for a quick pacing of the video matched by intense, dramatic music. Beginnings of trailers were typically a narrated segment that sets up the basic plotline of the movie, followed by an action sequence that builds up to the title of the movie. Vocal tracks were usually draped over multiple cuts, with partial matching to the actual video clip of the character speaking.
Audio synchronization in particular for the recut trailers was interesting. Most cuts featured characters that weren’t speaking, so that a character’s line from somewhere else in the movie be overplayed to change the context of the cuts. Both of the recut trailers for Dumb and Dumber and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off were able to use synchronized clips out of context to be able to tell the story of the trailer in a seemingly more genuine way. Rather than just having the audio play over various silent clips, the clips have characters talking within them, so it appears the movie itself is supporting the altered message being conveyed by the creator of the recut trailer.
Sometimes, the video clips aren’t enough to change the message of the movie. This creates a need for typography within the trailer in order to give the audience the final piece of the puzzle. Typography allows for the audience to be able to interpret the fully changed message of a recut trailer. The recut trailer for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off uses typography at least 18 times to explain the new story, where the movie is now about Ferris’ last day to live due to a serious medical issue. These recut trailers show just how powerful trailers are, as they take widely known movies and switch the entire meaning in just a few minutes.
Trailers: Don’t Breathe, Hush, Ouija: Origin of Evil, Event Horizon, Alien, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Interstellar, Scream.
Recut Trailers: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (Teen Comedy converted to Teen Drama), Dumb and Dumber (Comedy converted to Thriller), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Comedy converted to Drama).