Friday, April 15, 2011

Dakota Banks Shares Trials of Creating a Book Trailer!

Excuse Me, I'm Telling a Story Here...

The Sad Saga of the Sacrifice Trailer

Book trailers seem to be the thing these days. I enjoy looking at them, but after a while I noticed a sameness to them. Ones without narration looked like stylish Powerpoint presentations, and ones with narration sounded too much like the noise made by heaving bosoms. I'll leave that up to the individual to interpret.

I had a fun trailer for my first book, Dark Time, made with live action martial arts shots. That was a special situation done by a friend of mine who is an independent filmmaker. When book two came around, I thought I'd do something different from the others, with pages of the story coming to life in an animated book. I got as far as getting excited about it and getting a quote, at which point my excitement dimmed. I loved the concept, but I couldn't afford it.  

Plan B turned out to be making a trailer myself. I had already done the Powerpoint type (Click here to see it), so I wanted something different. I had a video camera that had sabre tooth tiger claw marks on it, it was so old, so much to my husband's delight, I sent him shopping for a new one. I wrote what I thought was a funny, clever script and waited for the video clips to make a movie. And waited. It seemed like everything but my clips got filmed, including the interior of a tunnel going through a mountain somewhere in Pennsylvania. This accounts for my trailer not being ready a couple of months in advance of the release date of Sacrifice.

Having gotten off to a late start, we then discovered that we didn't have proper professional lighting to make interior shots look good. After stewing about that for awhile, I made an executive decision to go ahead with filming anyway. Nobody would notice, I figured, and lighting equipment was big bucks. Clips were shot and assembled with some stills in Windows Movie Maker, a not-too-wonderful product to use with one big advantage: it's free. Then I spent hours trying to record the narration called for in my script and get the timing correct, matching it to what was going on in the movie. Let's just say that radical changes were made in the script. The secret, of course, would have been to read the narration aloud in advance and time each section so we'd know how long to make the video clip. Instead, we had an assembled movie with no thought given to whether I could speak the words fast enough to keep up with the action.

Script version 2 was drastically cut. Then I spent hours trying to read and record the whole thing, keeping in time with the movie. I am notcut out for this. There were numerous takes that didn't get more than ten seconds in before I mispronounced something or giggled. I finally ended up with what I thought was a usable version, and when I went to play it back, the sound was so low I could only hear it with the volume on 100% and my face smashed up against the computer's speaker. Hoping that somehow things would be different on YouTube, I uploaded it. Nope. Same problem. Yes, it is true. I spent hours recording without doing a simple sound test first.

After switching to a different microphone, changing some settings, and doing numerous "testing, testing," recordings, I found I had to hold the microphone not up to my mouth as one would think, but parallel to my cheek, which somehow eliminated most of the breathy noises. It's been an adventure, folks.

Then of course there's the shock of hearing your own recorded voice. I swear I do not sound like that.

Thr finished product (cough, cough) finally made it to YouTube and to my website's trailer page. Here it is now, for your enjoyment--and I dare you to diss this trailer to my face. You can have a good laugh, though 

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