How to Create a Trailer – Part Two

Each book trailer I’ve seen so far has three components. There is the visual content, the audio content and some text.

The visual components can be either short video clips or still images. The audio can be the spoken word, music or a combination of both. We shall gather all three in this next segment. This is where we’re going to start using the tools described in the Part One.


The very first part of the process is to create the raw content for your trailer.

Start by making a new folder (directory for us old folks) and give it a name like “MyTrailer” that you can easily find later. This is where we are going to build our trailer.

Inside the MyTrailer folder, create three more folders. Call them Graphics, Text and Audio for now. After you get familiar with the process, you may change them to whatever you wish.

Load the latest doc file of your book into the folder called Text.

Copy a group of pictures or video clips that you want to use in your trailer into the Graphics folder. Don’t worry about having too many right now, you’ll probably only use some of them. I’ll have more information on selecting sizes and formats later on, in the Graphics section.

If you have any background music files already selected, then put them into the Audio folder.

This is all part of getting ready so you don’t have to waste time looking for something later. Also, since these are all copies of your original files, if you mess something up. Don’t worry. You can always grab another copy from the original.

Control Key functions

After all these years, there are a few very basic functions that have become standard in most programs and operating systems. They use the keyboard instead of the mouse and once you learn them, they can speed things up a lot. In order to use each command, you press and hold the Ctrl (Control) key and then tap the second key.

Ctrl-A = Selects EVERYTHING in a given window. If you want to copy ALL the text from a Word document into a web page editor, for example, this would be the first step.

Ctrl-C = Copies a selected area only.

Ctrl-X = Cuts a selected area only.

Ctrl-V = Pastes the cut or copied item starting where the cursor is at that point in time.

Let’s try and example to see how this works. Open Notepad, Notepad++ or whatever you use as your favorite raw text editor. Remember what I mentioned back in Part One. Do not use Word or any other word processing program for this.

Click anyplace in the text on this page, then press Ctrl-A. You will note that the entire page is now highlighted.

Now press Ctrl-C. This will copy everything on the page into memory on your local machine.

Now click inside your text editor. This will place a cursor at the beginning.

Press Ctrl-V and your text editor will fill up with all the raw text you just copied. Take a close look and you’ll see that all the fancy fonts, boldfacing, colors and graphics are gone. All that is left is the raw text.

If you were to repeat this same sequence but used Ctrl-V to put it into a Word processor instead of a text editor, it would attempt to copy all the fonts, formatting, hot links and maybe even the graphics. That is not what you want to do at this stage of the game.


Create a raw text file in this folder that will be the source for any text in your trailer.

This text file will have the words you are going to show on the trailer. Think of it as a blurb. As a matter of fact, the blurb for your book is probably a good place to start. It will have no italics, fancy fonts or boldfacing. All of that will be handled later on.

Just for the purposes of this tutorial, let’s assume your novel is called “My Great Novel” and the blurb looks something like this:

The Heroine is lost in the Big City and falls in with Bad Company. The Hero has been working for the Bad Company and is really an Undercover Cop. She sees him do Bad things and hates the idea she is attracted to him. He sees her as a victim, but can do nothing until the Cops bust the Bad Company and he can reveal who he really is. Will their passion survive the Bad around them long enough to mature into True Love?

Since that was originally written in a Word processor, you will want to use the Ctrl key functions shown above, to copy and paste it into a text file. Save the text file as “MyGreatNovel.txt” and then edit it to look something like this:

The Heroine is lost in the Big City and falls in with Bad Company.

The Hero has been working for the Bad Company and is really an Undercover Cop.

She sees him do Bad things and hates the idea she is attracted to him.

He sees her as a victim, but can do nothing until the Cops bust the Bad Company and he can reveal who he really is.

Will their passion survive the Bad around them long enough to mature into True Love?

Notice how this has no fancy fonts, boldfacing or colors? That is what you want at this point. I also broke it down so that each sentence is a separate paragraph. That has defined how many text frames we are going to have in the video.

We’re not finished with the text just yet. At the bottom, I’m going to add a little more content. Something like this:

“My Great Novel”

Copyright 2010

by A. Gifted Writer

Coming SOON from

Notice how each item is on a separate line? That is how we’re going to show them in the video.

NOTE: Be sure to save your work every few minutes. There’s nothing worse than putting an hour or so of work into something and having a sudden power failure wipe it out. I’ve taught myself to hit the Save button every time I pause to collect my thoughts.


Now it is time to get down to some of the ‘meat’ in this tutorial. Load up Audacity.

Here’s a couple of tips on screen real-estate. I am fortunate in that I’m working with one of the new 24” wide-screen monitors. I you have a wide-screen monitor, then I would arrange Audacity so that it covers about half of one side of the screen. Arrange the window with your Text Editor along side it.

If you are using one of the older monitors, I would recommend arranging Audacity to cover the top half of the screen while your Text Editor window covers the bottom half.

The idea here, is that we will be working back and forth, between the two windows. You don’t want to have to toggle between them.

Your Voice

Regardless of whether you are actually going to use your voice, we still want to make a recording of you, reading your blurb lines out loud.

We are going to do this for two reasons. One, is so that we can learn a bit about how the recording and editing tools work in Audacity. And two, is to get an idea of how many minutes and seconds your blurb should take up in the trailer.

I would recommend you use a headset with a built-in microphone. They are readily available at most computer stores and will come in handy for other audio functions, like Skype. Turn off the external speakers on your computer so you don’t get an echo or feedback while recording.

Once the headset is in position, covering both ears, position the microphone so that it is well above your nose and off to the side, so you can see the screen. If this seems to get in the way too much, then set is well off to the side.

Do NOT place is right in front of your mouth because you will get a lot of mouth and breath noises as you speak.

Note: The Science Fiction Writers of America website has a ton of useful information on it. One of the best pieces I’ve found is from Mary Robinette Kowal. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ll refer you to her excellent piece on reading aloud.

When you are ready, click the Record button on Audacity and don’t say anything for about ten seconds. Just watch the little wiggly line as it records the ambient noises in the room.

Speak slowly and clearly and read each of the lines of the blurb in the Text Editor window. Pause for just a second or two between each one. When you are finished, wait about ten more seconds and click the Stop button.

Before you go any further, Save what you have so far with a filename like MyGreatNovelBlurb01. Audacity will save it in its own format. I would also Export it as an MP3 file called MyGreatNovelBlurb01.MP3. The reason you use the 01 as a suffix is because we will increment it later and it allows you to go back to a previous version if you want to change some things.

Ambient Noise

Remember the brief tutorial on removing ambient noise back in Part One of this tutorial? Now is the time to apply that.


You will note that Audacity shows your work as a pair of squiggly lines with timing marks above them. There is a magnifying glass icon and if you click that button, you can use the mouse to select a smaller section of time. The program will then zoom in on the chosen section. Select View and Fit in Window to show all of your recording at this point.

Make a note of the overall time it took you to slowly read the blurb, copyright and publishing source items from your text file. Add about ten seconds and this gives you an idea of how long your video needs to be when finished. Save the file and close it, but leave Audacity open.


Now it is time for the background music. Select a tune that is at least as long, if not longer, than the recording you made a moment ago. If it is a live recording you’ve made of yourself and/or friends, then be sure to remove the ambient sound before going any further.

Load your music into Audacity and select an area about five seconds long in the very front of it.

From the Menu, select Effects and Fade In. This means your music will start at zero time with silence and come on full volume in five seconds.

Move the cursor down to the point on the timeline when you are going to end you video. Click and drag the mouse to select everything from that point on. Then hit the Delete button. This will trim your music to the overall length you want.

Finally, select the last five seconds of the tune and apply Effect and Fade Out. This will end you video in silence.

Save this as MyGreatNovelMusic01 and also export it as MyGreatNovelMusic01.MP3.

Close Audacity and grab a drink to congratulate yourself.


If we are going to plan on creating a video trailer for YouTube, it behooves us to make sure the graphics are in the proper size. They will accept almost anything, but if it doesn’t match their defaults, then the software they use on their end will modify it to fit. This usually translates to poor reproduction. My first video suffered from this since I didn’t take the time to check first.


Currently, YouTube suggests 640×480 (SD) or 1280×720 (HD) for 4:3 & 16:9 aspect ratios as their default standards.

For those who aren’t aware of what this means, it is easy to break down.

The two numbers separated by and “x” refer to the size of the rectangular window in pixels. Here is a 640×480 image:

Here is a similar image in 1280×720 format:

Note how much wider it is versus the height. The older 640×480 format has the same 4:3 proportions that most cameras shoot. While the new High Definition (HD) format is 16:9.

Since I’m attempting to keep this tutorial as simple as possible, we are going to go old-school at 640×480. That means that if you embed a YouTube video in your favorite blog or website, it will show in the smaller and more common window.


If you are going to purchase the rights to a still image from an online service, like iStockphoto, you don’t have to purchase the really expensive, high-resolution images. Just get the image at 640×480 to save money.

On the other hand, if you’re like me, you might enjoy taking and using your own photographs. My camera produces JPG images that are 3264×2448. When I load one into GIMP, I have the choice of cropping just a section of the image to get the effect I wish; or from the menu, I can select Image and Scale Image and set it to 640×480. Once again, be sure to Save As using a different name so you don’t mess up your original.

Once you have created a series of 640×480 still images, we can move on to the next stage, which is to bring the separate components together. That will be the topic of How to Create a Trailer – Part Three.

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