The Making of a Book Trailer: Microsoft Edition

I never thought I’d get into book trailers. I just thought they were … odd. It’s my age showing. In my reading days, we didn’t have this fancy thing called the internet or You Tube. We had Lawn Darts and ran with scissors for fun. Or went into that scary place called ‘outside’. Video games consisted of the Atari 2600 and Microsoft stuck to computers. Yeah, I know. the stone age is long past now.

The allure is there, though, for the trailer. It’s not like I haven’t created animation or a movie before. I just did it with the software to make those things. However, Microsoft has some niffy things–some free, some not–that makes it easy for someone to make a trailer. Now I’m a PC girl so you MAC users are out of luck for what I’ve got to offer today.

The two things you’ll need to do this:

Power Point–This is something you get when you pay for a version of MS Office. 2010 or above is the way to go. I have the full out professional version of Office but my job affords me to get a personal copy at a very discounted price. For a writer, I think it’s a must package to have at least Home Premium. It’s around $100 but you can load it on up to five PCs.

MS Movie MakerTotally free! There’s a good bit you can do with this program but, really, I only use it for part of it. Power Point is my main program.

I’m not an expert on doing this but I’ve had some luck throwing a quality trailer so far. So let’s go through the simple steps of doing one, shall we?

First open a new project in Power Point. Pick a background from the Design tab. There’s presets or you can play around if you want. Or you could use a graphic. Just make sure it’s not too busy. What I’ve learned from trial and error is the normal paper size (landscape) of 8.5 by 11″ doesn’t widescreen very well in You Tube. I tried legal size 8.5 by 11″ and it’s a wee bit better though it leaves a little to the sides. In the same Design tab, choose Page Setup to change the size. Right click on the page in the preview tab and duplicate it several times. You can delete the excess later.

The text I use is the book blurb but you could use whatever you want, just don’t make it too wordy. The goal is to keep the movie from one minute thirty seconds to two minutes. Choose a font that is easy to read from a distance if all possible. In the age of smart phones, it’s a must. The blurb should be spread out on different slides.

When it comes to graphics, make sure you own them or get them from a royalty-free site. Microsoft has stock images you can use tied with the program as well. Since I love taking pictures, I have tons of photos (and even art work) I can pull from. Let’s not forget the book cover! I’ve used elements of the cover in my trailers. Simply make a copy of it and use Photo Gallery to crop it as you please.

Okay, you’ve got the graphics and words in there but it still looks like a slide show, doesn’t it? This is where the Transitions tab and Animation tabs come in.

The Transitions tab is what you use for between the slides. Have it break into parts or fade away to the next one. There are a lot of possibilities. Make sure the duration is two seconds. Uncheck the On Mouse Click and click the After, putting in at least five seconds. This might have to be adjusted depending on how much words. Always check it as you go.

Animations are used for the graphics and word/text boxes. Click on the one you want to change and pick your effects. Once you have the one you want, check out the Effects Options to tweak it. The default start is On Click. Change it to With Previous. Since this is going to be made into a movie not a presentation, you never want the On Click option activated. The Duration will be how long the effect lasts Delay is when it starts. Again, play around with it. Pictures can be changed a little bit but nothing like what a Photoshop program would do but it’s still got a lot of options.

Once you’ve got it working like you want it to, go to File>Save & Send>Create a Video. Click the Create Video button and let it do its magic. Congratulations! You’ve made a .wmv file! Now, you could load that up but guess what? It’s going to be a silent film. That’s where MS Movie Maker comes in. Add some music using it–make sure it’s common license or free of any copyright infringement. Check carefully because it could get ugly if someone doesn’t like what they’re music is being used for.

There you go! Here’s a trailer I did for Muir Bhreatan.