Here we go with a new thread. Specialty editing for trailers. This one is the third in what industry people are calling "kickass" trailers promoting the upcoming Die Hard franchise installment; Good Day To Die
Quite a masterful collection of contrasts for an intense action flick. Note the slow pacing & music at the beginning to build tension, repeated use of blackouts & classical music, increased energy & frenetic timing as we build to a climax, but not without several pauses to catch our breath with the trademark dry humor. Naturally the crescendo leaves us wanting to buy a ticket. Trailer job well done...
For me nothing much really happens for the first 48-55 Seconds depending on which version you watch. It would be easy to think that the editor was drunk. A weird collection of shots thrown together in a not very cohesive way. There only purpose being to get the message across something is not quite right here...
Then the father and son meet up. There is a brief pause and all Mayhem breaks out. Things get really precise as the father son team reunite! Again a couple of pauses and more Mayhem. Like coming up for air! Editing at its finest with a subliminal message. The trailer is in some ways too good. I dont need to see the film now. Because I´ve got it. Or at least I think I have.... the music is also great.
Speaking of music and getting seriously off topic, Gurdjeff is one of my favourite Composers. He composed a lot of stuff for piano. There are basically 3 pianists who play him. The guy who plays best... Well sometimes when you listen, it sounds as if he is playing really sloppy. And then he gets really precise, hitting the right cords when it matters. The other 2 pianist, just get most of the stuff right most of the time. Boring
Nice input Paul. Have to agree on the importance of the correct music. However, I would suggest that there is a lot going on in those opening moments. The apparent disparity of the images adds to the disorientation & building tension. Even with the slow measured cadence of the editing & music we have drawn out moves like the black leather clad motorcyclist revealing her mysterious identity, or the agonizing drag of the gun across the counter, or creeping masked men packing serious firepower. It's like a steam boiler swelling with pressure about to blow, then like the conductor & masterful composer, they've orchestrated the explosions to also build in intensity. The first one, we think is massive, 4 black limos vaporized, but it escalates to buildings, helicopters, filling the entire frame.
I've come away not thinking I've seen it all, but reminded of what I liked about the Die Hard brand, & why I want to see this to find out how they string all those high & low notes together into another action packed symphonic experience.
PS - There's a very interesting technique employed here, some might miss it. It's kind of a reverse negative. When we're introduced to our heroes, we end scenes with fades to black, but when we meet our bad guys their scenes are flashed out with white, starting with the son's gunfire. I think this imparts & connects the violent explosive nature of not only the muzzle flash, but also the evil villain's incendiary dangerous & unpredictable powder-keg character.
“However, I would suggest that there is a lot going on in those opening moments. The apparent disparity of the images adds to the disorientation & building tension.”
Yes. I agree entirely with you.
Let me give you an example. I once edited some one channel hopping whilst watching TV.
It is hard to explain. Ever sat beside someone watching TV and they had the remote? They switch just When it is getting interesting or linger just when it is getting boring...
I had the guy watching TV and 5 TV programs to chose from. It was one of the most difficult edits I ever did. I realized that I was trying again and again to get the edits working nicely. I had to really force myself to make the edits ugly. Like forcing myself to write with my left hand!
My bottom line is that I have the feeling that the first half seems on the surface sloppy which complements the second half which is so amazingly tight. It like an arc for the whole trailer with the tipping point being the dad and son thing.
And sure the moments that are chosen in the first half are important and contribute to tension
I consciously noticed the fades to black and the flashes. But have to admit I did not make the connection! Nice to see something like this that just makes sense. Personally I think making a film trailer is one of the most difficult things out there. Respect!
The trailer is in essence a joke from some one who has mastered their craft. Like that first shot with the guy knocking on the door. knock, knock who is there....
Hehe... yes, but what a door! There are other over the top aspects juxtaposed with their mundane counterparts. For instance John McClane is stuck in traffic going nowhere, like most of us, while the baddies blast thru traffic not only with car removing explosions but with their gigantic ramming armored assault vehicle. Or T-shirted McClane & son are bloodied, battered & bruised placed in a lowly supplicating position to their handsome supermodel looking villains all draped in haute couture, not to mention the fashionistas are heavily armed, while our boys are defenseless & almost stripped naked, YET it is the underdog from his impossible position who is threatening the master with certain death. The explosive conclusion to the trailer is just him delivering on that promise.
How about the elevator music with "Don't encourage him."
As for the title, it fits the franchise & works on several layers. First, the film has constructed evil psychopaths threatening to decimate civilizations with nukes so ... bad guys have to die, the sooner the better. Right? Secondly, the title reinforces the McClane anti-hero persona, his freewheeling cavalier, devil may care attitude. He's not afraid to leap off exploding buildings into the vast unknown.
You're so right, Paul, trailer editing is a particular skill set that is crucial to the box office success of the film. Often a particular artist is brought in just for that job. Some films have flopped because the trailers portrayed them in the wrong light, most recently Silver Linings Playbook billed as a romantic comedy just because it has some love in it. It's more of a moving drama with some occasional light moments. Choosing the wrong direction with the marketing can destroy a movie at the box office & end careers for some.
Even though they shot in Eastern Europe, I'd estimate this latest Good Day To Die Hard cost upwards of $150-200 million, so they're probably spending at least 20 million on marketing. Globally they'll make everything back in no time, also introducing a son now attracts a whole new generation of fans to the franchise.
Interestingly the cinematographer is well experienced in action flicks, but the editor they went with is best known for his comedic timing.
Wow where to start this thread is all over the shop
Good points about the Juxtaposition of shots.
Having watched the trailer again the before the dad son part still looks a little like channel hoping to me. Even if it is masterfully done. look out for how direction works! How people walk in/out of shot. In first 50 Seconds or so people are all over the place. Later it seems to settle down with the good guys on the left and the bad guys on the right most of the time!
I am just completely obsessed by structure and shapes of Stories.
It is also interesting to check out some bad trailers.
Like a little post that I wrote here comparing Good and bad fight sequences.
That fight scene is hilarious, I sent it on to my friends. But really these things are just dated, at the time people probably thought they were amazing. We're spoiled now with such realistic effects.
The Lady Frankenstein is a hoot. "She's beautiful, she's evil & she'll do anything for love."
Sounds like a few dates I've been on.
That star transition is making a comeback. I like how they hold the shot on the giant syringe for what seems like forever.
Absolutely love the lecture by Kurt Vonnegut on the shapes of stories, it's as good as a comedy routine, yet so insightful & actually true. Every romantic comedy follows that pattern like clockwork; something horrible (usually a misunderstanding) splits the couple at the end of act 2, but then by the closing of act 3 they're reunited & all is well. So predictable, so formulaic... yet we eat it up every time.
There's another really nice cut I like in the Die Hard one, when the taxi flips up into the bridge, we switch to bridge POV as the cab comes flying at us obscuring the screen we go to inside the trunk opening POV. Light to dark, dark to light, works for me. Also I like gun sight lasers being green instead of the old red, it's somehow more festive while shooting terrorists.
Never watched Freaks & Geeks, but someone I knew about 30 years ago, won an Emmy for that show. I'll check it out. Lately I've been getting into Enlightened. There's a very unique editing trick they do in that show, but it's not so much the editing, but the writing & directing. It's all about the pauses. In the Die Hard trailer you see it too, note the pause before McClane answers whether he's a cop or not. In his case it comes off as confidence. His best movie for that is probably Last Man Standing. But in Enlightened the show is amazingly adept at creating incredible awkward tension in social situations, which oddly, is highly entertaining.
PS - A great source for all the latest Trailers - courtesy of our good friends at Apple
Well, if we're talking TV series, my favorites are Breaking Bad, Homeland, Boardwalk Empire & most recently Enlightened.
I've been thinking lately on how these shows are really extended movies, where we can explore the character's moral, emotional & psychological development or decay to much greater levels than can be achieved in the snippet of time that is a feature film.
Back to trailers...
sometimes it's best just to be honest in your trailer
Well there is honesty and honesty. I really am not into horror Movies but I might just make an exception for this one. “Warm Bodies.” Probably also obeys all those Story Line Rules all be it some what OTT.
Guy hates his job. Is out on the town distracting himself with his favourite distraction and then he sees this girl. They like each other and hook up. Sure there has to be the complication. Probably the fact that the guy is dead doesn´t help. But at least he is conflicted and can change and who knows maybe even save the Universe in the process.
Some thing I was wondering about is it possible to split trailers up into categories?
Like there is the Voice Over Trailer first person. “Warm Bodies” being a case in point.
There is something like the Virgin Suicides which I unfortunately saw in the Cinema and hated. Obviously a mix of an observer Voice over and a generous splattering of titles.
Or for my taste significantly better. Observer voice over with great dialogue.
Or for my taste significantly better. Observer voice over with great dialogue.
And yeah there is your original example of a “Good day to Die” which essentially works with pictures dispersed with a couple of chosen lines of dialogue...
When I first saw Warm Bodies posted on
the Apple Trailers page
, I didn't even click on it because I took it for just another zombie apocalypse movie, boy was I wrong. Glad you shared it or I would have passed it by completely. Looks like a great original concept with lots of humor & irony. Thoroughly enjoyable trailer, definitely makes me want to see it.
Let's start a new Rating Scale we call the HookFactor (HF). After seeing a trailer, how motivated are you to see the flick? From 1 to 10.
Warm Bodies - HF 8
Suicide Diaries, I think I saw the movie years ago, can't remember now (I see a lot of movies), for me the trailer starts well, but something about it kind of creeps me out as it progresses. Leaving me not really wanting to see it at all...
Strictly Ballroom I also saw years ago, remember little except I enjoyed it. The trailer is fantastic.
Strictly Ballroom - HF 9
AND... the hits just keep coming folks. The cadre of unlikely assassins, heart pounding action & dry humor, is back for another remix. So you know Bruce Willis just has to be in it.
(Will we never grow tired of the car under the semi stunt? Must have seen it in 3 movies by now. The only truly original semi truck stunt I've seen in ages is over 20 years old from
License To Kill
story behind that stunt
is also very interesting, featuring
legendary driver Remy Julienne
ranks it in the top 5 truck stunts ever, but I still think it deserves a higher ranking on the page. Check the videos on that page, & see what you think. Remember guys, this is real driving, not CGI.
Love the way it starts in possibly one of the most boring places on the planet a DIY store. Starts getting crazy when the word Girl is dropped. A quick world tour. Some great vilans hanging out doing there daily chores in a small world. And the innocent girl who gets mixed up in it all and wonders if there is a human being in the boot. Bet that she is a vegetarian as well Love the sound and the big OTT tiles. I´d give it a 7!
There is this one as well.
Which I find very hard to rate because it is for one of my favourite films of all time.
This also seems to be some kind of unofficial version.
There is a crazy selection of Music and then a merciless count down but some how it fits for me. I´d give it a 9. But as I said I am completely biased on this one! I´d also give your original post a good day to die a 9
Not having seen the film, I can't claim the affinity you have for it. Perhaps seeing it first would give me your perspective on the trailer. As it stands, subtitles are more palatable during a foreign film, than appealing in a trailer, for me that is. That being said, the trailer does hold a fairly high level of mystery which is engaging in the HookFactor department. The first half seems fairly routine as the people gather, then things begin to go curiously off kilter, added to which we have the dramatic countdown.
I'm reluctant to grade this trailer with an HF number.
Suffice it to say, my curiosity to view the film is based more on your high praise.
PS - There's something we haven't really mentioned, but learning to master the trailer edit & create maximum HookFactor, could be a skill set applied to raising money for a feature or other project. Your trailer is your pitch, & could be applied to crowdfunding or other possible investors.
Then looked into some of his other stuff. Which brings up this question of action trailer editing, can there be too much action? Or more precisely, can the cuts be too rapid thus creating a kind of sensory overload?
I think yes. Consequently, this trailer holds a very low HookFactor for me.
Do not even get me started on this topic of lack of participation. Like it is cool exchanging trailers with you and all that. But I agree. It is madness that other people don´t jump in here. Maybe they are all too busy trying to figure out how to make Custom frames sizes for their next feature film. I run the FCP user group in Berlin with 800 members. But I can count the contributing members on one hand! Lots of people who are like sponges absorbing information.... I think I will stop there before I become abusive.
I have to admit that I was holding off here somewhat in the hope that other people would jump in??? I like your last trailer but in my present state of mind it is too much.
The response that I was contemplating over the weekend was...
Being John Malkovich
It is out there.
For a start the trailer and film only work because the lead actor is so famous. If John Smith had featured in it. then it would not have worked.
It jumps in there straight in the seventh and half floor, takes us through the vetting process and into the brain of John Malkovich and viola there he is! And he is not impressed.
This post is also like the seventh and half floor. It is weird. It is off Topic but so are the Custom frame Size posts...
The 7th & half floor IS a custom frame size. Hehe.
I remember that movie at the time was weird, unique & original, but I can't say it really engaged me. Nor did John Malkovich's accent in Rounders, but there is a look he gives Eastwood during the rooftop chase scene from In The Line of Fire, just before he turns to run away. That look, for me, spoke pages of script, it was a quintessential acting moment well beyond words. His performance in Dangerous Liaisons was also enjoyable.
Contemplating here now about trailer editing, action seems the easiest to produce. Gentle build, excitement, lull, excitement, lull, climax. Comedy too seems relatively easy, as does thriller, perhaps romance would be the hardest to cut effectively without being too formulaic.
Well speaking of engagement. I remember seeing the film in the cinema. And realised that I had a crick in my neck. The seventh and half floor made such an impact on me that I was literally leaning forward trying to avoid banging my head of the ceiling. It got to me
Good observations about the different types of trailer editing. I meet a guy once who edited Cinema trailers full time. He said it was pretty frustrating. He had all this amazing pre edited material which he didn´t have the time to watch and had to make something completely different.
If editing is an invisible art well then trailer editing is...