Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Making a Book Trailer: Blackberry Banquet

I recently posted my book trailer for BLACKBERRY BANQUET (click here to view) and I was surprised at the response from other writers. Some wanted to know how I did it; some said they impressed because they could never do such a thing. Well, I’m here to say that YOU CAN! It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be—the main thing for me was to go into it with a learning attitude. Play around, tinker, and don’t pressure myself. I told myself it could take months to complete.

Here are some tips and tidbits of info, based on my own experience:
I used Windows Movie Maker. I didn’t realize I even had it on my computer, until someone pointed it out to me. I found it by clicking on the START button (lower-left corner), went to PROGRAMS then ACCESSORIES then voila! There it was. Because I'm generally one of those people who reads the instructions before starting something, I first read about the program from the HELP menu, just to get an overall sense of what I was in for .

Next, I did thumbnail sketches of what I wanted on a notepad. I knew I wanted to keep it around 60 seconds (like an average TV commercial) and I didn’t want to have more than 20 images, including the text-only images. Once I had my thumbnails (aka, roadmap), I used Adobe Photoshop to select and size my images (note: I had already contacted my publisher about the project and received permission to use the artwork—she was so happy about my doing this that she not only gave permission, she ultimately resent all of the art images in higher resolution images).

In WMM (Windows Movie Maker), I figured out (from the Help menu) what frame size the program uses, and I made my images conform to that size. I knew this would make the transition easier later, when I would import the images into WMM. In Photoshop, I also created the text-only frames. Note: Be sure to include a frame with your publisher’s website, your website and book ordering info. After all, you are trying to promote your book!

Next, I opened up WMM, and began importing my images. That was the easy part. Once they were all there, I had to determine the length of time on each frame (by clicking on the thumbnail image at the bottom and dragging it to the desired time), and what kind of transition effect I wanted from one frame to another (by right-clicking on the thumbnail image then clicking on “Video Effects”). This is where the real fun began—lots of tinkering and playing around!

Once I had the frames in place and was pleased with the overall look, I did a music search. There are all kinds of royalty-free music sites on the internet. I found mine on “The Music Bakery” but as I said, there are many out there. I should add too, that this was probably the lengthiest part of the entire process—finding the perfect music. I purchased the music (prices vary), but once I did, it was mine to use and I won’t have to worry about copyright issues.

Downloading the music to my computer then to WMM was a bit tricky for me, but some great websites on the internet guided me through. One of my favorites was the Papa John site. A couple of times, I also Googled my questions and was able to find the answers.

Once I had the music downloaded, I put it to the video clip, and then tinkered with the timing. I shortened some transitions or frame lengths, doing what was necessary to make it all fit.
Once I was finished, I saved the file to my computer (the file in WMM is a project file, so you have to save it separately onto your computer to be able to email or upload it to the internet). I sent it to my editor, for her opinion. With a tiny bit more tinkering, I was completely finished.

The entire process took me about four days, but as I said, it really was fun and gave me a chance to indulge in a whole new kind of creativity (plus, I saved myself about $300-400, what I had found was the fee for a professional to make one for me). So, don't sell yourself short--give it a try! Since I shared this with my fellow Sylvan Dell authors, another author, Sherry Rogers, has created her own (click here to view). And if you want to see a terrific sampling of many wonderful children's book trailers, click here.

Happy movie making!