Sunday, April 10, 2011

How to Create a Video Trailer Using Pictures/Graphics and Microsoft Movie Maker by Jennifer Lightburn

I've received many emails and posts about my video trailer.  Many have asked who actually created my video trailer.  I did it myself.  I was actually going to pay someone to create a video trailer for me, but being financially-challenged and coming across a website in which elementary school students created their very own video trailer as a "book report," I said to myself, "how hard can it be?"

It really wasn't that hard.  It was mostly time consuming. 

The first step is to think of your book in terms of a movie, as if you're creating a movie trailer.  What images come to your mind?  You need to know this because you're going to essentially create a storyboard.  Jot down the images that come to mind, the characters, the message.  The message is critical, especially if you're using graphics / pictures because it's the message (the text you write) that helps tell the story. 

Next you have to decide if you're going to video tape scenes with your camcorder or if you'll use text and graphics to illustrate the scenes.  Because I was on a serious budget, I decided to use text and graphics. 

There are websites that allow you to download royalty free video, texts and graphics.  You still have to pay (a nominal fee) for the download, but you're allowed to use them in your "advertisement" without paying a royalty; still make sure you read the stipulations of each website. 

Finding the right graphics and music can take hours.  It literally took me four hours to find the right music for my video trailer.  I wanted something upbeat, with a rock and blues flare, and I wanted it to be no more than a minute.  Most people won't spend a bunch of time viewing a long, drawn-out video.  In this day and age, you need to get to the point and at the same time keep the interest. 

Characters.  You know who they are and what they look like.  Still, finding the right photo/graphic is not easy.  Make a list of the characters that you want in your video trailer.  Make sure that when you're surfing the net, you write down the identification number of the graphic as well as the website in which you saw it.  (Do the same with your music because finding it later will make you pull your hair out.  Take it from me J)

Now, there are all kinds of video production software out there.  If you're fortunate to have Avid or Final Cut Pro, more power to you.  On my nickle and dime budget, I chose Microsoft's Movie Maker because it was already on my computer.  (If you don't have it, you can download a free copy at 

If you haven't already: save your graphics and music in the same folder.  It just makes things easier. 

When you open Media Player, there are three sections on top: Movie Tasks, Collections, and the video player.  Below that you'll find the storyboard. 

On the left side of the screen (Under Movie Tasks) choose, Import Audio or Music.  Find the folder in which the music is located and double click on it.  It will be placed in your collection.

Next, on the left side of the screen (Under Movie Tasks), choose import picture (or video).  You can push the <CTRL> key and click on each picture (or video) to select multiple and then click on import.  All of your pictures / videos will be imported into your collection.  (You should be able to see your collection, but if you can't, just click on COLLECTION on the menu bar.)

Now, click on Show Timeline (directly above the Storyboard) on the lower half of your screen so you see Video, Transition, Audio, Title Overlay and Audio / Music on the left side of the screen. 

Drag the Audio file from the collection to the Audio / Music section of the story timeline. 

Drag the pictures in order (of your storyboard) to the video section. 

Save your file.

Next, you're going to edit your movie by adding pages that will allow you to enter text (for story-telling purposes).  Click on "make titles or credits".

You have the chose to enter a page on, before or after your graphic.  For example, to enter a text page after your graphic, click on "Add title after the selected clip in your timeline."  Type in the text.  Under more options, you can choose the color and font, as well as the title animation (animation - how your text scrolls onto the page) by highlighting the text and clicking either option (Change the title animation or Change the text font and color).  After you've finished formatting the text, click "Done, add title to movie."  Do this same process throughout your storyline. 

Save your file.

Now, that you've added all of your text pages, click on "Show storyboard".  You see that there are small boxes between each scene (large box).  This is where you're going to add your video transitions (how each scene scrolls onto your page).  Under "Edit Movie" (on the movie task pane), click on "Video Transitions".  Double-click the transition so you know what it does and then drag and drop the ones you want to use into the small box between each scene. 

Save your file.

Click on Show Timeline.

Now, here's the hard part... getting the music, text and graphics to flow together.  This could literally take a couple hours.  First you'll need to click on the clip and then drag the red arrow to the left to trim the timing of the clip.  Do this to every clip until your audio and video are the same length in the timeline, as you don't want your audio to end earlier than your clips.  (You can adjust the timing of the clips later).

Save your file.

Now, push play (on the media player) to see your video.  Listen to the music and determine when you want your clip to transition to the next clip.  You're just going to have to play with the clips but increasing and decreasing each one (clicking on the clip and moving the red arrow). 

If after you've adjusted the story timeline, and you still need the slightest modification of time, click on “Show Storyboard”, you'll notice a small box to the left of every clip.  Right click that box.  Choose Video Effects.  These effects can help adjust the timing of the clips (i.e. slow down / half, smudge stick, speed up / double).  Drag the transition into the small box to the left of the clip.  Again, this process could take a couple hours.  You might have to walk away for a minute.  J

Save your file.

When you're done, click on save to my computer and enter the file name and location. 

You will be so pleased because you made your video trailer yourself.  I certainly was proud when I finished my video trailer.  Please take a look at it at

I hope this was of some help!!


~ Jennifer