The Art of First Impressions: How to Cut a Movie Trailer

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It’s only two minutes long. But it’s the way a film greets the world. For a self-distributor, it can mean getting 100,000 hits on YouTube within a week. For indie filmmakers trying to make an impression, it’s a chance to have their no-budget D.I.Y. movies stand shoulder-to-shoulder with The Hobbit and Avatar 2 on iTunes. And it has a long shelf life; years after a theatrical release is over, it will be one of the first things to pop up on a Google word search.

The humble movie trailer, once a delightful distraction seen only by punctual film goers exclusively in movie houses, is now the principal way most movies get exposure and remain in the public conscience. And as long as there is a computer and an Internet connection, it can be watched anytime, anywhere, indefinitely. Along with the movie poster, it is arguably the most important marketing tool available to a filmmaker.

A bad trailer won’t automatically hurt a film. Strong reviews and terrific word-of-mouth can make uninspired advertising irrelevant. Then again, not all films are bulletproof success stories. What about that promising first feature? That peculiar but compelling foreign language film? That oddball documentary with seemingly banal subject matter yet an undeniably hypnotic style? These kinds of movies can really benefit from a memorable piece of advertising. (And, oddly enough, a bad flick can occasionally make for a fantastic trailer. More on that later.)

Studio films typically break down into a handful of genres: action, drama, comedy, horror, sci-fi, fantasy. They all have their conventions, and their trailers have a similarly categorized look and sound. Thick sans-serif font with jaunty music? Comedy. Elegant serif font with dour orchestral cue? Drama. These are mass-produced goods, and they are by definition formulaic. This is not necessarily criticism; there are excellent studio films that have accordingly superlative trailer work. (Trailer campaigns for huge franchises such as The Matrix, Harry Potter and Spider-Man are particularly well-crafted.) But independent and foreign language releases are usually hard to categorize. They often mix genres, subvert them or ignore them completely. Documentaries, too, can defy definition. Is it an essay film, an experiential meditation, agit-prop, social commentary or all of the above?

At Kinetic, the company my partner Christy Wilson and I co-founded 10 years ago, we have had the opportunity to work on tremendous non-studio movies that aren’t the easiest to categorize; over 300 films, most recently Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre, Agnieszka Holland’s In Darkness, Constance Marks’ Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, and Tom Six’s The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence. From a marketing point of view, the options are wide open — which can be either intimidating or liberating, depending on your point of view.

GETTING STARTED

So you have a movie and you need a trailer. Put very simply, a trailer is a condensed version of a feature, so it should be a collection of its greatest elements. The best way to evaluate your film is to see it first not as a genre but in terms of its fundamental characteristics. Does it have arresting dialogue? Great cinematography? Searing performances? Memorable production design? Lead with its merits.

Of course genre will guide the trailer process. But which aspects are the best ones to market? If it’s a comedy/drama, do you make it funny with some gravitas, or serious with a few zingers for levity? Do you let genre define the film? Doing so might attract more ticket buyers, but could also alienate those people if the movie they see doesn’t match their presumptions. Also, if the film has played on the festival circuit, consider using laurels to tout its pedigree. Are there good reviews, and do you want to add them to the mix? Or will laurels and reviews attract only a highbrow audience and alienate the general market?

Do you think the trailer would benefit from a narrator? What kind of music is available — are there cues specifically composed for the film that would be appropriate, or is outside music a possibility? Do you want a copywriter to get involved, or does the film have enough explanatory dialogue to sustain itself? Now that you’ve unpacked your elements, decide on a creative approach.

RHYTHM AND STRUCTURE

Above all, and without exception, trailer editing is about rhythm. If you don’t have an innate sense of it, then your trailer will not sing. A trailer, cut well, will have a flowing motion to it, a sense that everything plays off everything else, and will propel the viewer through the experience of the film. Trailers build up excitement and anticipation, and a keen sense of rhythm heightens those sensations.

While you may not choose for music to be the defining characteristic of your trailer, it still plays an important role in its basic construction. It literally sets the tone and the rhythm. I usually start every trailer by building my music bed, and that bed is generally composed of three music cues. Why three? Because trailers lend themselves to a three-act structure.

Act One: Introduce the films’ characters and environment. Act Two: Complicate their world with obstacles to overcome. Act Three: Intensify the conflicts and ratchet up the tension/excitement/humor. (Montages invariably end up in Act Three.) There can be four acts, there can be one — it really just depends on the material. But three acts is a good place to start. Most importantly: never resolve anything! Whenever possible, leave questions unanswered. Don’t tie up loose ends. Keep the audience wanting more.

I mentioned before that bad movies can have great trailers. That’s because trailers are about raising expectations. Films are made because a group of people really believe in the ideas behind that movie. All films start out being potentially great. By the time the filmmaking process is over, reality has intervened. Is it still great? That’s open to debate. But a trailer doesn’t reveal the whole movie. It just reveals the movie’s potential to be great. It pitches the promise of the premise. And if the trailer has seductive rhythm and an arresting structure, then any movie can look like a winner.

DISASSEMBLING YOUR FILM AND CONSTRUCTING YOUR TRAILER

In order to make a trailer for your film, you have to take it apart. Every trailer editor goes through the film meticulously, breaking it down and turning it into basic building blocks. The main way to do this is to create two sequences: a dialogue string and a visual string. These are highlight reels. But they’re also like basic ingredients. Imagine taking a cake and reverse-engineering it, extracting the eggs, flour, sugar and butter.

Editors are like tailors. They cut materials and shape them, letting them out here and tucking them in there, until they make a perfect fit. But editors, particularly trailer editors, are also cooks. They take their materials and they boil them down, condense them and extract their essence in order to flavor the overall meal.

Common sense might suggest that the editor who cut your feature should cut your trailer, too. But in certain ways they are the least qualified. Yes, they are familiar with the footage, and trailer editors need to be, too. But feature editors are too familiar. They have lived with the footage for months, sweated over the choices and labored to make every shot fit perfectly into the specific context of the film.

Trailer editors, on the other hand, are disrespectful. They de-contextualize everything. That half-smile the heroine gives to her boyfriend that secretly devastates him? The trailer editor only sees a smile. A dog bark is a dog bark. It’s not Spot’s excited howl that saves the life of his master — it’s just a dog bark. Trailer editors have to see everything for what they are inherently, not how they function in the feature film. They have to unpack the feature in order to repack it and turn it into a trailer.

There are also many familiar editing tropes in trailers: dissolves, fades from black, fades to black, white flashes with the metal-door slams, fast-paced flutter-cuts, double exposures, speed adjustments, audio rises, audio drones, audio stings. These effects are like the images from the film itself: they are tools in a toolbox. Got something lush and romantic? Use dissolves and fades. Got something fast-paced and tense? Use increasingly faster hard cuts that crescendo in a metal-door slam and a white flash. This is simplistic, but the basic message is this: Use these tools (the sound effects, the editing tricks, etc.) to tell a story. And to sell a story.

STRIKING THE RIGHT TONE

Certain films have subject matter that might turn off audiences who think they’ve seen that type of movie before. Myles Bender, senior vice president of creative advertising at Focus Features, was concerned that their new production of Jane Eyre would be perceived as too literary, too outdated and be viewed as a chick flick. He requested a trailer that played down the traditional romantic melodrama and emphasized something else: horror. So Wilson mined and exploited the darker, eerier aspects of the film and treated the story not as a treasured classic but as a very modern tale of madness and obsession.

Let’s say your film deals with controversial issues. Some people who might really love the movie may recoil when they learn what it’s about. Respect that. Don’t rub people’s noses in it. Be subtle. Or at least be tactful. In Ryan Fleck’s feature debut Half Nelson, released by THINKFilm, Ryan Gosling plays a beloved high school teacher who is also a crack head. When we did the trailer, we were very conscious of not naming what drug he was using. We alluded to drug use, but we weren’t specific. Also, this movie is about so much more than drug use. It’s also about adults inspiring teenagers, having human weaknesses and getting second chances in life. So we underlined the tragic parts, emphasized the positive and didn’t dwell on the more salacious, negative aspects.

Before we started Kinetic, Wilson cut the trailer for L.I.E., a critically acclaimed drama about pedophilia on Long Island, released by Lot 47. In this case, the material is so potentially toxic that it’s difficult to explain the story without it seeming lurid. But the movie had a melodic yet sinister song (Donovan’s “Hurdy-Gurdy Man”), sumptuous cinematography (courtesy of Romeo Tirone) and evocative shots (thanks to director Michael Cuesta). Lot 47 co-founder Jeff Lipsky asked Wilson to make a trailer using only the one song, drop all the dialogue, and cut a montage peppered with critics’ quotes and laurels. He asked her to create a mood instead of a narrative; something that was by turns alienating, thrilling, dangerous and ultimately haunting. Without saying a word, it is an incredibly faithful reflection of the film.

MUSIC-DRIVEN (AND MONTAGE-DRIVEN) TRAILERS

L.I.E. is essentially a music-driven montage trailer. The song and images dictate the feeling and structure, but don’t reveal a story. Certain filmmakers have such a distinct visual style and use of music that the best sort of trailer for their films is usually a music-driven montage. Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void is a perfect example. The trippy film about the ghost of a junkie watching over his stripper sister in the neon-drenched city of Tokyo practically begs to be a visual head-trip trailer. IFC Films, who released the film, totally supported that approach, but vice president of marketing Ryan Werner and director of marketing Shani Ankori wanted to make sure the two main characters were also established. So the montage is book-ended with the two of them talking to each other and promising to always be together no matter what. Along with being a string of trippy images set to a pounding techno cue, the trailer also has an emotional undercurrent that humanizes the material and makes the psychedelica oddly poignant.

Another incredibly visceral filmmaker is Lynne Ramsay, whose 2002 film Morvern Callar, released by Cowboy Pictures, follows Samantha Morton as she assumes her dead boyfriend’s identity, claims his book as her own and becomes a celebrated author. Cowboy’s co-heads, Noah Cowan and John Vanco, wanted the trailer to tell that story, but they also wanted it to be impressionistic and to showcase the visuals and the music. The film has an incredibly eclectic soundtrack (Aphex Twin, Stereolab, Lee Hazlewood, Ween), and I used four different cues throughout. The story is about, essentially, an identity crisis, so the music keeps getting interrupted by stray bits of dialogue that are jolting realizations. The structure of the trailer is one of disruption and deliberately jerks from exultation to anxiety and introspection.

DOCUMENTARIES

Although documentaries are technically non-fiction, they usually abide by the same rules as fiction films. They tell a story. The trailer for the Zeitgeist release Bill Cunningham New York, cut by our junior editor Laura Tomaselli, is absolutely about fashion, since the subject is a fashion photographer. But it’s also about the sacrifices one person makes in order to do what he loves. She makes his story compelling in two minutes because she captures his monastic, Spartan lifestyle and contrasts it with flamboyant wealth. And she shows how this man has just as much individuality, taste and style as the most outrageous clotheshorse. It’s an eloquent ode to having the courage of one’s convictions—whether it’s what you wear or how you choose to live. And the opening line is a killer set-up. Icy Vogue editrix Anna Wintour says, “I’ve said many times that we all get dressed for Bill.” A power-broker like her, bowing to one man? Tell me more.

Bill Cunningham New York. Photo by First Thought Films/Zeitgeist Films.

 

While Sundance winner and Oscar nominee Trouble the Water, also released by Zeitgeist, has compelling protagonists, it’s fundamentally about Hurricane Katrina. But what makes the film riveting is the you-are-there video footage that was shot during and immediately after the storm. Zeitgeist co-presidents Nancy Gerstman and Emily Russo wanted to play that up, so the trailer focuses mainly on that; the stylistic flourish of white flashes with thunderclaps, used metaphorically in other trailers, is used here literally, to recreate the ravages of the hurricane. You see the main characters, but the focus is on the storm and the government’s reaction to the storm. It’s a classic case of “show, don’t tell.”

Sometimes, the most obvious marketing angle isn’t always the right one. Werner Herzog’s Encounters at the End of the World, an affectionate and near-mystical portrait of a group of scientists living in the extreme climates of Antarctica, is narrated by the Bavarian director and is rife with his trademark Teutonic cadence. When I cut the trailer for THINKFilm and Image Entertainment, I saw Herzog as a major selling point; so, using the eerie choral music from the film, I cut together a series of arresting images and accompanied them with Herzog’s joyfully nihilistic ruminations. But THINKFilm president Mark Urman surprisingly suggested that I drop Herzog’s voice. What remained, just the images and the music, became far more intriguing and absorbing, and ultimately far more powerful.

USING SUBTITLES

Years ago, distributors were wary of using subtitles in their trailers for foreign language films and relied on a narrator instead of dialogue to explain the story. More cynical minds might say that it was a lack of faith that audience members didn’t want to see something that wasn’t in English. But there’s a more practical reason: trailers go quickly, and it’s hard to read while so many images are flashing by. These days, trailers now happily carry subtitles. In this digital age, one could argue that people are far more adept at processing a barrage of information quickly. Regardless, subtitles are another tool for trailer editors. The question is, how to use them effectively?

For the most part, I treat foreign language dialogue the same way I treat English dialogue: to advance a story, set a mood and share emotion. The trailer for Cristian Mungiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, released by IFC Films, has 20 subtitles in it. But they convey urgency and tension (“What are you going to do?,” “Once we start, there’s no turning back,” “Want to tell me what’s going on?”). The dialogue doesn’t actually reveal information. It raises questions. The more subtitles, the more tense the trailer gets. (The trailer is also a good example of how to handle sensitive material; nowhere does it mention that the film is an abortion drama. The images hint at the plot, but nothing is explicit).

In the trailer for Tomas Alfredson’s Swedish vampire thriller Let The Right One In, distributed by Magnolia’s genre arm Magnet, I only use three subtitles. Halfway through, there’s a quick exchange: “Are you a vampire? / Would you like me anyway?”; and at the end, “Will you be my girlfriend?” Otherwise, the story in the trailer is told wordlessly, which Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles, as well as former senior vice presidents Tom Quinn and Jeff Reichert, completely supported. The economy of dialogue is helpful from a marketing point of view — there’s a good chance that U.S. horror fans with no knowledge of international cinema might give this one a look, even if they usually avoid subtitles. But less is also more; the spare dialogue increases the dramatic tension in a lovely, somber way.

USING COPY AND NARRATION

Copy and narration are an acquired taste. Because Hollywood movies overuse copy and narration, they can look and feel tired and uninspired. They are also literally disruptive; you’re watching a great image or listening to a line of dialogue, and then suddenly it’s interrupted by some deep bass voice or a card full of text. Conversely, if you can cut a trailer without copy or narration, then the movie is explaining its own story organically. Showing rather than telling is always more interesting, so I try my best to avoid copy and narration whenever possible.

That said, there are always exceptions to the rule. Copy is a great way to set up a premise quickly and economically. In the trailer for Carlos, Olivier Assayas’s sweeping five-hour epic about an international terrorist, released by IFC Films, it helped immensely to have three copy cards at the beginning: “IN THE 1970s AND 1980s / ONLY ONE MAN / COULD HIJACK THE WORLD.” That sets the time, place and global impact within seconds. Because Bill Cunningham New York is an episodic portrait of a man, the trailer uses one-word copy cards that allow an impressionistic structure while reinforcing Cunningham’s identity: PHOTOGRAPHER. / PERFECTIONIST. / LONER. / MAVERICK. / VISIONARY.

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975. Photo by Tom Goetz.

When the premise is more complicated, narration is actually more expedient. Copy cards are good if they are brief. It’s difficult to sustain an idea over multiple cards; after three cards, you risk losing the train of thought. That’s where a narrator is ideal. He or she can express a paragraph in a few seconds, while allowing the audience to focus on a related visual montage that strengthens the trailer’s overall message. IFC Films’ documentary The Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975 is an electrifyingly immediate work of cinema vérité that relies on a few very long copy cards at the beginning to explain that this is long-lost footage shot by a Swedish TV crew during the black power movement in the U.S. But for the trailer, no one on screen says that, and telling all of that exposition on copy cards would slow things down. Instead, Ryan Werner and Shani Ankori requested a narration that delivered the summary context quickly and compellingly.

MAKING A TRAILER ECONOMICALLY

Let’s say there’s just no budget to pay for music (either from a composer or from a music library). Or, even more importantly, the director chose not to use music for thematic reasons. Also, let’s say that there’s no budget for a copywriter or a narrator, either. None of these things is necessarily bad. Practically 99 percent of trailers have music, copy or narration, so those few trailers without them actually have an advantage in terms of standing out from all the others.

Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy, about a down-and-out woman and her dog trying to get to Alaska, deliberately had no music, to accentuate the film’s stark, unsentimental mood. David Fenkel, president of Oscilliscope Laboratories, the film’s distributor, wanted Reichardt to be involved with the marketing, and she and I quickly decided not to use music in the trailer. We also both prefer not to use copy or narration. So that just left the film’s strongest asset: Michelle Williams. But her performance in the film is so riveting that we used her dramatic predicament to create the music and rhythms of the trailer. Her escalating desperation and increasingly extreme circumstances formed the structure of the trailer, and key bits of dialogue accentuated her stress and anxiety. There is innate music in the spoken word, if you listen for it.

IFC Films’ Day Night Day Night was another extreme situation. Julia Loktev’s harrowing depiction of a suicide bomber preparing to sacrifice herself is so narrowly experiential that the viewer never really knows what is happening at any given time. The movie is disorienting, so I tried my best to make the trailer equally so. I found structure in repetition; as the main character goes through her training, she repeats phrases and words that others give her. The natural rhythms that arose were the material that I used to give the trailer a shape and a sense of danger and emotional vertigo. No copy, narration or music was necessary.

REFERENCING THE TITLE

It sounds silly and even somewhat obvious, but if someone in the movie says the title of the film, you should consider using it in the trailer. If the film’s title is cryptic or somewhat elusive, then that dialogue can give it context and possibly even a sense of poetry. Why risk a ticket sale due to confusion about the title?

No one in Half Nelson explains the title. But when we were working on the trailer, we were allowed to use an outtake that explains it: a snippet of audio that intros a piece of music (“This song is called “Half Nelson,” for those times when you’re feeling kind of stuck”). It’s at the beginning of the trailer and was used as a cheat to seem as though Gosling is hearing it on his clock radio.

Morvern Callar has such a strange title that one could be forgiven for not thinking of it as a woman’s name. So at the beginning of the trailer, we use a piece of a phone conversation from the film (“Mervill Coller?” “No, Morvern Callar”) that makes light of the name — and we also show a computer screen where the name is being typed.

NO RULES, ONLY GUIDELINES

Everything I have written so far can be disproved by another trailer that I (or someone else) has done. My ideal trailer doesn’t have copy, narration or subtitles. But one of my favorite trailers is for Matteo Garrone’s Gomorrah, which I cut for IFC Films and which has — guess what? Very lengthy copy cards, a healthy dollop of narration and loads of subtitles. It’s incredibly helpful to have a three-act structure, with three distinct music cues. But the trailer for L.I.E. has exactly one song and only one act.

You never really know what shape a trailer will take until you start cutting it. Look at the film’s assets, weigh its limitations, and then find a rhythm and structure that works best. There is no one perfect way to cut a trailer. A movie can have five different trailers, all of which take a different approach and all of which do a great job selling the product.

A TRAILER IS ITS OWN FILM

Trailers have their own internal logic and should function separately from the movie they are promoting. If cut well, a trailer can be something you want to watch again and again. But (of course!) it should also make you want to see more.

In most cases, unfortunately, people may only ever see the trailer. That’s why trailers should never resolve anything. If a trailer gives too much away, then viewers might feel like they’ve already seen the whole movie and don’t need to look at the film. Always leave them wanting more. A trailer, cut well, needs to arouse, provoke, seduce and beguile. These are romantic adjectives, which is the point; you need to make viewers fall in love with your film even before they have seen it. Again, trailers are about promise and possibility. They have to tap into irrational and emotional impulses. They have to invoke a sense of want and need. To paraphrase Shakespeare by way of John Huston, they are the stuff that dreams are made of.

The Realities of Trailer Marketing

By Dan Schoenbrun

For independent filmmakers hoping to use an appealing trailer to create interest in their undistributed film, the process of getting a trailer into a movie theater or onto a mainstream digital platform like iTunes or Yahoo is something of a Catch-22. Independent filmmakers want their trailers seen in these venues in order to increase exposure for their projects, but it’s nearly impossible to get placement in either venue unless a project is already quite exposed.

Let’s start with theaters. Filmmakers going the DIY route, or who have partnerships with small, niche distributors, should all but count out the possibility of getting their trailers into the major theatrical chains. These theaters generally show four to six trailers before a feature. Two of these slots are allotted to the studio releasing the feature, and the remaining trailers are decided on by theater executives based on demographic research. It’s a well-oiled system, with no clear entry point for small independent filmmakers — especially if their films aren’t playing at the chains in question.

Independently owned theaters provide an entirely different quandary. These theaters generally only show trailers for films that they will be playing. Elliott Kanbar of Manhattan’s Quad Cinema elaborated on this practice in an e-mail to Filmmaker, explaining, “It’s an important aspect of marketing films. Trailers are owned by the filmmakers/distributors and they require the exhibitor to play them in advance of the film opening.” Filmmakers four-walling a theater should expect that theater to play their trailer in advance of the run; again, though, others will have a hard time.

It can be just as difficult and costly to get a trailer into the mainstream digital realm. Yes, iTunes and Yahoo both allow open trailer submissions. (iTunes’ contact address is [email protected], and Yahoo’s is [email protected], but note that each site has specific instructions about what details to send.) Both sites are also quite selective about the trailers that they accept. As a prerequisite for consideration, iTunes requires that films already have a theatrical run planned, or have been “accepted to a major film festival.” Meanwhile, Yahoo’s submission form asks the filmmaker to specify release date and distributor, two fields that should give an idea as to how far along they expect their trailer submissions to be. A simple perusal of either site’s current trailer roster confirms that both iTunes and Yahoo favor studio films and indies being released by large distributors almost unilaterally.

The rare self-distributed title does make it onto iTunes (recent examples being Jennifer Fox’s My Reincarnation and Tze Chun’s Children of Invention), but these projects generally have a good deal of hype behind them before they reach Apple. In an e-mail, Invention producer Mynette Louie discussed how that film’s festival run was an asset in getting it on iTunes. “They actually first posted our [trailer] in May ’09, four months after we played Sundance, while we were in the thick of the fest circuit,” Louie explained. “Then when we did a theatrical release in Feb ’10, we just e-mailed again to ask to repost on their homepage, but offered them two exclusive clips of the film as well. When you do this, they have more incentive to post/feature [your film].”

Trailer Jargon

By Dan Schoenbrun

Thanks to the increased prevalence of digital trailer platforms like iTunes and Yahoo, the days when editors could deliver trailers entirely on celluloid are long past. Nowadays, in order to cut a trailer for both theatrical and digital use, editors require a long list of costly deliverables. To give filmmakers an idea of the complexity of this process, here’s a brief glossary of items and terms used by the trailer editor. — D.S.

HDCAM MASTER The HDCAM Master is what an editor will create the trailer’s various video elements from, including the DCP (digital cinema projection file), the current standard for digital projections in movie theaters. It’s also the version that will eventually be used to create the trailer’s 35mm theatrical print. The standard HDCAM Master features four tracks of audio, but one can also use an HDCAM SR, which features 12 tracks.

Be sure to include a time-coded version of the trailer on your HDCAM Master, as well as a textless version (one that includes graphics, but no actual text). This will come in handy when the trailer is needed for overseas use or if the distributor requires a clip for inclusion on a tribute reel.

PRORES QUICKTIME FILE Most trailer editors don’t own HDCAM decks, so they need to edit from a ProRes Quicktime file. Make sure you’re editing on a time-coded export, as all non-HD footage will eventually need to be matched back to the original HDCAM Master, a process that requires the rental of a post-production facility with an HD editing bay.

ASPECT RATIO If your trailer will be shown theatrically, the editor must create two versions in order to conform to both flat (1.85) and scope (2.35) aspect ratios. It’s cost-effective for editors to first create a version in the flat aspect ratio and then simply pillar-box, a process in which black bars are added to the left and right sides of the screen in order to expand it to scope.

AUDIO MIX Editors must create two audio mixes for a trailer: one in 5:1 and one in stereo. A 5:1 mix is required in most movie theaters and is three times more complicated to create than a stereo mix. Stereo is preferred across digital platforms. For most theatrical screenings, the trailer also needs to be certified by Dolby. Filmmakers should also make sure that their Pro-Tools audio-mixing session is saved, in case an element (such as a song with an expired license) needs to be replaced later on.

AUDIO STEMS Distribution companies commonly require editors to create different versions of the trailer’s audio, each one lacking certain elements. Most common is an M&E stem, a version of the trailer that contains music and effects only and which needs to be created in both 5:1 and stereo. Also commonly required is a dialogue-only stem, but this stem is needed in stereo only. These stems are necessary if the trailer is to play on a program like Access Hollywood, or as part of an EPK, where only certain audio elements are featured.

35mm PRINT Many theaters don’t screen DCPs, so the editor will need to create a 35mm print from the HDCAM Master. For 35mm, an optical soundtrack must be created and then wedded to the print. Luckily, though, both stereo and 5:1 mixes can be embedded onto the same print, so if the trailer is screened in a smaller, non-Dolby theater, it will still sound fine.