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Hollywood Trailer Editing Basics: Top Visual Devices

In this short post, we’ll be reviewing the main visual devices that are used in professional Hollywood trailers. You’ll rarely see a finished piece without a large number of these combined in different ways throughout the cut.

Check it out…

In this lesson, we’re gonna take a look at a number of key visual editing tools and devices that you’ll commonly see used in trailers, teasers and spots.

Green and Red Band Cards

For U.S. trailers, you’ll often see green bands and red bands at the beginning of a trailer. These are required by the Motion Picture Association of America to let viewers know how if the trailer contains any material that might be inappropriate for younger age groups.

  • The green band means the trailer is probably ok for everyone
  • The red band means there could be things like violence, nudity and cursing.

Hollywood Trailer Editing Visuals Green and Red Cards

Studio Logos

Then we’ve got studio logos, which you’ll typically see near the beginning of a piece to let you know which studios had a hand in the development and distribution of the film.

Next, we have a wide range of different types of graphics.

Date Cards

You’ve got date cards that announce the release date of the film…

Date cards are a common thing in hollywood movie trailers

Copy Cards

Copy cards, which help tell the story of the film quickly and efficiently…

A copy card from a hollywood trailer movie edit

Pedigree Cards

Pedigree cards all give credibility to the film and add excitement by announcing famous actors, writers, directors and producers who were part of the movie.

Which brings up a good point…if your movie has actors no one has ever heard of, leave their names out of your trailer. Nobody is going to care and you’ll waste valuable trailer time which could be better spent on story and style. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it’s true.

A director card is a pedigree card that you will use when editing a hollywood movie trailer

Ok, moving on…

Title Cards

Then you’ve got your main title…

Hollywood movie trailers contain many different types of title cards

End Cards

And your end cards, or billing blocks.

Hollywood trailer edits typically contain billing blocks at the end


Around the end of a trailer, you might also see a button. This isn’t a graphic per say, but rather one last joke, action flourish or powerful line that occurs after the main title, right before the trailer ends.

Additional Visual Devices

There are a bunch of other fairly common things you might encounter in a trailer such as:

  • Dips, fades, and cuts to black…of all shapes and sizes. These help you efficiently move between different parts of the film and also help add impact to the way the shots are presented.
  • You’ll also see picture pushes
  • Swish pans
  • Glows
  • White flashes
  • Inverse images
  • And the occasional flutter cut.

Have you ever stopped to notice any of these while you were watching a teaser, trailer or promo? Did you realize the effect they had on your desire to see the movie? Let us know in the comments below!


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