The Art of Trailer Editing
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Learn how professional trailer editors craft captivating teasers and promos to promote films, businesses, TV shows & social media 

The Art of Trailer Editing
Divider Text

Learn how professional trailer editors craft captivating teasers and promos to promote films, businesses, TV shows & social media 

 Introduction to Trailer Editing 
Behold! The trailer. A short, powerful and deceptively simple piece that requires a whole different set of editing skills.

For example:

- Do you know how to deconstruct a 4 minute music cue to make it fit within a 2 minute trailer? How about a 1 minute teaser? Or a 30 second spot?

- What’s the best way to simplify a complex story into a couple minutes, without confusing your viewer?

- How about when, where and HOW to use layers of sound design to enhance a thrill, punctuate a joke or build suspense in a very short period of time.

You might think, it’s only a minute or two in length, how hard could it possibly be?


- Chris MacDonald
Lesson #1
Trailer Editing 101: Secrets of the Craft
 Trailer Editing vs Film Editing 
Both film editing and trailer editing require a keen eye for detail and a flair for storytelling. However, they each serve distinct purposes and use very different techniques.
Film editing focuses on crafting a cohesive and immersive narrative, ensuring that the story flows seamlessly over its entire duration. It involves slower pacing, gradual character development, and emotional arcs to engage the audience from beginning to end.
Trailer editing is about creating a powerful and concise preview that hooks the audience within a few minutes. This process relies heavily on music and sound design to move the story quickly and with energy. In a trailer, every second counts.
Free Download
The 31-Step Trailer Editing Checklist
SOFTWARE: Any Editing Software
Discover a quick, step-by-step process to cutting your next amazing trailer in this free Trailer Editing Checklist
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The 50 Editing Tips eBook
SOFTWARE: Any Editing Software
Get 50 creative film editing tips from professional Hollywood editors in this free eBook.
 Trailer editing techniques are used everywhere. 
Trailers are for more than just movies. Once you learn the fundamental techniques, you can edit a trailer to promote just about anything...
Product & Business Promos
Use a trailer to promote and sell anything. These are effective at converting viewers into purchasers of physical products, services and all manner of digital offerings like The Art of Trailer Editing editing course
YouTube Channel Trailers
Cut a trailer to introduce an audience to a YouTube channel. This promo will use narration, music and sound design to quickly explain what the channel offers and excite the viewer while encouraging them to watch more and/or subscribe.
Online Advertising
Trailers and promos are used constantly in paid advertising campaigns. This includes Meta (Facebook) ads, Instagram ads, Tiktok ads and YouTube ads, just to name a few. The fundamentals of trailer editing all apply to this world as well.
Event Teasers
Trailers and promos are useful for drawing attention to an event just as easily as a film or product. Conventions, meet-ups, product launches, weddings...anything you need to draw attention to.
Social Media Promos
Any social post or promo can be made more engaging and likely to grow an audience by applying basic trailer editing techniques.
 We use trailers all the time to promote our own stuff. 
Product Teaser
YouTube Channel Trailer
Online Ad
Movie Trailer
The art of trailer editing relies heavily on music & sound design.
Most of you are probably already familiar with the basics of music and sound design. Trailers, however, require a level of knowledge far beyond the basics.

Trailer editing is by far the most sound-design intensive style of editing you could ever attempt, and as such, it’s important that we spend a bit of time discussing the finer points on the subject.

What is Trailer Sound Design?
Sound Design is artificially-created or enhanced sound used to manipulate the mood of a scene or simulate the audio of non-existent things such as lasers, alien roars, etc.

Some common types of trailer sound design include:

Fast-moving, airy sound effects that create a sense of speed or motion, often used to emphasize swift actions or transitions.

These sound effects are similar to whooshes but quicker and with less bass. These lean more toward comedic accents.

Sudden, sharp sound effects that add impact or emphasis to actions such as punches, door slams, or explosions, creating a sense of immediacy and force. Also great for adding intensity to a music cue.

Gradually increasing sound effects that build in intensity and pitch, used to heighten tension, suspense, or excitement leading up to a climactic moment.

Like hits but much bassy'er and with a long trail out, power-downs are ideal for halting the music and momentum of a piece in a lull where important visuals and dialogue lines are often delivered.

Reversed or inward-pulling sound effects that create a vacuum or suction-like sensation, often used to build anticipation or transition smoothly between scenes.

Stingers are like a suckback, a hit and a whoosh all layered together. They've got a medium to long lead-up, a sharp whooshing accent and a ringout.

Continuous, low-frequency sound effects that provide a steady, immersive background, often used to create an atmosphere of tension, unease, or to maintain a certain mood.

Often made with cymbal sounds, swells are typically used to accent dramatic and emotional moments in a trailer, usually layered on top of key music beats.

Rhythmic, repetitive sound effects that create a sense of movement or urgency, often used to enhance the pacing of a scene or to underscore a heartbeat-like tension.

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