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it's all about the art of storytelling

Trailer Editing : The Art of Juxtaposition

3 Comments

I believe many people understand the functions of a Movie Trailer :

It has to be exciting, captivating, alluring, drawing, informing… the list goes on and on…

In short, it wanted your attention so that you will catch the movie!

The continuous winning formula in majority hollywood trailers that crowds our cinemas are those with template formulas of heart stopping sound effects punctuated with many fade ins and outs.

Personally, I find these trailers boring. They all look the same.

Recently, a very special trailer catch my eyes – The Cloud Atlas Extended Trailer.

This trailer defies the formula of short + sweet and instead goes all the way to a length of more than 5mins. The trailer literally brings you on a ride… in all directions and left you hanging for more.

It applies all the format of a good trailers: strong music, clever sound bites, showcase of big cast. However, i’m most impressed by its ability to tell a very complicated story in an “extended” short period of time.

And for the longest time, (with the exceedingly faster cuts employ these days) I am finally able to watch all the cuts clearly. I can see the cuts!

I shared excitedly with a friend about this trailer and  my view of its excellent editing. My friend ask : how do you gauge a good edit?

So I decide to take a closer look at this trailer, how did it manage to entice me even though i’m completely confused by its genre.

On first look, it makes no sense crossing from historical to romantic to sci-fi to action and then cris-crossing back and forth. It does seems like an overly complicated film.

Well, to start of, all good story telling has a strong theme as a back bone. (Even if it is only a trailer) This close to mini-short film trailer has a clever theme : EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED.

This seemingly ambiguous trailer has done a good job in helping you to connect them subconsciously. Each sound bites or visuals are cleverly juxtaposed with the next sound or visuals.

For example, the first act of the trailer shows an old man sitting by the bed side, reading. It seems that he was reading a book the young man picked up. But later, we saw him put down a letter. Cut to a woman reading a letter. Such parallel juxtaposition of two letters quickly link two sets of images set in different time and space together brilliantly. Somehow, a spell has casted on you. You know you are on the way to a magic world…

The editor helps to connects the dots for you by piecing the jigsaw puzzles and yet leaving some pieces empty, so that you can use your own imagination to fill them up.

We are living in a visual chaos millennium. Audiences can conjure their own visual stories way faster then previously. I believe it is more about what you show rather than how fast and how many you show.

A good editor is also a strong summarizer. We are constantly sieving through tones of footages and pick up those that are useful in telling the story.

If you want to train yourself as an editor, it maybe a good idea to start with editing a movie trailer. It forces you to only pick the most essential shots in order to tell the story (you want to tell).

But of course, this particular film has a unique story to begin with. There are 3 directors!!

Many people think that a good trailer is usually about understanding rhythm and pace. But I defer. It is a lot more than that. The art of juxtaposition will take you further.

If you like to understand the fundamental of what it means to be a good cut, this course maybe a right one of you to attend.

Continue to visit my training courses page for updates.

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3 thoughts on “Trailer Editing : The Art of Juxtaposition

  1. Now THAT’S a trailer!

  2. A brilliant trailer and a film in its own right. And of course, the film itself is an editing tour de force.

  3. Exactly! My biggest admiration is towards the 3 directors decision to create a long and complicated story… away from the norm of hollywood. 🙂

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