I’m somewhat sleepy today. I spent several late hours working on a video trailer. Since I’m just starting to promote my latest book, “The Time of the Cat,” I don’t have many sales, although a bunch of free copies have gone out on Kindle. With no real income on this project as yet, I thought that I’d try my hand at creating my own trailer rather than spending my cash.
Now, I’m not unfamiliar with making digital videos, but I’m absolutely not a video person. I once spent around $5 million setting up a post-production studio for a company, but that was in a different life and a long time ago. Even so, I never got into the production end of the business.
So, when you’re a novice and need video on-the-cheap, what do you do? Well, I have an Animoto subscription that I purchased for another project about a year ago. I’d done one video using it and then had ignored it. However, I remembered that I’d had a good experience with the software then, so I logged back in and set to work.
There are a number of steps that you should probably take when creating a video. The first is determining your target audience. My book is science fiction/adventure with heavy action throughout, that more or less predetermined my audience profile. As a result, (see the fourth step, part g below) I selected a musical track that features hard, driving, techno-type music with a heavy beat. It might not be your cup of tea, but I felt that it fit very well with the action theme of the book.
The second step is to script the video and I should probably have made that a formal step, but, hey, the book itself is a pretty good script – I just tried to pick some of the characters and highlight scenes and locations to integrate.
The third step is to come up with the video content. I simply used my existing artwork or artwork I created with a couple of paint packages, along with a few public-domain pictures and some pictures that I already had. The story is centered around a complex alien invasion and the aliens are pretty nasty and scary. I believe that your imagination is a far better medium than my art, so I tried to just hint at their characteristics to give you a starting point.
I also used sections of the wonderful cover art that was created for me by Kris Krygier. I selected portions of the picture, cropped them and saved them to show the space theme and the main characters. With the pictures of Dec, Liz, Jefferson (the cat) and one of the nastier alien forms, I simply showed them as they were drawn.
Fourth: With all of my materials gathered into one folder on my computer, I uploaded all of the artwork at once into the Animoto video creator. This is a great piece of software and is very easy to use. As a long-time programmer and software designer (started with the Apple II in the Paleolithic), I usually find software easy to learn. I’ve got a test for good software; if it can be used in a few minutes without reference to any instructions, then the design is excellent. Animoto fits that category and so I’m not going to try and describe how to use it to you. You’ll be able to figure it out, trust me.
There are some steps in the video creation process that you must take in sequence, though. a) I first selected the style of video that I wanted — a flashy, quick-change-of-images style. b) Then I arranged the pictures in the order that mostly followed the story-line. This arrangement is just a suggestion to the style I selected, since it sticks pieces of pictures in the background at random and repeats itself at times. c) It does allow you to “highlight” selected images and the effect of that is to expose them for a little longer to the viewer. I used that to place emphasis on the cover art and the main characters of the story.
After that was done, I went back and d) added some sub-titles to some of the pictures in the video. I didn’t want too much text; it’s not necessary. The pictures are more or less self-explanatory and the idea is to get you to want to read the story anyway.
Finally, e) I stuck my picture on the front as a logo and f) set up a link to the book’s page on Kindle. Both of these actions are easy to do. Animoto provides a special logo set-up that allows you to choose the animation effect and it also provides a “call-to-action” button setup that creates a link to an external site. Before previewing the production, I g) selected the background musical track from the extensive list provided by Animoto.
All that was left to do was to h) click on the Produce button and decide where to place the video. I chose Youtube and my book blog: DeclanDunham.com. Animoto also provides a convenient Tweet button so that the video link may be easily promoted.
Creating the trailer was a snap; a three-hour, after midnight snap. I’m sleepy this morning, but pretty satisfied with the result. Here it is — turn up your speakers and watch, then let me know what you think.
Find it here — Kindle Store