Nonprofit Film School Appendix: Trailers, Music Videos, and You.

This post assumes that you’re already familiar with the basics of video production. If you’re not, you can get a quick introduction here.

You’re all ready to make a video for your nonprofit. Armed with your camera, editing software, and knowledge, it’s time to dive in. But what type of video are you making? In this blog post, we’ll be talking about trailers, music videos, and other videos that depend on music cues.

When I’m talking about trailers, I’m talking about videos in the style of a movie trailer - you’re providing a short “teaser” of an upcoming event. There’s a few different specific times a nonprofit would want to make a trailer, including big volunteer or fundraising events (walk-a-thons, galas, etc.) and announcing a new program (like we just did at Idealware with our Tactical Tech Training.

Why would you want to make a trailer? What are the benefits? In a trailer, you’re combining music and voiceovers with footage from an actual event. For a movie trailer, that would usually mean actual footage from the movie itself, but for a nonprofit, that probably means you’re using photos and video from past events to give your audience an idea of what to expect this year. These types of videos also benefit from familiarity. Most people are already familiar with movie trailers, and will recognize just from the format what you’re telling them (“We have something coming up that you should be excited about!”). Because of this, you’re completely allowed to borrow elements from actual movie trailers - “In a world gone mad, one organization will rise to the challenge.” You have two goals with your video: 1) get a lot of people to watch it, and 2) get them pumped up.

In a similar vein, there are also music videos. While these aren’t as valuable to nonprofits as a trailer might be, the two share a lot of similar goals and features. Both exist to get an audience excited for something (in this case, instead of a movie or event, it’s a product, the album the music comes from). Both rely heavily on music to convey that message. And both are fun to watch and (hopefully) fun to make.

Trailers and music videos also share one important production tip. Whichever of these types of videos you make you have to cue the images with the music. Major actions, transitions, all the exciting moments--these must happen on the beat. That means that you have to listen to the music over and over, find the beat, and line up all your footage. There doesn’t have to be a new image on every beat, but the more frequent the changes, the more exciting the video. Play with the speed of the transitions to get your audience more engaged. In general, longer takes will go at the beginning, when the music is probably slower or quieter, and faster takes will go towards the end, when you’re building up to the exciting climax.

But the most important tip for these types of videos is to have fun making them. They’re a chance to let your hair down, listen to music, and be a little silly.

Topics: video, Insights
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