As the kind of person that enjoys being drawn into movies, taking a step back and analyzing the characteristics of movie trailers is difficult for me. I usually just let the shot transitions, music, and pacing of the trailers work their magic. However, there are many other important components of trailers, such as length of trailer and shots, narration, typography, and audio synchronization, which affect viewers and are never really noticed. Personally, I have to watch the trailers multiple times to notice such details, but afterwards I am able noticed the similarities they share.
Action and sci-fi movie trailers, such as Prometheus, Total Recall, and Looper are typically made up of short, fast paced shots, intense or dramatic music. Prometheus used a lot of audio from the movie, which is synchronized to the trailer or played over important shots in the movie. In comparison Total Recall contained much more synchronized audio, and Looper had a mix of narrative from the main character, Joe (Joseph Gordon Levitt), and synchronized of audio from the movie.
Comedies like Project X and Mirror Mirror are fast paced with some longer shots throughout. They both use upbeat music, which fades out when synchronized audio plays, but Mirror Mirror also has some dramatic music and a voice over narrator to add to the fairy tale drama. Project X uses creative and modern typography, which is only used for the title shots, and Mirror Mirror has a characteristic, fairy tale typography for its title shots.
Fantasy movie trailers, like that of The Hobbit, Life of Pi, and Cloud Atlas are moderately paced with a mix of long and short shots. The music in all three trailers is suspenseful, with The Hobbit holding a darker tone and Life of Pi a lighter tone. All three movies used synchronized audio at some point during their trailer, but Life of Pi used noticeably less. The typography in the trailer for The Hobbit was block lettering and had some medieval influence, in Cloud Atlas it was whimsical, and in Life of Pi typography was very simple. The Life of Pi used typography throughout the (up to eleven times), but was only dedicated to the plot half the time. Additionally, it is important to point out that Cloud Atlas had the longest trailer; it is about six minutes long and the movie is longer than the typical two hours.
In general, movie trailers are very similar in style. The average trailer is about two minutes long, and the genre of the film dictates the overall pacing of the trailer. Such as a fast pacing in three recut movies into trailers of thrillers: Princess Bride Recut Trailer and Titanic-Recut Trailer. The types of transitions between shots seem limited to fade-ins, fade-outs, straight cuts, and dissolve transitions. Additionally, every trailer used some sort of synchronized audio from the movie as well as suspenseful or intense music. The amount of typography seems to correlate with the amount of dialogue within the movie, as in Life of Pi; it is probably harder to make trailers that explain the plots of movies with less dialogue. This is also true for recut trailers, which have less dialogue that would apply to the new genre they present. However, the recut trailers I watched only used typography a maximum of three times and depended more on music and audio that was not synchronized to set the tone of the trailer.
Official Trailers: Prometheus, Total Recall, Looper, Project X, Mirror Mirror, The Hobbit, Life of Pi, Cloud Atlas.
Recut Trailers: The Ring Recut (thriller turned drama), Princes Bride Recut Trailer (adventure turned thriller), and Titanic – Recut Trailer (drama/romance turned thriller).