The Nicholas Sparks Formula

Romantic drama trailers generally start with longer scenes,

Much like romantic drama trailers, the movie posters also follow a consistent formula.

setting up the character back stories and providing context for the rest of the trailer. I struggled a lot with setting the scene because I changed the plot significantly. In the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall,the main character goes to Hawaii after a bad breakup, but I wanted to convey the idea that he was traveling to Hawaii after a serious medical diagnosis. The scene I used in the trailer was a short scene from the movie in which the main character is visiting a pediatrician. I removed the sound from the scene and took only a small portion, where the doctor says something with a serious look on his face and the main character hangs his head in response. Using that scene and title pages I relied heavily on semiotics to set up the trailer.

According to the article, “Semiotics” a sign is “an object, quality or event whose presence or occurrence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else (Edgar-Hunt, Marland, & Rawle, p.18).” The presence of a man dressed as a doctor is a sign, as well as the expressions on the characters’ faces. But these signs only contain the meaning given to them by the viewer; the cognitive reaction a viewer has to the signs gives them meaning (Edgar-Hunt, Marland, & Rawle, p.24). The plot of my trailer relies on viewers mental evaluation that the man dressed as a doctor is in fact a doctor, and that the solemn expressions are because the main character is receiving bad, medical news. Because there is no sound, and the titles do not say what medical news the main character received, the diagnosis is up to the viewer. According to Scott McCloud in Understanding Comics, the reader, or viewer, fills in the empty spaces of a story with their imagination (p. 68-69). Much like the example given by McCloud of a character who is killed between comic panels suffering endless deaths, the main character in the trailer is given endless diagnoses (p. 68-69).

Some other techniques used in romantic drama trailers, that I applied in my trailer included music and text. Many romantic trailers have a swell in dramatic music as short clips play, increasing the intensity toward the end of the trailer. Often, during this sequence of clips, there is some dramatic dialogue from the film. The dialogue adds to the tension and emotion created in the end of the trailer. Text is another tool used in romantic drama trailer. Text is often used in the form of title shots, used to set up the story or increase emotion through cliché, dramatic lines. For example, in the trailer for the new Nicholas Sparks film trailer, Safe Haven (Hallstrom, 2013), the lines “it’s not what you are running from; it’s what you are running to” flash across title screens. Text is also used in this genre to introduce the actors and actresses in the film; the name of the actor appears across a soundless clip of that actor as music plays.

I had some difficulty with the title screens in my trailer, because I am new at working with Premiere and I am a perfectionist. I would have liked to add more dimension to the background and have the text move in different ways across the screen. Despite these limitations, I tried to make the title pages visually appealing by applying some of the concepts discussed by Kim Golombisky and Rebecca Hagen in White space is not your enemy. I didn’t want to make the titles too boring by just centering all of the type, so I used two lines of type that were slightly askew to create more visually interesting title pages (p. 72-73). I did leave most of the title pages blank though, with the idea that white space can be good and give the title page a clean, simple look (p. 75). Simplicity is especially important for the title pages, because the viewer needs to quickly read the text, not be distracted by other design elements. To liven up the design I used a bright, fun color that fit with the color scheme of Hawaii and its tropical water.

One other aspect of the video editing I had trouble with was synching the audio and the video. When I imported the movie, the audio and video were not synchronized. In order to fix the synchronization, I made sure to capture all of the audio and video I needed in the sub clip, then, I unlinked the audio and video and shifted the audio in the timeline until it was synchronized. Sometimes I would have to zoom in really far on the timeline in order to move the audio just the right amount. Once synched, I cut the excess video and audio at the beginning and end of the clip. After re-synchronizing the clips and using audio transitions I think the audio is fairly smooth. Rough transitions between dialogue and music, as well as drastic volume differences, really bother me and distract from the content of the trailer, so I tried to carefully adjust all of the audio.

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