Chicken Scratches and a Trailer

I’m not sure what compels me to make book trailers. They aren’t very effective as far as advertisements go, not mine, at least. Like who really says, “I think I might want to read a book. Perhaps, I should watch some book trailers to decide which one.”

No one.

No one does that.

And yet, I persist. I think part of me just wants to prove to myself that I can do it…again?

So I did put together a trailer for Desmond Winters in the Realms of the Caged Sun. I really wanted an animated trailer; it is a book for kids, after all. Not crazy Disney-level animation but some variety of drawings moving on the screen.

I found some free animation software. The concept looked really great, but it was endlessly complicated and didn’t save my file properly one night after I’d worked on it for hours.

I also looked at using Flash. I actually have that software already. I can’t remember why it didn’t work out. It might have been due to my extremely rusty Flash skills. What I did end up using is PowerPoint. It does a few things with animation and worked okay.

But first, as with most of my projects, I started out with some chicken scratches. Step one was writing the words, and then I decided what images would go with those words.

Here’s a picture of what my semi-coherent notes look like.

trailer notes

Pretty, right? 🙂

I cranked up the contrast to try to make my chicken scratches stand out a little better. You might be able to bigify the picture if you click on it.

So we have 3 columns on the first 2 pages: script notes, animation notes, and timing of each component. I tried to allow adequate time for people to read the words on the screen.

Then I drew up the images in Fireworks, except for the sun at the beginning of the trailer. I did that one in Photoshop because I wanted to paint it.

Each moving part is a different drawing. There’s a beastie that’s a combination of a mole and a bat, and that drawing is a combination of 4 different image files if you count the fireball.

Animation in PowerPoint is pretty limited because it’s not really built for that sort of thing. There is an animation panel that you have to add to the interface through a setting. Here’s what the pane looked like for one of the slides.

animation pane

Once I had the animations finished, I picked some music. Then I hired a guy on Fiverr to do the voiceover. He was super nice.

Oh, I also edited the video in Windows Movie Maker. With PowerPoint, you can export slideshows as videos. I had to add the music and the voice separately, and I think I added them both in Windows Movie Maker.

The whole project probably took a couple of weeks of evening work time (maybe it was 3?) and I only spent $5 on the voice guy.

Here’s the finished product.

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Preorder is Up

Hey, hey! The ebook for my upcoming middle-grade fantasy, Desmond Winters in the Realms of the Caged Sun, is now up for preorder on Amazon at this link. The preorder is up a tad later than I wanted it to be but that’s okay. The book officially comes out on 2/28. The paperback should be out on the same day, but there’s no preorder for it. There will also be a hardcover, but I’m not sure if that will be out the same day.

This project has been a huge deal for me, and I’m really excited about it! I’ll have a lot more info in the next couple of weeks, so be sure to stay tuned.

des-ebook-cover