Cutting a Trailer
Friday, November 18, 2005

By Janet Jaramillo

With trade shows and television industry conventions coming up in 2006, one of our priorities for the animation, now that the storyboarding is complete, is to cut a trailer. The shows and conventions are an excellent place to grab the attention of a large number of executives and decision makers from the various television networks. With our goal of getting the movie sold as a backdoor pilot, a captivating trailer that is talked about around the venue is key. That being said, cutting the trailer is a very important step in our process of making it to the small screen.

With just under 2,000 pages of storyboards to sift through, creating a three-minute mini movie was no small task. In our case the trailer is not only about telling the story, it is also about showing how beautiful the movie will look. The new Spawn animation is a combination of traditional and 3D animation, and we needed to showcase that as best we could, while still leaving great moments to be revealed while watching the full-length version.

Based on the story and cool shots we wanted to show people, we pulled about nine minute's worth of material. From there we quickly went through and pulled out about five minutes. For example, maybe a scene is four pages (each page has two panels of the story); could we still get the effect across in two shots instead of eight? If the answer was yes, right there we cut a minute while still keeping the desired story point. That was our process of whittling down to a more manageable amount of pages. Once we were close to the length we were shooting for, Todd could come through and choose the final story sequence.

Only Todd knew how he wanted the trailer to look, so it was important that he had input on the final boards we were going to rush into animation. Once TME president Terry Fitzgerald and I had the boards down to four minutes, we showed Todd what we had. Only one scene chosen was completely cut out of the trailer. Otherwise, Todd would say things like, "I only need this one close-up, not the whole sequence," or, "I like the gun, but we don't need to see him pull it out and take aim." Todd's role was primarily visual at this point, as Terry and I had already figured out how to tell a condensed version of our story.

After Todd took his pass at eliminating scenes, we were down to just under three minutes -- exactly where we wanted to be. From here, Terry took his notes and created a list for Film Roman to work from. Between the two of us we double-checked that we had both cut and added everything discussed, and then sent it over to our line producer at Film Roman. At Film Roman they would take an official time of the boards and send them out for animation. All we have left to do is wait. Wait and see how what looks great on paper translates into animation.