App Trailers for Dummies

When you are developing for iOS having an app trailer seems to be standard nowadays. With thousands of apps out there and people’s attention span in our busy world getting shorter, a trailer is ideal for communicating what your app is about without taking up much time.

Today I’ll sum up what I’ve learned doing the teaser and the final trailer for Pocket Nature.

  • Length. Most tutorials recommend between one and two minutes max. My teaser is 1:53 which I felt justified because it included real world footage. The final trailer is a bit over a minute. Remember: people’s attention span nowadays is short. Don’t bore them, keep them interested!
  • Music and structure. I’ve studied several tutorials on film trailers and they recommend choosing your music first, then structure your trailer around it. I found that to be really good advice because it’s easier to arrange your clips (or stretch, shorten them) then to change the pace of the music.
  • Rhythm. When you watch movie trailers you’ll notice that the images almost always fit the rhythm of the music. Try to do that, it’s worth it. For my teaser I got feedback from viewers that they liked the syncing of music and footage.
  • Tell a story. Film trailer tutorials recommend having 2-3 distinct parts (e.g. intro, suspense, resolve). But for a puzzle game like Tetris this obviously is not really feasible. For my teaser I chose two parts, one with real world footage, then the contrasting mood of the app (again synced to music).
    For the release trailer I also tried to structure it into parts: slow beginning, ducks, unicorn in the middle, then UI and photo mode at the end.
  • Software.I recorded the real life footage using my iPhone. The in app clips were recorded from the simulator using “Sound Stage“, a screen recording app from the Mac App Store (unfortunately it looks like it has been discontinued). For recording simulator audio I use Soundflower which lets you redirect your Mac’s sound-out stream for recording using e.g. Audacity. For audio editing I used Audacity and Logic Pro for the Midi parts. Video editing was done in iMovie. Syncing clips to music with iMovie is not ideal, so maybe one day I’ll invest int higher end software like Vegas or Final Cut. But for €14,- iMovie is a steal and does the job.
  • Mood. Try to establish a mood that matches you app. In my case the goal was to show that the app is a relaxing toy that you want to use after a stressful day. You’d be surprised how music choice and editing can change the mood of a trailer. (Two of my favorite examples http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T5_0AGdFic and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmkVWuP_sO0)
  • Learn. Watch other trailers. Decide which ones you like and most importantly analyze why you like them and also why you find others bland or boring.
  • Prerequisites in the app. Since I recorded the simulator I had to add support to Pocket Nature that would simulate accelerometer input via touch.
  • Effort.The teaser took about two days to make. One day for shooting, one for editing. Same goes for the release trailer.

And now finally, here are the two clips.

Pocket Nature trailer

Pocket Nature teaser

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