5 Key Tips To Edit A Great Trailer

By Kevin Graham

When it comes to trailers, most people think of the high-energy productions that preview an upcoming feature film.

But these days, everything seems to have a trailer: events, album releases, documentaries, music videos, retail products, and even books. And if you can learn to take advantage of this key aspect of marketing your project (whatever it may be), you’ll build more hype and get in front of more viewers. 

That’s why we’re going to give you 5 keys to editing a great trailer.

#1 – Music

Apart from the actual content you’re promoting, the single most important element of a trailer is its music. Music not only sets the tone and pace for the viewer, but it can also give you a foundation to build the edit around in the first place.

Trailer music should be dynamic and easy to edit to. It should also have multiple, escalating levels of intensity, which serve to build the edit to a pivotal moment (or multiple, more on that in a bit).

Trailers are usually short and fast-paced, so editing yours to follow a suitable piece of music will keep your viewers engaged and keep your story moving forward.

At Filmpac, we’ve created a playlist full of tracks written specifically for use in trailers. So if you’re looking for that perfect piece of music for your trailer, this is the place to start.


#2 – Generate Questions

Where is this?

Who are they?

What is that?

If you want to create an engaging trailer, you should think of it as an elaborate Q&A. You want to generate a question that the viewer wants answered, and then answer it after a period of time in the edit.

This creates suspense and keeps your audience glued to the screen.


By the time it’s over, a good trailer will have provided enough context to inform a viewer of what the product is (film, book, festival, etc.), who the main characters are, and who the target audience is.

But it’s the manner in which this information is delivered that sets a great trailer apart from a good one.

#3 – Use Multiple Builds

A great way to mix things up and keep your viewers on the edge of their seats is to have multiple climactic moments within a trailer, rather than just one.

Think of a good fireworks show: just when you think it’s the grand finale, they launch even more and take it to a whole new level.

Trailers are the same way.


Having two or more builds in your edit, separated by brief pauses or breaks, creates energy and contrast and allows the viewer to better process key information. Where these builds and climaxes fall in the edit is up to you; they can be anywhere from the opening sequence to after the title and credits.

Some music tracks are already perfect for this, but you can also edit your music or use multiple tracks to create a solid foundation for multiple builds within your trailer.

#4 – Keep It Simple

Just like a demo reel, a trailer is not the place to get too fancy with effects, transitions, or graphics, unless they specifically tie in with the story, or they’re on-brand with the product itself.

Think about it: you have a limited amount of time to sell your product to the viewer. The last thing you need is for them to be distracted by unnecessary visual elements.


You can add lines of copy where applicable, typically over black, but you should only add what is absolutely necessary to fill in the blanks.

Aside from that, you can leave the overlays, templates, and VFX elements on the shelf.

A common transition effect that you WILL find in trailers is the use of fades, both to and from black. In fact, a sequences of quick fades is a classic hallmark of a traditional movie trailer sequence.

#5 – Create An Action Step

So you’ve made the perfect trailer, and your viewer is hooked.

So, now what?

If you don’t give your audience a clear action to take, you might as well have not made a trailer to begin with.


Providing your product’s release date, and where the viewer can access it, is the bare minimum of what you should include.

Beyond this, you can push them to sign up for an exclusive mailing list, send them to your website, or anything else that gets more people interacting with your brand.

The odds are your trailer isn’t only going to be screened in a theater, so be sure to take advantage of the ability to add extra copy and hyperlinks, wherever you share!


Creating a great trailer is hard work, and it takes some trial and error to really get right. But with these 5 tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of the trailer.

Because when a trailer does its job, your new product or project will be set up for maximum success.

Kevin is the Music Director and Lead Composer at FIlmpac.

FILMPAC Filmpac is a premium stock footage + music membership library.