Lights, Camera, Video!

I was going to say action but…

I wanted a short promotional video for my next novel, as I’m trying to do a lot more to advertise the fact that it’s on the way.

I had a look at all sorts of companies and software that guaranteed me a great product, and then I saw the price, while I don’t mind paying for something good, I wondered if I couldn’t manage it myself.

I guess it’s all connected with my career. Being on a ship, miles from anywhere 40 years ago, if something broke, you had to mend it (or find a way to cope without it). It’s probably the same now, ships might be faster and communications better but crews are smaller. I know of one ship’s officer who had to remove an appendix from a crewman in the middle of the Pacific, no choice there, he did it successfully and all was well. While I never had to be quite so radical (I only ever gave injections and sewed people up), I did develop the ability to make or modify, to keep things running and to innovate where I had too.

Making a video isn’t quite as crucial as some of the things I’ve had to do, but I like to think that I can have a go at most tasks. Maybe not live-action movie making but a ninety-second book trailer ought to be within my capabilities?

Not only that, if I could master the art, I could make as many videos as I wanted, for no extra cost. My only outlay would be the time involved.

I found that I already had most of the things I needed, a graphics programme (Canva), determination and time.

I used a well-known search engine to find Royalty free pictures (Pixabay) and music (Purple-Planet), and a free video production programme called OpenShot.

Now that’s all well and good, of course, you don’t just need the tools, you need the ideas. I spent a while looking at other video trailers for inspiration. As I said before, live action is out of the question, there are alien planet location difficulties! An animation was a no-go. I can’t draw and it would take me too long anyway (I have a life). The most accessible format seemed to be the slideshow, using a music track to synchronise with the slides and produce tension and excitement.

I looked online for advice and made up a storyboard (a list of the points), breaking down the message I wanted to convey into short sentences. I decided on the theme, dark and mysterious and found a great piece of music.

Using Canva, I turned my storyboard ideas into slides. When I had saved them all, I added it all together, listening to the music gave me the placement of the images, for maximum effect. When I had them arranged and all the transitions (fades) sorted out, I simply pressed record. It was as easy as that.

The first version was OK, but I could see a few things that could be changed. After a bit of tweaking, this is the current version.

It’s not Cameron or Speilberg, by any stretch of the imagination. It’s not even the finished article but it’s a start. I’ve used a mock-up of my book cover, which will need to be replaced with the real one when I get it, but I’m pretty happy with how it’s come out. Now I’ve got the video bug, and I know roughly what I’m doing, writing duties may well become secondary for a while as I play with my new toys. I might even make videoes for all my other books as well.

I’ll be back on Thursday with another Showcase, see you then.


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