How to Make a Picture Book Trailer: NOAH NOASAURUS

My critique and Kidlit411 partner Elaine Kiely Kearns's picture book, NOAH NOASAURUS, illustrated by Colin Jack (Albert Whitman) debuts on April 1. As part of the marketing effort, I made her book trailer using software that comes pre-installed on any Mac.

This is the trailer that we made:

For those of you who are enterprising and don't mind putting in a bit of time, you too can make your own picture book trailer using iMovie and Keynote (the Apple version of Powerpoint). You'll also need some familiarity with Photoshop or your illustrator's help. Briefly, this is the process:

How to Make a Book Trailer using Apple Software & Photoshop 

1. Write a script. Elaine wrote the script for the trailer after studying a bunch of other trailers and figuring out what works. She sent me the text and suggested accompanying images. Her script was so awesome that I didn't change a thing.

2. Compile a rough trailer in iMovie.
  • Import still images from the book (get permission from your publisher) and play around with the text/font options in iMovie to lay out your basic video. Aim to keep each image up for 3.5 to 4 seconds and the overall trailer to run under 1 minute. 
  • Decide which images you want to animate (you'll do that in Keynote). For all the rest, play with the iMovie camera panning options like the Ken Burns effect to make the still images feel dynamic.
  • For audio, either record a voice-over (get a friend, child, or yourself to voice the text) or find copyright free music and lay down a track. YouTube has an audio library of free downloadable music and other services provide copyright free music for free or for a subscription fee (Google "copyright free music")
  • Note: You don't need to have animated elements. You could make your whole trailer in iMovie.
3) Animate sequences in Keynote 

Keynote is Apple's version of Powerpoint that comes installed in Macs. For the images you want to animate, do the following:
  • In Photoshop, separate the foreground characters from the background, or ask your illustrator to provide them in separate files. The characters should be saved with a transparent background in a png file. Fill in the background in the areas where you've cut out the character.
  • In Keynote, create a new slideshow. On a blank slide, insert the background image and the character image you want to animate. Click on the character image and select "Animate." Play with the different ways the element can move (fly into the screen, jiggle, bounce, move, etc.) and play with the timing. When you are happy, export the file as a movie. It should be a clip about 4-7 seconds long.
  • Import the movie clip into iMovie, replacing the still image with the animated sequence. Trim the movie clip to about 4 seconds (trim it in iMovie or play with the timing in Keynote before exporting it). 
  • Repeat for all animated sequences.
4) Enjoy the trailer.

That's it.

I learned how to make a trailer when my book, A MORNING WITH GRANDPA, illustrated by Christina Forshay (Lee & Low Books 2016) came out.

At the time, Christina learned how to animate in Keynote and we worked together to create our trailer. We used a slightly more complicated way to animate (importing just the animated character sequence into iMovie while using the still image in iMovie as the background). This was our trailer:


Let me know if you have any questions. If you're handy with Photoshop, iMovie, and Keynote, it's gratifying to make your own book trailer.

Don't forget to buy Elaine's book at Indiebound, AmazonBarnes & Noble, or
Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)!