You read that right, an iPad.
As part of today’s Force Friday merchandise launch celebrations, Apple retail stores globally are running a series of Star Wars-themed workshops, including one titled “How To: Build Your Own Star Wars Trailer”. And given a fact that these are trailers we’re talking about – we had to check it out.
While it may not have actually had any new The Last Jedi footage featured and more importantly – there’s only so much video editing you can do on iMovie on an iPad (especially when it comes to trailers), it’s still an interesting introduction to the basics of video editing from the context of film trailers and, of course, Star Wars.
The workshop started with what is arguably the most exciting part – Rian Johnson’s 100-second video intro. In the clip, self-described “fan of movie trailers” Johnson runs through some basic tips on trailer-making: the importance of a good rising music track and good shot choices – specifically highlighting dramatic head turns. And then, he signed off and let us have our fun!
Which brings us to the Star Wars materials that the pre-loaded iPads had to offer. On the video side of things, the iMovie app came with the first two trailers for The Force Awakens and the recent first teaser for The Last Jedi broken up into individual shots. The Last Jedi footage was 100% identical to what has previously been released, but on an interesting note – The Force Awakens materials had slightly different shots (from the final film) in place of some bits that we have seen in the early trailers. Maybe it would have been interesting to recreate these trailers in iMovie and see how they played out with these different shots. Alas, as already mentioned, there is only so much you can do…
On the audio and musical side of things, the app featured the broken-down ‘stems’ (separated out music, dialogue and effects tracks) of the three trailers, although given how editing on the iPad version of iMovie works, maybe it would’ve been better to break the dialogue and effects down further to make things easier. The iconic main theme itself, as well as several other musical themes from the original and prequel trilogies, were too available for use as the backing score.
What about the rest of the experience? It was pretty much a starter guide to edit videos on an iPad with iMovie, only approaching it from the context of trailers. The staff members ran through basic editing techniques that can be achieved with the software – including audio and video trimming, fades, transitions, volume adjustments, voice recording (the attendant lovingly attempted to record his own version of Luke Skywalker’s dialogue from The Last Jedi trailer). As someone who has cut videos and trailers on software like Adobe Premiere before, it has certainly been interesting to try and do as much as you can with something like iMovie.
Ultimately, this experience is caught in an interesting situation. For more professional (as well as amateur) editors who have already ‘grown up’ from iMovie, this might be way too basic: especially on the iPad version. Running a longer workshop like this on the desktop version likely would have been a more rewarding experience. For a lot of Star Wars fans desperate for another glimpse at The Last Jedi, aside from a few words from director Rian Johnson at the start, there’s nothing new. But for someone who has zero knowledge of editing software and is curious to find out more, who happens to be a fan of Star Wars, this is sure to be an insightful experience – even if it is just a basic and home-use oriented glimpse into how trailers are put together.
Engagement with fan-made graphic design and art work is now such a commonplace part of overall marketing campaigns, it is a slight shame that the same treatment isn’t afforded to fan-made video and trailer work to the same extent. But experiences like this are ultimately a step forward, and this particular one – however basic – is definitely a great starting point to dive into the deeper world of trailer editing and finding out how you can create something of your own out of something which already exists. When you get an excited 9-year old cutting together a cute Star Wars spot with captions over the footage such as ‘where am I?’ on that now-iconic shot of Finn (John Boyega) in his Stormtrooper outfit on the surface of Jakku, you can’t help but smile.
Starring Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, with Benicio del Toro and Laura Dern, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is released in UK cinemas on December 14, followed by the U.S. on December 15. See the teaser trailer below. Apple’s Star Wars workshops run at retail stores in most major markets throughout September. Go to the Apple website for more info.