Versions of the First Book Trailer

The book trailer for The Rabbit Trap went through a lot of evolution.

It’s technically an ‘animatic’, a kind of draft animation that can be quickly produced and adjusted as ideas change. A fully-animated work would follow on from it.

I started out by drawing a few rough sketches on paper and putting them in order.

Then I decided to try Boords, the online storyboarding service.

The very first version was an experiment with Boords‘ AI image generation. This did not work very well; images were not consistent across frames, and I wanted to be able to specify the layout and action in the frames more accurately. I am sure that Boords can do better than my results; perhaps there are better ways to provide a mode for characters and props, and better ways to specify action.

The second version was made with Boords, but I scanned and imported my own rough sketches. I was able to generate a video and save a storyboard as a PDF.

Eventually I discovered that Boords charges USD $50/month for collaboration, so I dropped back to the tools I already had: Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects.

Premiere Pro is for video editing, while After Effects is for video ‘post-production’: among other things, adding special effects to video after it is recorded.

My next version, version 3, was made with Premiere Pro, because I was thinking in terms of video. The images were the scanned-in sketches. I also provided the narration.

But I knew I wanted to animate some properties (size, position, etc) of the images in the timeline. I remembered doing such things before, but I didn’t remember which of the two programs I’d done it in. It turns out that After Effects is the program to do this. And, because it’s all still images with no actual video, I didn’t need Premiere Pro. So version 4 was made in After Effects.

Then I added animation of the scanned images in version 5.

In version 6, I replaced the rough sketches with better drawings. Also included was the voice-over for the narration.

Version 7, the last version, has the rest of the voices, plus a proper thumbnail image, additional sound effects, and credit information.

This was a very interesting little project. Essentially, I was acting as a producer for a tiny animated movie!

I became very aware of the interaction between acting and animation. When I was at Sheridan, they told us that animation is basically ‘acting on paper’. Now I feel what they mean: how detailed should the drawings have gotten when the characters are exiting the van? At what point does it become a fully-animated movie? All very interesting questions.

I am now looking forward to the next one. It will show scenes of the rabbits’ lives being overtaken by events as their captive humans revolt and try to escape. I think I will try to get someone else with better people-drawing skills to do the final drawings. But now I know something of doing this, I may be able to do it more quickly.