Create Book Trailers with Blender

It is very difficult to write a book, and just as difficult to publish it, then – once those two steps are out of the way – comes possibly the most difficult stage of all: book promotion. No matter whether your book is with a huge media conglomerate or you are self-publishing it, you have to do a lot of book promotion. When it comes to trying to get your book noticed, there are a lot of things to try, but one of the most interesting and creative is inspired by the worlds of TV and Film. When a new TV show or a new movie is about to be released, it is announced with a trailer.

The first most people usually hear about a new show - unless they obsessively hang out on Movie gossip sites like - is when the trailer drops. A good trailer can unleash an avalanche of hype that directly equates to asses on seats in the movie house. Trailers are a powerful marketing tool, and now books too are often accompanied by a trailer, and I don't see why my books should be any different. My latest book, Forever Young, written with Barbara Stanzl, has just been released and I think that momentous occasion should be marked with a short video on YouTube.

If you enjoy reading Gothic Horror, it is likely you will enjoy Forever Young:

Forever Young is a modern take on the classic Gothic novel, combining horror, death, and romance. It is firmly in the tradition of the most famous books of the genre but it is also something new. The book introduces us to Jasmine, a student of anthropology, newly arrived in Venice, and to Violetta, who is trapped in an ancient and violent world with no way out. After the two meet, Jasmine gradually awakes in Violetta the desire to escape.

The book is also available at Kobo and at Smashwords. For readers in Germany, Forever Young is also available from Thalia, and there is a translation on the way.

Inspired by some of the best book trailers, such as Red Queen , and Glass Sword, I’m creating a book trailer, too. As usual I am doing pretty much everything in Blender because it is the closest thing you can find to a studio that can still be run from a laptop, and it’s free and open source.

With Blender I can create a virtual sound stage and make anything I want happen on it, which certainly appeals to my control issues – and every good director must have control issues. Obviously, as the studio is virtual, it is difficult to add real actors into the mix, but that is not such a huge drawback when creating something as simple as a book trailer. Besides, to make the concept I have in my mind into a reality, all I need are some striking visuals based on the cover of the book.

The cover of Forever Young is a beautiful photograph taken by Barbara Stanzl inside one of the huge palaces on the Grand Canal in Venice. There is a bank of tall windows, some with the drapes lowered against the sun. The book trailer is going to be a mysterious maze based on these windows, with the camera wandering through, accompanied by some music and a reading of a passage from the book.

I'm not done yet, but so far I have painted the cover image of the book onto the back wall and the two side walls of my virtual studio. I have added the beautiful old windows, each with lots of pains of glass, and as these windows will be doing a lot of work in the video, I sculpted them as 3D objects. I have also added some lights and a virtual camera to the mix and I have rendered a few test videos. Here is the first:

The music that accompanies the images was found via some swift Googling, which brought me a tune called “Horses” by “Pictures of the Floating World”. I noticed too late that the track has a license that doesn’t allow it to be used for commercial purposes. I decided to continue with it for the “work in progress” videos, and I have sent off a message to the composers, to ask for permission to use it in the final trailer.Let's hope they reply and say yes so i can use the track to help sell books, which is very definitely commercial purposes.

You can see in the first video that the image on the back wall slides around, so to fix this I had to do some UV unwrapping, which is theoretically complex, but on such simple shapes as doors and windows was no trouble at all. The animation ran into another problem, because I wanted to open the windows I had sculpted, but the windows were made of three objects, a rear window frame, front window frame, and glass. It turned out that all I needed to do was set the glass as a parent and have the window frames follow it round. So now here is a version of the work-in-progress book trailer with windows magically opening to reveal the book.

There is still a lot to do, but I think the book trailer is taking shape, and I will post again when it is all finished. To end, just a reminder that the best way to support this blog is to buy one of my books. Simply go over to Amazon, or Kobo and get one.