Cutting Trailers Properly

Recommendations for assembling trailers

With all of the various leaders currently being used for trailers, it can be difficult to determine exactly where to make the cut.  Cutting trailers on the first frame of the green band is not ideal, as many projectors will exhibit a small jump at the splice, dirt has the highest tendency to collect right at a splice and it tends to give the trailer presentation a rushed feeling.  By leaving as much black leader as possible, these benefits will be obtained.  The tips here are assuming your theater will be preserving the MPAA's green bands.


The arrow marks the ideal place to cut the head leader from these trailers.  It is important to note this cut should NOT be made 4 perforations to the right, as there is considerable soundtrack damage.  The end of the white edgemarks + 4 perforations make the frame line an easy find.

Now here comes the problem.  Normally the cut at the tail leader would be made just to the left of the "oooo" mark.  Take a close look at the soundtrack.  Trailers coming from the Deluxe lab are plagued with this negative dirt on the soundtrack during the end black.  Generally this only affects roughly 8 frames.  A tip farther down this page makes finding the frameline on these tails easy.


What could be easier?  Not much.  This is a fantastic example of an ideal head leader.

The tail leader is fairly obvious as well where to cut.  Just find the first clear edgemark and chop it there.  It is important to cut these last several frames of black out, as they will show on the screen against the right masking.  Unfortunately, the final frames of black are typically few.


This is perhaps the best trailer leader currently being used today.  Find the "2" and cut on the nicely marked frameline right beside it!

The end of the trailer is also incredibly easy to locate the frame line.  This should be the standard for ALL trailer leaders.  Hats off to New Line Cinema!


Look familiar?  This is the same head leader used by Paramount and Universal.

Unfortunately, we have the trademark Deluxe negative soundtrack dirt to contend with.  The negative dirt on Sony trailers tends to make it's way as much as 16 frames into the black.  Again, see the tip below for finding the actual frame line.


Fox trailers are very easy to find the starting frame of black, but it is useless if your theater is ideally cropped to SMPTE standards..  Those white edges opposite the soundtrack look very unprofessional on the screen and run right up to the green band!  We recommend ultrasonic splicing some black from another trailer in place of this leader, but in the absense of an ultrasonic splicer in the booth, the above arrow dictates the ideal position of the cut.

Just like Paramount and Universal, Fox provides an easy to find tail marker.  Unfortunately Fox is VERY stingy on tail black leader and if you get a trailer from Fox with a mere 8 tail frames of black, be happy.


Dreamworks uses the Technicolor lab to print their trailers.  Technicolor has adopted this standard for their leaders.  Simply count over 4 perforations from the clear to black edge next to the "title" notation and cut.  It is important to cut 4 perforations over due to the soundtrack damage on the first frame as well as a horizontal splice line in the picture on that first frame of black.

The tails are also very standard.  What you are looking for is the clear line beside the "tail" identification and count 8 perforations over from that.  These final two frames must be cut out to avoid a complete drop out of the soundtrack.


Another example of the Technicolor lab's leaders.  However in this example, you must cut 8 perforations over from the frame line marking to avoid the soundtrack dropout.

Buena Vista trailers feature the need to hold the final two frames up to the light.  If only one frame of black was cut off, a horizontal splice line would appear on the screen as that last frame passes through.  Instead the easy solution is to simply cut 8 perforations over from the final frameline marking.


Everyone has had their fun with these.  These trailers are in the flat format, but the picture is "letterboxed" to preserve the full scope aspect ratio of 2.39 to 1.  To find the frameline, look for the printed "title" and hand written title markings.  Note the extra wide frame lines.  The actual frame line is in the center of those black spaces.  (See the markings above.)  Make sure when cutting these that you do NOT go by that persuasive "frame line" which is actually NOT on the frame line (center of the picture above).  As with the other Technicolor lab trailer leaders, 8 perforations must be cut over into the black to avoid soundtrack dropouts.

Above shows where to cut the tail leader on these flat matted prints.  Again, you are looking for the actual "frames", such as the barcode as a reference mark to find the frame lines.  Then count over in 4 perforation increments from there to avoid the soundtrack dropout.


Here is a shot of a "surprise" tail leader from the Technicolor lab.  If you look extremely closely at the picture, just below the black frameline markings you will see a clear indention in the picture area denoting the frame lines.  However, these trailers can NOT be cut 8 perforations over from the "tail" frameline (right of picture).  Instead you must cut a full 8 or so FRAMES over from that mark, as when this is projected to the screen, the black tail leader turns into a nasty brown leader!  Note the arrow on the left side of the picture above for the proper cut mark.


This is perhaps the worst example of a bad trailer leader in existence.  This is a scope format print of a flat trailer (side black bars).  Kudos goes to Deluxe for ensuring their "edge marks" are incredibly annoying and absolutely MUST be cut out right at the green band.  Quality control at it's best!

The same goes for the tail leader on these prints.  Fortunately there is usually at least a couple of black frames on the tail that can be preserved.


The tip spoken of above can be accomplished in this manner.  Take your splicer and lay a piece of frameline leader on it such that a frameline is aligned with the cutting blade.  Now make a mark at the left edge of the splicer (or on a piece of tape as illustrated here) to denote "8 frames over".  This saves considerable time for those "brown frame" leaders as well as for the leaders which have negative dirt printed in the soundtrack, as 8 frames can now be quickly and accurately chopped off without a frame counter.


When the film is finished it's playdates, take the trailers off of the center ring in this manner.  Find the splice joining the first to the second trailer (note the threading leader has already been removed in this picture).

Now tear the splice between two fingers.

Set the film on your rewind table's auto-stop roller and wind directly to a trailer core.  This method provides the absolute least amount of wear to the print during handling.  Alternatively, if your theater does not have one of these auto-stop roller assemblies, a roller can be placed on the supply shaft to achieve the same effect.

When the trailer is wound up onto the core, wrap a protective strip of film around it.  In this example, we are using white painted leader, but any fresh piece of film will do.  (It is recommended to "sacrifice" an old trailer that was never used to cut up into a hundred different protective strips.)  Start with the strip about 2 feet long and "tuck" it inside the head end of the trailer.

Now wrap that strip of protective leader fully around the trailer.  At this point it will be securely attached to the film.

Now tape the end down and label it.  This will provide full protection from dust, fingerprints and scratches during storage.


Pictured above is one poor way of handling trailers.  As any dust collects in the box and as the film rubs over itself, little tiny cinch mark "scuff" scratches will be placed on the film.  Granted these marks are not horribly noticeable, but the film IS being scratched when handled in this manner.  The damage is most commonly noticed by little dots where the emulsion has been scratched away.  Should the film tangle upon retrieval from the box, if the motor is not stopped quick enough it can also cause folds in the film.

This is perhaps the worst possible method for rewinding trailers, yet it happens every day
The booth floor was NOT meant to handle film!