Structure of the Kairos trailer

This is a tweet thread I wrote about the Kairos trailer you can follow me @LukeCoalman

The Kairos trailer was animated and produced by Studio La Cachette and was made for the graphic novel by Ulysse Malassagne

The Kairos trailer is so cool it holds up really well. I wanted to try and break down the structure.

(I haven’t read the graphic novel, only watched the trailer about 100 times)

The trailer starts with a short intro sequence. Establishing shot>guy wakes up> Dinosaur thing comes through the fireplace>he gets thrown around>dinosaur kidnaps his partner

This sequence gets your attention and makes you want to find out more. It ends with this cool transition. The whole sequence is about 30 sec long, longer than I expected.

I’m going to jump to the ending. The ending is a big action sequence. We see the guy who has now become a monster fighting the same Dinosaur soldiers. It’s  super fun and exciting this is probably the part everyone remembers. This sequences is about 40 sec

The reason this sequence works is because it’s set up. We know who he’s fighting for. Guy has wife kidnapped by Dinosaur soldiers>Guy fights dinosaur soldiers to get to his wife. We’re emotionally engaged. DRAMA!

In Between those two sequences we have a bunch of cool vignettes

The vignettes are usually two shot each, what they do is show the scope and scale of the story. They are what makes this feel epic.

When we’re shown these random images our brains are scrambling to fit them into a narrative.

So the overall structure of this trailer is Guy and wife are attacked by dinosaurs, wife is kidnapped> vignettes of fantasy world and random things happening>guy fights dinosaurs to get back his wife> cliffhanger ending

I’ve looked at some other (epic) trailers and they have a similar structure

  1. Overall narrative (something very simple scene or sequence)
  2. Cool vignettes (something to show the scope of the story)
  3. Cliffhanger ending (what makes you want to see more)

The point of the of the overall narrative is to provide structure to the trailer. It’s usually a scene from the film that’s reworked into this format. It’s there to provide a beginning/middle/end

This is a trailer the idea is to tease the story make people go out and see the film or show. That’s where the cliffhanger comes in. Bad trailers tell you the whole story, good trailers give you just enough information and leave the important stuff out.

In Kairos the coolest scene, where the guy crashes through the scaffolding, ends right as he’s about to land in a crowd of Dinosaur guards. That’s an exciting cliffhanger. The story that was set up doesn’t pay off that makes you want to see more.

In school I wasn’t a huge fan of trailer films. There’s something disingenuous about them when their teasing at something that doesn’t really exist. The worst part of the Kairos trailer is that I just want to see the whole movie.

Trailers are also an art form, good ones are really tight and balanced. They play directly with our emotions. End

There’s a better tool than demographics

We’re used to the idea of demographics in animation. This show is for boys 7-10. This other show is for girls 11 – 13. As creators I think we all know that demographics are a little silly, and really not that helpful. We don’t know that much about the kind of boys that are 7-10. It makes us make assumptions about them and what they’ll like. We’ve also seen it cause problems when the wong demo likes a show. Artists and creators don’t want to dictate a kind of person will like their show.

Enter psychographics

“Psychographics is a qualitative methodology used to describe consumers on psychological attributes. Psychographics have been applied to the study of personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles.”


Psychographics are about grouping people by what they believe. They might help you find your kind of audience. Only in school do we sort our selves into neat demographics. A good example of this is Netflix’s reboot of She-ra. This show has gotten a lot of attention because it’s not for a lot of people. This show is for a specific group of people. Not a demographic of girls 11 – 14. It’s for a group of people who like a certain kind of thing, who talk to each other online, who share an identity. For the people who this show was made, they will love it.

That means for the rest of us. Will we do the work of finding the people that we’re trying to reach. Can we point to them. The days of broadcasting, of releasing something and hoping it reaches the right people are over. It doesn’t work to make mass market appealing things. It works to make specific things for a specific group. Find who that specific group is for you.

Zipf’s Law and long tails

Zipf’s law states that given some corpus of natural language utterances, the frequency of any word is inversely proportional to its rank in the frequency table. Thus the most frequent word will occur approximately twice as often as the second most frequent word, three times as often as the third most frequent word, etc.:


I was just reading an article about Patreon and how most of the people on Patreon don’t earn very much money. This is also true about Youtube, that most videos uploaded to youtube get almost no views. That most things sold on Amazon sell very few units. From what I understand this is partly Zipf’s law or something like it.

I can’t see away out of this. We can try and make these platforms more accessible and equal, and we should. But it might be the case by making them more accessible new people will join and the bottom will fill up again.

Patreon is enterprise and business software for artists and creators. It’s not a utopia, it’s not a rebellion. It’s still an amazing idea that will give money to people who never would have got that money before. But in their own words it’s software for artists. The hard part of being an artist is still building an audience and making consistent work. Patreon, Youtube, Amazon, and what ever are just tools to get in front of that audience and monetize it.

Marketing starts at the beginning

There’s an idea that marketing is a process that begins after you’ve made your thing. That there are a group of people who make advertisements and sell to the audience. If a good film fails it’s because of bad marketing. That the marketing department didn’t understand the film/show.

Marketing isn’t done at the end, it’s done from the beginning. Marketing plainly is telling the people, who want what you’re making and where to get it. It’s not about convincing the masses that you’ve made the best show. It’s about finding the right people and making something for them. Marketing starts with the decision to make something in the first place.

This gets to the interesting problem of who’s waiting for the kind of show you’re trying to make. What other shows do they watch? Where do they hang out? What do they care about? What are their values? Then what’s something specific and special that you can make for them?

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