A: FireRiffs are riffs, funny commentaries for movies, tv shows, and short films.
Q: Who makes FireRiffs?
A: FireRiffs are written by (with occasional outside contribution), recorded, performed, and edited by Scott Burke. Scott Burke also makes this website where he writes about himself in the third person.
Q: What format do FireRiffs come in?
A: Most FireRiffs come in MP3 format that you sync up with a DVD, Blu-ray, or streaming copy of the film. Video on Demand (or VOD) riffs will be in MP4 and possibly but not usually MOV format.
Q: Why do you use MP3s for movies and not just sell the movie with the riff?
A: Because I don’t want to go to prison. But more seriously, licensing rights to motion pictures are very high and I simply cannot afford to do that. MP3’s are a neat and cost effective solution that allows me to riff whatever I want without legal hassles or licensing fees. If a film is in the public domain (ie no one holds a copyright) I can sell you the entire video as I do with shorts.
Q: How do I use an MP3 riff?
A: Syncing an MP3 riff might sound a little tricky, but it is really quite simple once you get the hang of it. The riff will start out with an introduction followed by syncing instructions. These instructions usually give you an on screen prompt (such as the Paramount pictures logo fading completely off the screen) to unpause the riff at. You will then be prompted to pause the riff after a countdown and start the film and wait for the aforementioned prompt to unpause. Throughout the movie there will by sync lines, lines from the film read at the exact same time as they are said in the film, that will let you know if the riff is out of sync with the movie. If they don’t sync perfectly you simply pause whichever came in first for the appropriate amount of time, usually just a second or less.
Q: Some of your riffs don’t sync perfectly? What am I doing wrong?
A: There are three possible problems you are having.
1) You have the wrong region version of the riff. Most riffs are available in NTSC and PAL formats so everyone can enjoy them. If you are using a DVD in North America, Myanmar South Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Japan, and some Pacific island territories, you should be using NTSC (just check your DVD). Elsewhere use PAL. For Blu-ray and streaming use NTSC.
2) You have the wrong cut of the film. For films where there are multiple cuts that I am aware of I will specify in the product description which cut you should be using and how long it runs in NTSC time. See my Terminator 2 riff for an example.
3) The riff really doesn’t sync perfectly. In some of my earlier riffs I had trouble syncing perfectly and didn’t figure out what I was doing wrong until later. None of these riffs are massively off but you will find yourself needing to do some pausing. It is my intent to go back and fix these issues when time allows.
Q: Can I stream VOD riffs?
A: Mostly no. Rifftrax does not offer streaming for indie Riffs hosted on their site. Gumroad does but my only VOD currently on there is Invasion of the Bee Girls.
Q: The production quality on some of your riffs sucks. What’s up with that?
A: In my earliest riffs I was still learning how to make these well. My first couple of VOD shorts really reflect this. Even now, I am making these at home on a shoestring budget. While the production quality has greatly improved over the years my resources are limited and I do my best with what I have. I am always looking for budget friendly ways to improve production quality but odds are I will never have a real studio to work out of. I hope you can still enjoy my riffs.
Q: What equipment/software do you use?
A: At the moment I am using a Blue Snowball USB microphone, Adobe Premiere Elements, Audacity, Handbrake, a pair of Sony headphones, and an HP Envy laptop computer. When I first started I was using a headset for a microphone and recording using Audacity for audio and VLC for movie playback.
Q: Aren’t you just ripping off/knocking off MST3K and Rifftrax?
A: Riffing is an art form and like, any art form, anybody can contribute to the art without ripping anyone off or being a knockoff of someone else. While the art form may have originated with MST3K there are many who enjoy creating in the same kind of art. Indie riffers are no more ripping them off than one impressionist painter is ripping off another simply because they are both impressionist artists.
Q: Don’t you think this FAQ is getting excessively long?