Interview - Burnie Burns and Gustavo Sorola
July 9, 2005
Download the video and read along, like a storybook!
* Burnie's sidekick is ringing *
DiMono: Who're you calling now?
Burnie: No it's just I have this lady who keeps leaving messages on my voicemail of her trying to pronounce machinima, and she does a terrible job at it, she pronounces it like...
Gus: She doesn't care.
Burnie: Machimanima... something like that.
Gus: No she drops some syllables, it's like machima.
Burnie: Machima, yeah... so we're, we're machimists.
DiMono: Alright, now I opened up a thread on the sponsor forum, so I could get some input from people who weren't going to be able to make it...
Gus: I do remember this now.
DiMono: ...and the questions ranged from "Will you be my friend," to "If the moon were made of spare ribs, would you eat it?"
Burnie: I would eat the moon.
Gus: I can answer that for Burnie.
Burnie: I can answer the friend request question for you, which is "no." And then, that's what Gus would say, absolutely not. And spare ribs question is definitely.
Gus: Burnie would find a way to swim to the moon from Earth.
Burnie: I would be an astronaut, fuck the film making bit, if the moon were made of spare ribs I'd be up there eating it.
Gus: He would take the Red vs Blue DVDs, get up to the moon, and then eat the moon.
Burnie: And the friend request thing, is actually really tough, because we knew when we made the friend requests to begin with, we decided that, potentially the first person everyone knew when they joined the site was Gus, or one of the guys on staff, so we thought "Well they're immediately going to want to friend request whoever," so we had to turn that off, otherwise we'd get bombarded. And it's actually a database problem if everybody was Gus' friend, then every time Gus did something it would update all the tables, everywhere in the entire site, so we had to turn it off. Same thing with the watchlist too, what was that idea we were initially going to have? Instead of having friends we were gonna have everybody by default watch the staff, like each start off with a watchlist. That got out of hand in a hurry, nobody noticed it but we went through a thing where we actually pulled the staff of everybody's watchlist and they had to re-add them if they wanted to because once the membership started going up, it just started getting ridiculous.
Gus: Which created some site problems when the 1.0 version of the site first launched which is why it was sooo slow at first, and we had to remove a lot of that stuff.
Burnie: Yeah and then we removed ourselves from like top five online, most watched, stuff like that.
DiMono: But part of the reason it was so laggy was that one of you did something, and two hundred thousand watchlists got updated?
Burnie: This guy right here. Usually it's laggy because of Gus, doing something-
Gus: It's my fault.
Burnie: What was the last thing you did that was just ridiculous? Like Gus is the tech guy, he's THE tech guy. He understands the servers, and handles their administration and everything, and the other day he like, you deleted your own account, you banned yourself.
Gus: Oh I froze my account. I was trying to view my karma report, and on the backend "View Karma Report" and "Freeze Account" are right next to each other, and I hit Freeze Account and I was like aw fuck.
Burnie: So that was pretty funny, he deleted himself. It's amazing how many MODs have done that too. We have a guy on there named Gavino, and he's always campaigning to be a MOD secretly, he doesn't really outwardly do it but he'll message us, and talk to us on XBox Live or whatever...
Gus: Or tell us how we need another MOD.
Burnie: How we definitely need another MOD, he's just giving us like public service information.
Gus: And that one in a different time zone on the other side of the world would be good.
Burnie: Yeah, how it would be good to have someone who's up at odd hours, and uh-
DiMono: Well you've got Pixie.
Burnie: It's true, we've got Pixie, right? Anyways, the latest one that he came around with was, he's helped three people who were MODs unban themselves, after they were banned accidentally by themselves. Slowly but surely he's proving his worth as a MOD. Anyway... you'll also find you get very long answers to very short questions.
Gus: We'll go on tangents.
DiMono: It's only a ninety minute audio tape.
Gus: We'll have time for four questions then.
Burnie: Yeah pretty much.
DiMono: That's bad, I got like sixteen of 'em.
Gus: When we get down to like the last two minutes we can do like rapid fire.
DiMono: Just yes/no questions.
Burnie: Well it is interesting too, I mean while we're talking about the site stuff it's interesting too that he got the sponsors, he got these from the sponsors?
DiMono: I got some of them from the sponsors. I used a couple.
Burnie: Oh did you? Okay, you said you put it in the sponsor forum.
Gus: It was also in the Basement I think.
DiMono: No it was just the sponsor forum.
Gus: Just the sponsor forum?
Burnie: And you got questions from other places? Well, when we first started the old site, the php site, we had a general "Ask your Red vs Blue questions here," and then it turned in to a big fight because we would go in there and answer all the time, and then that's when the membership really started to grow, like thirty thousand people or something like that, and we couldn't keep up with it, and then people in the forums would start to answer questions that had already been answered before, like "This is the official response," and then other people would attack them, and started wars on the questions. So then it was for just the sponsors, and that was fine for a while but then as you get further in the seasons, we'd have sponsors who would drop out, and get new sponsors and stuff like that, so, once again we're coming back around and seeing questions.
Gus: Well I was reading through the question thread and I think I even made a post in there saying this makes me want to bring back the sponsor question thread.
Burnie: The sponsor question thread's there, in my stats it's like my number one post, it has the most replies, it's got like a gajillion replies.
DiMono: Well that was on the First Stop forum though, not the sponsor only questions.
Burnie: Is that the we have questions... you have questions-
DiMono: You have questions we have answers.
Burnie: Actually it's my number one thread, and I haven't been in to visit it in probably two or three months.
DiMono: Well you guys are happy with the website though, right? Because it's turned out great.
Burnie: Yeah, we just have some scalability issues.
Gus: Yeah, there are some performance issues we're still hammering out.
Burnie: Yeah, because there's stuff we wanna do with the website, and we wanna make sure we can do it and scale it. One of the things we want to do is for guys like Joe, Jesse Haxx0r stuff like that, we've got more and more people doing video stuff, we want to have a video gallery just like you have an images gallery. We noticed everybody's using putfile and savefile...
Burnie: Yeah. As a test, we hosted the Numa Numa one that Haxx0r did, and it worked pretty well, it didn't hurt our servers, you know what I mean? The community group is like a subset of the full viewership of Red vs Blue, like we probably have... about twenty percent of the people who watch the videos have a registered account, by numbers?
Gus: I'd say less than that.
Burnie: I'd say maybe yeah, maybe like fifteen percent.
DiMono: There's like a hundred and fifty thousand registered users, give or take.
Burnie: Yeah and Bole is like three thousand of those accounts.
DiMono: There's one user who has more than two thousand people on his friend list.
Burnie: Does he really?
DiMono: Yeah, it's insane.
Burnie: I didn't think you could get that high. There's a lot of stuff that beta testing we tried to test, like how high you can get, like I know on your watchlist you can only get sixty-four.
Gus: It used to be thirty-two, upgraded for 1.5.
DiMono: Is it still thirty-two for non sponsors though?
Gus: I guess so.
Burnie: You tell us, how do we know. I mean, some of the stuff is like we put it in place, and we just wait until it becomes a problem to do anything about it. We upped images for sponsors, stuff like that. Sponsors, it's almost like a beta test group. They get to look at the videos first, and tell us if something's wrong with the videos, they get more images, just to see if it would cause any massive problems, and we take how much space they're using, and multiply it by everybody else to see if we could possibly handle that. Handle the requests and stuff like that.
Gus: Actually this week we're doubling the bandwidth on our fileserver.
Burnie: Yeah. That's this week, huh?
Burnie: That'll be awesome. We have this like shaky issue too, that hopefully will be over, which people on Macs, using Safari-
Gus: Using anything as a matter of fact.
Burnie: Yeah, but sometimes they get like eighty-five percent of their download and it just stops.
DiMono: There's modding issues with Macs on Safari as well, I've been told.
Gus: Yeah, I've heard about that.
Burnie: What, they can't use the mods?
DiMono: Yeah, the dropdown doesn't do anything.
DiMono: It's weird.
Gus: It's a non-issue.
DiMono: Halo53 was bitching about that on the beta.
Burnie: Oh please, who cares about Halo53.
DiMono: Actually, one of the questions here was "How have you dealt with scalability issues with your website, going from a site that gets zero hits to one that gets so many in such a short amount of time?"
Gus: That was my question.
Burnie: Was it?
Burnie: Well Gus, what an excellent question.
Gus: The Rooster Teeth team is lucky to have Gus on board to handle issues like that.
Burnie: This is Gus' job security right now, if we have to answer that question. I mean, finding the guys from Corporate Green to do the site that we wanted to do, that was pretty cool. I mean, we kind of had the idea to make the community site be different than the main purpose of the first site, which was nothing. It was just a white page, and here's the links to the videos and that's it. And then occasionally we'd start doing updates.
DiMono: And then there was a forum on the back somewhere as well.
Burnie: In fact it's really funny, because we made fun of blogs in some early video. Even in season 3 we made jokes about it-,
Gus: "I need to update my blog."
Burnie: "I need to update my blog," like Doc's got a blog, you know we made fun of that stuff, and essentially we're getting more and more like a blog site, so we try to make the news posts not too bloggish, and just keep that stuff for our journals. Like I think you posted something one time? Something about a cat or something?
Gus: You wanna know what my defense is?
Gus: It's my website. I'll post whatever the fuck I want. If I wanna post goatse on it, I'm doing it.
Burnie: The main thing with scalability, it's just kinda like anything, we put out a really good 1.0. 1.0 was, we had a lot of things we wanted to add to the site, and 1.0 was let's put all the stuff out there that doesn't mean anything. Like mods have no meaning whatsoever, there was nothing tied to your karma level in 1.0. But, we knew that people who would cheat, even though it doesn't mean anything the people who would cheat to try to get more mod points, that they would cheat anyway. And so we just put 1.0 in place for like six months, and just waited.
Gus: We saw every way they could possibly cheat.
Burnie: We think we found every way they could possibly cheat, and then in 1.5 it was just like okay, now let's make mods mean something, we'll reset everything, and then we got rid of every possible way that people had discovered to cheat so far, you know. There will always be people people who cheat, on anything. I was just reading a long article about a guy who's got a business in China, and his whole job is to farm gold in MMOs and then sell it to people, and it's like a million dollar a year business. He's got like, thirty guys working for him around the clock, paying them a hundred and thirty bucks a month, and they just go through and farm gold in World of Warcraft.
Gus: I sold a domain like that to somebody who does that. I used to own the FFXI.com domain.
Burnie: That's who bought it?
Gus: It wasn't necessarily that guy but it was someone who does the same thing. I got three hundred bucks for that domain.
Burnie: That's a Final Fantasy Eleven domain,you registered a long time ago, it's funny.
Gus: It's a smart investment, my fifteen dollars got me three hundred.
DiMono: That's a good return.
Burnie: Over four years. You know you could look at it as being a good investment, or you could look at it like over four years time you made two hundred and eighty-five dollars.
Gus: Yes, but for zero work, for two minutes spent registering the domain.
Burnie: Or you could have made a gold farming site.
Gus: That's work though.
DiMono: Well it's like the people who sell their Diablo 2 accounts on Ebay, it's ridiculous.
Burnie: Someone got killed in Korea over it. That's weird. What was the question?
Burnie: So we just, you know, we do a lot of stuff, we kinda throw stuff out there and we see if it's scalable or not.
Gus: We went through several different server location facilities.
Burnie: Like whenever we do a video for Microsoft, we always offer those in hi-res, there's no distinction, we give low-res and hi-res to everyone, because it's just Halo footage, it's the game. Like in this last round we did the new maps, and now the codecs have come way down, especially the Windows Media codec, what happens if we release videos just in Windows Media, and we offer it in hi-res. It's a smaller file, it's a lot less time for me to encode it, and what happens, so we always see how many complain to Gus in email about "Where's DivX, where's Quicktime," stuff like that. It's easy to do it for those kinds of videos, because it's essentially just a Microsoft video showing a new level, so why don't we use Windows Media Player to show it, so we're always just testing stuff like that. It's nice because we have, almost like an in production lab for testing these kinds of things. We always do that with sponsors, like if there's some kind of crazy feature we want to try, like something in the store, or a way to do videos or new content, we give to the sponsors first as it's a much smaller set, and then if that works-
Gus: And it's usually a much more vocal set.
Burnie: Yeah, and they're high users so we know they'll test it. Then if that works for them, then we just bring it out to the bigger community, and if it works for them then we bring it out to the bigger, the whole group, which is the main website. So that's how we test scalability, and it works really well, it works really well.
DiMono: About how many sponsors are there? Without giving an actual number of course.
Burnie: I don't know.
Gus: Between five and five million.
Burnie: There are... I can give you an estimate on growth probably. Since we started there's probably three times as many sponsors since we started doing the community site than when we started just with the video stuff.
Gus: I agree with that.
Burnie: Thank you.
Gus: High five.
Burnie: Yeah, I would say so, it's about three times as many, I think? Yeah, that makes sense. Of course the website too, it kinda stays with the actual website itself, and you never know, and sponsorships will probably change again because now we have those tabs where you have Red vs Blue, The Strangerhood, we're just gonna have more tabs showing up there, hopefully starting at the end of the summer, and there's no way to correlate a sponsorship with one thing, so we're just gonna have it last for a period of time. Now that we have the community site, sponsorships are gonna be for the community site, not really for the videos any more, so we're just kinda testing all that stuff.
DiMono: Are there plans for more series soon?
Burnie: Yes. Yeah.
Gus: By the end of the summer for the first one.
Burnie: Yeah Gus is working on one right now, as a matter of fact. But it won't necessarily be machinima stuff, in the past we did a lot of live action stuff, and Gus did a lot of, like he was more like a web guy, he came from that world, and so machinima is just kinda something we started doing because we knew that we could produce on a regular basis using machinima, and we all of a sudden just started getting labels like the "Machinima Guys," and we don't really see ourselves that way so hopefully we can put something out there that's either traditional animation or live action, and we hope that people will like it.
DiMono: Are there plans to put the three minute trailer for The Schedule back up for sponsors?
Burnie: Is it not up?
DiMono: It's not up.
Burnie: It's pretty tight.
DiMono: A lot of sponsors have been asking for it, but it's not up.
Burnie: I think it's probably in the same place, but just not linked now, we didn't take it down, so it probably just got lost in the shuffle.
Gus: It might have been on webdev.
Burnie: Oh, it might have been on a secret server that's decomissioned, that's possible. Absolutely, it's one of those weird things, because there's a couple videos that are gone. Trailer for Red vs Blue is gone.
Gus: No it's not.
Burnie: Episode- is the trailer still up?
Gus: People complain that it's not there, but I guarantee it's there, I send that email out five times a day.
Burnie: Oh really, okay. Well, it's on the DVD, and the Season 1 original intro is that on the DVD? That's not on the DVD is it?
Burnie: Yeah, and The Schedule was gone because, that was before we kinda learned the whole lesson about licensed music, was when we did those things and we used some licensed music for Episode 0, and The Schedule is just filled with it, it's got like fourteen songs in it. I wouldn't even know how to get the license for them, much less be able to afford it all. We've got a Beatles song in there, so... We can show it at festivals and stuff like that, but I would really be weary about showing it online.
DiMono: You'd have to talk to Michael Jackson about the Beatles song.
Burnie: That's right, I don't even know if he owns that one it's uh... what did we use for that one. It's "In my Life?" that we used for the Beatles song? Anyways, there's no way in hell, there's no way in hell.
DiMono: So in about, at this point in about four and half hours or five hours, there's going to be the world premiere of the Season 3 DVD. To the best of my knowledge it's the world premiere.
Burnie: No it is.
Gus: This'll be the first time anyone outside of Rooster Teeth has seen the DVD.
DiMono: How exciting is it to come to these things, and see people enjoying what you spend so much time on?
Gus: I remember the first event I went to, I can say, was the Lincoln Center when we did our first, we had the premiere of Season 1, was January, 2003?
Gus: And it was crazy, it was in a theater in Manhattan next to Juliard, with three hundred people in it, and up until that point I had been living in Puerto Rico so I had been really isolated from it, all the work that had been going on. I'd just been doing the voice and doing updates every now and then, and I go in there and actually see people laugh at it, and watch it, it was mind-blowing.
Burnie: That was the first time I'd ever signed an autograph too, and we didn't know how to do it, remember we had it in our laps and stuff like that when we were doing all of the DVD signings.
Gus: We weren't prepared.
Burnie: No we weren't prepared. Because we'd never met anybody in person before. We'd never seen it in front of an audience and it's not, well Season 1 might be but we don't time the videos for laughter, we don't pause, you know, like go "here's a joke" and wait, and then go on to the next thing, so in the theater when there's laughter like that it just rolls in to the next thing so it's interesting watching with an audience and they're stepping on the next line, and it's almost like you're in the back of the theater wanting to go "no no, shut up." Season 1 was the slowest season, if you go back and watch episode 2 now it feels like, it's a two and a half minute video it feels like five minutes to watch it.
Gus: I remember we had so much trouble with episode 3. Before that came out? I thought things were over at that point. We could not get an edit of that video done.
Burnie: Well we went on the Mac when Matt started doing the production stuff at episode 3, so we said take a pass at this thing because it's just, you know. That's when we first started doing the all-nighter stuff, and that was, I think about three weeks of pulling all-nighters to get the stuff done. It's always when you start that cycle that it's hard, you know what I mean? And then you get kinda used to it, pulling all nighters, and then you just fall back in to it. The third episode was just...
Gus: Do we still have that first cut anywhere? It would be interesting to release.
Burnie: Gavino has it, he was talking about it just the other day. And he has the... 'cause it has different lines in it too, we changed some of the lines in the first version.
Gus: It's really different. It's also like seven minutes long, isn't it? The first cut was seven minutes long, the final cut was like three and a half minutes.
Burnie: The faster version was better, on the internet faster's always better.
DiMono: Is that gonna make it up for sponsors?
Gus: We never talked about that until right now.
Burnie: Yeah I don't know where, it went up-
Gus: It never went up, it went up privately, like for us to look at.
Burnie: Gavino says he has it, he told me the other day that he had it.
Gus: He just messaged me to say to slap Haxx0r in the butt.
* Audio recording paused, at which time Gus and Burnie laid out their whole future plans, including seventeen more versions of the website and how they plan to eventually paint the Whitehouse a dainty shade of green. Burnie started sending messages on his Sidekick to Gavino to find out what other videos he has that he shouldn't, and just how he got that seven minute cut of episode 3 *
Burnie: He says he has everything ever released, yes he does have the episode that was first cut...
Gus: We never released that.
Burnie: He was telling me lines from it just the other day, that I didn't remember were in it, I had been watching, right before I start a new season, writing-wise, I sit down and watch them all, back to back. Especially, I had to do that right after, when we were doing production for the season 3 DVD, we did something new on the season 3 DVD which is we did character profiles, where it's backstory for all the characters before they got in to the military. You know we never even named the organization, their arm of the military, we call it the army, and uh-
Gus: The marines.
Burnie: Yeah the marines... He says it was a season 1 extra, that we posted for sponsors. That makes sense.
Gus: Yeah, I think Gavino is like the one person who has every video we've ever released, because he messaged me once and said "I have this video with this name, and I don't know what it is, it's this and this and this," and I was like oh my god, we released that? I don't remember what it was now, but...
Burnie: Wow he's even told me stuff I forgot about. He has episode 14 with the AC/DC intro, which we just did for the hell of it just to be funny, and then we did, he says "I have the original number 8 as well," where we redid Church's death. I didn't even remember that we did that, like we cut that differently. Like remember we used this "Aw, son of a bitch," and then he gets killed? And now he goes "Aw son of a-" and then he gets blown up. Anyway so yeah, talk to Gavino.
Gus: He has everything apparently.
Burnie: Yeah, like we'll release stuff too, but it's kind of the fun of it too, like it's out there, and then it's like, gone, but somebody's got it, it's somewhere buried on a hard drive.
Gus: It's the internet, you can never really kill anything.
Burnie: And the physical representation of this at the office is when we finished season 1, that was like a 40gig hard drive, which was a big size hard drive back then, and so, pull that out, put it on the shelf, you know like season 2, pull those two hard drives out, put them on the shelf they're in a closet it says in marker on the side, season 2 season 3.
DiMono: So you still have all the raw footage.
Burnie: Oh yeah, I'm a big time backup guy, I back up everything, like when I finish an episode at like four in the morning, that's the final cut, Gus will be there 'til like two in the morning, you know like working it out and then I encode it to all the different WMVs and the DivX and the Quicktimes and upload them and all that, I constantly back up all the raw files and all the raw footage to DVD twice, and put them in two different locations, then take the hard drives out and put them in the closet, you know, just safely away because, you will need it. Matt just lost three episodes of-
Gus: He didn't-
Burnie: No he got them back but there was a scare that we lost three episodes for a project we're doing for T.V. Strangerhood is about to go- it's already airing on IFC.
Gus: It is?
Burnie: That's what he said, yeah.
Gus: It's not really episodes, it's commercials.
Burnie: Yeah well it's the Strangerhood characters that for the Independant Film Channel's summer movies they're showing, the Strangerhood characters are kinda like the spokespeople for it, and that's what we've been working on with The Strangerhood for the last two months which is why there hasn't been a new episode, we've been working on that T.V. thing. There's six one to one and a half minute episodes, and they're all showing together.
Burnie: Yeah, and it's been fun, it's been fun, I think it's some of the best stuff I think we've done.
Gus: It's really, funny stuff.
DiMono: Is it still as fun making Red vs Blue now after three years? Or two and a half years I guess?
Burnie: Yeah, Red vs Blue is always fun, it really is. When Halo 2 came out people re-energized 'cause we were playing Halo 2 non-stop, so it was fun to be back in the video game again, you know? Gus is a big fan of Halo 1, for video.
Gus: Yeah, when we make the videos.
DiMono: Well the head-bob's more... pronounced in Halo 1.
Gus: The movement.
Burnie: It's just like he can do it, more easily I think.
Gus: Yeah I'm better at doing it in Halo 1, and Geoff's better at doing it in Halo 2 it's just some weird... I can't get the characters to turn properly.
Burnie: Yet you play so much Halo 2, and Geoff doesn't play video games at all. Not at all, nothing. And Gus and the other guys play video games all the time, we play Halo 2 all the fricking time. Which is how we know Gavino so well because we play with Gavino all the time.
DiMono: In an earlier interview, I think it was an interview, one of you said that you had to rush ahead the plot for the relase of Halo 2, and for episode 50 because they were coming up faster than you were expecting. How much plot had to be cut down or cut out to meet the deadlines for that?
Gus: There was so much cut. There were whole story-arcs and characters that didn't make it in.
Burnie: We talk about this at length in the season 3 commentary, half the season 3 commentary is about stuff that's not in there, it seems like. Sidewinder especially, the Sidewinder story with Church and Grif being in prison? That was really long, that was like forty pages of stuff that we just had to cut, just to get through it. But like we said there in the commentary, we can always go back and use that stuff, you know now there's Containment, we can probably use something there, but to get Church and Grif back in prison again?
Gus: Yeah, so we can't necessarily talk about it too much in case...
Burnie: The characters, the characters for sure. Like Geoff finally had a different voice.
Gus: The character at the end of season 2, at the end of episode 38 that tells Church and Grif to freeze dirtbag, was going to be a new character that figured prominently in to that storyline, and he only made one very brief appearance in season 3.
Burnie: Which kind of breaks a cool trend that we had, where at the end of season 1, we had the introduction of Caboose/O'Malley, and that was a big thing in season 2. At the end of season 2 we had Max Gaine there, that soldier at the end, and he was going to be a big part of season 3 with the Sidewinder stuff, and in season 3 we've got the introduction of Crouchasaurus, who uh, we'll get to that in a second but he's going to be a main character in season 4, you know the main new character in season 4 is the alien character, and, because we kind of broke the trend because we weren't able to use Max Gaine so much in season 2, er season 3 excuse me. But Gus has this, Gus answers all the email and he has this wall, right next to the desk that's all the emails that just make either no sense whatsoever, or are completely ridiculous. As an example, which you'll like, is some guy wrote "I just registered an account, what is a frogerator and how do I become one?" That's up there, and then-
Gus: This one kid said, wrote in and said "My mom and my sister like to lick cookie dough off of spoons, is that weird?" And I was like "What?"
Burnie: There's this very, very small group of people that watch Red vs Blue and are not familiar with Halo at all. It's like the smallest demographic I think, right? Probably about two percent of the people who watch Red vs Blue, they're not even familiar with Halo, and one guy, who must have been in that group, wrote us about the alien character in the very last episode of season 3, he was so curious about it, what is it, and he named it Crouchasaurus.
Gus: What's that dinosaur you see in the background of the episode?
Burnie: He thought it was like a velociraptor, or dinosaur of some kind, and so he called it Crouchasaurus so internally, we always call the character Crouchasaurus.
Gus: Yeah he was like "You should call that thing the Crouchasaurus! That'd be a cool name."
Burnie: So we love going Crouchasaurus.
DiMono: How far ahead has the plot been written? Like do you generally write an entire season ahead of time, and then just keep adding to it as you shoot the current season?
Burnie: No... usually what we do is we're here at X, for... see I'll tell you what I say about this and then you can tell me how it really works.
Gus: Yeah, I can give you the real answer in a sec.
Burnie: Usually what it is, we begin a season at point A, and by the end of the season we want to be at point B, or point Z let's say, and every week we do an episode, I say well how much closer can we get to point Z, and we write the episode to get closer, so there are milestones we hit along the way, and then we chart it out.
Gus: ...That's actually pretty good. That's a good answer.
Burnie: And the big thing that's happened is the episodes have become much longer, and we don't think that's good. I don't think you should ever have anything on the internet that's longer than three to five minutes.
Gus: Season 3 is way too long.
Burnie: It is, two hours and fifteen minutes, after we cut it down. But we have a cut of season 1 that is, it's an hour and fifteen minutes normally, we take to festivals we cut it to like fifty-five minutes, so is just under an hour. I like that one a lot, I think the faster it is the better, especially for like, video games and stuff like that, it's just better.
Gus: People who are familiar with the series don't like that cut as much though, 'cause lots of times their favourite lines get cut out.
Burnie: Well we cut out the whole Sarge and Church death scene, we cut that out completely like in the other world, and then people really want to see that, but for season 4 the plan is one episode every week, like, no breaks, one episode a week, and they'll probably be right between, right about four minutes thirty seconds to five minutes thirty seconds, that's where we want it to fall right in there. So that's the plan, and the way we're doing that is we're writing in three episode arcs, that're like twenty-two minutes over three episodes, like storylines carry over three episodes, and right now we have, I'd probably say I have about eighty pages of stuff, and probably fifty-five pages is stuff that's solid, that we're definitely probably going to use, and then once we get in there people just, you know, they ad-lib, punch it up and make it funny.
Burnie: Ad-funny, and Dan's the king of that. At least in season 3 he was.
Burnie: What's that? You liked him season 2? I thought Sarge was funny in season 2, with all the ad-libs and stuff like that.
Gus: Well the super-spy jet pack, that was season 2 right?
Burnie: Yeah, yeah but that was written in. Super-spy jet pack but his sound effects weren't.
DiMono: How much of what ends up in the episodes is ad-lib?
Burnie: As a writer I would say absolutely very little.
Gus: Actually it's not too much, like Sarge will go on tangents a lot.
Burnie: Yeah, a lot of what you see on the black, like visit redvsblue.com for more episodes? That stuff is the long rambling ad-libs that the people did and we'll actually move scenes around in an episode to get that scene to be the last so that we can like, dissolve to black and then like, Donut can go on screaming for long periods of time, or Sarge can ramble, or something like that so, that's usually the way it works.
DiMono: Alright, we talked about planning ahead, how far planned was Church's time travel? 'Cause there was the one scene in season 2 where you have the Blue running through the base, you know, was that planned or was that an editing goof?
Gus: That was a coincidence. The character running through the base initially was supposed to be Caboose, wasn't it?
Burnie: It is Caboose.
Gus: It is Caboose.
DiMono: It is Caboose?
Gus: Everyone always thought it was like a mistake, or some random character but it's just Caboose, walking around in the background.
Burnie: But you can't tell 'cause it's so far away and it's a blue character, and we got so much email about it we just thought well, we never explained why Caboose was...
Gus: When we filmed that scene with the character running through the base there was an argument that broke out between us over whether or not we should have a character running through because it wasn't clear that it was Caboose.
Burnie: We learned about email, like the direct contact with the audience via the internet, we learned about the whole email thing back in episode 2 or 3, because we put Tex in the introduction with her character, and made her invisible, or him invisible, as it was a guy at the time, right? And so people in the forum started writing all the time, telling us where they saw Tex, they thought Tex was an invisible character, and any time there was like a compression artifact on the video, they said "That's Tex," that Tex is waiting nearby invisible, and they would have contests spotting Tex, they would circle like this is definitely Tex right here. So we learned early on don't do too much crazy stuff in the background. And Lopez too, when Lopez is dancing in the background when we first introduced Lopez, and they said now that is definitely Tex in the background, dancing around. And that was Jason screwing around. So we try, even though it's better visually, it makes it more dynamic to have stuff going on in the background, we kinda try to avoid it because it confuses people. They look for too much.
Gus: And then they ask us.
Burnie: And then they ask.
Gus: You're repeating me.
Burnie: And we had it this season when Donut rode the windmill up, and Caboose is playing with the turrets, you know? And we get tons of email on that, "Why was Donut riding the windmill?"
Gus: Or who was that on the windmill?
Burnie: Who was that on the windmill.
Gus: Because we'll look at the video in the hi-res version, and be like "oh yeah that's perfectly clear," but the lo-res version is so much smaller that you don't necessarily pick up on who it is.
DiMono: And there are people who thought it was an Elite on the windmill.
Burnie: Oh did they find an Elite on the windmill?
DiMono: There were people who thought it was an Elite, on the lo-res versions.
Burnie: Well you see that kind of spoils stuff that we were actually going to do. I mean it was pretty obvious that we were going to introduce an Elite at some point, right?
DiMono: How're you dealing with the head bob for the Elite?
Gus: No comment. Erase that part of the video.
DiMono: That's exactly the answer that I expected to get to that question.
Burnie: That's what's taken the longest time with trying to introduce it, and we think we've come up with a very good solution to it.
Gus: I think it's a good solution.
Burnie: And once again it's a test, we like try something, and it's like "Okay, it seems to be working," then we know we can use this and do that.
Gus: Crouchasaurus may die very quickly.
Burnie: Yes, Crouchasaurus may, but he won't scream when he dies.
Gus: It'll be a silent death.
Burnie: But even again in the cutscenes, the mouth just moves like that, you know? Suspension of disbelief is a big deal, and it has to be even moreso in machinima. I mean, these characters, they're all identical, they look the same, except they're just different colours, you know? And so it's amazing that people can even see them as different colours, or as different characters and different people, and I've always liked that, and I think the people are really willing to suspend their disbelief. It's actually harder I think with the Strangerhood, because it's a face, and you're so used to looking at a face, you're so used to looking at how lip-sync works and the phonetics of the mouth and so it's harder there I think than with something like Halo where you can just assume it's some guy behind the helmet, or something like that.
DiMono: The biggest question that I personally want to ask is right now, the season 3 DVD can't be shipped, 'cause you guys have copies here for us, but there was a production problem. And then Gamestop was saying they were gonna have it in March.
DiMono: How do you guys feel about stuff like that going on, where people just say "We'll have it!" without you even finishing filming anything?
Burnie: That's our fault. I mean that's not Gamestop's fault, they come to us and say like "When will this be ready," and it's June, and I say "We're starting season 3 now, so it should be done by March," and then season 3 was just so fricking long. I mean, people were even complaining about their sponsorships lasting too long, we've never heard of such a thing. And so they'd call us with updates and things like that and I'd say "Oh well this should be finished by May," or it'd be the end of June or stuff like that so it's kind of weird being on the other side of that, I'm used to being the guy waiting for the video game to come out, and like "What the fuck's going on with this release date?" you know, push push push, and it just takes time to produce DVDs. I mean, we've been done with the DVD since-
Gus: Probably about five weeks at this point?
Burnie: End of May. End of May we were done with the DVD. And we were probably done with it longer than that, but we just kinda... I'm real obsessive compulsive, I'm paranoid, and I'm convinced there's something wrong with the DVD. and we just watched it a thousand times, just watched it and watching it, we had like checklists of like go through this section, check this easter egg, you know stuff like that.
Gus: And you find problems, like we know there is one problem with the season 2 DVD, and we caught it it's something that you have to test a bunch to see, but it's such a weird problem that-
Burnie: You are gonna cause a fucking firestorm now, because people are not gonna find what the one problem is, and they're going to assume it's just something intentional that's just goofy.
Gus: I can tell them what it is.
Burnie: I just, I don't care, it's one thing it's like we all looked at it and go is anyone gonna find this, no, if they do find it are they going to care about it, no they're not.
Gus: Never mind then, I won't say it.
Burnie: I'd be curious to see if people can find it now. Well we thought about shipping it out to test it, but it just seemed like it was gonna be longer, you know, you ship it out for people to test it and wait for the feedback.
DiMono: XBox 360. I'm sure everybody on staff is going to own one-
Gus: Going to?
DiMono: Are you going to switch to it for shooting? Or are you going to stick with the regular XBox for shooting?
Burnie: Um, we do whatever we- first of all, Red vs Blue has to be Halo, and then, assuming there's Halo 3? I don't even know if Halo will be coming out for XBox 360. We don't know anything, we don't have any inside information.
Gus: Supposedly Halo 2 will be playable on XBox 360 at least.
Burnie: Halo 2 will be playable.
Burnie: I use the 360 because of the wireless controls, because when Gus and Geoff are doing all the animation, they'll set the controllers down and pick them up and eventually it's like this braided knot, that's impossible to figure out what's right even if they're colour coded, so I think just with the wireless controllers, if we can use Halo 2 I think it'll be great. If you believe what Bill Gates says, Halo 3 will be out when the PS3 is out, you know? So hopefully there'll be a way to do machinima in Halo 3. We'll see.
Gus: We don't know yet.
Burnie: It'll be fun. But, we'll always use probably the new technology. If we were still doing RvB in Halo 1, people probably wouldn't wanna watch it, I wouldn't think.
Gus: I don't know, I think they would.
Burnie: You think so? Because it was old school or something?
DiMono: Well people are liking the occasional PSA that takes place in Halo 1.
Burnie: We do like to do the Halo 1 stuff for the past, and like silly stuff, things like that. We do like it, we still love using Halo 1 but I posted that one screenshot in my journal which was a split of Wizard and Warlock and it's just, and the season 3 DVD has the three characters next to each other it's a world of difference, I mean the visual fidelity is way up.
DiMono: Alright, last question, I'm gonna ask each of you in turn. If you could give one tip to people who want to make a machinima, what would it be?
Gus: Um... be persistent. Be persistent and consistent I guess. You just gotta stick with it, and make sure you're putting something out regularly.
Burnie: Yeah, putting something out regularly is a big thing. I think that people who put something out once every month, once every two months, it's kinda hard for anyone to sustain the attention span that long on the internet. And it's gonna be on the internet, you know? I'd say the main thing is that we've noticed that people kind of mess up is you have to be respectful of the video game when you're dealing with the original work, you just have to, and there's just no point in trying to do it any other way, it's just dumb.
Gus: And be ready for negative feedback.
Burnie: Yeah, well it's the internet, if you're going to put it on the internet be ready for negative feedback because we get negative feedback all the time, and that's been the same since day one, so be prepared for that. I think it kind of surprises people, like we've had people who made Halo machinima and posted it in the RvB forums, and they were surprised they got negative feedback, and I'm kind of sorry to see that happen.
DiMono: Right now there are a lot that get negative feedback just from the names of their machinimas, 'cause they do like "Black vs White."
Burnie: Yeah, yeah.
DiMono: There's a stigma with the word versus in the title, so I did Versus vs And, it was great.
Burnie: Ed vs Hax... Yeah, I would say, you know, be persistent, and stay true to the audience too, just because it's in a video game doesn't mean it has to be about the video game. you know, it doesn't have to be all video game references. I think that's what made Red vs Blue different than other machinima we didn't invent machinima, machinima's been around a long time, but we don't make a lot of video game jokes.
Gus: We don't make video game jokes, instead we make dick and fart jokes, and that worked out great for us.
Burnie: Yeah, it worked out great.
DiMono: Sets you apart.
Burnie: Just keep pluggin, yeah. Try different stuff, there's lots of stuff we would do if we had time to do it, and we don't, we don't have time to do it, so there's lots you can do. For sure.
DiMono: Alright, thank you both for coming out for us.
Gus: Thank you.
DiMono: You liking Toronto?
Burnie: What is this for by the way, what's the interview for?
DiMono: My website.
Burnie: Oh your website, okay cool.
DiMono: Which I now have to rewrite all the histories for, 'cause you put out official ones... thanks a lot.
Burnie: Hey, now, you know, that website was the number one reason, no offense, why I didn't wanna make you a MOD, I was like "he runs a really cool website, let him run the really cool website." I said now he's a mod, it seems like an official name and stuff. It's too bad.
Gus: So we deMODded you actually, while we were here.
Burnie: No that's a big secret, I don't know if you know that but I was actually fighting against you being a MOD.
Burnie: And now you're like my number one MOD who I go to for everything. Matt was like "Well you know it was just a weird deal I made, I can turn off the MOD," I'm like no, keep him. I probably shouldn't say anything about that but...
Gus: Uh oh.
DiMono: Did Matt tell you why he MODded me up?
Burnie: Yeah, something about a one day bargain or something?
DiMono: Yeah, Dark said... there was a thread in the Basement, that bolbol started where he said "DiMono for MOD, DiMono for MOD!" and all the BARfolk came and messed around in the thread and it was locked and then Dark posted in the BAR, and said "We've heard your pleas, we're gonna make DiMono a MOD. And the BAR freaked out for like two pages, and then we were talking in PM, he's like "Ask Joel."
Burnie: Joel can be convinced to do anything.
DiMono: Well, Joel was offline, but I asked Matt and he was like "I thought you were one already." Just MODded me up.
Burnie: Gavino made the recommendation that we only have one staff account, and don't let Joel know the password. And don't let Matt know it either. Joel is very similar to his character, and we... we deal with that a lot. Joel does a lot of stuff like that.