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IRiffs Takes MST3k Open Source 100

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the because-your-friends-are-clearly-funnier-then-the-professionals dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Michael J. Nelson started up Rifftrax as a 2nd act to his stint as host of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and now they're making their website open to anyone and everyone who thinks they're funny with iRiffs — allowing people to upload their own comedy commentary tracks and charge whatever they want. They've already got a few would-be groups online, including one who takes the open source a step further — soliciting jokes from listeners and combining submissions into a final product."
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IRiffs Takes MST3k Open Source

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  • Fine, but (Score:1, Informative)

    by Apple Acolyte (517892)
    Rifftrax != MST3K. If it were, you'd have Cambot, Tom Servo and Crow.
    • Re:Fine, but (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tetsujin (103070) on Monday August 25, 2008 @11:12AM (#24737277) Homepage Journal

      Rifftrax != MST3K. If it were, you'd have Cambot, Tom Servo and Crow.

      What concerns me more:
      when you set up something like iRiffs, a community for would-be comedians (particularly people who are just interested in it 'cause they all saw the same funny TV show) you run into a few problems...

      First, lots of people think they're funny, but aren't.
      Second, a fair number of the ones who aren't funny will use gags sufficiently cheap (memes, particularly) to boost their popularity...
      And the end result is you wind up with a few gems, maybe, sloshing around in a sea of crap... And you can't rely on popularity rankings to tell the good from the bad.

      I think it's kind of funny that you equate MST3K with "Cambot, Tom Servo and Crow"... I mean, you never even see Cambot. But you left out Gypsy...

      • Re:Fine, but (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mweather (1089505) on Monday August 25, 2008 @11:31AM (#24737577)

        And the end result is you wind up with a few gems, maybe, sloshing around in a sea of crap... And you can't rely on popularity rankings to tell the good from the bad.

        So it's just like TV?

        • by spookymonster (238226) on Monday August 25, 2008 @11:43AM (#24737747)

          And the end result is you wind up with a few gems, maybe, sloshing around in a sea of crap... And you can't rely on popularity rankings to tell the good from the bad.

          So it's just like TV?

          No.... Slashdot.

          • by mweather (1089505)
            Slashdot has gems? That's a bit had to believe. I'm going to need a link.
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Scarletdown (886459)

              Slashdot has gems? That's a bit had to believe. I'm going to need a link.

              Slashdot has its moments. Not many of them, but it has them.

              Most memorable gem I can recall from recent Slashdot history was:

              Worst pickup line: Does this rag smell like chloroform to you?

      • by risk one (1013529)

        And the end result is you wind up with a few gems, maybe, sloshing around in a sea of crap....

        Welcome to the internet.

      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        Second, a fair number of the ones who aren't funny will use gags sufficiently cheap (memes, particularly) to boost their popularity...

        In Korea, only old people rely on memes.

        In Soviet Russia, memes rely on YOU!

      • by Koiu Lpoi (632570)

        And the end result is you wind up with a few gems, maybe, sloshing around in a sea of crap... And you can't rely on popularity rankings to tell the good from the bad.

        Ahh, but there's the rub, isn't it? One man's crap is another man's "MUST SEE". Of course, most people would much rather tell people what their opinion is about others' creations than actually try their hand at creating. Reminds me of a quote by Akutagawa:

        But Lieutenant Tanaka would not stop wagging his tongue... "You don't write criticism, do

        • And the end result is you wind up with a few gems, maybe, sloshing around in a sea of crap... And you can't rely on popularity rankings to tell the good from the bad.

          Ahh, but there's the rub, isn't it? One man's crap is another man's "MUST SEE". Of course, most people would much rather tell people what their opinion is about others' creations than actually try their hand at creating.

          You've lost me there in your tangled mess of pronouns. I guess you're accusing me (or is it really a more general accusation?) of knocking people who are trying to build something grand - point being that they're building something while I'm just sitting around saying it's gonna suck? That's fair, I guess. But if I'm cynical it's because I've seen more than one fan-produced MST3K-style riffing deal already, and they usually aren't very good.

          All I'm saying is a lot of people out there don't give any kind

          • by Koiu Lpoi (632570)
            Accusing? Why is everything anyone says on the internet automatically hostile? Take a deep breath; this is supposed to be just a discussion.
            • by Tetsujin (103070)

              Accusing? Why is everything anyone says on the internet automatically hostile? Take a deep breath; this is supposed to be just a discussion.

              <shrug> Relax. It just means I thought your comment was directed at me. Was I acting defensive? I mean really? I thought I was being rather conciliatory.

      • by brkello (642429)
        the end result is you wind up with a few gems, maybe, sloshing around in a sea of crap

        And how is this any different than anything else on the Internet?
      • by geekoid (135745)

        Explain to me how your post isn't true for every for of entertainment?

        Of course there is a lot of crap, and there should be. That's how you get the gems.

    • by jsoderba (105512)

      Most Rifftrax have Kevin Murphy (Servo) and Bill Corbett (Crow). Two out of three ain't bad.

    • by smclean (521851)
      Poor Gypsy, left out again.
  • Open Source? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HeavyD14 (898751) on Monday August 25, 2008 @09:29AM (#24735911) Homepage
    So how exactly is this "open source"?
    • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Monday August 25, 2008 @09:57AM (#24736255)
      So how exactly is this "open source"?

      Because it uses a closed source program to play the proprietary .riff files along with the patent-encumbered MPEG2 files on the copyrighted DVD. Duh!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tlhIngan (30335)

        Because it uses a closed source program to play the proprietary .riff files along with the patent-encumbered MPEG2 files on the copyrighted DVD. Duh!

        While you're right, you can get the audio available in a "freer" (still patented) mp3 format.

        The only thing the .riff files and player have over the mp3 is the synchronization information built-in. I.e., you open the .tiff file in the player, stick in the DVD, and it automagically syncs the audio and video. Prior to this, you had to start your MP3 player, mute

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by mweather (1089505)
          Neat. So do they have Dark Side of the Moon synced to The Wizard of Oz? That's always a pain to get synced right, especially when you're stoned.
      • by Joe Tie. (567096)
        I really wish they'd open source the player, or at least do a linux port of it themselves. It's always a pain to rip the dvds to mkv, cut the riff track, and then splice and join it with the original audio just to get the ability to watch it easily in more than one viewing.
    • by _14k4 (5085)

      I think, really, they mean "Open Access, Hosted Content, For Sale."

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by HTH NE1 (675604)

      Would you prefer Open Mike?

  • Deep Hurting... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RevVoice (1350871) on Monday August 25, 2008 @09:30AM (#24735923) Homepage
    There might be one or two shining gems, but I really feel that this is going to end in pain.. DEEEEP HURTING...
  • Has anyone watched Robin "roblimo" Miller's youtube videos? They're comedy gold, in an unintentional way. You'd think Open Source would get a better public face than roblimo, eric raymond, richard stallman, etc.
    • by eln (21727) on Monday August 25, 2008 @09:37AM (#24736023) Homepage

      The cool thing about the Open Source movement is that just about anyone who's willing to can step up and become the "public face" of the movement.

      The really unfortunate thing about the Open Source movement is that just about anyone who's willing to can step up and become the "public face" of the movement.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        Except us. We've tried to become the face of the open source movement, and you guys just won't let us! *throws chair* Developers! Developers! Developers!

        Thanks,
        Steve B.

      • The really unfortunate thing about the Open Source movement is that just about anyone who's willing to can step up and become a target for unnecessary scorn, ire, ridicule, and fruit-loops with pyramids on their head.

        There, fixed that for ya...

      • Reminds me of the joke that..

        The great thing about the USA is that anyone can become president.

        Looking at the current administration, the bad thing about the USA is that ANYONE can become president.

  • Meh (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by consonant (896763)
    I prefer Wetriffs [wetriffs.com]. It's just waaay cooler [xkcd.com].
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Monday August 25, 2008 @09:45AM (#24736103)

    I was born in '77 and started watching the show in the early 90's. While I got a lot of the jokes, some of them were simply before my time. When I got a hold of the MST3K episode guides where every reference was explained, I was amazed at how much slipped by me. Most of my friends enjoyed the show but I had one who was intelligent but just didn't "get" it, mainly because he had no familiarity with the pop ephemera being referenced. Some of the jokes will remain timeless: "I got a man who knows all the angles -- yeah, the name's Euclid." Other jokes will become incomprehensible: "What, a V-2 rocket? He could have had a V-8!"

    It's sort of the same problem with watching certain anime with a lot of in-jokes, Excel Saga for example. So many of the jokes rely on having a familiarity with animes that came before or silly puns that only work in Japanese, easily half the humor is lost in translation. Even when the subbers explain the jokes, jokes just aren't as funny when they're explained.

    But this new riffing stuff is good. By open-sourcing it, we should get even better yucks.

    Gamera is really neat! Gamera is turtle meat! We love Gamera!

    • When I got a hold of the MST3K episode guides where every reference was explained, I was amazed at how much slipped by me.

      Yeah, you were born just a slight bit too late to get some of the jokes. Of course, references to pop culture are often ephemeral -- the 'V-2/V-8' joke you allude to would simply have been lost on many in the younger generations.

      That's why MST3k reruns won't hold up to the test of time except by a few pop culture afficianados and old timers like myself.

      Now get off of my lawn!

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Other jokes will become incomprehensible: "What, a V-2 rocket? He could have had a V-8!"

      Nah, I think V8 engines will be around for quite awhile. Woah! What was that thing zooming by way up there?!?
      • Other jokes will become incomprehensible: "What, a V-2 rocket? He could have had a V-8!" Nah, I think V8 engines will be around for quite awhile. Woah! What was that thing zooming by way up there?!?

        I'm fairly certain it was in reference to the vegetable drink. Or, should I bop you on the head for you to get it?

        • by LMacG (118321)

          Ladies and gentlemen, we have hear the rare double-whoosh. Please, no flash photography.

    • "jokes just aren't as funny when they're explained."

      There's a sig just waiting to happen.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Serenissima (1210562)
      I see your point and I agree with most of it, but...

      It's sort of the same problem with watching certain anime with a lot of in-jokes, Excel Saga for example. So many of the jokes rely on having a familiarity with animes that came before or silly puns that only work in Japanese, easily half the humor is lost in translation. Even when the subbers explain the jokes, jokes just aren't as funny when they're explained.

      I don't think you can apply not getting a joke with translating jokes. I think it's only partially right, there are some jokes based on cultural norms or pop culture that don't make sense unless you're part of that culture. But when you start translating jokes, you start to realize how many jokes we have that are based on word games, like puns for instance. A turn of a phrase is pretty much impossible to translate. If you don't understand the language, yo

      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by jollyreaper (513215)

        . But when you start translating jokes, you start to realize how many jokes we have that are based on word games, like puns for instance.

        Even worse is when you pun across languages. My latin prof was a sucker for this sort of stuff. "What sort of soft drink does a farmer drink? An agricola!" Agricola is latin for farmer, pronounced agree-cola. My sister is both into japanese culture and cats so she calls herself a nekophiliac, neko = cat in japanese. When she starts acting snarky, I call her oni-chan instead of onee-san, onee = sister, oni = ogre. The pun only works on paper.

    • Other jokes will become incomprehensible: "What, a V-2 rocket? He could have had a V-8!"

      Haven't they recently brought back the "could've had a V8" commercials? The tag line is on their web page [v8juice.com] anyway.

      Even when the subbers explain the jokes, jokes just aren't as funny when they're explained.

      I hear this a lot. Particularity in the defense of total rewrites of the dialog (Shin Chan).

      I don't agree, watching a movie with footnotes is very different than having a joke explained to you at a party.

      • Scene: cafeteria. A young man sits at a table pouring salt into a teaspoon and eating it. A young woman comes up and sits down across from him, then watches him fill his spoon for a moment before sliding over a can of V8 juice. The young man slaps his head and exclaims: "I could have had a V8!"

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Problem is that these guys NEED to approach the guys that makes the OSS media center apps and get them to make one for them.

      If I could have my mediaportal select and sync up one of their files with the video and allow balance control between their voices and the movie video that would ROCK really HARD.

    • by Atzanteol (99067)
      In interviews Joel once said that they never intended everybody to get every joke (or even for anybody to get every joke). Only that the "right people" would get them.
    • "What, a V-2 rocket? He could have had a V-8!"

      I don't know about future geeks, but this made me laugh right now.
  • This is something I couldn't find in the FAQ on the site - but anyway, PAL versions of DVDs are usually 4% faster (25 fps as opposed to 24 fps achieved via 3:2 pulldown) than NTSC versions. Thus, the sound pitch is (not noticeably) higher (although some releases are pitch-corrected). Anyway, if there is no separate version for PAL, playing one of these audio tracks would result the lip-sync going off within minutes and after that the experience would only get worse..

    Of course you could fix it yourself by re

    • by wizbit (122290)

      Yes, they offer separate NTSC and PAL versions of their audio tracks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rob T Firefly (844560)
      From iRiffs' tips page [rifftrax.com]:

      Create a PAL version so our friends abroad can watch your iRiff. Using Audacity, (see above), go to Effects->Change Tempo and enter 4.271% Save this as your PAL version.

  • by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Monday August 25, 2008 @09:58AM (#24736265) Homepage

    Cinematic Titanic is the real evolution of MST3K. Their first 3 DVD's are hilarious.
    From the website http://www.cinematictitanic.com/ [cinematictitanic.com]:

    Cinematic Titanic is a feature length movie riffing show and is an artist owned and operated venture created by Joel Hodgson, the creator of the Peabody award-winning Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Cinematic Titanic features the original cast and writers of MST3K, which is Hodgson (Joel Robinson), Trace Beaulieu (Crow), and J. Elvis Weinstein (Tom Servo). Filling out the ensemble is Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester) and Frank Conniff (TVâ(TM)s Frank). Cinematic Titanic's focus is to riff on the movies we love, which are 'the unfathomable', 'the horribly great', and the just plain 'cheesy' movies from the past. Our first feature length DVD Cinematic Titanic's "The Oozing Skull" is available for purchase at EZtakes.com

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by analog_line (465182)

      I would submit that they are both a "real evolution" of MST3K, since they're both the "children" of writers on that show. Me and my brothers are extremely different from each other, and just because someone doesn't like me doesn't mean they'll hate my brother too.

      I personally prefer Rifftrax to Cinematic Titanic, but I also wasn't one of the people that thought the show turned to crap when Joel left. If you're one of those people, yeah, I'm sure Cinematic Titanic will be more up your alley, since, well, t

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2008 @12:21PM (#24738281)

      I would say Cinematic Titanic is a continuation of MST3K. It takes original cast members and riffs on old movies they've licensed. Slightly different premise, but generally same show.

      Rifftrax is more of an evolution of the original idea. They make use of some differing technology that allows them to bypass some licensing issues and let's them riff MODERN movies. I think that's the major difference.

      Same principles though. There's no reason why both versions can't be appreciated.

  • Pretty much 90% of the cast is already doing a second MST3K show called Cinematic Titanic [cinematictitanic.com]. Why isn't Mike in it? Lots of reasons. Why is Mike's different? I guess it's a little different. But bottom line is, Joel made a second act like a year ago. I always loved Joel way more than mike, I guess mike just needs a little help making jokes.
    • Just to head off the "who was first" pissing contests, Rifftrax started in early 2006, while Cinematic Titanic started in late 2007.
      • But Rifftrax is a ripoff of MST3K (PriorArt! PriorArt!) So wouldn't you say Cinematic Titanic is the true follow-on?

        Will Mike be the next Darl McBride?

        • by STrinity (723872)
          Since they're both created by people who were involved with MST3K from almost the beginning, I don't see how either can be rip-offs -- it's like saying Rick Wakeman's albums are ripoffs of Yes, but Jon Anderson's aren't.
    • by LMacG (118321) on Monday August 25, 2008 @10:59AM (#24737139) Journal

      Go ahead and pick one host over the other, but the jokes on MST3K were always written by a large staff, including head writer Mike Nelson.

      And Mike, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy are also working on The Film Crew [wikipedia.org].

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      As others have said, Mike Nelson started RiffTrax in 2006, while Cinematic Titanic was announced towards the tail end of 2007. What's more, RiffTrax was an offshoot of the work Mike had been doing with Legend Films, providing DVD commentary tracks for various old films (including Night of the Living Dead and Reefer Madness, to name just two). So Mike's "second act" came well before Joel's.

      Mike's delivery is obviously different than Joel's delivery, but Mike was head writer of MST3K since the middle of its f

  • It is the entire motivation behind Mandatory Fun Day [thedailywtf.com].
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Monday August 25, 2008 @10:58AM (#24737113) Homepage Journal
    One thing that people aren't really talking about with this story but which I find really interesting, is they are going to accept all sorts of commentary tracks, not just riff-style comedy. This opens up lots of possibilities; self-styled film aficionados and fansite crews can do "standard" commentary tracks for their favorites, people can record alternative scripts to existing films in the vein of "What's Up Tiger Lily" or "Kung Pow: Enter the Fist," and more. Pretty much any new content based on putting new sound onto an existing video can be put out there.
    • There are already many "self-styled film aficionados" doing commentary tracks - MMM Commentaries, Renegade Commentary, Podblast etc.

  • I normally couldn't care less about the quality of the summary or any mistakes it contains. What does drive me batty is the horrible misuse of THEN. From the department of:
    because-your-friends-are-clearly-funnier-then-the-professionals?
    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      From the department of:
      because-your-friends-are-clearly-funnier-then-the-professionals

      And that's an error that can't be passed off on the submitter or the article.

      Then again (to provide a lame excuse), departments tend not to include commas. It could have been "because your friends are clearly funnier, then the professionals", as a partial ordered list of funny people, that got its comma stripped.

      Anyway, I tagged it "typoindepartment".

      (The Internet is infecting you.)

  • Part VLC media player.

    Part Flash based Shadow puppet overlay

    Part MP3 / sync mixer.

    All MST3K all of the time.

    Just open source out the crow and tom server and mike nelson shadow overlay. People already Fansub anime on the net, we could just have people animate the shadow puppets for Mike and the gang.

    • I forgot to add, you want it so that you...

      1. put the DVD movie in your computer and launch the "Riff Player.

      2. Select the MP3 you want to use that has the Riff Tracks on it.

      3. Select the animation overlay file for the movie and riff trax you are using.

      4. Get popcorn and throw it at the computer screen.

  • This is really an opportunity for individuals in the forums who created their own fan riffs (and actually did a good job) to get the advertising they need. The Film Crew in particular stands out. Hopefully, the fan riffs will all meet a certain level of production quality (i.e. no dead air noise and such) that you wouldn't typically get over the internet.

    Go watch the free sample for SPEED and tell me you didn't laugh once.
  • Social/collab site, not so much open source. It's as much open source as CafePress. At the rate the definition of "Open Source" and "Terrorist" are expanding, in about 3 months anything open source will be an incarnate of terrorism.
  • Can we stop putting "i" in front of things?

    • by BathTub (75720)

      If you think about it, in this case the name actually makes sense.

      • by Dolohov (114209)

        But every product or service where it sort of makes sense (the plural destroys it anyway) only encourages the shambling armies of those that don't. And it's not like they'd be sitting there stuck for another product name -- for people who supposedly live by their creativity, they picked a decidedly uncreative name.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Me don't like that~

  • All caps added for emphasis.

    I know I sound like a troll. Using "then" incorrectly in place of "than" really drives me nuts. This mistake is sooooo below Taco's level.

  • Great, now they *want* you to spoof like they do. You can even get paid!

    Too bad that about a year and a half ago, MST3K took legal action to force a name change of six year old Austin comedy group Mr. Sinus Theater, a trio who went around to area movie houses spoofing bad films.

    Mr. Sinus was (and, now as the duo Master Pancake Theater, remains) a treat to experience. The name may have been a little similar, so yes, it's obvious where they got the initial inspiration. But there all similarities ceas

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