Author Topic: Help make this section useful (tips for riffing)  (Read 52839 times)

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Offline Conor

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Help make this section useful (tips for riffing)
« on: August 19, 2008, 02:25:28 PM »
If you've got any tips to share regarding the iRiff recording, writing, video making process, please share them in the iRiffs section.  We're going to link to this thread from the iRiff FAQ, so the more useful stuff here, the better.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2009, 01:58:01 PM by torgosPizza »


Offline JoshWay

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Re: Help make this section useful
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2008, 07:57:41 AM »
Here are some of my tips, by category:

WRITING
-Always watch the movie (or short) through at least once before you start to write riffs. It gets you familiar with the material and allows you to be more "sophisticated" in your writing, planning ahead for callbacks or running gags.
-If a riff seems too easy, think hard whether or not it's stolen (I find myself unwittingly cribbing MST riffs all the time!)
-If you get hung up on a particular moment, just move on. It's very unpleasant and inefficient to stare at the screen for twenty minutes trying to think up a joke. Move on, and the perfect riff will hit you later when you're doing something else. Promise!
-Find a compromise between too simple and too clever. Instead of "She's really old!," try "Time for Nana's pudding" or something that makes the listener think a little.
-Bill frequently reminds the contributing writers that our mission is not to savage a film, it's to be funny. Not every joke has to rip the movie a new one. Just try to make each moment as much fun as it can be.

RECORDING
-Rehearse your riff several times. It's time consuming, but you'll be glad you did. Record the rehearsals if you like.
-A good headset mic will cost no more than $50, and will make the process much easier.
-Be very aware of your levels. Do some test recordings to make sure you're not clipping or distorting your voice. If there are multiple riffers, take the time to get everyone's levels even.
-Use whatever software is available to you, but I recommend something with timeline-based editing and multiple tracks so you can record your commentary on it's own track and edit as heavily as you need to. Sony Vegas is the best IMHO, but Audacity does the job and is free.

EDITING (for videos mixed with riffs)
-Find a good balance between your riff audio and the movie audio. Older films (like shorts) aren't as dynamic as modern movies in terms of sound, so you'll probably be able to find a good level that is consistent throughout. As Rifftrax reauthorers know, mixing a riff with the bombastic soundtrack of a modern action flick takes a lot of work to get the sound even throughout.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2008, 08:10:35 AM by JoshWay »


Offline pezdrake

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Re: Help make this section useful
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2008, 07:07:09 AM »
I use the AVS video/audio editor.  Can't say how it compares to others.  I have it figured out pretty well now but there was a definite learning curve so other editors may be a bit more intuitive.  It's one program to edit out and add in new video as well as layer over severla sound tracks so it suits my needs fine for making my DIY riffs.


Offline NeoMyers

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Re: Help make this section useful
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2008, 06:23:41 PM »
-Bill frequently reminds the contributing writers that our mission is not to savage a film, it's to be funny. Not every joke has to rip the movie a new one. Just try to make each moment as much fun as it can be.

I've given this some thought. I think there are some movies/shorts that demand "savaging." I offer up "Star Wars: Episode I" as a prime example. The movie punishes you and you have to punish right back.

That said, it can't ALL be negative. That would get old. Additionally, I think the Willy Wonka riff is an example of how depending on your content your riffing matches it. They were mostly goofy and fun throughout that movie because that's the kind of movie it is.

Battlefield: Earth on the other hand requires stern punishment.


Offline Piobman

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Re: Help make this section useful
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2008, 11:34:27 PM »
Here is a tip for those new  to recording audio so that their recording comes out the best. It hurts to hear a really talented individual who records a terribly distorted track ruining their effect. This is specifically for Audacity but all audio editing programs are capable of this.

The best advice is to make sure your audio recording levels are not too high. This seems to be the most common problem of 'fan riffs' I've seen. You can fix a quiet recording increasing the amplitude... but a distorted recording can't be fixed easily (or at all). Even a cheapy microphone can sound fine if recorded at the proper levels. I play a very loud instrument (bagpipes) and have recorded myself which sounded just fine with the cheap soundblaster (free with your sound card) variety without any problems (inside a very small room). I don't believe anyone needs to run out and buy any expensive equipment for just a voice track. As long as you're not too close to the microphone, your breath shouldn't cause popping sounds. Another thread mentioned some tips on this like keeping the microphone to the side of your mouth (a good idea). This is how most headsets are set up to keep this from happening (I work in a call center... it works).

How to optimize your recording levels in Audacity:
1. start recording a new track
2. click the down arrow next to the microphone icon on the top toolbar.
3. select "monitor input"
4. now speak in the loudest voice you plan on doing...
5. lower the recording volume (slider next to the microphone icon) until the loud spikes stay within the window as it records (the top spikes do not exceed which causes clipping).
6.After your done recording you can run a normalize filter to max the volume
7. Remove breathing sounds to clean up the track (do not delete), but instead select the part to remove and click 'amplitude' and reduce it to nothing.
8.Another tip, make sure your mp3 is encoded in at least 96kbps (personaly I think that's a bit low... but I don't know the standards rifftrax plans to implement on this sort of thing). 128kbps and up are better in my opinion (file size will be bigger though).


Offline RoninFox

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Re: Help make this section useful
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2008, 05:04:09 AM »
Piobman gives good advice, and I'll add more more Audacity tip to his list.  If you find you have some background hum (likely caused by your computer or other equipment like that) you can lessen the effect with the noise removal tool.  First highlight a few seconds of what should be silence, so just the hum and nothing else, then click "Noise Removal"  (It's under the Effects menu)  The Noise Removal window will pop up and you should click "Get Noise Profile"  After that does it's thing, the window will vanish and you can select your entire track.  Click "Noise Removal" again, and this time look at the Stage 2 section.  You have a few options to chose from as to how aggressive the removal is.  The default settings usually work for me, but feel free to play with it to see what works for you.  Set the Noise Reduction level too high, you might take out more than the hum and leave your voice distorted, so make sure you can get it to sound right.  (SAVE FIRST!  ALWAYS SAVE BEFORE EDITING ANYTHING!)  Once you think you're ready, click OK and let the program work it's magic.  There is also a preview button, but when editing anything this big I find it usually doesn't play enough for you to know what it did at all.
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Offline kodiakthejuggler

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Re: Help make this section useful
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2008, 08:41:21 AM »
(I find myself unwittingly cribbing MST riffs all the time!)

I prefer to think of it this way: in Baseball, the greatest players are Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Willy Mays, Barry Bonds, Reggie Jackson, Nolan Ryan, etc. If you want to play on the same field as them, you at least have to emulate them.

There's no doubt that the greatest riffers are Joel, Mike, Trace, Kevin, Bill, J. Elvis, Mary Jo, Bridget, Frank, Paul, etc. The only way to play on the same field is to emulate their greatness.



Offline Indomitus

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Re: Help make this section useful
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2008, 12:37:57 PM »
Someone once said that "You fake it 'til you make it."
« Last Edit: August 28, 2008, 12:42:53 PM by Indomitus »


Offline Kaze43

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Re: Help make this section useful
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2008, 01:43:21 PM »
For those of you who own Sony Soundforge 8.0 or later, I've written a script that will "Compile" a rifftrax automatically given time-stamped source files.

For example I have the three comments recorded for the times below:
1hr 3mins 2.5sec
1hr 3mins 15.3sec
1hr 3mins 30sec

I name them like so:
folder\1.03.02.5.wav
folder\1.03.15.3.wav
folder\1.03.30.wav

I run the script and point it to "folder" and it will rapid-fire place all the files in the folder into a single 1:30:30 (plus length of last file of course) file ready to go.

It will also warn you of comments overlapping (came in handy a few times)

----------------------------------------

If anyone is interested, just shoot me an email at stkuczma@mtu.edu and I'll be happy to share.


Offline Indomitus

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Re: Help make this section useful
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2008, 05:32:16 PM »
Kaze43...  Re: the banner in your sig...  I'd mind that iRiffs name there.  "Rifftrax" belongs to them and is identifiable as such, could cause you trouble.  How about "Rifftronic" or something like that?

That is an interesting approach, though, with the script.  You could time stamp all the comment files, run the script, and check to make sure everything lines up, then if something's off, just adjust the time stamp on that one a bit and lather, rinse repeat.  Personally, I'm fine with my NLE, but the less tech savvy could probably use something like that.


Offline Kaze43

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Re: Help make this section useful
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2008, 05:46:24 AM »
Thanks for the heads-up, didn't think about that... think "Riffing" would be acceptable?


Offline Steve-O

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Re: Help make this section useful
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2008, 08:00:42 AM »
Thanks for the heads-up, didn't think about that... think "Riffing" would be acceptable?

Why not go with "Riffcast", since the name is a play on "Emergency Broadcast System"?


Offline Kaze43

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Re: Help make this section useful
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2008, 08:35:04 AM »
Thanks for the heads-up, didn't think about that... think "Riffing" would be acceptable?

Why not go with "Riffcast", since the name is a play on "Emergency Broadcast System"?

Thats perfect!  Thanks a bunch!


Offline bratpop

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Re: Help make this section useful
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2008, 08:22:13 AM »
DUCKING FOR DUMMIES

Don't have an audio program with ducking capabilities for your VOD iRiff (or in fact, a reauthored iRiff or Rifftrax)? No problem, there's an easier way than complex audio routing or manual volume lowering.

Follow these steps:

1. Get Audacity. Open Audacity. Drag your riff audio file and your movie/short audio file into the program window to import them.

2. Synch them up (if necessary) by finding the start of your first synch line (you do have synch lines, don't you?), and the start of that line in the movie. Drag your selection from one start to the other. Write down the time difference (the minutes/seconds in parantheses in the status bar of Audacity). Then click on the track whose line starts too early. Hit the "Skip to Start" button to put your cursor at the start of that track. Go to Generate->Silence and enter the time difference you wrote down. Check the other synch lines to make sure it worked.

3. To duck the audio, find the loudest part of the DVD/movie/short track. Hit the play button to listen to both tracks at once, and turn down the gain control of the movie track (left side of track below Mute and Solo buttons) until you can hear the riffs distinctly without the movie audio overwhelming them. You can make this as low as you're comfortable with.

4. Go to Project->Quick Mix to mix the tracks together.

5. When that process has finished, find and select a brief portion of the track that has regular or QUIET movie audio, followed by a riff.

6. Now go to Effect->Compressor. Set the Threshold to -40 dB, the Ratio to 8:1, and the Attack time to its lowest setting of 0.1 secs. The attack time needs to be low so it compresses as soon as a riff starts, and doesn't asplode your eardrums with a sharp increase in volume first. Press the preview button to sample the effect. If you listened to the mix before this, you should notice that it went from quiet movie audio and a loud riff, to loud movie audio and a loud riff. If so, congratulations. It worked. If you want, you can lower the threshold and increase the ratio for more compression, but these settings should work fine (I only chose them because that was the maximum value available in Cubase). Keeping "Normalize to 0dB after compressing" is probably a good idea, if you want to be able to hear the audio at all. If you deselect it, you'll notice it is probably too quiet.

7. Press Cancel, then click on the track to select the entire mix (instead of just the sample). Go back to Effect->Compressor and using the same settings, press OK to start the process. You can skip this step and just press OK if you don't need to preview the sample selection.

Sadly, this is far from perfect, as there will still be a few loud peaks due to the 0.1 second delay of the compressor. You can try to remedy this with the Click Removal tool under Effects. However, there may not be very many spikes in the track, so you could lower them manually with normalize, amplify (negative numbers) or the envelope tool, or a hard limiter plugin if you have one (I'm not sure if it's standard or not).

Afterwards, you should probably run Normalize, and then increase the gain of the track to +3 to get maximum volume.

Now you have a really ducky audio mix for your VOD riff or Rifftrax DVD. Best of all, it was free! And chicks love it.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2008, 08:24:41 AM by bratpop »


Offline Mass Riffer Mafia

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Re: Help make this section useful
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2008, 11:38:20 AM »
Any tips for Nero users?