Tip.It: Today we are honored to bring you an interview with Excl, winner of the first Machinima contest held by Jagex! Excl is one of many well-known RuneScape video makers on YouTube. If you haven’t already, go and check out his award-winning entry!
Thank you so much for allowing us to interview you!
Excl: No problem, I’m a long time Tip.it lurker. Tip.it is one of my favorite fan sites.
Tip.it: Thank you! It’s been a pretty big week for you with the RuneScape Machinima contest, but let’s start with the basics. For those of us that don’t know you, could you give us a little intro about yourself?
Excl: I’ve been playing RuneScape since early 2004 I think. I don’t really remember. I think I just missed out on Santa hats. I never really kept track because I wasn’t really ever a hardcore, 8-hours-a-day type player. As far as goals, I don’t really have any at the moment. I don’t have the patience to go for a 99. So I guess for now, I’m trying to keep people entertained with videos.
Tip.it: When did you start making videos?
Excl: Well, I started making videos a year and a half ago with my old clan, mostly out of boredom, and I was pretty bad at first, doing RSMVs (RuneScape Music Videos) and other things like that. Eventually I started getting away from that and doing more comedy related stuff, not to mention got a lot better with the editing and have gained a bit of popularity since. It was only a year or so ago I was posting on the forums, begging for people to watch my crappy videos. Now I try to make one or two comedy videos a month to keep fans happy.
Tip.it: Who or what inspired you to make videos?
Excl: Honestly, it was Dark Arm3 (a.k.a. SladeakaKevin). I was playing around on YouTube and saw his videos. I thought I could do something like that and started trying to get my old clan involved. Now, me and him are good friends and keep talking about doing a video together, which we never seem to actually do. After seeing his videos, I soon found out about Tehnoobshow, Maxboison, and a lot of other top video makers. All of them were just as inspiring.
Tip.it: It must be an interesting feeling knowing that your videos are inspirations of future video makers. Have you had fans express such thoughts to you before and if so, what does that in turn inspire you to do?
Excl: I have received a number of messages from people saying that I’ve inspired them to make videos. That’s awesome! I’ve always tried to help aspiring video makers get their feet wet. I created a video making guide with tips that I try to refer people to, and I’ve also tried to constructively critique some videos that people send my way. Of course, that’s going to be a lot harder with more people knowing about me. But somewhere out there is the next Thenoobshow or Excl.
Tip.it: You’ve watched a lot of other people’s videos. Are there any particular pet peeves or recurring mistakes you notice?
Excl: I think the big one is not doing voiceovers. It takes a lot of appeal out of a video when you have to sit there and read an entire video. I know a lot of people aren’t happy with their voices, but even if you don’t have the best voice, it’s a lot better than a text-only video with random music in the background. Also videos with lazy editing; take some pride in your work! Cut out those large portions of blank space, clean things up a little and make it look like you took some time on it. :)
Tip.it: You mentioned that you started out with your old clan. Do you currently have a group of friends that could be considered a clan (especially considering the rather loose definition of clan within RuneScape) that work with you on a daily basis?
Excl: Well, I have a large group of friends that I tend to work with. I’m not really sure you can even call it a clan, as they all seem to have their own groups of friends as well. I try to mix in large groups of fans into a lot of my movies as well, as I’d like to be as inclusive as possible when I can.
Tip.it: The celebrity cameo is a staple of the sitcom genre. Are there any RuneScape celebrities you’d like to star in one of your videos?
Excl: Ha! I’ve actually had a few celebrity cameos in a couple of videos. I think I’ve had many of the major RuneScape video makers in a video of mine already (Tehnoobshow, Maxboison, Dark Arm3, SoSolid, GoingCrazy to name a few). Some of the ones I would like to have still would be Skychi, Shytina, Boomertwins, and Luckybucket… and maybe some of the top game players as well like Gertjaars and Zezima. If they ever bring it up, I’d more than likely include them somehow. :)
Tip.it: Would you be in support of a larger community project related to the production of RS movies (a forum/website)?
Excl: I could do something like a larger community project, but at this point I would just be afraid of attracting so many people wanting to be in a video, that it would be impossible to direct it. I already have horror stories! :D
Excl: I upload pretty much exclusively to YouTube. The other sharing sites would just make for added work, and not necessarily more views. It seems like most RunesScape players go to YouTube anyway.
Tip.it: Would you like to see Jagex-run, or dedicated site for RuneScape videos?
Excl: Well, RuneScape doesn’t have that (yet), but I would be open to [using them]. Right now, everyone seems pretty happy with just using YouTube though. I think [Jagex] will have a video section, but it will most likely be embedded from YouTube. No sense in them tying up server space on their end! :D
Tip.it: The quality of your videos are quite amazing! What kind of software do you use and what are the specifications of the computer you use to do the actual recordings?
Excl: My computer’s a 9550 Quad-core 2.2GHz AMD, with 6GB of RAM, and two 600GB hard drives. For screen recording I use Fraps, sound recording WavePad 2.0, editors Vegas Movie Studio, special sound effects LSMaker, and sound effects Google searching. Most of the voices in the videos are done by me.
Tip.it: How much time does a three to four minute video take to produce in total?
Excl: Well, a lot of it depends on the type of video. If it’s sort of a commentary, I could maybe do that in an hour or two. If it’s something like the contest video, that could take a solid week. There’s a lot that goes on into a video that people don’t realize, like mixing in sounds, creating several audio tracks, placing fake text chat effects into the videos, minor special effects, video touch-up, etc. Many “simple” videos are just one solid video, running for 3-4 minutes. A track that I create could have up to a hundred different cuts in it. It’s nauseating to look at.
Excl has provided an example of his work station; find it here.
Tip.it: Have you ever thought about producing an extended series of videos, something that’d add up to a single story of 30 or more minutes?
Excl: I’ve thought of it, but it would probably be pretty hard for me (or just a boring video). My style is sort of quick situational comedy sketches, sort of like Saturday Night Live. I’m not sure I could stretch something out to an entire 30 minutes and stay on the same subject, yet keep it funny. Shows like “Family Guy” and “South Park” have a whole team of writers to help them do that. :D
Tip.it: Care to share any of you comedic influences?
Excl: Probably just life experiences. I used to work at a comedy club as security, and also watched lots of comedy TV shows like Saturday Night Live. Lots of little influences all over the place.
Tip.it: We noticed that the majority of your videos, and RS videos in general, are comedy. Do you think that, as a medium, RuneScape machinima would be a suitable platform for movies that would be closer to drama?
Excl: Right now, honestly probably not. The thing with conveying a lot of drama is that you need facial expressions to really get the feel of it. You would lose a lot of that in RS machinima because, well, we don’t really have much of a face! :D Comedy is a lot easier because a lot of that is conveyed through voice tones rather than body language. Although, I wouldn’t say it’s impossible to do a feature drama, just a lot more difficult! Could be a good challenge for an aspiring video maker. :)
Tip.it: Have you ever considered producing a more serious video?
Excl: I’ve considered it, but I probably wouldn’t do it. Comedy seems to be working alright for me, so I better stick with what I’m good at! If I tried to do something different, I’d probably get a lot of fans complaining about the change of pace, and I wouldn’t blame them. They signed up for comedies, so I should probably give them more comedy. :D
Tip.it: Jagex has been adding a lot of costume bits over the last two years or so. Are there any you’ve liked in particular, and is there anything you’d like to see added to the game?
Excl: Hmm. I usually try to work with what’s available and have never really had issues. It might be nice to have some “skimpier” outfits as I like to fake nudity every now and then, but I can understand why they wouldn’t have that too! :D
Tip.it: Any features you’d like Jagex to add that would make your work easier?
Excl: I think the biggest one is the auto-rotating camera! That kills me all the time. A lot of shots need to be trimmed to take the blank space out between spoken lines, and you get this big shift in camera angle because the game slowly moves the point of view around all the time.
Tip.it: What would you consider to be some of your best and worst videos?
Excl: I think my best video in mind was the Power Leveling video. Although I wish I could redo it now, as I left a lot of mistakes in it, and my video editing was terrible back then! My worst videos were probably my first couple of videos. I watch some of them now and cringe.
Tip.it: Any reason you’re keeping them up?
Excl: Probably nostalgia more than anything. Plus a few fans like a few of my older ones. I’m secretly hoping a few of them get hit with a copyright infringement though. :D
Tip.it: While we’re on the subject, where do you get your music from?
Excl: Well, there are a few people on YouTube that do their own music recordings. I asked permission and they were more than happy to let me use it if I gave them a little bit of credit (which I do). Most of the rest I usually use classical music, because the copyrights for that are a lot more lax. I’m trying to use a lot more YouTube artist music in my videos, as that is 100% copyright free, and most artists are happy for the added exposure.
Tip.it: Besides winning the contest, what has been the most memorable moment of your ‘career’ so far?
Excl: Would probably have to be my first “big” video. I released the “How to make a Popular RS video” movie as a kind of a spoof on what people try and do to get more views. And ironically, it worked perfectly. By the end of the second day, I have received comments from both Maxboison and Zezima, and Max had featured it on his channel. That was pretty much the day I started getting popular.
Tip.it: What’s the biggest investment you’ve ever had to make for a video (GP wise)?
Excl: Wow, I really can’t remember. It had to of been one of my older videos. Now, most of my friends are more than willing to spend money for me to get in a video. It wasn’t the bronze dagger video either! I photoshopped that last shot of the Grand Exchange! :D
Tip.it: Okay, last one before we move onto the contest itself. Do you think MechScape will be suitable for machinima too, and do you think you’ll try to use it?
Excl: I think just about every video game is suitable for machinima in some way. I have no idea what MechScape will be like, but I’ll probably try at least one video or two with it.
Tip.it: Right, onto the contest itself!
Excl: Okay! :D
Tip.it: Besides your own entry, have there been any entries you enjoyed in particular?
Excl: There were plenty I enjoyed! I was extremely relived that I made the top six. There were some terrific entries. Among my favorites were Ant1Venom’s “Odd Day” and Chizsle’s “Armadyl, Bandos, & Zaros enter the [RuneScape Machinima Contest].” A newcomer named He He Pure made a great Cops parody, and of course the other finalist videos were amazing as well.
Tip.it: Do you think Jagex went about running the contest the right way? Are there things you would have done different, if you had to run a contest like this?
Excl: Well I think there are going to be complaints any way you run the contest. If Jagex just picked a straight winner, then people would have a problem with their selection (there were plenty of complaints with just the top six). If you let the fans vote, then there will be complaints of subscriber counts and ballot box stuffing. If you go by video ratings, then some of the lesser viewed videos might not get the respect they deserve. It’s just really difficult to find the “perfect” way. I think the best way might just be to have Jagex pick a winner. It would sort of bye like the Academy Awards, and I’m sure there would be complaints of the picks, but at least there would be no accusations of ballot box stuffing! :D
Tip.it: Do you think there should be more machinima contests in the future?
Excl: Absolutely! It was great exposure for everybody involved. Even those that didn’t get named as finalists still got a lot of people seeing their videos for the first time. Even if the contest didn’t run as smoothly as some people would have hoped. It was more exposure for video makers than we had before!
Tip.it: So now that you’ve won the contest, how do you plan on explaining to your boss that you need a few days off from work because a video game company organized a contest based on making videos using material from their game, and you won the grand prize? :P
Excl: I think I’m going to contract a rare stomach virus, which takes around a week to recover. Nah, my boss is cool. I’ll tell her I won a vacation to England and she won’t ask questions. :)
Tip.it: Luck you! How did your family react?
Excl: They are thrilled! My wife is very happy for me. My mom, dad, and brother call called me to congratulate me on winning as well, although they have no idea what RS is. :D
Tip.it: Is this something you’ll be telling your grandchildren about?
Excl: Oh maybe… I already have lots of interesting stories to tell. :)
Tip.it: Winning a competition of this size is going to really boost your views, if it hasn’t already. Do you feel that with an increased fan-base or demand you will be making more videos?
Excl: I think I’ve ended up getting almost 5000 new subscriptions since the contest started. I’ll probably make videos at about the same rate as I was before, which was maybe only one or two a month. I’m sure the demand will be up though! :D If anything, making videos will be tougher now with my new schedule, as well as more fan mail and requests.
Tip.it: Fantastic! We’re currently looking at how we could better accommodate the needs of RuneScape video makers here on Tip.it. Any suggestions?
Excl: Maybe separate the screenshots and videos into two different threads? I realize you’d like to keep things as condensed as possible too. I just remember a year ago posting a video and seeing it disappear quickly under a sea of screenshot posts. :D
Tip.it: Thank you so much for your time Excl! Hope to see more of your videos soon! And congratulations again on winning the RuneScape machinima contest!