Thanks everyone for the great ideas about the RT Podcast. Tons of feedback on that post.
Heading into a super hot weekend here in Texas. Looks like 108 on Monday. Yikes.
1 day agoBen B. Singer Ben B. Singer
Episode - 17: Starscream VS Rainbow Dash
Many people believe Goku VS Superman is the most polarizing episode we’ve ever done.
Those people probably weren’t around when we announced Starscream would be taking on Rainbow Dash.
Quick aside, I always knew we would eventually get to a point where some viewers would “lose respect” for Death Battle over petty reasons. The exact same thing happened to Deadliest Warrior, and I frankly didn’t see any good way of avoiding it without severely limiting Death Battle itself.
Anyway, I’m sure there are plenty of you who weren’t watching back then, and maybe even a few too young to have been very active on the internet six to eight years ago, so let me give you some context. In 2010, a new My Little Pony reboot premiered and garnered an audience of adult fans. Not just via nostalgia of older women, but a male audience, as well. A very, very large one. As far as I know, there’s still no conclusive explanation for why this happened, but we do know that the “brony” audience was extremely controversial simply for existing.
Let me set the stage; it’s an average day at ScrewAttack, and I’m finishing up the Chun-Li VS Mai Shiranui episode. I take a break from editing to have lunch with some of my co-workers, including Chad and Jared aka ProJared. At some point the topic of bronies comes up. The new MLP show had been out for about a year now, and we had all noticed how massive the fanbase had become. We joked about ways we could tap into this huge audience by putting a pony in a Death Battle. None of us were really serious about it. We couldn’t even come up with a good matchup for something as un-Death-Battle-like as a My Little Pony character. Then Jared, making the Hasbro connection in his head, said aloud...
“What if they fought a Transformer?”
Now, I’d like to pause for a minute and address something. When Starscream VS Rainbow Dash was announced, a lot of viewers began theorizing who at ScrewAttack could be a brony. Because naturally, we wouldn’t have done this episode unless someone in the office was a brony who fought for it, right? Well… no. As far as I’m aware, none of us had watched the show before that point. However, I remembered how powerful cartoony characters like Yoshi had been in Death Battle, so when we got back to the office I suggested we pull up the My Little Pony wiki and see what some of these tiny horse girl toys could do.
And suddenly, the idea didn’t seem so far-fetched anymore.
The first possibility we looked into was Megatron VS Twilight Sparkle, but I quickly realized there wasn’t much of a connection there we could play off of. As random as this matchup would seem to the casual viewer, I wanted there to be something holding it together. I eventually reached the page for a flying blue one and learned that her “special trait” was loyalty. Pitting her against the most unloyal Transformer, who conveniently also flies, seemed perfect.
Even after all that, this episode was pretty intimidating! Transformers was a vast franchise I was only sort of familiar with and I knew basically nothing about My Little Pony. Also, Craig was heavily against the idea, but like my Team Four Star audition for Vegeta VS Shadow, I just did it anyway. In addition, my experience with the Ninja Turtles Battle Royale got me thinking about the presentation. What if the pony lost? Could we get away with a brutal death for a pony? What if the YouTube algorithm put this in front of a child because it had “My Little Pony” all over it, only for them to witness a bloody murder of their favorite pegasus?
That last thought really stuck with me, and I made some decisions. There would be no swearing in this episode, nor would there be any blood or gore. Also, for the first and only time in Death Battle history, I decided that if a certain character was going to lose, we could not do the episode. If Rainbow Dash died the bronies we’d attract would think we baited them, the non-bronies would question why the episode exists at all, and it might scar some very young children when their parent uses YouTube as a “babysitting tool.” (There actually was a recent scandal about this very thing happening, so I’m happy to say our video wasn’t part of the problem!)
Basically, if the pony lost, everyone lost in one way or another. Still, I had just recently changed Harry VS Aang because I realized that would be a blow-out, so I figured I could do the same kind of thing here if necessary. Luckily, it was easier than expected to develop a solid argument for the pony victory, and production kept on schedule!
This quickly became one of our most dynamic productions we had done up to that point. I learned about an upcoming fan game called “Fighting Is Magic,” and I contacted the team behind it, Mane6, to ask if we could borrow their Rainbow Dash sprites. They were really on board with the idea, but unfortunately Rainbow Dash was one of the few characters they hadn’t finished sprites for. Future pony episodes would utilize Mane6’s sprites, but for this one I happened to stumble upon another good set on some pony related forum. I couldn’t find their origin point, but after the episode aired their game artist got in touch with me and provided higher quality versions of the sprites. I found some time to make a remastered variant with the better sprites and some other small improvements I previously didn’t have time for, which is currently only on Rooster Teeth! But I’m getting ahead of myself…
This episode has voice actors! We held our first ever open casting call for Starscream, announcing him right after Chun-Li VS Mai had aired. However, I specifically kept his opponent a secret until less than a week before the episode’s release. For the voice of Starscream, we got a bunch of awesome auditions in, and amateur actor Zak Wilson got the part. Interestingly enough, Jim Sterling also auditioned for Starscream, and wound up voicing Starscream’s spark.
Getting an actress for Rainbow was just as interesting. I didn’t want to have an open audition since that would mean we’d have to announce it early. Mane6 didn’t have an actress yet, but they recommended I talk to the guys behind Dream Valley Game (Yes, that’s 3 different MLP fan game teams helping me out now) who recommended voice actress Erica Mendez. She became our Rainbow Dash. Now, if you recognize that name, that probably means you watch dubbed anime. If not, you may still recognize some of her characters, because Erica went on to book some pretty incredible roles!
Starscream VS Rainbow Dash aired on September 23, 2011 and somehow… it worked. Yeah, there was some dumb hate flying around the comments, but for the most part it seemed everyone enjoyed it to some extent. Today, it has an 83% positive rating and is getting closer to 10 million views on YouTube. ProJared even did a follow-up later at BotCon, where he proved our episode was “100% correct and factual!”
Funny enough, this episode aired right as MLP Season 2 was starting. (We didn't know until after production started, so strange coincidence there.) I was worried some people wouldn't believe Rainbow could destroy anything as big as Starscream, but right after our release an episode aired where she rams into a house at mach speeds creating a mega-sized explosion, mushroom cloud and all, and effortlessly obliterates the whole thing! So yeah, thanks for helping our argument, Hasbro!
Anyway, I felt really good about its reception. I think this was one of the biggest risks we ever took, and we pulled it off!
And one last thing. Some time after this episode came out, I started noticing a trend with Transformers and My Little Pony...
Now, this isn’t necessarily anything special. Transformers and My Little Pony have shared a lot of crossovers and easter eggs. There’s even a Pinkie Pie doll in the first Michael Bay Transformers, not just the one pictured above. What I think is interesting is that Hasbro itself continues to pair up Rainbow Dash with Starscream. I’m not suggesting that our video somehow influenced someone over at Hasbro, more likely they simply had the same idea of comparing them as I did… but you know, anything’s possible…
-Ben B. Singer
P.S. This is easily one of my favorite episodes we ever did. What’s your favorite Death Battle episode?
1 day agoJoshuaKazemi @joshuakazemi
Juri VS Mileena | DBX - Editor Notes
2 days agoBen B. Singer Ben B. Singer
If you’ve been to a Death Battle convention panel, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about the original plan for episode 15…
Harry Potter VS Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Art by Viria
That was the idea put down for the Original 26, and I thought it might be a pretty unique type of match-up. Spells versus bending, wand versus staff, broomstick versus Appa… I was all set for this! I had really enjoyed watching Avatar back in the mid-2000s. The only problem was that I hadn’t actually watched season 3. I figured this episode would be a great excuse to finish a series I remembered fondly, and create a special episode out of it.
I watched season 3. I realized I liked this show a lot more than I thought I did. Then I got to Aang’s final battle with Fire Lord Ozai... and I realized this match-up with a wizard boy was a terrible idea. There was no way Harry would be able to keep up with the crazy antics Aang could pull off by the end of the series. So I went back to the drawing board.
Fortunately, I knew exactly what match-up to replace it with, because it had been one I remember hearing about back in high school. Who would win in in fight between Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker? Bam, instant classic.
Then there’s Chun-Li VS Mai Shiranui, the ‘thighs versus boobs’ battle. There are two main things I remember about this episode’s production. The first, and dumbest, thing is that when typing out Mai’s ‘Background’ slate I accidentally labelled her measurements as inches when the numbers pertained to centimeters, so it says her chest is over 7 feet around! Whoops! Though considering the character, I can understand why I and nobody else caught that before release.
The second thing was that due to time constraints, I had to make this entire fight animation in less than 2 days. Less than 48 hours! It’s pretty short, but after watching it again, I actually think I did a surprisingly good job, all things considered!
Oh wait, there’s a third thing. I remember how I was really weirded out by how many of Mai’s sprites were so exceedingly sexuallized. So just for the laughs, I made sure to shove in as many of them as I possibly could, even if they didn’t make any sense!
Just look at that. SNK knew exactly what they were doing.
-Ben B. Singer
P.S. Is there a female character you’d like to see in a future Death Battle?
2 days agoericvespe
Summer movie season is in full swing right now. You can still find at least three superhero movies in theaters as well as a big, dumb action movie staring The Rock and the latest Mission: Impossible film hits screens in a little over a week. But that doesn't mean there aren't smaller, more meaningful movies out there.
One is coming out this weekend called Blindspotting. I saw this film at Sundance and raved about it back then. Now you have a chance to see what I was talking about. Starring Hamilton's Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Janina Gavankar and Jasmine Cephas Jones, this is one of those everything movies. It'll make you laugh, it'll make you cry, it'll make your butthole clench in pure tension. You know, everything.
Blindspotting is about a man in the final days of his parole who witnesses a policeman shooting an unarmed man. He's traumatized by the incident, but can't speak out for fear of revealing that violated his parole. At the same time his crazy best friend isn't helping matters by constantly acting as the well-intentioned, but bad influence in his life.
It's a great film and I was super excited to sit down with the two leads, Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, alongside their director Carlos Lopez Estrada to talk about how this film about friendship was actually born out of friendship as well as just how great their supporting cast is and how they struck an authentic balance between real world issues and escapism entertainment.
It's a good chat. Enjoy!
Eric Vespe: Hey, guys. So, I saw the movie at Sundance and flipped for it. It spoke to me in a way I wasn't quite expecting and I think it's because of the way the humor of the film pushes the narrative. It's a movie with deadly serious content, but first and foremost it's almost a buddy comedy. I cared about the stakes of the movie because I cared about the friendship between you guys. Was that your way into the story?
Carlos Lopez Estrada: The movie is based on friendship. It sounds like a corny thing to say, but it's true. The movie's a result of the friendship between Rafa and Daveed for... how many years?
Daveed Diggs: Hella years.
Rafael Casal: (laughs) Hella years. We're coming up on two decades.
Carlos Lopez Estrada: Then there was a friendship between Daveed and myself. It started professionally and then...
Daveed Diggs: It became romantic.
Carlos Lopez Estrada: It wasn't romantic, it was just physical. (laughs) Then through Daveed I met Rafa. It's oversimplifying the process a little, but a lot of people came to (the movie) because of friendship. (Producers) Keith Calder and Jess Wu have been working with these guys for 9 years as well. A lot of the actors are either friends or friends of friends of people who these guys have worked with. It is a family endeavor and I'm glad to hear that energy translates when you watch the movie. Calling this movie a passion project is a serious understatement. They could probably tell you a little more about the real genesis.
Daveed Diggs: (to Rafa) You said something great a little while ago about humor and male relationships... about how men interact with each other.
Rafael Casal: Just say it's my quote, but Daveed will say it.
Daveed Diggs: Rafa says that one of the ways that men stay friends with each other is by making jokes. That's what we do. We're always sort of covering up...
Rafael Casal: It's the barrel roll out of tension. We have two main emotions that men are socially accepted to express. It's anger and humor. Those are the two conditioned ways to fluctuate.
Really the movie runs the way heterosexual male friendship tends to toggle. It's devoid of too much talk about feelings and it's very much humor-humor-humor until it boils up and because of that I think the characteristic of the film I love the most is just how much they try to keep bringing humor into it until it's completely impossible. Even in the end it's Miles' final barrel roll that gets us to a place of hope between the two of them, by trying to get them to laugh. That's the survival nature of friendship.
Daveed Diggs: It sets up this thing where you can't trust humor any more. It's not enough. But then the final statement is pretty much if we acknowledge that we both changed we can still make jokes.
Eric Vespe: I relate to that a lot. It's also important for audiences to know, too. You can tell people Blindspotting has great messages about gentrification and police brutality and the unfairness of the parole system and their eyes might glaze over. It might sound like homework. But if you can tell them it's a funny movie and you're going to connect with the characters that changes the conversation that gets people to give it a shot.
Daveed Diggs: The buddy comedy in a world that won't let it be one... the reason that we say that sentence so much is because that sentence, and when you see the movie you'll get this, is to me the definition of what “Blindspotting” is. You say “a buddy comedy in a world that won't let it be one” and all people hear is the “buddy comedy” part and the second half is lost. You don't entirely know what it means, so your eyes float to “buddy comedy.”
The first press we ever got was “Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs are doing a buddy comedy set in Oakland.” Yeah, we gave you the full sentence, but that's where your eye went.
The in is that it's a buddy comedy, but it doesn't ignore the world that it exists in and it's that world that won't let it be one. The inherent seriousness of the time we're in gives you the buddy comedy, but puts it in the world that we're in.
The world just unfolds as it is, which is why I never throw out the gun control and violence themes or even really police shootings. We're just now starting to add that because we're being told to. (laughs) We're being told it's helpful.
Eric Vespe: Speaking of, your character witnesses a police shooting and the guy playing the officer is Ethan Embry. He's so damn good in this thing. He's a deeply flawed character, but not a one-dimensional bad guy. I felt I was empathizing with him and I never in a million years would have thought I'd do that with a person in his position.
Rafael Casal: The amazing thing about empathy is all you actually have to do is make them human. You'll forgive so many flaws in a character's personality or political position as long as they feel full and human.
Daveed Diggs: And I don't think we're even asking for forgiveness. It's just that you can sort of understand it. What we don't see is him over there and laughing and high-fiving two weeks after he shot a kid. His life probably sucks. You don't have to let him off the hook for being poorly trained and for shooting somebody because he was scared of a person running away from him. You don't get off the hook for that. You don't get brownie points for that, but also your life is probably pretty shitty.
From our perspective (Ethan's character) couldn't reconcile with his wife after that. There's no turning back from that. The great thing about Ethan as an actor is that he made that whole movie in his head. He had the whole story of that officer in his head.
Rafael Casal: The other side of this film.
Daveed Diggs: And he asked us a ton of questions about it. We didn't write that into the script, so he came to us and asked us questions. Where is this guy from? Does he have other infractions?
Rafael Casal: Do you think he came from the military? He gave it that much thought. I don't think at any point Ethan was trying to create a character that he thought was morally right. He just wanted a three-dimensional human being who is also a product of his surroundings and biases.
Daveed Diggs: I don't think Ethan likes him very much!
Rafael Casal: But I think he got him, which is nearly impossible when you read this script and invest in the main characters. To be able to find a sincere way into that officer...
Daveed Diggs: It's a thing we asked of everybody involved in this film. So much of the focus is necessarily on us, but it was really important to have all these characters who were fully realized and felt like they had their own lives. So everybody had to do that work, without necessarily the lines to support it. Jasmine (Cephas Jones) came to the Bay a little bit early and just hung out. She's soooo New York.
Rafael Casal: She's so Brooklyn! She was there for two days. She came to the Warriors parade...
Daveed Diggs: It happened to be when the Warriors won the title.
Rafael Casal: She hung out with two of the women who here character is based on and within two hours had the speech pattern down and was just walking around with it. They did her hair and I just kept forgetting that was Jasmine. It was magic.
Eric Vespe: Janina (Gavankar) is great, too. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when she's doing your hair. It's the most romantic not-romantic scene ever. It's romantic in that these are two people who get each other and care for each other, but they're not at a place where they can become an item again.
Daveed Diggs: We auditioned here by seeing if she could braid hair. She can't, so that's an incredible acting job. You'll see she focuses on the back of the head. (laughs)
Carlos Lopez Estrada: I think Janina is
one of those casting stories that I'll always remember because she
came in to read towards the later end of the process. We had seen a
lot of actors, some very, very talented people came in to read, and
we were having a hard time making a decision. It was an important
role. Then she walked into the room and did a handful of things that
no one had done and I think understood the depth of the character in
ways that we hadn't even fully grasped.
We had a conversation with her about the script and about how she related to it being an Indian woman and understanding how minorities feel. It's just one of those things I'll never forget. She walked out of the room and we all just looked at each other and said, “Wow. How could we not work with this woman?”
Daveed Diggs: She taught us things about Val in the audition.
Rafael Casal: She totally changed the character.
Daveed Diggs: There's that moment at the end of that scene after their hug she just said “Okay, bye” and walked out. No one else had played it that way. There was always this longing pathos thing, but she did it that way and I was like “... okay.” I was reading with her.
Rafael Casal: She just cut the scene off!
Daveed Diggs: All of us were like “That's how that scene was supposed to go! Shit.” It gave her so much more agency than I think even we were giving to that character. The best of our abilities we were still two dudes trying to write women and she came in and was like “This is how I would do it in this moment.”
Carlos Lopez Estrada: She's not like Val, but in many ways she is. She'd come up to all three of us and we would give her direction and she'd say “Actually, I'm not sure if I agree with that” and we'd have these really interesting conversations.
Rafael Casal: She really took Val from us.
Daveed Diggs: Thank goodness.
Rafael Casal: She'd be like “Val's this person. I know her better than you, so we're going to do it this way.” We were like “Okay!”
Eric Vespe: It's a tough character because that archetype could come across as naggy.
Daveed Diggs: It could come across as naggy, I know! It's tricky. There was an edit where we failed her, really. There was an early edit where she came off that way and it wasn't because of her performance, it was because we were choosing the wrong shots. For time we cut a bunch of things out, so we had to go back put more of her in. She gives this wonderfully nuanced performance with so much empathy in it, but for time we cut a lot of those moments and we were watching it going “We have to put that back.”
Rafael Casal: There's the balance of sweet and stern and she gave us so many different takes of each one in each scene. Compiling that, you have to have just the right amount of Val's sweetness and kindness that you understand why her and Collin were together, but also just enough coldness that you get that this isn't a happily ever after thing.
Eric Vespe: Absolutely. I love the movie and I think a lot of people are going to love the movie as well. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me.
The movie's out in select theaters this weekend and goes wide on July 27th. If you like good things, go watch it!
2 days agoBarbara
Bonjour, my friends!
In case you happened to miss the news yesterday, we just launched my new collection in the RT Store: French with Benefits! (huehue)
I've been very inspired by a lot of "french" style lately, and wanted to make a collection that uses that inspiration, as well as unique, custom-made pieces. For this, we have 2 shirts, a suede cap, a tote bag, and... our first ever DRESS! (photos below). I am so happy with the way everything turned out, and am a big fan of pieces you can dress up or down.
Huge shoutout to the design/photography/store teams for making this possible. I am so excited to see these adorable pieces on your bodies. Go grab 'em!
3 days agoBen B. Singer Ben B. Singer
Episode - 14: Justin Bieber VS Rebecca Black
What a strange, strange episode. Especially when you consider this is what was meant to follow up Mario VS Sonic. I believe this is also the only Death Battle with a disclaimer at the front.
I’m sure you may be wondering why this episode exists. Well, I can only say the first season was Death Battle’s “experimental phase” so many times, but let me break this down for you. It’s 2011, and Justin Bieber is a polarizing phenomenon. Then this random girl who you've forgotten about until right now makes one of the most popular videos of all time with the worst song ever made, becoming a viral hit much the same way Bieber did. I believe the intention of this episode was to try taking advantage of a recent trend, and see if Death Battle could be used as a sort of “response” to current events. Obviously, it’s difficult, because it takes time to make an episode, so that didn't really work out.
I do think the Rebecca Black rundown is pretty good, though. Analyzing exactly what was happening in “Friday” was exactly the kind of thing Death Battle is for, and I loved taking the lyrics and visuals way more seriously than anyone was obviously meant to. Though I have to admit I remember feeling a little uncomfortable trash talking and showing the (comically animated) death of a 14 year old girl.
Anyway, I don’t really have anything else to say, so let’s look at some of the top comments!
I am so sorry.
Well. At least someone’s found a use for this episode.
This guy put more thought into his comment than we did for the entire video.
We did it. We saved the world.
Actually, there is something worth talking about here. Every so often, early Death Battle would be caught having a few spelling errors, particularly on the “slates” that slide in to show additional information about the combatants. We didn’t have any standard review process back then, so lots of little things like that slipped through the cracks, but one of the worst happens in this episode. While poking fun at Black’s issues with grammar... we misspelled grammar as grammer. Whoops.
Also, I also am mildly disappointed I wasn’t able to time out my Road to 100 blog series so this would land on a Friday.
-Ben B. Singer
P.S. If we were to do another Death Battle with real world people, who should we match up?
3 days agoKerry
So, today actually marks a pretty cool milestone for RWBY. Five years ago today we uploaded the first Chapter of RWBY to RoosterTeeth.com.
That’s… a long time. Wow. Give me a second.
*takes deep breath*
We’ve got some cool news and things to show at RTX (you can still buy tickets!) but that’s for then. For now, I’d like to say:
Over the past five years I think it would be an understatement to say we’ve had our “ups and downs”... but the constant through it all has been just how incredible each and every one of you are. It’s pretty obvious that none of us knew what we were doing (insert joke about still not knowing) but that didn’t matter to you all. You saw the heart. You saw the potential. You saw a project that was made by friends that just wanted to work together to make something new and cool.
RWBY would not exist if it wasn’t for you. Because you shared it with a friend. Or drew fanart. Or cosplayed. Or created your own original character. Or wrote fanfiction. Or filmed a reaction video. Or even just watched it.
So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for helping us make this show. My promise back to you is that we will keep doing what we’ve done every day since Monty walked in with an image of four girls and four colors in his head: Giving this show our everything.
Thank you, every single fan out there.
Thank you, Rooster Teeth, for giving us a shot.
Thank you, Monty, for being you.
Pictured: CRWBY for Volume 6!
Not Pictured: Some of CRWBY who had meetings during this picture + some more people that are still joining the team!
3 days agoChelsea RT Community Manager
Did you know that we have a Fan Art contest every week, curated by one of our community groups BIGBITE Media? It's where we choose what that week's Fan Art Friday is and promoted here on the site and on social media.
Just in case you're unfamiliar with our forums here, or where to go to find this contest, we're urging as many people as possible to enter OR VOTE in this week's contest!
1. Go check out this week's post here in the Art Forums!
2. Fill out the question listed in the post and include an image of your piece of work. (Not sure how to upload an image? Ask us!)
3. Tell your friends to come and vote for you!
1. ANYONE CAN VOTE!
2. Go to the thread here in the Art Forums!
3. +1 any of the pieces you like the most. The artwork with the most positive mods will be considered for the winner.
This happens every week, so if you can't participate this week, we want to see you again next week!
4 days agoBen B. Singer Ben B. Singer
Episode - 13: Mario VS Sonic
Nintendo versus Sega. Hedgehog versus plumber. Mario versus Sonic. It was time for one of the biggest matchups we would ever explore… and I had a mere two weeks to put it all together. I think now would be a good time to really dive into the production process of early Death Battle, especially because it actually got a big change after this match-up!
Let me show you how the sausage was made, so to speak. For each of the first thirteen episodes, I was given two weeks to materialize a complete video from scratch. Well, I did have some buffer time when the season started… one whole week! Which I quickly used up while learning the basics of animation...
WEEK 1: Let’s say it’s Monday, and Vegeta VS Shadow was just posted on YouTube that morning. Bryan was promoting it on social media and relevant websites, and thousands of viewers were debating whether a galaxy-busting alien man could kill a hedgehog with PTSD. No time to celebrate or take a nap, I had to get started on the next episode! I would spend my first day planning out my next two weeks. What do I need to do to complete my research on time? What games, cartoons, comics, tv shows, movies, etc do I need to look at before I start writing the script? Where will I find these? What topics should the script cover? What do we need to show in the battle? Etc, etc.
Once I got my plan in place, it was off to my college campus for class.
Oh yeah, uh, I was kinda in the middle of getting my film degree during all of this. But I’m sure that won't become an issue… right?
The rest of this first week was spent hammering away at research and writing. Remember, I was all on my own for this, so I’d have to dedicate every scrap of time I had to getting this done. Except for Fridays, because that was Clip of the Week day. I had to produce, direct, and edit that show, too. All in one day. What, you thought Death Battle was the only thing I ever did for ScrewAttack?
Anyway, come Thursday, I would have a finished script. This is where Chad would come in. I’d present the script and my argument for the winner, and he’d play devil’s advocate against my pick. “Sonic should win because _____!” “Are you sure? What if Mario does ____ or _____?” “Well, Sonic has ______ which can counter Mario’s ______!” and so on. Nowadays, this debate process is waaaay more intensive with a lot of people involved across multiple conversations, but back then we needed to be quick and efficient. As soon as we reached a conclusion, I’d wrap up the script and we’d record it all that day. We had to, or else my second week would be a nightmare. And it often was.
I’d typically use the first weekend as a sort of buffer period. Basically, if there was anything that needed some extra time or care put into it, this was when I would do it. Sometimes there was some more research to do, like watching all of the 2003 Ninja Turtles show. Other times I’d spend it all gathering footage to use in the edit. And there was usually some college project or paper I had to take care of, but no big deal, right? However, there was one thing I always had to finish before Monday; the battle script.
WEEK 2: This was production week! This whole time period (besides Friday for CotW) was dedicated to editing the episode and animating the battle. So long as class didn’t get in the way, I’d usually finish editing the audio and video in two days, albeit with long hours. My sleep schedule was basically shot, and I relied on Monster energy drinks so much I swear I’m now completely immune to their effects. This left me two days, not including the weekend, to work on the animation. Once the final cut was complete, I’d send it off to Revision3 and get a rare full night’s sleep!
Of course, this was the ideal schedule I’d planned on when Death Battle first started, but it really didn’t work out that way. More often than not, there would be too much research material and asset gathering to get through that I couldn’t properly finish the script until Week Two, which meant I’d have far less time for the edit and animation. In some cases, I’d only have the weekend available to animate the entire battle, less than 48 hours before the episode was supposed to premiere! The Bomberman VS Dig Dug animation was one of these.
For Mario VS Sonic, I was getting a little worried, because its first week just so happened to line up with my class finals! How fun. That was one of the most stressful weeks of my life. Luckily, thanks to the fact that I was already very familiar with Mario and Sonic, I didn’t fall behind and had enough time to put together one of the longest and most explosive animations I’d accomplished so far!
Obviously, early Death Battle was a pretty chaotic affair. Nowadays, research is given several weeks of time, each script gets its own dedicated week at least, and animation gets entire months. And each of these jobs are done by whole teams of different people! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to make excuses for some of the early series weirdness. I’m simply stating the facts of what it was like working on Death Battle and for ScrewAttack back in 2011. And the short answer is… it was getting problematic. By the time we got to Mario VS Sonic, the negative effects were showing. I barely ever slept, my voice was constantly fatigued, my social life had imploded, and my grades were gasping for air. However, because I was so hyped up about Death Battle and how well it was doing, I didn’t really notice any of this... until my GPA suddenly dropped from a 3.8 to a 3.4 Clearly, something needed to give.
And it did! Remember how I said earlier that the production process got a big change after this episode? I got one whole week added to the cycle.
Well. I guess I’d take whatever I could get.
There's so much more to talk about, but I'll wrap this up. Gotta save something for the 60+ blogs I have left on this Road to 100! Tomorrow, I'll take a dive into one of our most bizarre episodes ever... Justin Bieber VS Rebecca Black.
-Ben B. Singer
P.S. Whose side do you stand on; Nintendo and their plumber, or Sega and their blue rat?
4 days agoericvespe
My history with the modern DCEU is a little rocky, but I'm by no means a DC hater. Growing up the only good comic book movies were DC films! Superman and Superman II, the two Tim Burton Batman movies. Hell, I even liked Supergirl as cheesy as that was.
The Dark Knight was my favorite movie the year it came out and I still hold it up as a masterpiece of popcorn entertainment.
DC is just having some trouble finding its footing in the Marvel era. It's a tough road to hoe for Warner Bros. We've seen so much of Batman and Superman, so how do they both give us what we want and also something new?
There's no easy answer to that question, but I think the key lies more in their less-familiar characters. Wonder Woman has been all over pop culture, but she never got her moment in the sun quite like she did in her own standalone movie. Patty Jenkins embraced the good-hearted Diana and also made her a badass who will stand up and fight for those that can't. It was more than just "cool moments."
Could James Wan work similar magic for Aquaman? I'm optimistic, not because I have any deep love or nostalgia for the character (I don't), but I like Wan as a filmmaker. He's got a great eye and distinctive voice.
While I think they blew it pretty hardcore with Batman V Superman and Justice League, I still hold out hope DC rights the ship.
So, when I share some images of the internet joshing the new Aquaman poster know it comes from a place of good fun. Here's the official one:
The movie could be amazing, but that poster is pretty silly. Even DC fans are making fun of it. Looks like a photoshoot at the local aquarium. People have pointed out that the big mean shark on the right side of the poster is a stock image that you've seen a million times before, but hey, short cuts happen.
The internet isn't as forgiving as I am, though. Here are a few of my favorite instant photoshop jobs I saw today:
Alright, the last one is kinda mean and snarky, but it made me laugh.
One nice thing I'll say about this poster though is that it shows a lighter, more fun vibe. I've seen a few clips and unfinished effects shots from this movie at various Conventions over the last 12 months or so and Wan isn't shying away from making this weird as hell, which is why I'm still hopeful we'll get something special out of this movie when it premieres this holiday season.
In the meantime I'm sure we'll be getting a new trailer soon since they're going to be doing their big Hall H presentation at Comic-Con this week. We'll know soon enough exactly what kind of movie we're in for here.
4 days agoBethany Head of RT Events
Hi RTX Austin 2018 Attendees,
We are very excited to see you at RTX Austin 2018! We know this will be another great year together and we have a lot of fun activities in store.
The most important part of RTX is always safety. We want to ensure that all of our attendees, guardians, special guests, exhibitors, and staff are safe at all times. We have implemented a new security plan for RTX weekend, so please read everything to ensure you understand what is expected.
There are four (4) security checkpoints at RTX and all checkpoints will accept all badge types. There are 2 different lines at each checkpoint; the Fast Pass line is denoted on the attached map with a Pink triangle and the Regular line is denoted on the attached map with a Green triangle. When you arrive at RTX, look for a pink flag at each checkpoint to enter the Fast Pass Line, or look for a green flag at each checkpoint to enter the Regular Line. Guardians will be on hand to assist you with finding the proper line for your badge type.
FAST PASS LINE - Platinum badge holders
REGULAR LINE - Weekend PLUS / Weekend / Daily badge holders
*Anyone requiring ADA access can use the FAST PASS LINE, along with their caregiver, no matter what type of badge you have.
*All Security Checkpoints will be staffed with Licensed Police Officers, walk-through metal detectors, bag checkers, and wanders.
Please reference the below security map for checkpoint locations and operating hours. Please note, for evening events (Let’s Play Live, Theater Mode Live, or On The Spot Live panel) there is a specific checkpoint you must use to enter the convention center per the specific evening operating hours (please reference the attached map for evening operating hours).
DO’S & DON’TS
Do wear your badge visibly at all times. You cannot get into RTX without it. Lose your badge? Sorry, but RTX will not replace it. Treat it like cash.
Do listen to the Guardians to ensure you are in the correct line. Pink Fast Pass or Green Regular line - it’s that simple!
Do prepare your belongings as you approach the walk-through metal detectors so that you can get through security as quickly as possible.
Don’t bring any weapons. RTX is an all-weapons-free event. This means both illegal weapons and licensed to carry weapons are prohibited at all times. BUT - If you have a cosplay weapon, you must visit the Weapons Check station across from Registration in the Solar Atrium of the ACC to get it approved.
Don’t try to cut the lines as you will be asked to leave.
Don’t bring large bags as these will cause longer waits.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (revised as of 7/18)
1. Where do I pick-up my attendee bag? *Two answers: 1) If you are picking up your bag on Thursday, enter one of the security checkpoints and go to Exhibit Hall 2 to pick-up your bag 9:45 AM - 5:30 PM. 2) If you are picking up your bag on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, enter one of the security checkpoints and go to Registration located in the Solar Atrium to pick-up your bag.
2. If I need to pick-up my badge onsite, what do I do? *You will need to go to one of the security checkpoints and show your confirmation email (either printed or electronically) and a valid photo I.D. You must show both the confirmation email AND valid photo I.D to clear the checkpoint. You can get your badge at Registration located in the Solar Atrium.
3. I have a medical disability. Where should I go for my medical sticker? *Please use the Fast Pass (pink) line at any of the 4 security checkpoints and go to Registration in the Solar Atrium to pick-up you sticker. You may have one caregiver accompany you throughout RTX regardless of what badge type they have.
4. If I leave the Austin Convention Center for lunch, or to attend a panel at another hotel, will I have to go back through security to enter? Yes, everyone entering the ACC will have to go through the security checkpoint.
5. How long will the wait times be each morning? While we cannot give you an exact expected wait time, we highly encourage you to not bring large bags (bigger than 12”x12”) when possible and to be prepared as you get to the front of the security checkpoint. We also recommend you check out the Animation Festival at the JW Marriott for early morning panels and then head to the Austin Convention Center mid-day.
6. How many metal detectors will there be this year? Across all four checkpoints, there will be 15 total metal detectors.
7. Can I bring in food and/or beverages to the Austin Convention Center? **FOOD: While ACC staff reserve the right to refuse entry to any outside food, we do not anticipate issues with small amounts of pre-packaged snacks such as granola bars or protein bars. This should also allow people with strict dietary restrictions to keep a small amount of appropriate food on hand, including those with medical conditions. **WATER: You may bring in an EMPTY water bottle. Water will be available while waiting in the queues each morning at the ACC at all four checkpoints. We encourage you to hydrate while waiting to get into the ACC, however once you get to the front of the security line, you will be asked to either dump out the remaining water or drink it. Once inside, there will be water coolers/bubblers in every panel room and throughout the ACC.
8. Are there Mother’s rooms available at the ACC? Yes, there are two (2) Mother’s Rooms in the Austin Convention Center. One is located on the first floor near Room 1 along Cesar Chavez St. The other is located on the third floor across from Room 10C.
9. Will I be able to purchase food and beverage inside the ACC? There will be 4 operating concession stands each day: 1) Built-in coffee stand between Exhibit Hall 4 & 5. 2) Cafe in the Solar Atrium. 3) Large Cafe in the Exhibit Hall. 4) Small Cafe Built-In outside Ballroom A.
10. What will the security check entail once I get to the front of the line? Once you arrive at the metal detectors, you will be asked to remove your bags/purses/etc. and remove everything from your pockets. A bag checker will inspect your bags and you will be asked to walk through the metal detector. Once you have been cleared, you may retrieve your items. If the metal detector is alarmed, a wander will provide a second search of yourself and belongings.
11. What should I expect from the weather while waiting to get through a security checkpoint at the ACC? Looking at past weather averages for Austin in August, we anticipate temperatures to be in the high 70’s/low 80’s between 7:00AM and 10:00AM. Most of the checkpoints are under covered awnings. We also encourage you to wear hats, sunglasses, and wear sunscreen throughout RTX weekend.
12. Why is RTX adding so much security this year? The most important part of RTX is always safety. We want to ensure that all of our attendees, Guardians, special guests, exhibitors, and staff are safe at all times. Please be respectful to all security, Guardians, and RTX Staff as we are here to help you have a fun and safe weekend.
13. I am cosplaying and have a weapon as part of my cosplay. Where is Weapons Check located? Weapons Check is located across from Registration in the Solar Atrium. Approved weapons will be tagged for the duration of the event. If the tag is removed, you must revisit the Weapons Check desk each day for a new tag.
14. I will be cosplaying at RTX and do not want to wait outside in my cosplay. What are my options? You must go through a security checkpoint like every attendee, and then you may head to Meeting Room 1 to change into your cosplay. We have designated a cosplay dressing room at the ACC: Meeting Room 1 on level one near Exhibit Hall 1/Palazzo (at the corner of Cesar Chavez and Trinity street). There will be a Guardian on staff to assist. Please note that this dressing room is NOT for storage purposes. We cannot hold onto your belongings throughout the day and you will be responsible for cosplay.
15. Can I refuse to be screened by security personnel? Yes, it is your choice to do so, but unfortunately if you refuse to go through a walk through metal detector, you will not be allowed in to RTX. If you refuse, a Licensed Police Office will ask you to leave. If you cause a disturbance of any sort, Austin Police Department will be called. Anyone requiring ADA access can enter at any of the four checkpoints, as all have ADA entrances. If expectant mothers do not want to go through the walk through metal detector for screening, you may enter the ADA entrance and be wanded/bag checked.
16. Will there be a parents lounge/rest area at RTX? There will not be a space within the Austin Convention Center, but we will have a location at the Hilton where parents can sit and wait for their children.
17. What types of gifts ARE and ARE NOT allowed to bring to talent and RT staff? This year, we will not allow you to bring any open foods or beverages into the Austin Convention Center, this includes any alcohol. You also cannot bring any weapons, including Licensed to Carry. Additional prohibited items are illegal substances, weapons, firearms, explosives, flammables, knives, sharp objects, pepper spray, or mace. If you bring any items from the prohibited list (including food and beverages) it will be confiscated.
Please let us know if you have any questions.
5 days agoBen B. Singer Ben B. Singer
Episode - 12: Vegeta VS Shadow
“Wow. What a rip-off.”
That was all it took to cement voice actors as a recurring thing for Death Battle from then on.
Vegeta VS Shadow was an episode with a lot of “firsts.” It was the first to feature a Dragon Ball character, the first to feature a Sonic character, and the first to feature voice actors... but not just any actors! This was also our first collaboration episode, as we teamed up with the amazingly talented folks of Team Four Star!
This was sort of new territory for me. Of course, I’d hired and worked with actors plenty of times for my own film projects, but I’d never actually worked with voice actors, let alone voice actors who would have to record remotely. I vividly remember as I went through the script with Takahata101 and Lanipator, I was thinking “I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m gonna pretend I do, anyway!”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the secret to how you achieve your dreams. Or something like that.
We had met a few of the Team Four Star guys a couple times, but I believe this was the first time we worked together on a project. If you don’t know them, you’ll probably still recognize their flagship series; Dragon Ball Z Abridged. This show had been making the rounds across the web since 2008, and Nick Landis aka Lanipator’s Vegeta was already the most recognized unofficial voice for the character. I had one strategy for casting Vegeta; Lani or bust.
Luckily, Lani’s a really cool dude and agreed to not only voice Vegeta for this episode, but also a few cameos later on like in Goku VS Superman and whatever the hell this is. A few TFS members auditioned for Shadow, and Curtis aka Takahata101 wound up snatching up the role.
(By the way, shout out to Scott aka KaiserNeko for helping to organize all that. That man deserves so much credit for all the extra work he puts into everything.)
However, casting voice actors wasn’t so easy. I was actually told not to do it at all, to keep all Death Battle animations voiceless. We hadn't done it before, and I guess it seemed like an unnecessary addition to the man in charge. ScrewAttack had this stagnating philosophy back then which was generally against putting more money and effort into shows over time. I wasn't a fan of that. There's also always been a trend with sprite animations to keep all dialogue limited entirely to on-screen text and zero audio, which I really wanted to avoid.
There was only one reasonable solution… secretly reach out to TFS myself and cast them anyway!
I give you... Shadow the Hedgehog and Vegeta!
As for the episode, it’s easy to tell it suffers from the quick turnaround that was the norm at the time. It feels a little rushed and a lot of the numbers used to measure Vegeta and Shadow’s powers seem… off. I think they were more so vague estimates, and weren’t meant to hold much weight. The thing is, Death Battle was a different beast back then. The show didn’t really bother with calculations and was far more opinion based. The argument for Vegeta’s victory wasn’t because he could output a specific amount of power, was calc’d to be a higher speed than Shadow, or anything like that. No, the analysis recap at the end primarily covers how Vegeta has taken huge beatings and kept on fighting, so he should be able to outlast Super Shadow… and that’s it. Calculations, stat comparisons, and scaling didn’t become an important part of the Death Battle analytical process until much later.
It’s fine if you don’t agree with that approach. It’s a very different, unconstrained style. I definitely prefer the more scientific direction Death Battle has taken in recent years. Frankly, today's approach is way more time-consuming, so even if we had gone that route back then it may have only hurt Death Battle's production until we got a larger crew behind the show. That's just speculation, but either way, I hope you give our modern format a try before judging the series on these much older episodes.
To this day, I think teaming up with TFS was one of the best things we could've done. If you ever have the chance to work with them or even just meet them, do it. They’re a fantastic group of people who I can’t praise enough. Also, thanks to this episode I was able to start bringing aboard more and more actors, and I didn’t have to be sneaky about it anymore! Well, it would continue to be a struggle against ScrewAttack's production philosophies of the time until management changed during the Fullscreen buyout and Rooster Teeth merge, but at least I could finally be public about breaking the rules. Since Vegeta VS Shadow, the Death Battle franchise has featured around 100 different actors! Whoa momma!
That’ll be a wrap for now! I hope you had a wonderful weekend, and thanks for reading another daily entry on this Road to 100. Next time, we’re talking about one of the big ones… Mario VS Sonic.
-Ben B. Singer
P.S. What’s your favorite joke/line from a Death Battle with voice actors?
P.P.S. Go check out www.TeamFourStar.com!
1 week agoClarissa.Gonzalez RT Live Events Specialis
We're excited to share our Community Corner schedule. Please show them love and support at our first ever Community Corner in Rooster Town (BOOTH 731) located near the RT Store on the Exhibit Floor.
1 week agoGray
WE'RE BACK, BABY-CHAN! Fan Service is returning! Me, Kerry, Miles, Yssa, Cole, Austin, Erin, really anyone who's worked on the show -- you know how much we loved catching up with you on all things anime. And whether online or in person at shows such as Anime Expo, CRX, or RTX, we also appreciated getting to hear from so many of you, about how much you've missed Fan Service since it went off the air. And Rooster Teeth listened… but they weren’t the only ones!
What we discovered last time around was even though people that watched the show really loved it, there just weren’t quite enough otaku on our site alone to keep it going. We aren’t able to produce it regularly without additional support. So how is it coming back? Turns out our good friends at a certain sister company, Crunchyroll (!!), really loved Fan Service, too - and they would like to sponsor its return! And so, the next season of Fan Service will kick off this July 21 (SO SOON) with your favorite cast of anime nerds, debuting on Crunchyroll. Yes, it will also eventually make its way to Rooster Teeth, and we’ll have more details on that shortly. We’re so excited to geek out with you again, starting July 21!
But chotto matte - that’s not all! There will be a Fan Service panel at RTX! Saturday 5pm in the Congressional Ballroom at the Fairmont! Get your weeb on, live and in person!
1 week agoJoshuaKazemi @joshuakazemi
The Desk of The Desk of DEATH BATTLE - SHAMELESS Corporate Games - Editor Notes
1 week agoBen B. Singer Ben B. Singer
Let’s talk about some Death Battle episodes! First up is Kratos VS Spawn, which... ahem… spawned from fan suggestions. (Yes, so clever!)
I don’t really like how this one turned out, specifically the rundown on Kratos. It’s important to me that each Death Battle has enough personality and analysis wrapped up within so it doesn't feel like Wiz and Boomstick are simply skimming a wikipedia article. For Kratos, the rundowns sounds like just a list, and Wiz and Boomstick might as well have been reading articles off of the God of War Wikia. That’s how it sounds to me, at least. It’s boring, and Kratos should be way more hype than that!
Kratos VS Spawn was also victim to one of the biggest animation cutbacks thus far. I originally planned to have an entire sequence where Spawn dragged Kratos to Hell, and the final battle would circle a giant pit of fire and demons. Unfortunately, time constraints happened, and the depths of the underworld became just a big red room. Whether it’s because of time or budget or any other issue, plenty of Death Battle’s animation back then had to have something cut.
Anyway, I recognized my issue with the Kratos rundown almost immediately upon its premiere, so I took extra care to not make the same mistake with Bomberman VS Dig Dug. It’s weird, for some reason I remember not liking how this episode turned out, but after watching it again today, I think it’s pretty fun!
Why Bomberman VS Dig Dug, you ask? Well, this was the age of experimentation. The internet was the wild west, and I wanted to see what cunning deeds I could get away with. Specifically, I was curious how a Death Battle would perform with a relatively niche character in the ring. Dig Dug isn’t exactly an unknown franchise, but something tells me he’s not a regular in many versus debates. By this point, Goomba VS Koopa had really started barreling toward that one million hits mark, so I was really interested to see what other types of battles would attract that kind of attention.
On a different note, I’m seven blogs in and I haven’t even talked about the way Wiz and Boomstick introduced ads back in Season 1! In 2011, the concept of YouTubers making a living off their videos was still a pretty new thing, and not everyone was happy about it. While clickbait ads and pop-ups dominated most websites, online video had been relatively commercial free in comparison. If you “sold out” your videos to sponsors, it was pretty easy to get villainized by the online communities, as you were “betraying” what the internet stood for or whatever. Yeah, it’s pretty dumb, and things have gotten a lot better since then, but we were very conscious of this when putting Death Battle together.
We came up with a plan. We would poke fun at receiving money from sponsors by implying that this funding wasn’t for the show, but for Wiz’s experiments and Boomstick’s weapon collection. Then, if there ever came a time when we would do a Death Battle between Wiz and Boomstick, their arsenals would consist of everything the sponsors had “funded.”
This means that according to “official Death Battle lore,” Gamefly provided Wiz with funding for rats for his genetic testing, one which eventually became his poison-immune pet, Ratsputin. Thanks to Netflix, Boomstick was able to build a laser guided kitten cannon, which was later upgraded into a baby launcher with funding from Squarespace… who doesn’t necessarily endorse baby launchers.
And yeah, whenever Wiz VS Boomstick happens, all of this will be taken into account.
-Ben B. Singer
P.S. Who do you think will win the inevitable battle between Wiz and Boomstick?
1 week agoBen B. Singer Ben B. Singer
Yoshi VS Riptor wasn’t part of the original 26. However, thanks to the quick success of Goomba VS Koopa, I was tasked with creating another gag battle. I didn’t want to make something nearly as silly and outrageous as Goomba VS Koopa so soon, as it had only been released 4 episodes ago, but an unlikely and disproportionate-on-paper match-up seemed like a good choice. I dug through a bunch of viewer suggested match-ups, and eventually stumbled upon one I just couldn’t resist; a green cartoon dinosaur versus a weaponized velociraptor!
To this day, Yoshi VS Riptor has the shortest animated battle sequence of all Death Battle episodes, coming out to a mere 55 seconds. In contrast, Felicia VS Taokaka wound up with one of the longest fights at the time! These animations were pretty fun to work on as I got more and more creative with the choreography. (Cue Boomstick’s “Nooo! My car!”)
Part of the reason why Yoshi VS Riptor’s battle was so short was because I had begun exploring other tools for the animations. I had previously been building these battles with only Final Cut Pro, which is a video editing program that is definitely not designed for animation. Despite this, the keyframing tools were robust and intuitive enough to create decent sprite movement. Still, I figured it was about time I started implementing After Effects and Macromedia Flash (Now called Adobe Animate) into my work. There were two problems with this. First, while I was familiar with AE, I had never used Flash before. Remember, I had no prior animation experience before Death Battle. Second, with the immense workload and super short turnaround for each episode, I realized I didn’t have the time I needed to properly learn Flash without severely sacrificing the quality of the episodes I was currently working on! While I would continue to implement aspects of AE and Flash throughout most of my animations after this, I never entirely moved away from Final Cut. I planned to exclusively dedicate my time between episodes 13 and 14 to learn everything I could about Flash… but as you know, 13 ended up not being a season finale as I expected.
Things worked out better for Felicia VS Taokaka, but unfortunately my conversion process between Flash and Final Cut created a blurry effect throughout the whole thing that I didn’t have time to fix before release. Even with that hiccup, I think Felicia VS Taokaka was one of my better fights back then.
Also, Yoshi VS Riptor was the first episode to introduce official, standardized rules into Death Battle. At least, these were the original rules. They’ve changed a bit since this episode. Here, there were only three. Two of them basically covered the same thing and were combined into a single statement when the rules were later revised.
One last thing before I go. A lot of people have asked why we referred to Riptor as a male throughout the episode when the character is confirmed to be female. I actually remember spending a lot of time trying to determine Riptor’s gender, especially since we included a line about Yoshi’s. As I recall, Riptor’s gender wasn’t established until Killer Instinct made its triumphant return in 2013, two whole years after this episode was released. I’m actually not sure whether or not this retconned the original Riptor’s gender, but either way this episode’s age clearly shows, as evident by the fact we never mentioned the Xbox One game as it didn’t exist yet. In the early days, I was a little concerned what we would do if some new content came out which possibly changed our rundowns or results at all, but I eventually concluded that since new content was inevitable, we should always treat each Death Battle as a product of its own time.
Thanks for reading! Despite their flaws, I have fond memories of these two episodes. If you liked this entry, please give the blog a Mod below. That’s the only way I’ll know people actually read this stuff.
-Ben B. Singer
P.S. Do you prefer the shorter battle animations, or the longer ones?
1 week agoericvespe
It's hard to remember in these days of comic book movies being all the rage, but the state of the big studio summer blockbuster was pretty dire before movies like Blade, X-Men and Spider-Man changed the game. For every Independence Day we get a dozen Dante's Peaks.
Enough time has passed that it's strangely nostalgic to see a traditional big, goofy disaster movie again. Skyscraper is by no measure a serious attempt at drama, but it's not trying to be. All it wants to do is entertain you by throwing one of the most charismatic action stars in history into increasingly ridiculous set pieces as he has to scale a burning building to rescue his family. If you can accept it on its own level you should be able to have some fun with it.
In terms of scripting it's a great example of set up and pay off. In fact you could almost call Skyscraper Chekhov's Gun: The Movie.
If you're unfamiliar with the term, Chekhov's Gun simply means if you show a gun a wall at the beginning of a story by the end of that gun better have gone off. It's a storytelling principle that is in place so writers don't promise things they don't deliver on.
The first act of Skyscraper is all about showing us stuff that pays off later. We're walked through this magnificent high tech tower in Hong Kong called The Pearl and things big and small are set up to be revisited later, from giant wind turbines to a garden section in the middle to even a sword hanging on the wall of the CEO's penthouse apartment.
While the script, written by director Rawson Marshall Thurber, won't be winning any awards it's tighter than you'd expect and does right by its lead characters. Yes, there's Dwayne Johnson's one-legged security specialist Will Sawyer who is instantly likable and heroic and all that, but there's also his wife, Sarah, played by Neve Campbell, who skirts the typical damsel in distress trope. She's always proactive from scene one and nobody's victim. She's smart, kind, supportive, instantly catches on that something's wrong and calmly goes about finding a way out for her and her children. In any other big blockbuster type movie she'd just be waiting for the hero to come rescue her, but not here. It's a welcome breath of fresh air and Neve Campbell gives it her all.
Johnson is his typical bundle of muscle, sweat and charm. Gotta hand it to The Rock. That dude never phones in a performance, which is crucial when you're dealing with a story as silly as this. You want to see The Rock trying to jump into a fiery building from a construction crane.
Skyscraper really is The Towering Inferno mixed with Die Hard, but leans more towards Towering Inferno than you may think.
Despite what the many sequels try to tell you, the original Die Hard worked because Bruce Willis was an everyman, not an action hero. Willis has taken the mantle of the action star post-Die Hard, but you have to remember up to that point he was a comedic romantic leading man, famous mostly for his quick-witted banter with Cybill Shepherd on Moonlight. He wasn't a muscle-bound action hero, he was just a dude who got hurt and didn't just shrug off his injuries.
That's not what Skyscraper is. It is physically impossible to make The Rock an everyman, and that's a compliment to the hardest working man in show business. Seeing him kick ass is why people buy tickets to his movies. He's more in the Schwarzenegger mold than early Willis and he uses that to his advantage every time out, especially in last year's Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle where his perfectly sculpted body was the central joke.
In short, Skyscraper delivers on what it promises. I doubt it'll ever be anybody's favorite movie, but it's an audience pleaser and never gets boring, which is the worst sin a movie like this could commit
1 week agoClarissa.Gonzalez RT Live Events Specialis
Hey RTX Attendees,
*Subject to change. Please refer to the mobile app for the most up-to-date info.
*Please refer to your Front Gate email "CORRECTION-USE THIS CODE RTX Austin Autograph Codes" sent Friday, July 6th for more details and the autograph link.
1 week agoBen B. Singer Ben B. Singer
From one experiment to the next, here’s a trial run of three ideas at once; battle royales, returning combatants, and sequel episodes!
From an analysis standpoint, the Ninja Turtle Battle Royale was an interesting change of pace. For the first time, we had characters who actually knew each other, and that knowledge would heavily affect the fight! Also, for a look into how difficult the biweekly schedule could be... I had never seen the 2003 TMNT show, so I had to binge the entire series in a single weekend.
“But Ben,” you say, “that show has a total of 169 episodes, all around 23 minutes long, and an hour long movie. That’s almost 4,000 minutes, which would take more than 66 hours to watch! How’d you do it in one weekend?”
I’m glad you asked, dear reader, and wonderful mathematics skills! Whenever I knew two back-to-back episodes weren’t two-parters, I’d watch and takes notes on them both at the same time. Multitasking, baby!
The original plan was to actually have the turtle winner go up against a Power Ranger in the next one, specifically Tommy Oliver, the White Ranger. I believe the idea was that Tommy was already considered the most powerful Mighty Morphin' Power Ranger, so we'd find the most powerful Ninja Turtle to pit against him. It seemed like a natural fit to me. I grew up during the time both series were juggernaut phenomenons. Most kids my age had preferred one over the other, Nintendo vs Sega style, so it would be an epic rivalry match-up!
Buuuut it seems it wasn't meant to be. A few other ScrewAttack staff members were lobbying for me to switch Tommy out for a Battletoad. (Remember, we were a video game website first and foremost then.) For the first time in Death Battle history, I left deciding an upcoming match-up entirely to a community vote.
The poll swung in favor of the Battletoads, so episode 7 became Zitz VS Leonardo.
Looking back, the battle royale episode itself is a testament to Death Battle’s age. There’s no mention of the 2012 Ninja Turtles show, as it hadn’t even been announced yet. There’s also an unfortunate use of the word “retard” to describe Michelangelo, which is pretty embarrassing by today’s standards. Back then, Wiz and Boomstick were portrayed as pretty rude and arrogant. We had quickly dropped the hardcore, bloodlusting personalities from the first two episodes, and the characters temporarily evolved into what’s apparent here; Wiz is bored and easily angered, while Boomstick is rambunctious and offensive. We were mainly inspired by the success of online shows like the Angry Video Game Nerd. Back then, angry people were all the rage!
However, I don’t think it was the best choice for Death Battle. Nearly everyone agrees with the Nerd when he says Superman 64 is “oose-infested dirty fucking sewer rat shit,” but Death Battle analysis always holds some broader element of subjectivity, and often results in tearing down a fan-favorite character. It’s natural and expected for some people to disagree with any Death Battle outcome, regardless of how well presented it is. Having the hosts act like cocky douchebags accomplished little more than rubbing salt on a fresh wound, and plenty of people would lamentably attribute these awful traits to Chad and myself, rather than our characters. Thankfully, this was eventually changed for the better.
To this day, the Ninja Turtle Battle Royale is the only Death Battle which remains blocked on YouTube in most countries due to a copyright claim. Due to its method of presentation, Death Battle’s use of copyrighted material can technically be defined as fair use. However, I honestly wasn’t too surprised this happened, because years ago I had already learned this was the episode that crossed the line.
It's likely it was blocked because of how graphic this episode got. It featured the four turtles brutally killing and dismembering each other in cruel and cold-blooded fashion! It ends with Leo's horrifying stare at the camera while the water around him turns red with his brother’s blood!
When this episode aired, the greater discussion among viewers was about how weirdly disturbing the fight was. Sure, the colorful pixel art means the gore isn’t too disgusting to look at (apart from how blurry some close-ups are) but just the concept of the turtles slicing each other up with absolutely no remorse seemed too much for these characters. Yes, the show is called DEATH Battle, but it isn’t South Park or Robot Chicken. It’s more historical than parody, and while this may seem like a stretch to some, the battle sequences are more like a recreation you’d see in a documentary than a humorous skit. That being said, violent and over-the-top deaths help keep Death Battle fun, but it’s generally important to also keep said deaths in line with the character performing the execution. Having Leo cut Mikey's head off wasn't the problem in and of itself, but how it happened rubbed people the wrong way. To be clear, it wasn't weird to some simply because the combatants were from a cartoon. It was weird because their actions were so far removed from their characteristics that they no longer felt like the turtles people love. I realized that by making this battle so unceremoniously brutal, I had deviated from properly representing these lighthearted characters.
Don't get me wrong, this doesn't ruin the episode. For what Death Battle was at the time, I think it turned out well overall! Still, this was a good lesson to learn so early on, and it would affect my approach for several future episodes. Including one with a certain flying pony. But that’s a blog for another day!
Also, while the episode may not be watchable on YouTube, here you go!So if you want to see your childhood ruthlessly stabbed repeatedly 24 times...
-Ben B. Singer
P.S. What characters would you like to see in a Battle Royale style episode?
1 week agoericvespe
There was a massive shift in Disney's release schedule today. Most of these new dates affect movies still in development, so don't worry. Avengers 4, Captain Marvel, Episode IX, Frozen 2 and all those are still coming when you expect them.
Most of the moves are earlier than previously announced, the one exception being a big year push for Indiana Jones 5. Originally slated for 7/10/2020 the movie will now come out 7/09/2021. It makes sense, especially with the news that Solo's Jon Kasdan was reportedly doing a big rewrite after Spielberg regular David Koepp had his shot at the script.
It's a bummer, but as long as they get it right and wash away the taste of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull they can take as much time as they need.
Mary Poppins Returns moves up a week from December 25th to December 19th, The Rock's Jungle Cruise movie will release October 11th, 2019, Maleficent 2 will hit theaters May 29th, 2020 and an Untitled Marvel movie moves from July 30th, 2021 to February 12th, 2021.
It's a good bet that the Untitled Marvel movie will be a Black Panther sequel since it's moving from a coveted summer slot to February, which was very, very good to the first Black Panther film, but that's just a guess.
So that's the big update. Still can't wait for Spielberg and Harrison Ford's final outing with Dr. Jones. Call me an optimist if you want, but I have a good feeling that they'll knock it out of the park.
1 week agoBen B. Singer Ben B. Singer
Episode - 5: Haggar VS Zangief
After watching Haggar VS Zangief again for the first time in years, the first thought I had was “Wow, Wiz sounded really bored through all this! What the hell, me?”
This was the first time we explored what I consider to be a “rivalry” match-up. You know, the classic schoolyard argument. Mario or Sonic? Batman or Superman? My dad could totally beat up your dad! Mike Haggar and Zangief had a semi well known rivalry among video game fans, of which ScrewAttack’s audience still catered to the most back then. Fun fact, we actually reached out to Capcom’s then community manager Seth Killian to find out if Zangief has a last name. He responded with a confident “Nope!”
“He’s Luigi Zangief, and I’m Zangief Zangief!”
What’s really special about this episode is that it was the very first one inspired by popular fan requests. We had been saying “You have an idea for a Death Battle? Leave a comment below!” in the credits for several episodes now, so it was time to make a popular suggestion happen. However, this meant I had to change something I’ve rarely ever discussed before. I had to alter the list of 26 episodes we had already planned to do.
I had always expected we’d take viewer requests throughout the series, but I still made up a planned series of episodes to present to our crew and investors. Can’t very well pitch a show to a big company and just say “Eh, we’ll figure out whatever we’ll do later!”
In order to partner with Revision3, we had to agree to a plan. We decided we would create two seasons of 13 bi-weekly episodes. So I presented a list of 26 match-ups I thought could be well-received. I wasn’t sure if the show would do well enough to warrant further seasons, so I didn't think much about the possibility. We went forward with the plans for some time. However, about two or three weeks before production began on episode 13, (our first season’s finale) it was suddenly decided that we’d forgo the whole “seasonal” approach entirely. After this finale, which could no longer be called a finale, the show would just… keep going. Goodbye, precious few weeks of minimal freedom I was so looking forward too. If you’ve ever wondered why Death Battle Season 1 and 2 have way more episodes than later seasons, this is why. They were formed into seasons retroactively, with season finales being determined either during or after their production had begun.
Frankly, I’m not 100% sure how this part of the business deal with Revision3 went down. It was all exclusively between Craig and Revision3. It seemed like an odd decision to make, and the constant chaos eventually began to negatively affect both the show and my health. Ever since joining Rooster Teeth, we’ve returned to a proper seasonal format, (thank god) but I suppose it’s possible that keeping Death Battle going strong and consistent for so long back then was necessary for it to reach the success it has today. Or maybe I was just being worked to the bone because ScrewAttack didn’t know what else to do. Who knows!
Anyway, I’ve never publicly shared the original episode list before. To be perfectly honest, the actual file for the list was lost a long time ago, and currently only exists in my memory. I’m sure some of the match-ups are in the wrong order here, and it's possible I've got one or two wrong, but all-in-all I believe these were the original 26.
There are a few episodes listed there which were slightly changed, pushed back for a later season, or simply never saw the light of day. Also, you may have noticed there were a lot more video game themed battles than comics or anime. After all, ScrewAttack was primarily a website for gamers at the time. Still, audience suggestions quickly shook a lot of the plan up, and frankly I treated more than a few from this list as just temporary ideas in anticipation of that.
And yes, we had planned to do Chuck Norris VS Segato Sanshiro from the very beginning. I can’t wait until I get to the blog where I talk about that crazy episode!
-Ben B. Singer
P.S. I'm posting each of these blogs daily at noon CST right here on my Rooster Teeth page, so if you're interested in keeping up you know when to swing by every day!
P.P.S. Are there any cancelled match-ups in the original 26 you’d actually like to see as a Death Battle?