We've got 5 DAYS LEFT, we're 74% FUNDED and Joel answers 3 BIG QUESTIONS about the new episodes. Plus: bonus reward unlocked!
- We've got 5 DAYS LEFT before the end of our Kickstarter!
- We're at 74% OF OUR FINAL GOAL: almost halfway to the Red Zone!
- BONUS REWARD UNLOCKED: Songs in the Key of MST album download!
Plus: ANSWERS TO 3 BIG QUESTIONS about the new episodes:
• What will the new episodes look like?
• Will the new episodes be in HD? (And why does it matter?)
• What kinds of movies will the new episodes riff on?
Happy First Night of Hanukkah, Everyone.
There might be eight nights in the Festival of Lights, but we don't have that much time, Revival Leaguers. Now we've got just 5 DAYS LEFT.
But first, let me start with some good news:
You've already made great progress on the Red Zone Challenge!
Since Friday's update, we've raised another $75K from Add-On Rewards, for a total of $225K in Add-Ons. (From now on, we'll keep updating that in the picture at the top of our page, where it's easy to find.)
But if you do the math, it's pretty encouraging!
We've now raised $4.05MM, putting us almost 74% of the way to our goal!
Oh, and just like I promised, here's an updated version of our progress meter –
And you know what? We might not be in the Red Zone yet, but we're getting there – and since Friday afternoon, you've already unlocked the first new Bonus Reward, and you're just 20K from the next one:
That's right, team! You've unlocked the next Bonus Reward! So now...
Everyone who pledges for EXPERIMENT 035 or higher will also receive a digital collection of ballads and ditties we’re calling Songs in the Key of MST.
Yeah, it’s getting pretty late.
But, it does feature over an hour of your favorite songs from the old seasons of MST3K, including such crowd-pleasing classics as "My Creepy Girl," "The Waffle Song," and "Hired: The Musical!" This downloadable album will also include the "MST Love Theme" and all of the versions of our main theme. And you know what? We'll even throw in Ashley's lovely updated version of the theme from the Turkey Day '15 Marathon. It's like having an MST-a-Palooza at Bridgeman's.
And now, you're just $20K from unlocking the next Bonus Reward!
If we pass $4.08MM before Tuesday at 8am PST, I'll make sure that anyone getting the OFFICIAL T-SHIRT REWARD gets two designs to choose from.
You've already seen one of the designs we're working on, but the second one will be a surprise. A coooooool surprise, Daddy-O.
So, if you want to be sure you'll get both designs and help unlock the Bonus Reward even faster, now's a great time to upgrade to EXPERIMENT 050, or get a few extras using the Official T-Shirt Add-On Reward.
OK. Now that we've got all that official Kickstarter business out of the way…
I thought the weekend would be a good time to answer a few more questions and tell you a little more about how I'm imagining the next season of Mystery Science Theater.
And hey, you're not the only ones with questions...
Jonah, Crow and Tom Servo have questions too!
Like I said to those guys, some of the questions you're asking might already be answered on our Kickstarter page… but even more of them are probably answered in the new FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS section we've added to MST3K.com!
We're updating those every day or two, so if you've still got questions, be sure to look there.
Anyway, I'm actually glad Crow and Servo asked those questions, because I think the technical and creative details are one of the coolest parts of bringing back MST3K. So, if you're curious, how about I share a little bit more about what you can expect in the new episodes?
What will the new episodes of MST3K look like?
One of the big questions you've been asking is what the episodes will look like, and whether we'll still use the "miniature golf" aesthetic you came to know and love in our original episodes.
The answer is “Yes!” We’re just going to use modern techniques to do it.
I love how the old episodes look, because I think you can tell how much fun we had making all of that stuff. But, just like MST3K wasn't meant to have the same cast forever, it also wasn't meant to permanently look like it was made in the ‘90s! So, I think it's really important not to "carbon-freeze" the look of MST3K by trying to make the new episodes some kind of tribute to the way we made things back then.
Truth be told, we weren't trying to make the show look tacky -- we just didn't have a lot of experience or budget, so I guess our show didn't look like something Hollywood pros would make. But, I think the reason that look worked so well is because it was genuine: we were just trying to make the best show we could, with whatever we could get our hands on. If we did that now, we'd be faking it, and I think you'd be able to tell the difference.
At the same time, I think there were some conscious decisions we made back then, and those have stayed with me. So, I think the easiest way to describe the design parameters for the next season is that we will try to do as much as we can "in camera" and using practical effects. That's pretty much how we did it back at Best Brains, and it worked great, so I think the plan will still be to design Mystery Science Theater as a show that can be performed live… or live on camera, anyway.
One other thing we did a lot back then was our own version of "rapid prototyping."
For example, when we made the robots, we never went through all of the extra steps some shows prefer: having a concept artist sketch it, then having a sculptor make a clay maquette, and then having some expensive craftsman manufacture them for us. We just collaged the robots together out of found objects, because it was the fastest way to get to our ideas.
Twenty years later, we're in a totally different world.
For instance, I'm starting to mess around with some new ideas for robots that may (or may not) visit the world of MST3K. And the way I'm doing it in 2015 is pretty much the same as the way we made Tom and Crow and Gypsy: by collaging found objects together with a glue gun.
The big difference is that now, once the character is there, I have a few more options. I can do a 3D scan of the robot and bring it into the computer. I can scale each model up or down to better suit each robot's purpose, or better fit its character. I can try lots of different paint jobs in the computer, and experiment with animating different parts, like moving eyes, winkers, blinkers and nods. And then, using a 3D printer, I can output the robots in different sizes to fit our needs.
By the way, 3D printers also make it a lot easier to create the exact parts we need for puppets. When I made the first Servo and Crow, their mouths were made out of rubber bands, string, PVC tubing and a coat hanger! So even if we're not planning to use computer graphics and editing, we can use a lot of the cool stuff that exists now to get closer to building the stuff we always imagined.
We'll still do the best we can with what we've got. We just have a lot more freedom now.
So, I guess maybe the best way to summarize my design philosophy for MST3K – then and now – is, "We will endeavor to use what works." And, "If it's not fun, we probably aren't doing it right."
Are cheesy old movies any better when we riff them in HD?
This is kind of a philosophical question, huh?
Actually, I'm pretty excited that television technology has come such a long way, because I think HD will let us make MST3K even better. ("We have the technology!")
The first big change you'll notice about the new episodes is that the screen is just bigger. The original show needed to fit onto TV screens in the ‘90s, which were more square than they are now. To help you imagine the difference, the aspect ratio of the original MST3K was 3 squares high by 4 squares across. Now, it's different. Most TVs and phones have an aspect ratio of 1 by 1.85, which is much wider than before.
Here, let me show you:
So, in the new episodes, you will see a full 1/3 more of the screen. This is good news for those of you who like to see things.
Another big change is that, back in the ‘90s, a lot of televisions would cut off the edges of the picture, due to a process some TVs used called “overscanning.” So anything really important had to be closer to the middle of the frame, in what was called the “TV Safe” area. For MST3K, that meant the silhouettes – our host, bots, and even the theater seats – had to be bigger.
In fact, if you've seen any of the original episodes from KTMA, you might have noticed that the silhouettes started to get bigger. Here's a comparison from Gamera vs. Zigra, which we riffed at KTMA and then again, three years later, on Comedy Central:
See how much space we ended up using by 1991?
Yeah, well, that was a huge waste of MST's visual playground. Sure, it’s good to see the silhouettes, but then they ended up covering more of the screen image! The whole thing made me crazy!
Fortunately, all of those problems are behind us now, so when you watch the new episodes, you won't have to worry about your TV cutting off the bottom half of the theater seats, or the top of Mitchell's head when he's dreaming about beer. You'll be able to see exactly what we make.
So anyway, putting MST3K on a wider screen means we won't lose as much of each movie we riff. See, many of the films we riffed back then were shot in widescreen, but to show them on smaller televisions, they had to be put through a process called "pan and scan." That basically means that, since the whole widescreen didn't fit, someone tried to pick the most important part of the frame in each shot. But that means that you never actually saw almost half of the movie!
Let's use Hercules Unchained as an example. The film was originally twice as wide as the version you saw on MST3K, so you actually never saw half of the original film. That's why there are so many scenes where someone is having a dialogue with someone who isn't even on the screen!
The poor schlub that ran the camera had to decide who we should look at during the conversation, and the effect is kinda eerie. So, think about this: we could probably do a completely new riff based just on the parts of Hercules Unchained you never even saw! Finally, we'll be able to show you these films exactly as the director intended, however misguided he might have been.
Oh yeah, and speaking of misguided films...
What kinds of movies will we riff in the new episodes?
So, you know, I think this is probably the question I've gotten the most this month.
Well, no … the real question is usually, "What specific movies will you riff?" And hey, I guess I understand why some of you are asking. Maybe you wanna know what to expect from the new episodes, or try to decide if we're gonna do something different than before. Like, maybe something you wouldn't like as much. But I've gotta tell you...
I don't want to tell you the specific movies in advance!
It's not because I don't think you'll like them. (Believe me, the movies we're hoping to riff in our next season are just as cheesy as ever.) But if I tell you the movies now, it'll spoil a lot of the fun that comes from discovering the movie when you watch it for the first time.
In today's media-dense world, we rarely – if ever – see a film we don't already know pretty much everything about. It's de rigeur (a French word) to be pre-sold a film before we ever step foot in a theater or see it at home. We see the whole film laid out days, weeks, or months ahead of time, in trailers, or interviews, or news stories, because that's supposed to make us want to see it.
MST3K works like that, only in reverse: the less you know about what's about to happen, the better! See, I've always felt that MST3K took advantage of what I’ll call "The Haunted House Theory." Watching a really good episode of MST3K is like exploring a haunted house at the edge of town with three companions.
I just think that if you know what's coming, it can't be nearly as good. So, I won't be announcing the films ahead of time, or trying to say, "Oooh, just imagine all the fun we're going to have with this clunker of a movie! Start dreaming about how funny it's gonna be!"
Still, if you wanna try to draw some conclusions, that also probably means I'm less interested in featuring movies everyone's heard of. So, I doubt we'll be riffing big blockbusters or franchise movies any time soon, no matter how bad they are. (And even if we wanted to, I don't think we could afford the rights!)
Here's the last thing I'll say about this: ever since we started MST3K back at KTMA, I've really felt that movie riffing can work with any kind of movie, and I still feel that way today.
So actually, I guess there aren't really any "rules" on what kind of movies we can riff.
It's getting pretty late, so this is probably a good place to stop. If you've been wondering what you can expect from the next season of Mystery Science Theater, or whether it would be the same or different from the old show, I hope this gives you some peace of mind.
I guess now we can all go back to worrying about science facts!
Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and remember: just FIVE DAYS LEFT until it's all over, so please…
KEEP CIRCULATING THE URL.
Cheers and Thanks,
Tom Servo, high-definition robot … of the future! Or, I don't know, maybe in the future we're called droids. So look, I bet you're expecting me to give you some messages to post on Twitter and Facebook, right? Yeah? You think you know me, huh? Well fine, let's spice things up and do something different tonight.
Here's a new way to help, suggested by one of our backers:
Oh. He's right: that is a good idea.
So? You heard John: get out there! Convince four MST-curious friends, co-workers or total strangers to give just $1 each! I know there are bunch of people that are wondering what we’re up to, and just a dollar gets them on the mailing list and gets them updates for a whole year!
And if you won't do it for MST, do it for your fellow backer. Do it for John!
Okay, fine, you want a tweet too? Here you go:
5 DAYS LEFT & we're at 74% of our final goal to #BringBackMST3K. @JoelGHodgson reveals more about the new episodes! http://mst3k.com/kickstarter/update15