iRiffs Tips

Tips for a successful iRiff (click here for video-making tips!)

Remember that these are just tips and there are many ways to choose content, write, and record a successful iRiff. 

What Can I Riff on or Comment on?

-Movies and TV Shows that are on DVD make perfect fodder for creating a full-length RiffTrax MP3 (that viewers can sync up to their own DVDs... you know, like RiffTrax.)

-Public Domain Shorts are the easiest choice for merging your track together with the video and offering it as an MP4 video file for download. There are some great ones at

-Public Domain Movies are great to take your riffing to the next level as a merged video.

-Riffing on political videos is a timely choice.

-You can do an informative commentary to synch up to any movie, whether you were the director or actor in the movie, or simply the world's foremost auhthority.  You can share your take with others.


RiffTrax Writing Tips

-Use a script. Seems obvious, but it gets you a much better final riff.

-As much as possible, don't talk over the movie's dialogue.  Your comments should ideally fit in the spaces of silence.

-Resist the temptation to overwrite. Everyone does this at first, but you have to give the movie a chance to be heard. Also, people need a second to laugh (if you're doing your job, that is.)

-Take a movie a section at a time. Watch a few minutes and decide where you think jokes belong. Focus on these sections until you're ready to move on.

-If you've been staring at a gap for too long, take a break. It's incredible how a few minutes spent thinking about something else can give you a whole new outlook on a joke once you get back to work .

Tips for Recording

There are many ways to go about recording an iRiff, based on your computer setup, recording equipment, time and budget. While they can be as polished or as "DIY" as you like, just remember that the better your iRiff sounds, the more people will want to listen to it. 

-Audacity is free audio recording software with some great features. Available for many platforms here:

-Importing the video you're riffing into your recording program will allow you do re-takes and edits while making sure that your audio stays in synch. Programs like Sony Vegas and Pro Tools are capable of doing this.

-Don't be afraid to do retakes if a line doesn't go perfectly.

-Having a second set of ears on hand to tell you if something didn't sound right can't hurt.

-Save your session often!

-Trimming out silences in between jokes eliminates potential distractions like breathing and paper shuffling. It will also reduce the file size of your finished iRiff

-Optimal settings for your final MP3 are a bitrate of 96k and a frequency of 44,100 Hz.

-Properly ID3 tagging your iRiffs makes it easier to find in MP3 libraries

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

For additional advice, detailed guides, or to share tips of your own, please visit the iRiff section of our forum.


Recording your Intro and Synch Lines

-If you are doing a RiffTrax MP3 commentary, you will need an intro at the beginning of your track to both set up who is riffing, but also to provide synching instructions

-At the end of your intro, you need to have something along the lines of the following:  "In a minute I am going to ask you to pause this track and start your DVD.  When the Paramount logo has disappeared from the screen completely, hit play again on this track.  Ready, one, two, three, pause!"

-You just need some visual cue (like a logo or certain credit fading to black) at the beginning of the movie to "anchor" your track to.   

-It's good to have a synch line (a voice saying a line of dialog at the same time a character says the line) early in the movie so the viewer knows he/she has unpaused the track at the proper time. Usually within the first minute is optimal, since it will let the listener know early on whether or not they have achieved sync. Then you should have a synch line every 6 to 10 minutes or so.

-Try not to put synch lines too close to jokes.


How Do I Promote My iRiff?

- Tell all your friends.  

- Your iRiff will have a unique URL.  Link to it from wherever you can.

- Make some banners to link to your iRiff from your website or blog.

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