Casey and Rudy on Making Galacticast

Rudy Jahchan and Casey McKinnon are rather busy these days. When they’re not putting together new episodes of Galacticast — their award-winning weekly sci-fi geekdom parody comedy show — they’re jetting from their home in Montreal to conferences across the United States. The following is the promo they put together for Network2 and the Video on the Net conference they’re currently attending in San Jose.

I managed to catch up with them in Austin at South by Southwest Interactive, where they were nice enough to sit down and chat about what kind of work goes into making an episode of Galacticast. Their next public appearance will be in Los Angeles at Pixelodeon this June.

NewTeeVee: What goes into the production of an episode of Galacticast? Specifically, how about the ‘greatest episode of Galacticast ever,’ Galactifund?

Casey: Oh wow, that was really hard.

Rudy: We had to make three or four different segments in that one, different sci-fi based things. It starts out with the script, and then we do the gags. You have to think that far ahead of what special effects and things you want to do, since we are a weekly show. So if you’re not that prepared, you’re going to be caught with your pants down.

Casey: Galactifund was really hard, actually. That one I was literally dying because I had to do most of the special effects myself, because Rudy was busy. Because that was an episode we were trying to launch this funding drive with t-shirt sales and everything. Rudy had to take care of the programming a whole bunch of different things, programming our sponsorship on our site, so I had to take care of the editing and the special effects.

Rudy: You did a great job anyway with the editing. The way it usually works with the two of us is that we come up with the initial idea for the gags together, I write it into a script format and come up with the screen shots and the directing and Casey acts as what would be the equivalent of a first unit director. And then once we we’re actually shooting everything, it’s pretty much Casey’s game. The only time I’d step in after that point is if we’re doing a special effect for the first time. I’m the one who usually figures out how to do it the first time through, but once I figure it out, Casey runs away with it.

Casey: I’m kind of like the Alan Smithee because sometimes I’ll edit something, and he’ll go, “No!” And he’ll step in like David Lynch and say, “No, I didn’t want it like that.” Then I’ll have to change it. But usually our minds are pretty — I often don’t even look at the script while I’m editing because I think I know how it goes.

NewTeeVee: So do you guys do any kind of storyboarding?

Rudy: Yeah, but it’s stick man storyboarding. One time I tried to draw it, but it’s a tight timeline, the fact is that I still have a day job. Casey’s at home, but she’s more focused on the marketing and stuff. I like storyboarding, I like directing, I like writing. Casey loves the editing process.

Casey: Yeah, I love it. Getting back to Galactifund, we actually found that was just so tough because I had to get a whole bunch of backgrounds. We had to make sure, because we were going to make a little bit of money on this, we had to make sure whatever pictures we used were commercial Creative Commons licenses. So that was really tough because we had significantly less amount of photos available to us.

NewTeeVee: So the Galactifund episode was a real killer. So what kind of hours goes into a typical episode?

Rudy: Our average is 50 man hours between the two of us. That one was particularly long because in addition to the episode itself and all that headache, there was the code work that had to be done.

Casey: I had to make a lot of titles for that episode. Just to make sure that the viewers understood what the funding drive and where to go. That episode, when I first starting editing, it came out to a whopping 10 to 12 minutes. And that just, to us, was unacceptable. Because we knew that the fans would watch it and go, “Oh man, this is going on and on.” We had good gags in there, but they just weren’t strong enough. So we ended up chopping it down. We wanted to make sure the special effects were the most entertaining.

Rudy: That’s why it’s a collaborative effort, too. As much as there’s a script and a storyboard, sometimes while we’re shooting, Dave [Noiseaux], our friend who acts in, he’ll come up with a gag and we’ll go with it. Or Casey comes up with something. Or somebody will say, “Just drop this, it’s no good.” It really is like Hollywood, on a micro, weekly level.

I always have to compliment Casey on her editing, because sometimes she makes these brilliant choices in the editing room. Like she’ll slip an extra sound or something. We had that one recently called ‘Galacticut‘ where we kept cutting down our budget. So you would see this initial hi-fi, very super special effects episodes. And then we’d start dropping effects because our budget was running out, so we shot the same scene over and over again. And at one point there’s a gag in it about how Casey appears naked. You don’t see anything but her legs, but it’s very heavily implied. You hear this kind of porn style music in the background. Then later in the episode, there’s a gag where I’m supposed to be naked in a flashback. And it was nowhere in the script…

Casey: The same porn music.

Rudy: But she put it in. It was brilliant, and made the scene that much more funny.