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What is riffing?

It's ultimately just cracking jokes about something that's going on during a movie. The term was adopted by Mystery Science Theater 3000 creator Joel Hodgeson, but if you've never heard either of those names, don't worry, it's a tradition that's been around as long as there have been performances and wise-alecks in the back rows of them. (Have you heard of Statler and Waldorf at least?)

The thing that has changed is the delivery: We're not prepared to come to your home, stand behind your couch, and hurl insults and quips at your TV while you watch stuff. Instead, we've recorded ourselves making the jokes ahead of time so that you can play our voices alongside the movie it was made for (or a different one, for a more Dadaist experience) and it will be like we're there with you, without us eating all your popcorn and sitting on your cats.

Thus, all you need to get started are these:

  • A copy of the target movie
    • This can be on DVD, Blu-Ray, VHS (probably), Laserdisk (why not), digital file (ooh, so tech savvy), or streamed from an online service (but if it stops to buffer, there may be headaches)
    • For certain media formats (and, by extention, digital rips from them) you might run into NTSC or PAL versions. This is mainly a DVD thing. Just make sure you download the corresponding riff to ensure it synchs with the movie.
  • A copy of the riff
    • This will be an MP3 file with an intro, synching instructions, and jokes for the entire length of the movie
  • A device or devices that will play each of these things
    • We recommend playing the movie and the riff on the same device, as it keeps all the controls in one spot, but it's entirely possible, for example, to play the movie on a DVD player and the riff on an iPod

If you have all of these things, start playing the riff first. There will be a short and (we hope) entertaining introduction where we tell you what movie we are riffing and give you instructions on how to sync up the track with the movie. (In fact, everything in the rest of this description will be covered in that introduction, so you don't really have to keep reading if you don't want to.)


At some point in the introduction we will describe a certain point at the start of the movie that we want you to watch for. This is usually when a certain name in the credits appears, or when a title fades out. It depends on the movie. Then we will tell you to pause the riff. You do this just like you would pause a song.

You then start playing the movie and watch for the moment we described in the introduction. When you see it you unpause the riff. Voila! You're cookin' with gas! Both the movie and the QuipTrack are playing now, and you are listening to both at the same time.

Drift (Re-Synching)

There's just one more thing you might need to know: If you are playing the QuipTrack and the DVD on different machines, sometimes one plays ever so slightly faster than the other. After a while it could become noticable and the jokes would be in the wrong places. The method for correcting this drift depends on which riffing group made your track.

QuipTracks employs a small, beeping robot named Beeper. Beeper will occasionally beep on a scene change. He'll give you one, lower-toned beep to let you know to pay attention, and then one second later, a higher-toned beep should occur precisely on a hard cut in the movie. If the beep is early, pause the QuipTrack for the length of the difference; if it is late, pause the movie for that time.

The other groups use a voice that speaks lines of dialog along with the movie. If you hear it starting the line early, pause the riff for the length of the difference; if late, pause the movie for that time.

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    Where Are My Files?

    Unlike on our old site, purchased files are not accessible through the account page. We and others have requested this feature from Shopify, so it might happen in the future, but for now, you'll need to hold onto your order confirmation emails. The link to download your files therin will not expire, so if you keep those archived, you'll always have access.

    If you want access to your old files (purchased through our Zencart site), there is a form to request those links on your account page.

    Everything Else

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