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World of WarCrafts: Ninja Raiders creators Roninhobbit and Ember Isolte


World of WarCrafts spotlights art and creativity by WoW players, including fan art, cooking, comics, cosplay, music and fan fiction. Show us how you express yourself by emailing lisa (at) wow (dot) com with your not-for-profit, WoW-inspired creations.

I'm afraid that all we've got for you here at World of WarCrafts this week is QQ -- and lots of it. Talk about an earworm ... "Ninja Raiders," a WoW-flavored take on Beyonce's smash hit "Single Ladies," has inched its way into the brains of WoW fans as one of the catchiest little remakes on the scene. Us? We're simply smitten with the collaborative creative spirit among this group of collaborators. We talked to lyricist Roninhobbit (aka Ryan Myers) and vocalist Ember Isolte for a peek behind the scenes of the hit machinima from Raven Sylphe Productions.

World of WarCrafts: Roninhobbit, how did "Ninja Raiders" come about? Did Ember Isolte approach you to remix it, or was her production a surprise?

Roninhobbit: She asked me if she could cover it -- and to be honest, I was surprised anyone would want to. I just thought it was goofy. When she sent me her version, I was amazed at how good it sounded. Now mine just sounds embarrassing. But I've been forbidden by my guildies to take mine down.

Ember Isolte: For me, it started with my random craving to write a parody based on Beyoncé's "Single Ladies," just because I love that song. I wanted to write my own lyrics, but I figured "Single Ladies" was so popular, it had to have "been done already," so I searched YouTube for something like "Single Ladies WoW." I watched more than a few "Single Ladies" WoW parodies and got a little discouraged about writing my own lyrics, since so many already existed!

But then I came across Ryan's "Ninja Raiders," and I loved the lyrics so much that I just went ahead and messaged him via YouTube, asking if I could possibly cover his cover. ^_^ He simply said yes, and the rest is history. I sent him the audio when I was all finished and he put it up on his website. =)

I partnered up with Disani for the video because she commented on my upload of the song on YouTube (which didn't have a video at the time).

What makes a great WoW parody, in your opinion?

Roninhobbit: Well, song choice is obviously key. You want a song that is popular enough that people can recognize it, but not necessarily something so popular that has been parodied in a bunch of other ways. I would say pick a song that is in your key or vocal style, but that's never stopped me before.

Then, the lyrics. You need to make sure you are trying to keep to the speech rhythm and rhyme patterns of the original, otherwise it just sounds like you are trying to force lyrics in.

Tell us a little about the process of creating one of your parodies.

Roninhobbit: Well, I've only made the one video so far, the original one for "Ninja Raiders." It was made using Fraps to capture in-game footage of my friends doing goofy stuff (as well as some unwitting passersby forced to dance with the help of a Party G.R.E.N.A.D.E. I edited the footage in Adobe Premiere; took me about a week or so.

Again, it was really just made for friends and guildies ... Had I known then what I know now, I definitely would have made it differently, using Model Viewer and what-not. As far as the songs, I normally just record my voice over the karaoke version and use Audacity and Mixcraft to try to tighten it up.

Ember Isolte: I only do the audio in my videos, because I know very little about video editing and machinimating. "Ninja Raiders" and "Shut Up and Grind" were machinimated by the lovely Disani, a.k.a. Raven.Sylphe Productions. The tools I use are Apple's Garageband, a lyrics website and a rhyming dictionary. And the process is something like this:

I choose a song to parody. And my choice is always based on three factors:

  1. I have to feel comfortable singing the original; no sense in singing something I don't think I can.
  2. The "punch" of the parody lyric must sound right (at least to me, anyway). =p
  3. I must be able to find the instrumentals of the song without any lead or backing vocals (which is the hardest part) ... Or I just go and find someone like Ryan to work with.
I write the lyrics, constantly referencing the original song and a rhyme dictionary. I record the vocals and put it all together in Garageband. I send off the audio to whoever is going to create the video. =)

How long have you been making music and machinima?

Roninhobbit: I've come up with silly parodies for years, but it was only about a year ago that I felt the need to record some. I think it was the only way to get them out of my head. :)

What's your music and art background?

Roninhobbit: None to speak of, really, aside from playing a little guitar. I run a karaoke business, however, so I've been assaulting poor audiences with my singing for years.

Ember Isolte: The only vocal training I've had that would be remotely close to considered "formal" is when I was in choir my senior year of high school, 2002, and when I participated in my old church's choir for only about a year in 2003-2004. Other than that, I've just been singing as a hobby ever since I was little, participating in talent shows, singing karaoke with the family, and singing along with the radio whenever I possibly could.

What about WoW – what do you play?

Roninhobbit: I started playing WoW about a year after it came out. I leveled a warrior into the 50s or so before I finally lured my friends into the game as well, and we all started fresh. I've been playing the same night elf rogue since then, though I do have a few alts kicking around. I was mostly a casual player, but in the last six months or so we've been raiding like crazy. We haven't quite gotten to Arthas yet, but we should soon. I do pretty well DPS-wise for my guild, but for some unfortunate reason I am truly talented at getting cleaved.

Ember Isolte: A level 80 female draenei enhancement shaman named Isolte on US Daggerspine-A.

What's next on your plate?

Roninhobbit: Well, that's the problem. There are a few parodies I would like to make, but I haven't done any in a while, because Ember and Raven have raised the bar so much. I've been recruiting other parodists to let me host some of their songs, as well as original work and articles by other contributors. I think I will end up just writing the lyrics and having more talented people than I take care of the singing and machinima. There will be one soon, though ... or I'll never get these out of my head. :)

Ember Isolte: Well, I don't want to spoil any surprises. But I will say that I'm currently working on an original song collaboration with a very, very talented musician-lyricist and I am very excited to be part of an original work. It'll be a first for me! And I'm also finishing up writing the lyrics for three solo parodies at once. It's just easier for me to work on multiple projects at the same time so that if I feel uninspired about one, I can just hop on another one. =) Oh! And Disani is creating the video for my latest WoW parody, "AttentionWhore." No release dates for any of these, however, only because this is just a hobby for all of us and we don't want to put pressure on each other. ^_^

Ryan and I haven't discussed any particular future work, but I have mentioned to him that I am more than willing to work with him on another collaboration!

See and hear more:
World of WarCrafts spotlights art and creativity by WoW players, including fan art, cooking, comics, cosplay, music and fan fiction. Show us how you express yourself by e-mailing lisa (at) wow (dot) com with your not-for-profit WoW-inspired creations.

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