BROKEN SAINTS F.A.Q.
What is this thing anyway?
Broken Saints is an online graphic novel that uses Macromedia’s Flash to tell a creepy and thought-provoking story. The creators felt that there was lots of ‘entertainment’ on the web, but nothing that really compelled viewers to become involved with the direction of a tale or its characters.
It’s not that the BS crew is diametrically opposed to 3 minute cartoons where things blow up, multiple beheadings are seen, gases are emitted, or someone gets ‘boinked’ – everyone needs a mindless distraction now and then – but they felt that it was time someone told a REAL story, with a REAL message. They also felt that the best way to showcase the epic nature of the tale was to create a deep and compelling site to house it in…rather than a bare-bones one with rudimentary buttons and a viewing window (which seems to be the norm for these types of things).
You’re still here, so it looks like they’re doing their job ;)
Is this some freaky religious site?
We have Pat Robertson and the leaders of the Zionist movement over for tea and biscuits every fourth Wednesday.
Please. If you need to ask, you should close this window now and go play outside…at night…wearing black…in traffic.
Why do you call it ‘cinematic literature’, and not just an ‘online comic’
‘Online comics’ tend to be still panels that are clicked through. This is fine if your goal is to shuttle readers through as quickly as possible – but the idea with BS was to create something ‘literate’ (well-written), graphical (powerful effects and emotional artwork), and moving (emotionally AND spatially).
Since “graphic literature” is the term used in the comic industry to separate the more mature and intelligent works from the average blow-em-up-superhero-big-tits-square-jaw stuff, it seemed a more appropriate moniker...but it still didn't convey how dynamic BS was to be. It was during an interview with WIZARD Magazine that the filmic influences on BS were discussed - and the term 'cinematic literature' was first coined.
It's stuck ever since :)
The site’s too slick…what company paid you to do this?
Nobody. It’s true that a very generous design firm in Vancouver – Switch Interactive – supported the BS idea from inception through the first 6 chapters (helped with bandwidth, promotion, and keeping Ian and Andrew well-fed!). However, we are not making a CENT from this project. This is not a site that will suddenly turn into a promotional vehicle for a secret game, film, TV series, clothing line, marketing campaign, or motivational lecture series from a Fortune 500 entertainment conglomerate.
Broken Saints is what you see. Broken Saints is what it is. Saying that it’s too slick to have been done by three poor lads from the Great White North is a wonderful compliment to the three poor lads from the Great White North who eat noodles every day for lunch so they can use their savings to fund bandwidth.
So how DO you make money with Broken Saints?
Now THIS is the reason to do an FAQ – so a particularly nagging query can finally be laid to rest ;)
It’s simple. We don’t make MONEY with Broken Saints. Period.
We make something that can be seen. We make something that can be heard. We make something that can be EXPERIENCED.
We make art.
Are we daft? Maybe, but it’s hard to convey how satisfying this whole process has been to people who are obsessed with the bottom-line.
Could BS be profitable someday?
Perhaps…but not in this incarnation. =)
Is it true that Broken Saints is gonna be a videogame/series/movie/comic/DVD?
This one kinda seems linked to the previous question. There have been countless rumours floating around the web that BS is destined for other mediums. Some were stoked from within, others with assistance, but most were the projected wishes of the fans.
TRUTH - the crew talks REGULARLY with interested parties that seem to think BS should make the leap.
PAINFUL TRUTH – the crew will NOT consider any offer that compromises the integrity of the material.
In other words - the BS universe is treasured by its creators. Like a glistening newborn, the last thought on your mind is a future plan for prostitution. People respect the project now - but if you start seeing substandard DVD releases with no extras, a watered-down series with no mature/spiritual/violent content, crap toys destined for the throat of an eager toddler, a comic with a GAP ad on every other page, or a kart racing game where Shandala tosses red and black eyes at the competition as her ‘special move’ – can’t you just hear the ‘whore’ chants now?
Can I work for you guys? My art/writing/Flash is better than yours.
The BS crew is tight. They live in beautiful North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Andrew draws every character and background with love. Ian mixes ever shot, every sound, and every effect with singular passion. Brooke agonizes over every word, soundscape, scene, and cinematic transition like he’s giving birth to triplets.
So I don’t think they care how good you are. But they appreciate the thought.
Do you guys have any press materials?
Yup. Thanks to Switch Interactive, we made some dandy press-kits back during the BS genesis. Most of the ‘hard copies’ have been given out to the media and other such swag hunters, but you’re welcome to take a peek at our online version – just go to the SOAPBOX section of the site, or click on the PRESSKIT link….and make sure to mail the url to every scroungy media type and interactive-entertainment high roller you know!!!
Are those awards real? I bet you faked them yourselves in photoshop.
Sorry to disappoint…but they’re the real deal.
The crew submitted BS to HUNDREDS of award sites around the world, and ended up pegging the lion’s share of the prestigious one. It’s too much of a hassle to link them all, but if you’re resourceful boys and girls and do a Google search, you’re bound to verify their origins.
We’re still missing a couple of the biggies…but not for long.
What's the point of your SKINNY site?
For those of you who haven't noticed, there's a button in the bottom-left corner of the first pop-up when you come BS - and it says 'SKINNY 50k Site'. When we first launched BS back in early 2001, a lot of folks who weren't blessed with broadband goodness complained of the mammoth loading times just to enter the our kooky little nook.
Well, when we finally redesigned our little cyber-haunt, we figured that we'd try to balance this inequity by making an 'express' version of the main saintly site! Here, you can get all of the basic features of the main site - updates, wallpapers, galleries, yap, quotes, contact info, and CHAPTERS - without having to sit on your thumbs and endure the wait.
The upside? Less to load. Immediate access to chapters. Lower bandwidth $ for us =)
The downside? Well...Skinny visitors miss out on the A/V section, Rants, BIOS, and some other treats. But if your main reasons for visiting us is to scope updates, images, and the latest Flash masterpiece, then by all means - GET SKINNY!!!
What’s the story about?
Like the trailer says:
Four strangers receive a Message
Together, they will face a coming Darkness
And learn that the greatest Love
Is often the greatest Sacrifice
You want specifics?
Hope. Fate. Love. Fear. Death. Hate. Power. Consciousness. Betrayal. Change. Mercy. Compassion. Wisdom. Awareness. Will. Discipline. Faith. Courage. Empathy. Paranoia. Revenge. Forgiveness. Sacrifice.
And the Good and Evil in us all.
Why don’t you just use voice like all the other cartoons?
Here’s one that makes the lads piss their pants every time.
Sorry kids…but you’re just gonna have to get used to this wacky thing called READING.
The music kicks! When are you gonna post more MP3s?
Tobias and Quentin are deeply grateful for your support. They’ve been given a cool forum to showcase their talents, and the majority of fans seem to agree that the music of Broken Saints is the trump card of the series. That being said, we have to limit the number of freebies that are posted. Most of the music (especially Tobias’) is culled from previous published works that are still available for sale.
That being said...if you TRULY love the work, why not show your support by putting your $ where your mouths are - and hop over to our SOUNDTRACKS section! Here, you can purchase any of the 4 (pending) Volumes of saintly sonatas at VERY reasonable prices. Tobias himself masters, mixes, assembles, and ships each one with love - and they run the entire musical gamut of the saintly experience!
Also, the artists WELCOME your feedback. Tobias’ e-mail address is posted underneath his caricature in the Creators pages of the BIOS section. Quentin’s e-mail can be found in the DOWNLOADS portion of A/V with his MP3’s.
So show our brilliant composers your love...and be sure to spread the good word to ears far and wide!!!
Will there ever be any Broken Saints merchandise?
Speaking of soundtracks… ;)
As mentioned earlier, the BS Crew will not permit or endorse shoddy merchandise from shady partners interested purely in capital gains.
That said, we’d be fools not to give the fans something that they’re clamoring for – which would, in turn, spread the Broken Saints gospel to the unenlightened nooks at the farthest reaches of civilization (hey, at least we ain’t Coca Cola…it’s not like we’d fund death squads in Africa or anything – we’d just sell a quality T-shirt!!!)
Here’s what’s been suggested so far:
v A Broken Saints ‘offline’ comic.
v High-end figurines/toys
v T-shirts, tanks, and hats
v Movie-style posters and other limited edition artwork
v DVD of the series
v Mousepads and other computery stuff.
v Feminine hygiene products
Well folks...we finally buckled in the Spring of 2002 and launched a SAINTLY SHOP!
The nifty service known as Cafe Press allows anyone to create their own little cyber storefront, complete with mugs and posters and shirts and cups and countless other goodies (there's even rumoured to be a BS THONG!). While the company receives the lionshare of the profits from any transaction (they print and ship everything themselves, and handle every transaction through Paypal or a mailed in cheque), it's still a nice way to get your paws on a little saintly real estate... and at the same time contribute to the BS kitty!!!
But wait, there's more...!
As of 2003 (and our big win at the Sundance Online Film Festival), we can confirm that we ARE working on two very special BS-related projects with our good friends at Sunscript Studios:
1) A BROKEN SAINTS DVD BOX SET - planned for a limited release in Spring 2004, this multi-disc collection will house all 24 Chapters of the series in glorious high-res widescreen! Expect beautifully remixed audio, upgraded art on earlier chapters, some intense new effects, creator commentaries, multiple subtitle tracks, hours of special features, and HEAPS of unexpected extras and easter eggs.
2) BROKEN SAINTS GRAPHIC NOVEL - as of now, the plan is to translate the text and images from our little Flash saga into 16 prestige format issues for release under a major American label. Stay tuned for the official announcement, as this one's sure to hit the radar of comic geeks worldwide!
Why didn’t you put in a PAUSE/FF/REW button
A common question/request…and a pain in the ass.
We know that a lot of you wish you could have more control over the chapters as they’re playing. We know that it’s rare for 15+ minutes to go by uninterrupted. We know that a lot of you are killing corporate productivity by watching the series at work (an activity we at Brokensaints.com highly endorse!!!), and when the boss comes to your cube you need to pull a hasty minimize.
But we can’t implement a PAUSE feature. And don’t think that Ian hasn’t tried…but there’s a glitch in Flash that prevents it from happening with the type of presentation we use.
Have you noticed that BS has some of the best audio around? Sounds and music in the series are sampled at a very high rate and primarily tagged as ‘events’ in the Flash authoring timeline. What does that mean? Well, there are two sound labels in Flash: EVENT and STREAM. If you’re even slightly computer literate, you know that streams are used to advance frames forward to keep in synch with the audio track. Most Flash movies use them (it’s great for keeping mouths moving to match recorded speech) – the problem is that most audio files get a little crunchy sounding with streams, and the overall file size tends to skyrocket (which can make a Flash movie crash unexpectedly).
By using EVENTS, we can easily match specific sounds with specific moments (without too many worries about framerate), and are able to play crisp loops of music that aren’t as jarring to the ear.
The downside is that if you try to manipulate the course of the ‘movie’ (PAUSE/FF/REW), the current audio files ‘drop out’. We’d lose all audio until the next event is triggered…which could be more than a minute away, and would most certainly jar the viewer/reader out of the flow of the story.
The crew tries as hard as it can to cast a hypnotic spell over you with its stories. All you have to do is set aside a chunk of time where you can put the headphones on and pay close attention. Just pretend you’re in the theatre for 15 minutes bursts, and turn the rest of your life ‘off’ until the credits roll. And if you just don't have the patience to sit still for 10+hours of FREE online entertainment, then maybe you should just wait for the DVD to come out ;)
How does Andrew get his art into Flash?
‘Drew uses a Wacom artist’s tablet to draw directly on the computer. No scanning necessary. He combines work in Painter 6, Photoshop, and Illustrator, to create the bulk of the art resources. Then everything gets transferred over to Ian who preps the shots for Flash and does last-minute Photoshop tweaks.
If you have any specific questions for ol’ Westy, then just ask him! Go to the Creators page in BIOS for his mailing address, or post a query in ART section of our FORUM.
How does Ian do the (insert name here) effect?
It would be nuts trying to explain how Ian does the nifty BS effects in an FAQ. Again, you’re welcome to drop him a line (just tag his e-mail addy in the Creators section of BIOS), or ask him a question in the Flash section of the BS FORUM.
Where did you buy/find all of those sounds? They’re f$%#ed up.
Umm…yes. They are. That’s a good thing, right? ;)
A good chunk of them were found (FREE!) online at places like www.findsounds.com and www.meanrabbit.com. Others were culled from compilation discs that we’ve begged/borrowed/stolen over the months.
The raw sound is rarely used. With some gentle prodding, Ian takes most files into Sound Forge and tweaks them with effects until Brooke stops frowning ;)
How long does it take to make a Chapter, and what’s the basic process?
This really depends on how many shots are in it, how complex the audio and effects are, and how ‘wordy’ it is.
The average production cycle on a chapter was originally three weeks, but staggered for art. Andrew would stay one chapter ahead of Ian and Brooke, creating shots from a list given by Brooke. As he works on the sketches, inking, and coloring, Ian and Brooke were mixing the previous chapter. (So, if Andrew was doing the Chapter 15 paintings, I&B were mixing Chapter 14 at the same time). But as the series comes to a close, and chapters are ballooning into 150+ shot masterpieces, the conservative estimates for chapter completion are now hovering around EIGHT WEEKS. Considering that some of these recent babies are easily ten times as complex as the fledgling installments in the series, that's still quite an accomplishment for a self-taught team of three!
So here's the basic gist of the production process - once the shots are done, Ian grabs them and spends several weeks organizing, tweaking in Photoshop (usually lighting and color matching), and placing them chronologically in Flash. Then Brooke joins him and they work on effects and transitions (fades, dissolves, cuts, burns, etc) for another week or two. Meanwhile, Brooke is writing and adjusting dialogue based on this shot placement, finding the intro/extro quotes, creating story section blurbs and loading haikus, and choosing the music that needs to be looped. (he's also been known to do last-minute phone-confabs with Tobias in Berlin to get just the right sound!)
The next step is to place text boxes and word balloons. This can take anywhere from 2 days to a week depending on the complexity of the chapter and number of characters. (Ian's become a master at this, so Brooke subconsciously adds more and more dialogue to compensate ;) ). After Ian finishes this, he and Brooke find/create, tweak, and place the chapter’s audio (music and effects) – this can also take over a week.
Finally, the lads review this ‘beta’ version and decide on necessary adjustments to keep the framerates high on slower computers and improve overall flow. The animated cover, credits, and quotes get placed, the chapter is tested for speed on various machines, Ian makes a themed movie window based on the characters in the current chapter (has ANYONE noticed this yet???)…and then, on the verge of passing out or breaking into fisticuffs, they launch the finished version!
It’s around this time that you get our latest newsletter - with our increasingly aggressive unsubscribe messages (see QUOTES section for some of our best!)!!!
Is the story planned out, or do you make it up as you go along?
According to Brooke, the entire main arc and all four sub-arcs (4 groups with 6 Chapters each) are in stone. There are also specific ‘events’ that MUST occur to advance the story satisfactorily – without them the story could get pretty nonsensical and flaccid. That being said, he’s not against last minute changes/deletion/additions for the overall good of the project (ie: deadlines). Example: Chapters 2, 3, 4, and 5 were originally presented in a production script as a MASSIVE 4-part chapter!!! After haggling with Ian and Drew, Brooke saw the error of his ways and split them into two 2-part chapters. After deadlines started creeping up and pressures began to mount, the only course of action was to do the lowest-common-denominator thing and turn then into individual stories. In the end, it was probably the best decision, with Chapters 2 and 3 ranking in fans’ minds as the tightest overall.
Will anything be lost in the telling of the story? No. In fact, Brooke claims that by culling the script of excess secondary characters and situations, the focus on the primary storyline is heightened, and a sense or urgency develops. Besides, each main character already has a sub-story of their own to contend with – just wait to see what happens if/when they all meet!!!
Does anything get tossed in randomly? Sure. Any artist makes contributions based on day-to-day influences…and it’s almost always for the better. Example: Chapter 7 “Lucid” was originally a much shorter story of a more personal nature – it stayed closer to Raimi’s bedroom and had less ‘visionary’ content. Brooke was so inspired by the freaky charcoal drawings that Andrew did in b&w that he wanted some f#$%ed-up colour sequences to juxtapose them. The story was then adapted to include information originally planned for later in the story arc – and the result was one freaky experience!
Can I send in fan ART or POETRY?
Yes!!! But don’t just ask if you can send it…SEND IT!!!
Any BS-related fan stuff will get posted on the site somehow. Great poems will get posted in the RANTS section. Great fan art will go in the GALLERY. You can also post your stuff in our FORUM – there are over 700 members now, and lots of wacky, sincere, intense, philosophical, and Saintly discussion to be had. :)
Why don’t you guys archive RANTS and HAIKUS?
Rants and haikus are written spur-of-the-moment. They’re like individual bubbles in ocean foam – bound to burst. They were not meant to be permanent things. If you come to the site daily you’ll experience the ever-changing moods and essence of the creators. This ‘personal impermanence’ helps add to the project’s flavour…and it’s a great excuse not to muddy-up beautiful flash pages with tons of html =)
The text moves too slowly for me. Can you speed it up?
If the text is too slow for you:
v Refer to the earlier question about REW/PAUSE/FF features
v use the extra seconds to really soak in Andrew’s character work and detailed backgrounds.
v Allow yourself to be hypnotized by Tobias and Quentin’s music – that’s what it’s there for
v Read the words again…chances are you missed a hidden meaning or reference
v Take notes – you never know when another contest will come around
v Do Keigel exercises to improve your bladder control and sexual technique
v Buy a faster computer – it could be that you’re packing too little ‘heat’, and your processor can’t get the framerate up to snuff.
v Pretend it’s an exercise in focus and meditation. This ain’t MTV or a Jerry Bruckheimer film.
v Stop smoking crack. Start smoking grass.
v Cherish BS as one of those guilty pleasures in life where the pace of the modern world has no effect.
v consider yourself lucky that you’re that damn literate.
v deal with it
The site/chapter runs slower on my powerful MAC than on a friend’s slower PC. Why?
We’ve learned after strenuous, rigorous, and hair-shedding tests that MACs run flash at a slower framerate. Actually, our movies are designed to run at 20fps (close to film), but MACs – even the super G4 lego block rainbow ones – drop them down to 15fps.
We do what we can to compensate (extend music and audio events – take our time with text and shot transitions – plan layered movements that won’t kill framerates). It also might have to do with the fact – AGAIN – that we use STREAMS in our audio instead of EVENTS; MACs are better at playing streams.
We’re not biased either way (well, maybe Ian – he’s a PC whore) – but in the end, even with a crash-riddled operating system and the ever-present Spectre of Gates-ism, PCs have an edge in the world of FLASH entertainment.
Why is the site in a pop-up window? And why are the Chapter windows small?
The pop-up window allows us to use the whole viewing space within said window for motion and effects…otherwise, framerates would bite (you’d have SUPER clunky graphics), filesizes would be HUGE (we’d have massive bandwidth bills), and Andrew would have to draw even higher-res pics ;)
The Chapter viewing window is not tiny by any means if you compare it to most Flash movies. We experimented with larger windows, but it always came down to one thing – the thing that we are all, as geeks and gamers, obsessed with – FRAMERATE. Does it really matter how big the scene is if it clunks and jerks and skips tons of frames? We’d hate to lose our cinematic vibe…it’s one of the things that people first notice about BS.
Of course, you could always go into SETTINGS and lower your screen resolution – that would do the trick nicely, now wouldn’t it!
Why is you audio so good? Flash cartoons usually sound like chunky squeeze.
See the previous answers concerning EVENTS and STREAMS, as well as the origins of our effects and samples. We sample at a high rate and take the audio experience of BS very seriously. You wouldn’t crap your pants half as much if we didn’t ;)
We’d also like to think that you’re complimenting the music – as many do. Go show Quentin and Tobias your love!
You always say “WORD is BOND”. Why?
‘Drew started saying it in the office at the beginning of the project. We think it’s from a Wu-Tang Clan thingy…which would mean that it’s probably stolen from some obscure, old-school Kung Fu flick ( think Master Killer, Five Deadly Venoms, or any other classic Shaw Brothers chop-socky goodness).
Basically it’s just another way of saying that a promise will be kept. It seems that the information age is heavy on data and light on ‘honour’ – since you rarely have to deal with someone face-to-face anymore. In earlier civilization, your ‘word’ represented your status, your reputation, your ‘checking account’, and family name, and your romantic sincerity.
We use it to mean that we’ll do what we say we’ll do…or hemorrhage trying ;)
Will you ever do a series GLOSSARY or LEXICON?
Only a few people have asked for this one.
Some of the terms in the series are extremely specialized towards the computer industry, the military-industrial complex, and the specific aspects of the main characters’ faiths and nationalities.
So…should we create a section explaining what these mean in ‘real-world English’?
Hmm…well, isn’t part of the joy in discovering a deep, layered, and detailed story – a story based primarily within real-world (there’s that term again!) parameters – derived from researching facets of the tale that go over one’s head at first?
You’re on the net. GOOGLE is free…so is Dictionary.com…
Where did you get the BROKEN and SANDMAN fonts?
Ian found the fragmented font online – it’s called EDIT. We don’t have it copyrighted or trademarked or anything. You’re welcome to use it to erect obsessive fan sites ;)
As for our ‘comic book’ font – for the last time, it is NOT the specific font from Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed SANDMAN series. Well, it may be…but it’s not like we copied it or even planned it. We came across a cheap font called WILD’N’CRAZY that totally felt like a graphic novel style font. Trust us – if we stuck with our old font choice some of you might not have stayed long enough to be reading this now!
In the end, what comics/series/movies will have influenced Broken Saints the most?
ANDREW – Blade of the Immortal, Gundam Wing, Evangelion, and countless other bastions of Japanese pop-art/manga/anime/videogame culture.
IAN – born with a cinematic eye. Unsullied by over-exposure to TV, film, or comics. Relies on his gut…and that’s the way we like it.
BROOKE – here’s where you’re gonna need a list:
v MOVIES – Terry Gilliam’s TIME BANDITS, BRAZIL, and THE ADVENTURES of BARON MUNCHAUSEN. David Lynch’s ELEPHANT MAN, ERASERHEAD, BLUE VELVET, and LOST HIGHWAY. David Cronenberg’s NAKED LUNCH. Atom Egoyan’s EXOTICA and THE SWEET HEREAFTER. Bergman’s THE SEVENTH SEAL. Oh yeah…and AKIRA, GHOST in the SHELL, and STREET FIGHTER.
v TV – THE PRISONER, THE TOMORROW PEOPLE, DOCTOR WHO, BATTLE of the PLANETS, ROBOTECH, STRANGE PARADISE, X-FILES, THE MAXX…and the untouchable, irreplaceable, life-altering world of David Lynch’s TWIN PEAKS.
v COMICS – DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, WATCHMEN, V for VENDETTA, SANDMAN, THE INVISIBLES, THE SPECTRE, GREEN LANTERN, ARKHAM ASYLUM, CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, THE MAXX, and countless other series, one-shots, and trade paperbacks.
Is it really over after 24 Chapters? Why not make more?
We started conceptualizing this whole shebang in June of 2000.
It will most likely be finished in June 2003!!! (updated as of April 2003 ;) )
That’s THREE years of our lives…full-time…non-gratis…with countless sacrifices.
We may be nuts. But we’re also smart enough to know when to let a good thing end. The current online incarnation of BS will expire sometime in 2003 (though it may live on under kind guardianship)- but it will not die! Not only will we stay in touch through newsletter updates and forum posts, but we ENCOURAGE you to download keepers of every chapter and share them with your family and friends. That's what the true purpose of Broken Saints was in the first place - to reach the quiet corners of globe with a powerful and poetic message that would endure!
Sure...the comics and DVDs (and hopefully TV mini-series - keep those fingers crossed!!!) will infect the collective consciousness even further, but its roots will always be here.
Please help keep it that way...
Spread the saintly gospel...
Word is bond...
THE BS CREW