How Corridor Digital Mastered Sci-Fi by Making Us Laugh

The founders of Corridor Digital, Sam Gorski and Niko Peuringer, have honed a certain style over the (many) years they’ve been making videos together (they created their first short together, “Star Wars: The Alabine Armor,” when they were both 14). This style consists of taking high quality, sci-fi content and giving it a comedic twist…all on a fairly low budget. Gorski and Peuringer expounded on their craft in this week’s “Ear Biscuits with Rhett & Link.”

In case you’re not familiar with their content, Corridor Digital is behind videos like “Superman with a GoPro,” in which “Superman” (really a pair of arms on a green screen) flies over the likes of Dodger Stadium with a GoPro he found and decides to use before returning it to its owner, and “The Ghillie Suit Man,” which will just have to speak for itself:

As Link described it, Corridor Digital’s brand is a “mix of special effects, action, and comedy.” The comedy seems to be what allows the other aspects to thrive on digital platforms. “Making a video funny or lighthearted is the key to success in online video,” Gorski said, explaining how difficult it is to “snap somebody into a serious perspective” when they’re watching something that lasts for only five minutes. This grave state of mind tends to require immersion beyond the reach of online video — it’s hard to take something too seriously when you’re watching it on your smartphone.

Thus, Gorski and Peuringer came to learn that funny was the way to go with not all, but most of their videos. For them, it was the perfect way to “avoid accidentally making something super serious that comes out goofy and no one gets it,” described Gorski, which tends to happen a lot when there’s so little time to interpret a video’s tone (whereas feature films and TV series have ample opportunity to signal to viewers whether they’re dark dramas, light comedies, etc.). With single YouTube videos, each short has to speak for itself, and it better not confuse viewers.

However, it’s not as if the decision to bring comedy into their sci-fi was a big, thought-out plan. It was more like an “instinct,” said Gorski. “When you’re making video game-inspired stuff, the fun and entertaining aspects of that are so important to getting it right.” In other words, video games are meant to be fun, so videos based on them should naturally share this light-hearted sense of adventure.

Special effects and dramatic scenes in Corridor Digital productions have to share that quality, as well. “We have to remain aware and acknowledge when stuff is getting too overblown or too dramatic…when you’re getting ridiculous,” said Peuringer. Again, the guys picked up these pearls of digital video wisdom through intuition — this time, the kind that comes with having a big audience. Creators can just kind of pick up on what’s working and what’s not when they have a community constantly responding (or not responding) to their work.

“Gut instinct gets you pretty far,” said Peuringer, but both he and Gorski acknowledged that they’ve had to go beyond that and take a more calculated approach since their team has grown to the point of people living off their productions. Still, their guts have served them well in the content they’ve created thus far, from 14-year-old “Star Wars” fans to adult drone fanatics. To learn more specifics behind their inventive videos, listen to their interview on “Ear Biscuits with Rhett & Link.”