Please To Explain

Can anybody explain to me: (1) how they did this: I mean, this looks expensive and at least mildly technically difficult, and (2) why they did this? I mean, they can’t possibly be making money off of trademarked characters… or could they…? These shorts are a little silly, but only a little. The Batman guy is actually pretty good. Help an old guy out and explain what I’m looking at, here…?


  1. Ralf Haring says:

    It looks like he’s been doing this for quite some time, so I’m not surprised at the quality. Nowadays it seems like a plausible scenario that vfx people do this kind of thing as a calling card. Maybe it goes viral and you get work out of it.

  2. Thad says:

    I don’t know for certain but I suspect that they use these videos to get people to their YouTube channel to, potentially, watch their other videos that feature characters they DO have the rights to. I suspect revenue comes from advertising; they may have enough eyeballs that they make enough money to offset their costs, or they may not.

    I know that YouTube has a system in place where rightsholders who see fan videos can request that YT add a commercial at the beginning and send them a cut of the ad revenue, but that doesn’t appear to have happened in this case.

  3. Nick says:

    Short version is that doing this gets attention for their YouTube channel/production company/staff, all of which can lead to money. I think mostly, though, this is portfolio/sizzle reel work for both the creators and the actors, allowing them to show off their storytelling/acting/production chops without having to invest the sort of money/time/chaos that goes into producing and independent feature, and to do with recognizable properties.

  4. Tom says:

    On “How” most of this looks like Adobe After Effects. Take a look at this video: (jump to the 2 minute mark) to see similar effects on a far more amateurish video. You can get After Effects (along with a bunch of other Adobe tools) for $40 a month these days if you subscribe to Creative Suite.

    As for actors and sets I’ve seen some Community Theatre groups do some pretty amazing stuff. I’m not sure any of the prop design or acting is outside the level of what I’ve seen in the past (though the Batmobile in the Deadpool one is definitely a standout)

    And he does have a really great camera.

    On “why” I’m going to disagree with everyone here. I suspect he’s making 5 if not 6 figures off these. I base this on a few things.

    First he’s part of the Machinima network. Machinima isn’t going to put ads on videos if they feel there’s infringement. Particularly when it involves Warner Brothers who they got an $18 million dollar investment from 8 months ago. I suspect these are falling under the parody fair use. On the other side a Youtuber dealing with Machinima has to be making enough money to live. Because they’re giving a sizable cut to Google and Machinima at that point.

    Second he’s following a pretty well established pattern and he’s consistent about it. That pattern is to have a marquee series that draws people in (and gets a million or more views) and then to put quicker, easier to produce videos out between episodes (that get 50,000 views or more). This technique is used to boost revenue during downtime and anyone using it is making money because that’s the whole point.

    Finally he does have 760,000 subscribers. That’s enough to make some decent cash. Take a look at this article: and you’ll see people with even fewer subscribers making quite a bit of money.

    • Priest Priest says:

      I got lost… not sure how this qualifies as a parody (I edited a parody mag for years and am acquainted with the do’s and don’ts). Wasn’t aware Machinima was connected to WB; likley the relationship somehow allows this or they licensed the characters form DC and Marvel…? I figure, if they’re making money (and one presumes they must be), then they’ve worked some sort of deal. DC/Marvel don;t usually get all Hans and Franz if you’re just having fun w/out profit, but I can’t imagine why a company would do something this elaborate at this quality unless it was generating revenue, in which case the trademark owners *must* be allowing this for some reason. Or am I missing your point…?

      • Tom says:

        You’re probably technically correct but my understanding is the parody rule is the excuse both sides use to get what they want. I think Marvel and DC want this type of video to happen but don’t want to officially endorse it with a license. So they can get an advantage out of it but still pull it at their discretion.

        If anyone asks why they allowed it they can say “the creators claimed it was parody and it’s more trouble than it’s worth to litigate”

        It’s an issue of big business relenting to the realities of a digital age. For example, Marvel/Disney has shown they can get a Youtube video pulled very quickly. Actual movie clips are gone within hours. But you have Youtube videos like Iron Baby ( that have 30 million views, clearly aren’t licensed and haven’t been pulled.

        Note there is an ad on that video. He is making money and at 30 million views Marvel MUST be aware of it.

        But kids spend a lot of time on Youtube. Most teenagers listen to music via Youtube (which seems bizarre until you realize the same was true of teenagers in the early 80s leaving MTV on in the background). big companies know this. Pewdiepie, for example, plays games all the way through (example: That ruins any surprise the game might have for players but game companies have embraced him. Most of the games he plays are sent to him by the game companies.

        When you see it that way it puts the fight videos in context. This guy is making advertisements for DC and Marvel’s product and other advertisers are paying him to do it. It’s advantageous to Marvel/DC now and it can disappear within hours if they ever decide that’s no longer the case.

  5. Tez says:

    I think you’re right about the profit sharing on the Batman/Wolvie vid. Maybe the guys behind it are actually cutting Marvel/DC in on the action in exchange for permission to use their characters? Kinda doubtful though since I imagine they’d want to control everything and probably wouldn’t let the stuff be as violent. If you watch the Marvel movies starring Hugh Jackman, they never let him explicitly stab anyone fatally or even show blood.

    On a somewhat related note, have you seen this Venom video? Canonically, it’s from around the time you were editing the Spider books, or right afterwards. I was surprised with how well made it it is. It has a good storyline and the guy playing Eddie Brock actually knows how to act (the others…well, you be the judge).

    I’m truly astonished the copyright gestapo haven’t silenced this guy, especially since he also made a Punisher short starring the real Thomas Jane. He doesn’t appear to be making money on these shorts at all. In fact, he hinted in an interview that he was losing money by making these with the earnings from his commercial projects.

  6. JD DeMotte says:

    I think there are a few factors in play. First off, I don’t think a lot of the guys running big corporations don’t really understand the internet. They probably think of Youtube as that place their daughter goes to for all the cute cat videos. I mean, I’m grossly generalizing here, but I think if you told the president of Time Warner that someone made a Batman vs. Wolverine fan film on the internet, he’d shrug his shoulders, but if you told him they were selling DVD copies, he’d be on the phone with the corporate lawyers in minutes.

    Plus there’s so much content out there, it’s hard to catch everything. Youtube has algorithms that detect most copyrighted music or video from the big publishers, but intellectual property or trademark violations are harder to automate because almost any kid on the planet can now make a video of themselves vlogging about the newest Batman V. Superman rumors or whatever. You could probably hire a sizeable team full time just to surf through all that and still miss things here or there.

    And finally, is it worth it? Let’s say DC does recognize that these guys are getting ad revenue on things they don’t own, but is it worth the potential negative PR for them to take it down? A lot of the people who are watching these things are Warners/Disney’s target demographic, and it’s unlikely to win them any love. As long as they don’t try to sell the actual video in any fashion (like DVDs or taking it to conventions), I think they’re willing to let it slide under the radar.

    • Priest Priest says:

      JD: re: YT: you’re right. I do branding for small business and churches. I am constantly amazed at how I have to explain the fundamentals to clients who really should know more about this stuff. re: trademarks: you may be right there, as well, but I suspect some manner of deal has been made. The work is _too_ good to be considered pure fanfic. Maybe it’s just me, but I naively believe the quality of the work impacts on whether or not corporate wil stic its big beak into it. If this was *me* in the Bat suit fighting, say, Mark Waid, no one would care. And maybe this stuff is cheaper to do than it looks. But, if it were me, I wouldn’t take the risk. I’d get clearance before I spent that kind of loot on costumes and sets and FX. Which beggars the question: why not create some kind of independent live-=action superhero net series? I’d be down for something like that.

  7. Tez says:

    Hmm, I just noticed a disclaimer at the start of this video saying they are in fact not affiliated with DC or Warner Bros in any way whatsoever and that these videos are not for profit. Interesting.

  8. Tom says:

    So I was out with some professional YouTubers last night (a.k.a. people who make a living off Youtube videos). It turns out this guy is kind of famous. His name is Aaron Schoenke. Here’s his Wikipedia page:
    Here’s what I found out (supplemented by a little Google-Foo on my part since I know how reliable random guys on the internet who claim to have heard stuff 2nd hand can be and once I knew what to look for it was easy to find corroboration)…

    He doesn’t have a license to use any of the copyrighted material he uses

    At very least DC knows about his activity and he has even discussed them with Warner Bros. (see this link:

    He is not allow to show his films for-profit but he can put ads on them and does make money that way

    He does make enough to live off of but is not rich and does work on traditional productions as well (which seems in line with these estimates:

    He has a personal channel where he answers fan questions here:

    His films usually take 4 to 7 days to film. This link says he filmed a 7 minute batman film in 7 days for $7,000 dollars: so that seems accurate (since the ones you found were half that length I’d assume they’d be 4 days)

    Most of the people who work on his films do it for free (see “what’s the process of producing” like here:

    The guy who plays Batman is named Kevin Porter:

    That’s about it. I think I got most of your questions answered. I think it pretty much verifies what I was saying earlier. It’s a “ask forgiveness not permission” world these days. For the most part companies are worried about people who are flat out stealing (bootleggers) and pay little attention to these productions.

    I was told he’s very responsive if you want to contact him and ask any questions.

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