Welcome to Creators on the Rise, where—in partnership with global creator company Jellysmack—we find and profile breakout creators who are in the midst of extraordinary growth.
Five Nights at Freddy’s. The Owl House. Amphibia. Gravity Falls. Steven Universe.
All of these things share one commonality: people on the internet love them.
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Like, really love them.
If you want to know just how strong that love is, you can watch Ryder Burgin‘s YouTube videos.
Burgin has been on YouTube for more than a decade, and in 2013, he found his niche. He produced a three-minute video called A Brief History of the Vlogbrothers, chronicling brothers Hank and John Green‘s shared channel and the fandom–Nerdfighteria–that rose up around it. In the years since that video, Burgin has produced over 200 more uploads tracing the origins of creator groups like Smosh and the fan fervor around various shows and video games.
The Greens weren’t the only subjects of a Brief History video. That series ended up carrying Burgin’s channel through the first few years of its growth and into the current era, where instead of brief histories, Burgin focuses on deep dives.
His videos have evolved from bite-size wrap-ups to deep-dive, full-coverage looks at classic and burgeoning fandoms. If you’ve ever wondered why Five Nights at Freddy’s took off or what the deal is with animated shows like Phineas and Ferb, Burgin is your man. His videos profile popular media from their very first appearances to the heyday of their buzzy internet presences.
With his new approach to content, Burgin has been seeing a steady rise in weekly views, lots of them coming from nostalgic fans who are revisiting now-concluded shows like Gravity Falls and Adventure Time thanks to his coverage.
Check out our chat with him below.
Tubefilter: Let’s start with the basics. If somebody’s reading this and has never seen your content, doesn’t know anything about you, tell me a little bit about you and where you’re from and what you make on YouTube.
Ryder Burgin: Absolutely. My name is Ryder Burgin. I go by Foot of a Ferret on YouTube, occasionally as Foafy on my channel right now. I mainly just make goofy videos messing around with video games and cartoons. They’re like midway between reviews and recaps and let’s plays and storytime animations. It’s like a whole hybrid of whatever. Though there was a time on YouTube where I was primarily known for doing a series called A Brief History for a very long time, which was a show where I recounted the history of various pop culture things that I was passionate about.
Whether they be YouTubers, games, shows, anything of that kind in as short of a time as possible. I’ve not done that series regularly since 2019 but it is one of the main things I’m known for.
Tubefilter: A lot of your more recent videos you have really stylized, elegant animation that really carries your whole narrative. I feel like that was a shift that kicked in a couple years ago. I wanted to talk about just what drove that stylistic change because obviously, it’s paying off well for you.
Ryder Burgin: I appreciate how you’ve described my little doodles that I make in Snapchat moving around a little bit.
Tubefilter: To be fair, it is very elegant for Snapchat animation, then!
Ryder Burgin: It came out of that shift. I was doing a brief history for a very long time, about six years straight of just that show. When I decided that it was time to move away from that and try something else, I got into this idea of doing like story time, animations style videos, which is what a lot of my friends at the time were doing. I was very much involved with that scene of animators like Jaiden Animations. I had been inspired by them to try that myself. The main character avatar that I use in my videos was drawn by a friend of mine named Gregzilla.
The idea of needing another simpler thing that I could edit any time that I wanted without having to see if Greg was free sprung up. I started just drawing little stick figure characters of me in Snapchat basically finger painting, and started using that to help tell the stories and videos. Then that evolved over time primarily when I did my big recap of the entirety of Steven Universe. Where I decided that instead of using like actual art from the show I was just going to draw the characters and just make them as simple and elementary school doodle as possible. It’s just evolved from there, just like it’s now a part of every video.
Tubefilter: Animation’s getting much more popular on YouTube these days.
Ryder Burgin: I’ve thought every now and then maybe I should actually get like a drawing tablet and try and make things a little bit more sleek and—
Tubefilter: A little easier on yourself.
Ryder Burgin: I like the idea that the channel is built off drawings that literally anyone with a phone can make. I like keeping it there. I oftentimes feel like restrictions like that can lead to more creative solutions.
Tubefilter: That’s definitely true. I feel like a lot of lo-fi styles of content tend to do very well, when it’s intentionally that way.
Ryder Burgin: Another thing that I should mention is for about three years, I was a full-time host and editor on the channel Game Theory.
Tubefilter: I did not know that.
Ryder Burgin: Oh, really? I did A Brief History on that channel for about three years and also was one of the editors on the team for Game Theory and Film Theory at the time. One thing that I’ve really strived to keep as the Game Theory editing team is talented beyond my capabilities. These days like their stuff is incredibly sleek and incredibly clean looking. I’ve always liked to try and keep my stuff looking a little bit scrappy like old-school YouTube scrappy. While making sure it stays appealing. That’s one of the things that I like about doing the goofy little drawings instead of anything a little bit more polished.
Tubefilter: What’s your background? Did you go to college for a different career? What were your interests?
Ryder Burgin: Prior to YouTube. I was in high school. I started my YouTube channel in July of 2010. Just made videos for fun throughout my years in high school. It was about like my senior year that I came up with a brief history. The summer that I graduated, I got in contact with Matt Pat and we did a Collab and he offered me a position on the channel hosting and editing. I took it.
Literally, right out of high school YouTube became my job and I was actually in college at the time. My job at Theorist started right around the same time that I started a film school. The film school was so hands-on and so involved. That it was just not able to be balanced with a full-time job in my chosen field. I did drop out of college after about a solid month. Avoided the student loans at the very least.
Tubefilter: That is true.
Ryder Burgin: If I had not that position at Theorists lined up already I would’ve stayed in college. Absolutely because I had that job lined up, it felt safe to pursue YouTube instead of continuing college. When it comes to my background literally before YouTube I was just like in English class and I was like 13.
Tubefilter: Well, you’d been offered a job of doing the thing you were already going to go to school to learn to do.
Ryder Burgin: The weird thing is that I went to film school because I was into YouTube. I’m not really super passionate about film and TV production. I was incredibly invested in learning to edit video and so I chose that as my path in college as opposed to something that I might have been a little bit more into in an all-encompassing way, like say music or something like that. Picking my major in college, and the college that I went to, so specifically around YouTube. When the YouTube job came knocking, the idea of learning to set up stage lights and stuff in film school.
Tubefilter: Just not as appealing.
Ryder Burgin: It didn’t carry the same appeal and it just wasn’t where my passion was. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, of course. I respect all the people who stuck it through so much. They did something I just definitely did not do and could not have done. It’s not that there was anything wrong with the film schools, it just wasn’t right for me.
Tubefilter: You had a job offering with your passion right in front of you! How old are you now?
Ryder Burgin: I am 26, turning 27 in a couple of months right at the start of December.
Tubefilter: Oh, okay. Got it. Where are you from?
Ryder Burgin: I am from North Carolina.
Tubefilter: I’m assuming, based on what you said about film school, that you edit your own videos?
Ryder Burgin: Yes.
Tubefilter: Okay. Do you have anybody else working with you behind the scenes?
Ryder Burgin: No, for the vast majority of my career have been a fully one-man operation. There was a period when I was still working at Theorist where a fellow Theorist editor friend named Lee was helping me write videos. I have maybe two videos on the channel that were edited by one of the Theorist editors, Sedge, when I was in a family emergency and couldn’t work. Beyond that, I have never had regular video help or employees or anything like that for video production. It’s always been just a me thing, which is why videos take two to three weeks to come out.
Tubefilter: That was my next question—how long does the average video take you?
Ryder Burgin: Ideally, it’s about once every two weeks. In a stretch, it might take three weeks to four weeks but usually no longer than that.
Tubefilter: Can you break that down a little bit more? How long does your scriptwriting take versus recording versus putting all the visuals together?
Ryder Burgin: Scriptwriting might take a couple of days depending on the project. Regular videos of just like, “Oh, I played animal crossing for a little bit, here’s what happened.” That might take a couple of days. Big projects like recaps, TV show plot recaps, those can take a while. I’m fairly certain my recap of all 10 seasons of Adventure time in one video took maybe a week just to script.
Tubefilter: That seems about right.
Ryder Burgin: 25 minutes for 10 seasons, it’s an endeavor, but the thing is not always just like how long does it take to write the script, but because I’m also the person who edits it. I also spend a lot of time rewriting the scripts and try to get the fat trimmed as much as possible. I can save some time in the edit later. That takes a lot of time as well. Usually, the average script might take a few days, just like a two, three days max. Recording takes an afternoon. Typically though finding the proper time to record while living in an apartment when you’re as loud as I am. That in and of itself can take a couple of days. Then the big part is, of course, the edit and that takes a week and a half sometimes.
Tubefilter: You do have a very theater voice, I must say.
Ryder Burgin: Oh, thank you.
Tubefilter: Not in a bad way. It’s a very good thing.
Ryder Burgin: I grew up being very passionate about voice acting like in cartoons.
Tubefilter: That doesn’t surprise me at all. Was that something you ever thought about doing?
Ryder Burgin: Oh, yes. I’ve been so busy and not really sure exactly where to go to get that kind of thing started for so long. I’ve been making some strides towards it, but not really anything I can talk about yet.
Tubefilter: That’s fine! I’ve interviewed several people who have your kind of voice and are able to get jobs just because they make content that showcases their talent.
Ryder Burgin: I try to have fun with it. I don’t have a professional demo reel or anything like that, but I try and do impressions in my videos as often as I can manage it without forcing it. My favorite instance always being the homage to that I did In 2020 doing my impressions, that’s always been one of my favorite things.
That’s one of my favorite videos that I’ve made specifically because seeing the community response to it after had ended and seeing people legitimately feel like they were seeing a ghost when my sketch played out.
Tubefilter: Do you have any other passions that you’re interested in?
Ryder Burgin: Music is the main one. I’ve been a guitar player for far longer than I’ve been a YouTube person. I started playing electric guitar in this grade which would’ve been like maybe 2006. I’ve just stuck with it ever since. I do some music work. There’s a lot of music that shows up in my videos that are original compositions. Most notably, I wrote, recorded, and produced the theme songs for Matt Pat’s Food Theory Channel and for their channel GT Live.
Tubefilter: Oh, very cool. That was you.
Ryder Burgin: I do some music work as well. That’s definitely something I want to pursue more in the future is doing more music composition.
Tubefilter: Very cool. YouTube’s your full-time job?
Ryder Burgin: Yes.
Tubefilter: Do you do music composition? Do you have any other gigs that you do aside from it or YouTube is your full focus?
Ryder Burgin: YouTube is basically the full focus. Anytime I do music…Music for me is usually just a thing that I do when I have the opportunity, but it’s almost always done with the intention of working this music into videos in some way. So that it can all be self, it can all be mutually beneficial, the music benefits, the YouTube benefits, the music. It goes beyond Matt Pat contracting me for a theme song. If I’m doing a video on Phineas and Ferb, I have an end screen theme that I wrote and recorded myself that every now and then I’ll do a themed arrangement for whatever the video I’m doing is.
I did a version of it for Phineas and Ferb that goes that full route. I did a version of it for a Mario video that is based off of the Super Mario 64 intro music, things of that type. I have a fully original composition based off of Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach that plays at the end of all my security breach videos. Music is part of the YouTube thing, but it’s not part of every single video’s process. I would like for it to be, but time doesn’t always allow for that. Beyond music, outside of YouTube, not a whole lot. The way I make my videos is so time-consuming.
I should say the videos that I make are so time-consuming that it is tough to explore too much. It doesn’t bother me. Just the nature of where I’ve ended up. Because I do everything by myself for a video production, in order to not disappear for two months, every time I upload a video I have to keep on ball. I make music and that goes into the videos. I play video games, but that also goes into the videos. I try not to make everything be YouTube related, but it’s just so hard to find the time.
Tubefilter: I feel like YouTube is such an all-consuming thing, too.
Ryder Burgin: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.
Tubefilter: If you’re not doing it, you’re thinking about it. If you’re not thinking about it, you’re watching it.
Ryder Burgin: That’s definitely my position. Even with YouTube being my full job for as long as it has, I still watch YouTube more than I watch anything else. YouTube is always on in the background. I’m always looking for new people to watch on the site. It’s still very much my passion, just as a concept. The whole thing that built A Brief History in my original brand on YouTube was my passion for examining YouTube history, and that’s still very much a thing, even if it’s not a regular part of my content.
Tubefilter: Just personally, are you interested in platforms like TikTok?
Ryder Burgin: Yes. I watch a lot of TikTok. I’m interested in TikTok. I have a TikTok account that someone took the name Foot of a Ferret.
Ryder Burgin: I had to go with Real Foafy. I don’t know how you get verified on TikTok, but every time I post, people still accuse me of being a fake. I’ve only ever really done just posting clips from my YouTube videos on TikTok. I’ve not experimented a lot with making TikTok-dedicated content. As fun as I think that would be, the platform moves far too quickly for how I make videos, I would say. I do find it very interesting. I was a bike fan back in the day, so watching the evolution of this kind of content has been interesting to me.
Also watching things play out in terms of the real-life– How these things manifest in real life. I feel like there’s been a lot of discussion lately about types of viewership between YouTube viewership, and Twitch viewership, and TikTok viewership. Seeing VidCon this year be almost entirely TikTok-focused and how people respond to that, I just find it very interesting as an outsider looking in. Even if I’m not actively making content on those platforms, I find them very fascinating to study.
Tubefilter: Oh, yes. In terms of just trends and algorithms?
Ryder Burgin: Just the same way that I studied YouTube when it was the focus of my channel, just like trends, algorithmic stuff, shifts that cause massive purges and changes to what happens on the site or on the app. How these things manifest in real life through things like VidCon and conventions in general. I did a VidCon brief history several years ago. The same way that I studied YouTube as a teenager and in my early 20s. I still study YouTube as well as TikTok, and I’m trying to learn about Twitch. I’ve been totally late comer to Twitch. Even if it’s not an active part of my content anymore, I like to try and keep myself plugged into all that stuff.
Tubefilter: Where do you see the future of your content going? Do you see yourself making Brief History-esque videos about other platforms? Do you see yourself continuing fandom videos? What are you feeling?
Ryder Burgin: A Brief History has been something that I have been completely unsure about how to grapple with in the future because I don’t talk about it a whole lot publicly, but the idea of moving away from A Brief History and then going back to it feels a little– I don’t know, the idea of it feels a bit regressive. Moving away from building my entire brand around other people’s content to try and forge my own identity and going back to making content based around other people’s work. That is so specifically focused on other people’s work like, yes, I’m still making videos about Steven Universe and stuff.
To just say, “Hey, this is my brief history of random YouTuber, Twitch streamer,” the only people who are going to watch this video are people who are fans of that person already. It feels like a bit of a step back. A Brief History something I’ve not really been sure how to grapple with. It was also a hit-or-miss show a lot of the times. View count-wise, it would either hit-or-miss. There was not really a whole lot of consistency with it. It was hard to build a career off of that show after a while, which is another reason why it got retired. Right now the focus on I guess Fandom videos would be the word for it. Adventure Times, Steven Universe, Five Nights at Freddy’s, these pop culturey media, just variety videos.
That’s definitely the focus right now because I only really stumbled into this format in 2020, and so I feel there’s still a lot that can be done with it, but because this is the third wave of FootofaFerret content that’s existed, I do try to maintain some level of openness to new pathways because I could’ve stuck to a brief history in 2019. Just not gotten out of my comfort zone and stuck with that show for the next three years, and who knows what would’ve happened at that point. I have tried to maintain a readiness to get out of my content comfort zone because it worked in the past.
Tubefilter: Sometimes you have things that you love really passionately that you just outgrow, or you evolve as a creator beyond them.
Ryder Burgin: It feels like the thing that if it were to come back now would have to come back either in a very different way or in a different place. A Brief History I feel would be out of place on the 2022 FootofaFerret channel. If it had a dedicated brief history channel, maybe that would be a different story, or maybe if it went back super old school and became two minutes long again, it could be a TikTok series.
Those old brief histories were straight up two minutes long. They were done with Vlogbrothers as a focus on brevity.
Tubefilter: That says to me that you’ve just outgrown it in a way that where it helped you establish and now you’re on to new things.
Ryder Burgin: When you do a show for that long six years straight of only doing that show you get it down to a science, which is great for production but it’s also very much a rut.
Tubefilter: That makes sense. I did want to ask about your new channel, if you could talk a little bit about that.
Ryder Burgin: I launched a new YouTube channel in July about 12 solid years after I launched the first one. It’s called Foafy. The primary focus of it is Pokémon card videos. In early 2021, I formed a reconnection with the world of Pokémon through the trading card game and collecting cards and things like that. I was a YuGiOh kid as well. As you might expect from watching A Brief History, when I get into something, I really like to dive deep into it and learn its history, how it works, a lot of the Fandom specifics of it.
When I got into Pokémon cards in 2021, that was the one thing about Pokémon that I didn’t really know anything about when I was a kid. That was like 20 years of history and just stuff that I could dive deep and learn about. There’s so much and I watched so much Pokémon card opening content on YouTube that I was just like, “I want to try this.” I had done a few Pokémon card-related videos on my channel and they appealed to a much smaller amount of my audience. Rather than cluttering up the channel with my incoherent ramblings about cardboard, I decided to just start a new channel.
It’s been going for a couple months now. It’s actually going really well. I launched it in July with five videos, four of which were Pokémon focus and one of which was a random opening of the Boost Box of Steven Universe trading cards that I found online. That randomly blew up and got 600,000 views off of a channel that had zero subscribers when it was uploaded. Really unprecedented quick success that I can’t explain but the primary focus is on Pokémon card openings and stuff.
I do want to explore just other realms of a collecting hobby. I haven’t filmed the video yet but I have regular show toys from 2011 that I want to do a video on. I have a bunch of Steven Universe mystery box toys that I want to do and things like that. Just exploring, collecting as a hobby on this channel in whatever ways I find interesting.
Tubefilter: Pokémon is a huge thing on YouTube.
Ryder Burgin: It’s also much easier to produce.
Tubefilter: I can imagine.
Ryder Burgin: It takes about 45 minutes to film a video and then a couple of days to edit it.
Tubefilter: What a luxury.
Ryder Burgin: If I dedicated the entirety of my day to editing that, I could get it done in a couple of days but if I break it up into two hours a day, I can still get it done in four days. It’s far easier to produce so I upload on that channel weekly unless something gets too time-consuming on the main channel, which is obviously the priority. The idea is for it to be a relatively low-priority channel when it comes to production. I’m not going to sacrifice main channel production to get the next Foafy video out still trying to keep it as active as possible.
Just to try other stuff, have an outlet for a different kind of content. Like I said, I’ve done on brief history for 6 years straight. I’ve only done this super heavily edited content for 8 years.
Just having something else to mess around with is really fun. I considered doing like, let’s plays or something like that but I don’t know.
Tubefilter: Do you have any other goals or plans for yourself in the next year or so?
Ryder Burgin: Really, it’s just with the new channel being so young and just finding its place. It just passed 50,000 subscribers, which is crazy. Just keeping that going, exploring different ideas there to grow this second outlet that I have on YouTube. The main challenge, just trying to explore different avenues of where I’m already at. I feel like I’ve been pulling from the exact same well of five topics for a little while. The world of cartoons has been a little bit slow to progress recently. The newest, most exciting cartoons last that were around recently were Owl House and Amphibia and they ended a couple years.
The wealth of new things to talk about has been a little bit low. I’ve been trying to experiment with new topics within the same formats. Of all the cartoon stuff I’ve done, I don’t talk a lot about Nickelodeon. I want to try that. SpongeBob, Avatar, Jimmy Neutron. Just see how it goes. Right now, I’m exploring more avenues of the same topics I’ve already done without as many cartoons that are really catching on to talk about. I’ve been exploring more facets of the cartoons that I had already been talking about which is how I got into doing things like Steven Universe video games and looking at Phineas and Ferb toys, and things like that.
Just getting into the weirder, more niche corners of this stuff. Continuing to explore that while also trying to work in new topics is basically the main goal of the primary channel. The secondary channel is at this point so new that really the primary goal is to just see where it goes. Then outside of all that, I do want to try and make music a bit more of a regular thing. I’m a big guitar nerd so I’ve thought for a while about making my own batch of instrumental songs or something like that and just not necessarily for it to be a massive success but just to have something that I have done.
You just see where that can go as that’s the majority really. My kind of content doesn’t necessarily blend itself to the super obvious outward-facing signs of progression where Mr. Beast started out saying words a thousand times, and now he rents out football stadiums. It’s really just an idea of just continuing what I’m doing not really taking anything for granted and just continuing to explore this stuff.
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