Off the Air (TV series)

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Off the Air
Off the Air poster.jpeg
Variant of a poster used for branding
Format Anthology series
Created by Dave Hughes
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 13 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • Cody DeMatteis
  • Alan Steadman
  • Melissa Warrenburg
Running time 10–11 minutes
Production company(s)
Original channel Adult Swim
Picture format HDTV 1080i
Original run January 1, 2011 (2011-01-01) – present
External links

Off the Air is an American anthology television series created by Dave Hughes for Adult Swim. The series is presented without explanation or narration as a showcase of surreal footage arranged around a single loose theme (expressed in the episode title) and blended without pause into a single continuous presentation. Hughes, a former employee of MTV Animation, first pitched it to the network through Mike Lazzo after producing a video mixtape for their 2010 Carnival Tour event. As a result of its 4 a.m. graveyard slot and small selection of episodes, the series remains relatively unknown on the network, but has been received positively and dubbed a cult phenomenon by critics and Adult Swim itself.


Screenshot from the pilot episode "Animals", showing morphing psychedelic imagery between two clips

The series is presented without explanation or narration as a showcase of surreal footage—animations, short films, music videos, viral videos, film and TV clips, stock footage and morphing psychedelic imagery—arranged around a single loose theme (expressed in the episode title) and blended without pause into a single continuous presentation.


Series creator Dave Hughes first started working for Adult Swim in 2003 after an eight-year stint with MTV Animation, where he had edited series such as Beavis and Butt-head and Celebrity Deathmatch.[1]:84 Hughes, who saw the former network "slipping away from its more experimental roots" as it got popular,[2] had the concept for Off the Air in mind before, but never thought he would be the one to make it. While living in New York, 120 Minutes, Concrete TV, Liquid Television,[1]:85[2] and Night Flight were among some of the experimental programming that exposed him "to a whole new world of ideas, music and people that I just didn't see anywhere else on television."[1]:85 Hughes first pitched the series to the network through Mike Lazzo sometime after late 2009, after producing a video mixtape that would be projected behind musical performers for the network's 2010 Carnival Tour event. He compiled footage for the mixtape using the Prelinger Archives, as well as various online sources, and applied visual effects to them "until you didn't quite know what you were looking at."[2] He originally imagined for it to exist as a "bizarre collection" of Internet and archival footage intertwined with clips from Adult Swim shows, "set to good music."[1]:85 He ultimately had to omit the latter material, however, as the network would still have to acquire licenses for their own series in derivative works.[3] He found that once they were gone, "the show really opened up."[1]:86

In putting an episode together, Hughes seeks clips "with some kind of truth or integrity to them", opting for both viral videos in addition to ones with fewer view counts.[1]:86[a] Tracking down licensees for clips proves to be the most difficult aspect of the process, he stated, with co-producers Cody DeMatteis and Alan Steadman assisting him in pursuit of material hard to obtain.[1]:86–87[b] When asked if getting consent for other's work posed a challenge, Hughes noted it to be helpful working under the "Adult Swim banner", with only a few artists responding with reluctance. He wrote that each piece of the episode is treated with protection, not "trying to exploit anyone or make fun of anything or anybody."[1]:86 Each episode is edited using Final Cut Pro, along with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe After Effects for further manipulation.[2] Hughes observed a large portion of producing episodes to stem from "finding the right music to go with the visuals, or vice versa",[5] and found transitions to "really help keep it moving."[6] Hughes digressed from Liquid Television's use of longer segments in order to make the series a "larger event rather than a series of smaller events", and found visual effects and transitions to be "a huge part" of his theory in making an episode.[2]

A compilation of videos that were once considered to be featured in the first season had been published on the network's official blog.[3][7] These videos, extending into its second season as well as hosting various other supplemental material, have since been published onto Network Awesome.[8] A compilation of material from the first season and additional shorts was given a theatrical release at Cinefamily on August 25, 2012, which Hughes attended.[9]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

Its pilot episode, "Animals", premiered on Adult Swim on New Year's Day 2011 at 4 a.m.; it was broadcast twice in a row, back-to-back. Episodes have continued to air in this time slot—considered a graveyard slot in broadcast programming—and as a result of this and its small selection of episodes, the series remains relatively unknown on the network. However, Austin McManus of Juxtapoz noted word of mouth to be "gradually spreading" about it.[1]:82 He and the network also described the show as a cult phenomenon.[1]:89[10] It has received positive critical reception, with McManus conducting an eight-page interview and profile of Hughes in appreciation of the series.[1]:82–89 The magazine had previously published a special issue centered around the network and its shows in July 2012, but overlooked Off the Air, presenting an "opportunity to shed a little insight and background on an extraordinary unique show."[1]:83 Speaking from the first time he watched it, McManus praised it for not being "your typical try-too-hard-to-be-weird production."[1]:82 Amanda McCorquodale of the Miami New Times joked that, for artists featured on the show, "nothing compares to the prestige of sharing a network with Tim & Eric and Brak, right?"[4] Ultimately, she saw it as the "already bizarre network's foray into out-there visual experimentation."[4] Writing for The Fader, Matthew Trammell regarded it as "when things get really interesting."[11] PQ Ribber of The Overnightscape Underground dubbed the series a "modern version" of Liquid Television and called it "really kinda spiffy, and trippy, and cool."[12]

Ratings-wise, several episodes have surpassed one million views according to Nielsen Media Research.[13] Hughes added that he follows the series' ratings when it occurs to him, but does not receive further analytics.[1]:88 He found it to trend on Twitter during the weeks of its airing, and likes viewing user's statuses regarding it. In particular, he enjoys reactions from people who wake up to it after falling asleep to the network, and judged from the online response that its audience would be "pretty young, late teens, early 20s" and "strangely positive and engaged."[1]:88 The network has broadcast praise of the show written by viewers in the form of bumpers, often hinting at further episodes being produced.[14] A continuous online stream of the show was launched by the network on September 5, 2014.[15]


Season Episodes Originally aired
Season premiere Season finale
1 5 January 1, 2011 (2011-01-01) June 1, 2012
2 4 August 28, 2012 October 1, 2013
Special July 6, 2013 (2013-07-06)
3 3 December 31, 2013 April 22, 2014
4 TBA September 2, 2014 TBA

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ Original pieces are also commissioned.[1]:89
  2. ^ Before Hughes explained his process, Colin Foord of the Miami-based art collective Coral Morphologic, whose short film Oyster Vision is featured in the second episode, said he was unsure how producers sought after his film. He posited that they found it through their Vimeo account or their exposure at the Borscht Film Festival.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p McManus, Austin (June 2014). "Dave Hughes". Juxtapoz (High Speed Productions) 21 (6): 82–89. ISSN 1077-8411. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Me, Rev. Syung Myung; Aulwurm, Jeremiah (September 27, 2012). "Interview: Dave Hughes, Creator of Off the Air". Kittysneezes. Archived from the original on October 1, 2012. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Staff writer (February 16, 2012). "Off the Air – 11 Things We Left Online: 'Animals'". Adult Swim. Turner Broadcasting System. Retrieved September 4, 2014. [dead link]
  4. ^ a b c McCorquodale, Amanda (June 11, 2011). "Adult Swim Begs Miami's Coral Morphologic for Its Oyster Video Art". Miami New Times. Archived from the original on September 17, 2011. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 
  5. ^ Hughes, Dave (January 5, 2014). "Off the Air – 'Color'". Million Monkeys Inc. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 
  6. ^ Hughes, Dave (January 5, 2014). "Off the Air – 'Falling'". Million Monkeys Inc. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 
  7. ^ For the remaining posts, see:
  8. ^ "Off the Air (Adult Swim)". Network Awesome. May 12, 2013. Archived from the original on July 20, 2013. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 
  9. ^ Staff writer (August 25, 2012). "EIF: Off the Air (creator Dave Hughes in person!)". Cinefamily. Archived from the original on May 21, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Adult Swim Summer Singles Program Returns with a Free 15-Track Digital Compilation of Never-Before-Released Songs" (Press release). Turner Broadcasting System. June 10, 2013. Retrieved September 4, 2014 – via The Futon Critic. 
  11. ^ Trammell, Matthew (April 15, 2014). "Adult Swim: Discretion Isn't Advised". The Fader. Archived from the original on April 16, 2014. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 
  12. ^ Ribber, PQ (May 14, 2014). "Quaquaversal Satellite – Putty". The Overnightscape Underground (Podcast). Event occurs at 47:30. Archived from the original on June 1, 2014. Retrieved September 4, 2014. 
  13. ^ See:
  14. ^ See:
    • Staff writer (May 29, 2011). Dear Adult Swim (Commercial bumper). Adult Swim. Turner Broadcasting System. 
    • Staff writer (September 18, 2011). A response on YouTube to our show Off the Air (Commercial bumper). Adult Swim. Turner Broadcasting System. 
    • Staff writer (November 20, 2011). Dear Adult Swim (Commercial bumper). Adult Swim. Turner Broadcasting System. 
  15. ^ "Off the Air Channel". Adult Swim. Turner Broadcasting System. Archived from the original on September 10, 2014. Retrieved September 5, 2014. 

External links[edit]