Local photographer-videographer Royce Hutain, aka Visual Burrito, has created quite a viral buzz with the light-emitting diode (LED) Halloween costume he crafted for his 22-month-old daughter, Zoey. In just two days, the 22-second YouTube video previewing the brilliant getup garnered nearly 3.5 million views, and as of now, the total has topped 14 million views.
Uploaded on October 22, the video shows an adorable yet creepy toddler stick figure squealing and running around in the dark and has been featured on numerous media outlets, including a Good Morning America segment that aired on Friday.
The Fullerton native lived in Huntington Beach for nearly a decade before moving to Costa Mesa once his daughter was born, and with a bright future ahead in LED suits of all shapes and sizes, some might advise him to quit his IT day job in HB. (Don't worry, Hutain's employer. He made no mention of this when we spoke with him.)
We caught up with Hutain during his whirlwind week to find out more about his story, the famous suit and if he'll fashion one for us.
Main & PCH: Did you have any idea that you'd be flying to New York to appear on Good Morning America just days before Halloween?
Royce Hutain: [laughing] No. No, not at all. I thought the video was funny, and I thought it might get a couple thousand views and that people would find it interesting. That was about it. And then it just went completely insane. It blows my mind.
Can you tell us a little bit about your Good Morning America experience?
GMA called probably around 10 or 11 on Thursday. By that point I'd already talked to a bunch of media people just asking to use the video, so I figured they were just calling to ask to use it. She says, "We want you to come to New York." I'm like, "What? Now?" She's like, "I can get you on a plane at 2 o'clock." I'm like, "Let me think about this for a second." I thought about it, and then I called her back and said, "Yeah, we're gonna do it." Right after I called her back, Jimmy Kimmel Live! called and wanted us to be on their show. I would LOVE to be on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, but I already told them I was going, and it's a free trip to New York. I can go to L.A. anytime.
They sent a driver, the fancy Town Car. We got into New York at midnight East Coast time, and we had to wake up at 4:45 to get ready for the show. The driver was at the hotel at 5:45. They were super nice, really nice people over there. We filmed some stuff for their preview, we did a little run-through with the stage manager and then before we knew it, we were on live. My daughter was a little crabby—especially with the sleep situation—but when it came time to go live, it's almost like she knew what was going on. She was smiling; she just did perfect. And it helped that there was a pug there that was dressed up as the Miley Cyrus wrecking ball. She loved that dog.
You had said that the whole Good Morning America experience was kind of a blur, that you don't really remember the interview?
[laughing] Nope. After watching it, I don't even remember talking. It felt like I answered two questions and that was it. I still can't tell you what I even said. I'd have to watch it again.
How quickly did the video go viral?
I don't know when officially something's called viral, but I uploaded it Tuesday night, and by Wednesday night I was already getting calls from media. It was extremely quick.
Do you know how the video gained so much attention so quickly?
On Tuesday night I uploaded it to Facebook for my friends just to see what they thought of it. I actually planned to make a little edited video of her going around all over the place. On Wednesday morning, I decided to upload it to Reddit just to see what other people thought about it. This is really just to see if people thought it was cool to where I would continue and make a little edited video, to see what the response was. That instantly was at the top. I'm pretty sure that's where it got its start.
Why do you think people are responding so strongly to the video?
I guess the cute factor and the cool factor of it. It's kind of freaky-looking at the same time. It's kind of got everything in it. I think what really makes it is my daughter's voice speaking whatever language she's speaking.
When did this LED suit fascination begin?
I don't know where I came up with it. I think at some point I saw the LED strips and thought those looked cool—the fact that you could cut them and make them into whatever design you wanted. I found some on eBay that were pretty cheap. That's when I made the snowboarding suits. I made that video. I still have a ton of extra stuff in the garage, and it was coming around Halloween time. This stuff is perfect; I'll just make a little minnie one for my daughter. It'll be easy to make because it's nice and small. So I hammered that one out in a night, and the next night put it on her.
What's awesome is that the first night we recorded a little bit of stuff. She walked around and put the suit up on the counter, and then she'd run over to it and point to it saying she wanted to wear it. So that made it easy. I think it was the next night where I filmed the video. There are two houses on the same lot, basically, so we have neighbors behind us, and we share the same driveway. We went up there to show the neighbors and as we were walking back, that's where that video was taken in the driveway. Some people thought it was a random dark alley.
When can we expect the how-to video?
I'm going to try to get that going tonight. I started it a little bit before GMA called. I discovered I'm not very good at that. It's kind of hard to make those how-to videos. I'm going to try to get something out tonight so people have time to try to make something. At one point before I started deleting emails I had 1,600 emails of people wanting to know how to make it. And in different languages, too. I'm getting stuff in Russian. I'm like, I don't know… What am I going to do with that?
Can you offer any quick technical advice for copycats?
Basically, you just need the light strips, wires and a power source. It really is that basic. You just have to put it together. The thing is with the light strips is that they'll last for Halloween, but they're made for usually under cabinet lighting. They're not made to be bending around a whole bunch. That's why we want to produce suits that will last. I've gotten calls from skydivers who want to have those for skydiving at night, which I think would look amazing. UFO reports would go way up.
What's next for you?
We're going to be doing a Kickstarter campaign to get these things going in time for Halloween next year.
When are you planning to launch the Kickstarter campaign?
Probably within the week. I'm not sure on the exact day.
Something tells us that you're probably going to hit your goal.
[laughing] Yeah. I think so.
Are you planning to take commissioned pieces in the future?
No, we're trying to get a manufacturer involved. I just don't have time for that. I still have a normal job that keeps me really busy.
Is Zoey going to wear her suit while trick-or-treating this Halloween?
Oh yeah. I think I'm going to film a little video of her trick-or-treating. I have this feeling that somebody's going to contact me and want to shoot her on Halloween doing her thing.
Is there anything else you want readers to know about the future of your now-famous LED suits?
I might do a pet one. I think I might try to do a dog suit. I need to find a dog that doesn't mind glowing.
A note for locals: Zoey will don her suit and trick-or-treat in Huntington Beach this Halloween, but we won't say which 'hood. Maybe you'll spot her?
UPDATE, NOVEMBER 5: The LED Stickman Costumes Kickstarter campaign has launched with a goal of $15,000. Also launched is video of "Glowy Zoey" lighting up Main Street on Halloween.
UPDATE, OCTOBER 30: The how-to video is complete!