This week on #WebSeriesWednesday I watched the Canadian super hero series ‘Heroes of the North.’ It’s sort of The Avengers meets Canada, and produced for the web. If you check out their website http://heroesofthenorth.com you will discover that the story is also told through a lot of supplemental material as well.
The show, which is ready to release its eighteenth of nineteen episodes later this week, brought to mind a couple of topics relating to some technical choices as well as the series’ release strategy.
The show is made up of nineteen episodes that range from about 4 to 10 minutes each. The story arch is not particularly strong but the characters are fun and the strange Canadian universe becomes more and more interesting.
Typically if I am viewing a web series and I get cut off before seeing how it ends I feel a little frustrated. I’m not a fan of a release schedule that doesn’t give viewers enough. Strangely in the case of ‘Heroes of the North’ it seems to work. I think this is because the focus of the show was not on the overall plot but on the characters and the universe. I never felt like I needed to know what was going to happen yet I still enjoyed watching these odd characters do their thing. In this case I’ll be sure to go back to their website to see how the last two episodes play out.
Perhaps the lesson here may be that less can actually be more. If the plot were stronger I might be writing a lot more about how I hate waiting for episodes to be released and a lot less about how I simply enjoyed the ride.
Another topic relates to the different ways in which you choose to create your show. I’ve seen a lot of 100% completely on location shows, I’ve seen lots of sound stages and certainly my fair share of full on green screen.
This show is a mix, lots of locations and lots of green screen. Most of the time the green screen is adequate and believable – and it certainly would be tough to find these locations to shoot in real life. Then the crew takes us to some amazing real life locations that just blow me away (Canada must be beautiful – I’ve decided this after watching tons of Canadian web series). Some of the scenes in this show are filmed with beautiful, real backdrops.
The problem here is the clashing of real and fake. Most shows seem to stick completely to one or the other, but here the beauty and realism of some scenes makes the fake green screened scenes look exactly like what they are.
This does not mean they are bad, or that green screening does not work. Look at a series like Aiden 5, entirely green screen, fun to look at, no one believes it is real, but it never pretends it is. If they were to film a scene on location it would stick out like a sore thumb – especially if it was in a beautiful and amazing local.
The key take away from here is that computerized / artistic visuals work for web series, but if you are going to try and make them look real it might take a lot of time and a lot larger budget than you have.
‘Heroes of the North’ is a great example of a show that works well on the web. The characters and universe grow with each short installment and the content is feed to the audience at their convenience. Overall it’s a lot of fun. You can check them out over at http://heroesofthenorth.com