Today on #WebSeriesWednesday I viewed the green screened scifi web series ‘Aidan 5.’ The show, while entertaining, gives me even more things to discuss regarding production, specifically how to create an immersive universe on a small web budget.
When you think about web series expansive, epic, immersive scifi universes really do not come to mind. That Aidan 5 is able to create such a universe in a greater-than-feature-length series is a testament to the outside the box creative thinking of the shows’ producers.
If you have not yet seen the show, Aidan 5 was filmed entirely on green screen allowing the show to shoot on a single location. I imagine that this allowed them to really cut down on production time and save heavily on those costs.
What is super cool about using the green screen is that it allowed them to fill in the backgrounds with whatever they wanted. For the most part these are hand drawn pencil sketches – and there are tons of them. Making everything black and white saves on what I imagine would have been an exorbitant amount of coloring. Generally the backgrounds are static but since this is video the creators take the opportunity to animate certain aspects of the backgrounds, occasionally allowing them to take center stage as stand-ins for big budget visual effects.
The show has more of a graphic novel or anime feel than ‘Sin City’ did, likely due to budget constraints. That said Aidan 5 is much more ambitious than ‘Sin City’ in my opinion because there are so many scenes where the backgrounds are literally at the center of attention. In ‘Sin City’ the backgrounds tended to be just that – background.
The show is not without its rough edges – the green screening is not always perfect but that can be forgiven considering that I was viewing this on youtube for free – not in theaters or on blu-ray. The show also opts to use just about zero props, I imagine to further increase the speed and decrease the cost of production. In some cases, I felt that this increased the shows style, but at other times I think things like the awkwardness of a drawn in chair or the opening of a clearly animated door took me out of the generally submersive universe. I would wager that the sweet spot for a show of this type is some combination of the two – where the actors interact with real objects with everything else added in. I am not sure if it is better to have an actor sit on a green box, then draw in a chair later, when you can just have them sit in a chair.
All that said, ‘Aidan 5’ is certainly one of the elite web series available for watching today. The production values and artwork alone is worth your time. The story, while not the most original, is exciting and kept me guessing. This method of production, while not the first time I have seen it, is perfect for web productions so I am sure we will be seeing a lot more of this in the future. Hopefully people can find a new take on it, so it does not get too stale as time goes on.