Today on #WebSeriesWednesday I watched the comedic animated series ‘New Eden,’ the tale of two space faring men who crash land on a dangerous yet interesting planet! Learn more after the jump!
Formatting a Web Series
New Eden is divided up into a 6+ minute pilot and four 1-2 minute shorts. In my opinion the shorts really shine while the pilot falls a little flat. Since I watched it earlier today I’ve been trying to figure out why that was, and what the lesson is in all of it.
The shorts are all centered around one good specific joke – each of which had me busting up laughing. The set up for the jokes are all established by the story given in the pilot. In a lot of ways the shorts feel like the punch lines to the jokes set up in the first episode. As a whole the show works very well but out of context I think it may struggle. This is one of the major challenges faced by web productions, where your audience is incredibly mobile and not always willing or expecting anything less than to be instantly entertained. If the first episode is only good enough, what percentage of your audience will click and discover the brilliance in episode 2?
Production Trade Offs
Everyone wants to make the biggest, awesomest show ever, and you can do that with a $150 million budget and three years production time, but on the web that level of funding is unheard of. In production there are generally three things you can control: cost, time, and scope. As one grows so does another. If you increase the awesomness (ie. scope) of your project you have to either budget more time or more money.
In the case New Eden they made a show that looks amazing for about 12 minutes, and that took them years of work to get there. If they wanted they probably could’ve made a 24 minute show that looked half as good in a similar time frame.
The point I’m trying to make here is that you have to consider your goals. If you are making a web series for the purpose of being discovered, or to be given funding for more, then you – like the creators of New Eden – need to put your very best foot forward, even if it is for the shortest amount of time. If the series you are making is the end unto itself, and you are trying to maximize video views and subscribers then you need to consider ways of maximizing the efficiency of your output – how you create videos that are good enough, often enough and cheap enough to sustain.
Make Sure The Writing Is Consistently Great
Especially if you are only making a 12 minute show. A long series can afford to have ups and downs but a one-time thing like New Eden gets only one chance. New Eden’s writing is there most of the way but struggles a bit at the start. I fear that a lot of people might miss out or not give a real chance to a really good show with a lot of promise just because it does not start out that strong. It took me something like three years to get into Parks & Recreation because I found the first few episodes boring. You do not know how many times my sister had to prod me into giving it another chance before I did and discovered its brilliance. Most shows are not so lucky.
So please go check out New Eden over at http://newedenseries.com It’s well worth your time, a lot of fun, and please do stay all the way until the end!