Today on #WebSeriesWednesday I look at the pros and cons of super short episodes. Does Yoga Town’s short length work?
Let’s start with something cool. Yoga Town was shot entirely in two days, and it looks good. The quick shoot is the result of using just two locations and very minimal camera set ups. The show takes place in a yoga studio, in front of the yoga studio and around the exterior of a house. I imagine they shot the yoga studio, inside and out in one day, and then set up outside the house on the other day.
The show is also shot in that ‘The Office’ mocumentary, style that has become really popular of late. The character stand up confessions common in the style all take place in the same spots, probably just outside around the corner. The show does not need to move the camera very often or very far in this set up. Everything is nearby and every cut away can be done with a single camera set up.One of the draw backs to only having a couple of shooting days is that the series is kind of short. The series is a little under 25 minutes long when you string all the episodes together. Those 25 minutes are then cut into 12 episodes that are all about two and a half minutes long. The extra time comes from title and credit sequences added to each episode as well as the inclusion of a ‘previously on’ at the start of each video.
Series length is always a hot debate, but trends are showing that viewing time is up and people want longer episodes. The rule of thumb has always been that people prefer shorter episodes on the web, and there is certainly some truth to that, most people will skip videos over 20 minutes and shorter episodes mean more time for increased views and social sharing. At some point though, shorter episodes lack the engaging power of longer episodes and lose the upside they seek to gain.
For Yoga Town that did not work for me. The show certainly has funny moments but the plot and the characters are an important part of the show as well and the two minute episode run time just kills the pacing. Just as the show starts to get going the episode ends. Now, to the show’s credit, I learned half way through my viewing that there was a full length ‘movie cut’ available on the channel, and going through the video later it flows a lot better for me. Still I feel like web series are learning to move away from the two minute webisode format for a reason.
On another note Yoga Town features a cameo from musician Sarah McLaughlin as well as revered Indian chef Vikram Vij in the episode ‘A Good Indian.’ Vikram runs what series creator Jill Johnson describes as the number one Indian restaurant in North America in Vij’s in Vancouver. It’s cool to be able to tap influential people you may know or have access to for your series. In the case of Yoga Town I’m not sure if they were able to turn that into any significant push for the series though.
McLachlan and Vij compliment an entire cast of great comedic actors. Of particular merit was Vincent Tong, who plays Chas, a yoga assistant instructor who is just a little slow. His comedic timing and ability to sell his character’s subtle mental lapses made him yet another real find on #WebSeriesWednesday.
Yoga Town can be found at their well made official site http://watchyogatown.com