Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Before And Afterworld...

First there was Sanctuary, now there's Afterworld...a new animated (sort of) post-apocalypse science fiction show heralded as the first television series to be made available on mobile phones and the web simultaneously.

I'm not even sure what that means exactly....aren't most programs put out that way when they are released online?

It's the brainchild of Stan Rogow, well-known in tween TV circles as the producer behind such Disney Channel staples as Lizzie McGuire, Darcy's Wild Life, and Flight 29 Down. He says he got the notion from watching how much his teenage son was online watching 'clips' of TV shows, but NOT actually watching any television.

This article in the Sydney Morning Herald explains:

Rogow said the next generation of TV viewers were losing interest in half and one-hour dramas, which is why he repeatedly passed on the opportunity to develop Afterworld into a live-action TV show and a full-length motion picture.

"I saw my son watching a chunk of CSI today on YouTube ... but I must tell you if I said to him what day of the week is CSI on, he couldn't tell me," Rogow said. "I think that's a statement in and of itself because I think it's about people wanting to have control over when they watch and what they watch."

"I think this is where it [the TV industry] is heading, and I also think that at the end of the day it will not necessarily be the end of network television, but I think it's going to be a different form of network television that will offer the experience on multiple platforms," said Rogow.

The article goes on to say:

But unlike most of the short clips on YouTube, millions of dollars have been spent on creating Afterworld. Rogow said it was a major challenge crafting a cohesive narrative for each episode while keeping their length below three minutes. "These episodes are very very dense and there's a lot of information in them, and so it's not just three minutes of 'name your favourite television show'," he said.

Okay. Interesting. And also interesting that the SciFi/Fantasy crowd seems to be primary targets for these online series TV experiments. And also worth noting that both Sanctuary and now Afterworld have a gaming component in their master plan.

So each Afterworld episode is around two minutes long, and there are 130 episodes. One thing that was confusing was that it reads like a web/mobile phone series only, but it also premiered last night on SciFi on Foxtel in Australia, and will continue to air every weeknight at 7:30pm for the next 26 weeks. Okay, so THAT seems to be it's primary market.

But two minute segments? One every weeknight?

That's like tuning in for a long commercial. Will viewers (or at least, 'the kids' as I call them) go for this? I can buy the kids seeking it out (maybe) online if it's really good, but that's because the show is designed to appeal to the online/Youtube crowd.

But two minute episodes on network TV? I don't know. It sounds more like filler. Dropped in between 'regular' programming like the music videos and 'behind the scenes' segments, I mean Family Channel here in Canada does all the time. My kids watch them because they are waiting for the next program, but they aren't tuning in for the in-between stuff.

So who knows if it will help/hurt get Afterworld noticed. Worth trying I suppose. You can watch the first couple segments HERE.

Cunningham, you digging this?


Bill Cunningham said...

I'm liking the overall idea, and you can see who their ad partners are in this venture as product placement is all over it.

I'm disconnecting in the fact it's poorly animated. I think it would be so much mor effective as a live action / cgi hybrid.

wcdixon said...

Yeah, I agree...found it tough to watch and get into.

Tim Thurmeier said...

I have to admit, the poor animation, and some really odd camera movements killed it for me. I love Sci-fi, but it just didn't hold my interest.

Perhaps it'll pick up in later episodes?

As for live action/cgi hybrid, that might work better, but it'd have to be some pretty strong green screen/comp work. There's nothing that bothers me more than obvious greenscreen. You know what I'm talking about. The static frame, the green/blue hue in the actors hair because the compositor didn't spill suppress, the lack of actors shadows casting on anything. It'd be an interesting test though.

Heart Of Darkness said...

They said "Real life happens on TV". Bull - real like happens online. At least for those 16 and younger...

...but yeah, you and me might be a little guilty, too... :)

Bill Cunningham said...

Tim -

No doubt it would look a bit "composity" if the cgi were strictly adhering to reality. I'm thiking more along the lines of SIN CITY where the style carries you through the manufactured reality.

And definitely you could shoot something on prosumer video and composite on a mac to achieve the same look.

Emily Blake said...

It's not quite the same, but Star Wars Clone Wars on Cartoon Network started off as a "microseries" - a story told in increments either six minutes or three, I can't remember.

But the series was really popular so the second season they expanded it to 15 minutes.