Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy

     The evolution of the internet has created space for change within the realm of television and its inner workings. Web series are a great example of this. Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy is a popular web series that consists of comic cartoon shorts that are quite unrelated to each other. The series is brought together by no one other than the mastermind who created popular television shows such as Family Guy and American Dad. With having an already established fan base the series was almost assured instant success.
     Two days after the first episode release the series went viral with over 3 million video views earning it the most watched YouTube channel that week. “Seth Comedy” would be hard to see ever make to a television series for a number of reasons. Not only does family guy fill the acquired slots, but it would lack structure simply because there is no real plot or premise. Take a look.
     Interestingly enough this series gained a lot of financial support due to its early hype. Feel free to look at the statistics. Burger King,, and eventually Nike stepped in and sponsored the series, with videos appearing on their official channel. It seems that content that is already proven and recognized makes it easier for viewers to cross over certain mediums like television to the web. The series went on to become available on DVD and Blu-ray. In addition to the 23 episodes released online, 27 episodes were exclusively included on the DVD and Blu-ray release. The Series released uncensored content, which the first eleven episodes had censored. It is important to not that here digitization did nothing but help the web series achieve its success through copying media and organizing it onto a different platform, the Internet. Perhaps we are making a slight shift away from television and drifting more toward "the comfy bubble" that online web series offer. 

Chad Vader

Chad Vader is a comedic web series on Youtube. Though I personally didn't find myself overly fond by the show, it "made a big viral splash in 2006 and became one of the most viewed series on YouTube". There are many differences between online series like this one and regular television shows. The obvious difference is the variation in length, of course. While Chad Vader is only 8 minutes long, a series on television lasts usually anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. There is also a huge budget difference. Web series don't get as much funding as regular shows; thus they are shorter, less expensive, usually not featuring big stars, ect. These shows can still be successful, just through a different form of media. Its useful to have these shows online because digitization is the era our nationsis currently  growing towards. Everything's moving to the internet and coming out with online options. The show being on Youtube saves them money because its freely uploaded. TV shows and online series are both based on an ad-based revenue. Youtube and Hulu both feature ads before, after or during their shows-- even on the side or bottom of the screens sometimes. The more popular the show, the greater motives advertisers have to pay for ad space on the site and during the shows, just as they do for television. Shows can be successful regardless of their mode; it simply depends on the quality put into it.                                Babelgum Viral Sensation: Chad Vader          

Happy Tree Friends

Happy Tree Friends (1999-present), originally produced by Mondo Mini Shows, is a Flash-based cartoon that essentially takes the same physical comedy of the old Tom and Jerry cartoons and adds a ton of gore. The show features a cast of cute anthropomorphic animals that find themselves in perilous situations, usually resulting in their gruesome deaths/mutilations. Each character, however, reprises his/her role in the next episode, completely unscathed.
            When HTF began, each episode was about three minutes or less, most of which was used to exhibit the manner in which a character dies/gets mutilated. In Out on a Limb, the majority of the episode is dedicated to one of the characters having to cut his trapped leg off with a spoon; humor comes from the fact that he somehow manages to cut off the wrong leg. As his spoon becomes unusable, he has to go at the other with a paperclip. Without their violence, these episodes would have very little to offer in terms of plot. The glorification of violence is not something that is new to television. Metalocalypse, a show on Adult Swim, often has scenarios in which characters die in creative manners, but the show does not revolve around this violence; it is merely a component of the entertainment. As a show that finds nearly all of its entertainment value in gore, HTF wouldn't have done very well on television. Occasionally, HTF episodes would be featured in G4's Attack of The Show, but this was along with the other random content found on the show. Even Jackass, a show that is known for its exploitation of physical pain, finds ways to vary up the sketches, offering other kinds of edgy material for audience's amusement. 
         Happy Tree Friends is somewhat unique in that it found itself a full 30 minute time slot on G4's late night programming, but not without some variation in episode format. Each 21 minute episode featured three seven minute episodes, which allowed for more plot development. Although each TV episode still glorifies violence, there is a lot more attention on the situations the characters get themselves into. I've Got You Under My Skin starts with one of the characters getting locked out of her house in the cold. When tugging on the doorknob, it breaks off, sending her flying backward and non-fatally smashing her brains on a mailbox. With a little more gore, this may have been the entire plot of an episode in the past. The plot continues, however, turning into a Fantastic Voyage homage in which one of her friends builds a ship and tries to heal her from the inside. The episode does end with the death of all of the characters, but it has a lot more substance and entertainment derived from situations that do not involve gore.
            After these episodes found their way onto television, they began to appear in full length on Youtube, with some episodes garnering over ten million views. This duel-medium presentation allows for more access by viewers to the HTF world. Without the original show's success on the internet, it would not have found its way onto G4. Likewise, without the opportunity to find its way into G4's programming, HTF's creators probably would not have created the improved version that found such popularity on the internet.
            In order to get a program on television, those involved in its production need to jump through a lot of hoops. If they do not have enough money to make several full length episodes, or if their content is deemed "inappropriate", it may never make it onto television. The internet, however, allows for users, both experienced and non, to produce and distribute their creative content with ease. The content does not have to pander to any specific demographic, and it can get away with lower production values-all while having the ability to reach millions.

Television off TV: H+

It seems to me that after watching “H+”, web series that are innovative enough are self-confident to substitute traditional TV soon enough. With the quality and creativeness I think "H+" has a lot to say for just being a web series. Traditional web series are still trying to make a name for themselves, from both the business and creative viewpoints.

Some web series are excellent because they are so simple in concept, such as “H+”. Due to being a web series it has to be able to catch the viewers eye quickly. If not the viewer will lose interest and turn it off. "H+" definitely kept me watching. This is a great web series and I feel like I should be watching this on Netflix. Due to the episodes being shorter the story develops much faster. As a viewer, web series differentiate because you quickly get the gist of where the show is going. This is different from a traditional TV series, because you usually have to watch five or ten episodes or even a whole season to know what the show is about and where it’s going.

"H+" could have easily been made into a traditional TV series but after watching it I would not have changed anything about it. There are thirty-six episodes in season one of “H+”, most of them average at about 5-6 minutes. This works well for somebody that has a busy schedule and does not have the time to watch a traditional TV series and still wants to see some TV once in a while. If "H+" would have been made into a traditional TV series it would need more content which mean more money for the episodes to be much longer. It would then reach the mass audience and not a small portion like web series tend to.

In Havens & Lotz they talk about Chris Anderson’s “Free” and how "media industries might reconstruct their economic practices to be more profitable"..."while deriving greater economic value from others” (216). This describes the TV industry in that web series are not as profitable as traditional TV series yet the content is still of great quality. This rapidly growing medium can be referred as its own little "bubble"and maybe in time if web series keep growing they will become more popular than traditional TV.

Bryan Singer discusses his new webseries, H+, and the danger of technology

Television off TV: Chad Vader

            Upon watching Chad Vader I definitely had my doubts, however after watching Season One, I must say that I thought it was a fairly impressive web series.  The storyline was easy to follow with some entertainment and the acting wasn’t half bad.  It reminded me of a traditional television series in many ways.  The storyline was consistent and it had a likeable main character like many television shows have today.  Chad, the main character, goes through many struggles throughout the series such as being demoted and then fired from his day managing job at the grocery store Empire Market, trying to find a new job, problems with the ladies, and many more which eventually lead to him battling his arch enemy Clint for his day managing position back.  Chad wins back his day manager position in the end, giving us another classic example of good triumphing over evil, which is seen in a lot of television shows today. 

            Though there are similarities between Chad Vader and traditional television shows, there are also differences.  Chad Vader episodes were only about five minutes long and there were only eight episodes in the first season for starters.  The quality of the videos and the special effects, like Chad Vader’s summoning abilities and his lightsaber, were subpar.  This suggests that the show didn’t have much funding, unlike television shows today that require ample amounts of money to produce.  For these reasons I do not believe that this series could be made into a traditional TV series.  I just can’t see people tuning in to watch the new episodes of Chad Vader each week, and I also can’t see any companies thinking that this show would make them money. 

            In order to become successful on television, Chad Vader would need to come up with more ideas for episodes and more content for each episode so it could fit into a traditional 30 minute time slot on TV.  It would need more funding so it could have better special effects and video quality.  But mostly I think that the series would have to develop some edge in order to become successful.  If Chad Vader were on TV, I see its demographic being high school and college aged people, and as a member of that demographic I can say that the most watched shows by this demographic are edgy shows.  Chad Vader currently has no edge to it, which is probably the main reason the show is a relatively unknown web series.  I feel like in order for Chad Vader to become successful, its humor needs to become more crude and its episodes need to be about more touchy subject, giving it an edge kind of like It’s Always Sunny on FX.

            I believe that digitization allows for positive advancements in media production/distribution/exhibition because it takes away a lot of the costs that are usually associated with media.  The production costs remain the same, but the cost of distribution and exhibition is diminished because all the creator has to do it put in on the web.  By taking away a good amount of the expenses, it allows for more creativity and anyone can create a media product and put it on the internet, where anyone can be exposed to it.  A problem arises with digitization however; do you really want anyone to be able to put whatever they want on the internet?            

Chad Vader...the man, the myth, the legend

After watching the webisodes of the Chad Vader internet series, I was not that impressed with the quality of the show. Although I'm sure many people enjoy the show, I found the humor to be bland in a way and the story line became repetitive after the second episode. It was different from a typical television series in a lot of ways, showing us once again how the internet has affected other industries. These differences from normal television offer some advantages and disadvantages to the production and success of the show and provides an interesting challenge for the people making Chad Vader. 
         The primary difference, for me at least, between Chad Vader and a television series is the run time. While a television show is typically 30 minutes, with some being shorter and some longer, the Chad Vader webisodes were about 5 minutes each. This is beneficial in a way because it cuts down on costs and also is easier on the producers because they are not forced to include additional material to act as a "filler" of sorts of the story-line. By this I mean that because the show is only five minutes, they can get straight to the point of the show and do not have to throw in useless information. The difference in time also hurts the internet series because they are unable to develop secondary characters or connections between characters and in general, they are unable to bring the viewer into the world of the show. It is not a show like One Tree Hill or Glee where characters have their own complex background and story. Another difference between television and the internet series is the mandate of the producers. For television, a show's success and livelihood is dependent on how much money it makes. Chad Vader is similar to that in the fact that it's primary goal is financial success, however, if the web series does not make a lot of money, they are not forced to stop filming. Even if an episode has 0 views, the producers still have the ability to make another one. This is not the case in television as we know, where lack of viewership will remove a show from the air pretty quickly. 
          While there are tons of differences between internet and television series, there are also some similarities. For example, both Chad Vader and a typical tv series both make the majority of their money through advertising. I noticed that before each episode would start, an ad would pop up on the video for a quick 10 second commercial and I would assume that this is their primary source of revenue. It is definately the primary source of revenue for television as we know. Another similarity between the two types of series is the necessity for creativity. In both the television and internet, it is essential to keep coming up with new and different ideas in order to stay fresh and exciting. For television, there are so many series are similar to each other that producers must keep changing things in order to keep it from getting dull. Same with the internet series, where anyone has the possibility of creating a web series, it is necessary to be creative in order to stand out from the rest.
           I think it would be difficult to transform Chad Vader into a succesful television series but I don't think it would be impossible. It would be important to develop other characters around Vader, but I could see it being along the lines of a show like Wilfred. Both shows incorporate a similar type of humor and I could see Chad Vader mocking that success. One obstacle in the way of Vader becoming a successful television series though would be providing enough material for a thirty minute show every week. Unlike the internet series where the episodes are much shorter and there is no deadline, producers would be forced to work under a very specific format, which may affect the quality of the show. I think a large factor of a successful transition to a television series would require the ability to adapt and realize the demands on a television series.
         And perhaps for this reason, the producers of Chad Vader and other web series would prefer to continue producing on the web than television. I think it's safe to say they would be making a little bit more money but their is much more freedom with a web series. This freedom, in my opinion, is why increased digitization leads to positive advancements in the media industry. Although very different from television, I think web series have their own rightful spot in our culture and it is obvious from the views on each video that there is a market for web series.

Television off TV

I chose Mortal Kombat Legacy made by Machinima on YouTube as the web series for this digging deeper. First a quick summary, Mortal Kombat:Legacy takes place before the events of the original game and tells the background stories of several characters from the franchise, culminating in their reasons for participating in the upcoming tenth Mortal Kombat tournament, on which the first game was based. The episodes in the anthology web series are non-linear with minimal continuity, and each devoted to the story of a specific character or characters. 

This series is not too many differences though from how a normal television show runs, because the run time of the video is anywhere from 9 minutes to 13 minutes. Unlike normal television which usually has a 30 minutes to an hour run time. It also differentiates itself by not having commercials breaks so you constantly stay in tuned to the action. It also only has 9 episodes in a season compared to some of the higher numbers of mainstream television.

Even though there are these differences it has quite a lot of similarities as a normal television series. It has enough episodes to have a good season, and it has the same production value as the normal series. Mortal Kombat also has actors that have track records of being in films and even mainstream television shows like the Arrow on the CW. It has a plot and background stories for each character just like regular television also. The video quality and audio quality both match television you watch on a daily basis.

Mortal Kombat Legacy could have easily been made into a series because they have plenty of characters and background story lines for them to carry the show on for many seasons. They can also even have the tournament action in weekly shows and show the progression of the tournament as they fight through it. It also has the ability to have a great fan base because each web series has close to 18 million views for each video already if you put that on television it might increase by much more. But while it could have easily been made into the show it has a TV-MA rating on YouTube, it is Mortal Kombat which means its violence of fighting but we already have that on television now. This could definitely cause a problem at the time slot you could air it based on safe time so that just in case any parent was concerned about their kids watching it. This could probably be a better fit for cable channels so they can air the show like Spike or FX.

If they were to air this on television they would have to be able to increase the run time of the episodes a little bit but with better funding they would be able to do that with no problem at all. They also might have to tone back on some of the episodes so they could get it at a great time slot, but otherwise not much would have to be done to the series for it to be a successful show.

Digitization has made huge positive strides with allowing distribution to become so much easier along with exhibition. With digitization Mortal Kombat and other web series can be shown to the community with much more ease. It also allows for buzz to create about shows because of the easy access of being online. It also allows the shows to get a huge fan base because everybody is online now a day. Production I would feel you would have the same difficulty considering that my web series has the production values of a regular show. But the ability to distribute and exhibition at almost literally no cost has improved the way people can show their content. It also allows for increased creativity practices by the creators and producers.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chad Vader

The use of video cameras, the Internet and even cell phone cameras in today’s society has allowed for a creative process to evolve unlike the typical national television programming.  People are now able to produce their own videos or video series and show it to the public without having to be in the actual entertainment business. With the use of the Internet and web sites like YouTube, it is easy to upload and share their creativity and content to everyone in the world for free. In the 1990’s, the first web series was produced and from there, it launched different viral videos and web series of every kind and there are now hundreds of different web series. You Tube alone reported over 2 billion viewers a day after existing for just 5 years.
Web series are a very different type of media expression compared to the traditional television series. They don’t have the same sound and vision quality as formal produced series. These web series are created by people that are not looking to make lots of profit off of their series that are free online and it would be almost impossible to compete with the sophisticated equipment used in television. Normally web series are short episodes that last about five to ten minutes long. These series are not made to engage as many people as possible, but are made for a specific group of people who might be interested and understand what the creator is trying to convey. This makes it easier for the creator to connect with their audiences and make their episodes short and comprehendible. For example, I watched the first session of Chad Vader. You can tell that it is created for Star Wars fanatics and people that like TV shows like The Office. Web series like Chad Vader are getting to be so popular that the creators are making some profit off advertising. At the beginning of each episode on YouTube you will see a commercial and various pop-ups during the video.
I believe that web series could not be made into our traditional television series because they do not sell enough “eyeballs”. Our traditional series are made for entertainment and to sell products to as many people as possible. If we made web series into a traditional series it would not be able to generate enough profit because it appeals to only a certain type of person and it wouldn’t be enough to keep the program running. The only way that the web series could become traditional series is if the series attracted more than just one type of audience and as well as making the episodes longer. If viral videos did become part of the traditional entertainment industry, a great deal of freedom and creativity would be lost. As of now, almost anything is allowed on the Internet as long it isn’t offensive to the general public or harmful to minors. This liberty of creating what the artists wants would be compromised.