Editor's Letter: The evolution of the Web series
Issue: September 1, 2012

Editor's Letter: The evolution of the Web series

Have you watched a Web series yet? If the answer is no, within the next 12 months, your answer is likely to be different. Web series have evolved to the point where they are no longer just looked at as a way for hopeful producers to show their wares, or aspiring filmmakers to learn their craft, although there is still a bit of that.

Now we have big names, like Jerry Seinfeld, who find that creating for the Web offers a lot more control of your project and the ability to be uber-creative — very low budgets, or none at all, help foster creativity. 

For Seinfeld, who doesn’t have to worry about budgets, it’s just plain fun, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t take it seriously. According to a story on Webseriesnetwork.com, he says, “I find you have to be more respectful of people’s attention on the Internet than you do on TV. The Internet is a very personal medium, TV is not as personal.”

His Web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, is Jerry and friends, like Ricky Gervais and Alec Baldwin, riding around chatting. And it works. You feel like you are in the car with them — thanks to a GoPro Hero camera attached to the dashboard.

You will also notice that the quality of many Web series are pretty darn good; some are being shot with Canon 5D/7Ds, Reds and Alexas (see my feature on page 28 for more). And they are being shot by talent who are currently also working on films and broadcast television. One of those people is Dave Frederick, SOC, ICG, who has worked as a camera operator or Steadicam operator on films such as Night of the Living Dead and Driving Miss Daisy, and TV shows like Alias, Sons of Anarchy and Jane By Design.

“I have shot a few Web series,” he reports. “I operated on the NBC TV Web series Heroes with 35mm film cameras on Techno cranes. I though that was an amazing expense, but it was also full union and paid real wages!"

He’s also donated his time for friends using Sony EX3 cameras, Panasonic’s AF100 and the like. “Web series are just the tip of the iceberg in the future of Internet program delivery,” he shares. 

“Web series are the new white bread in the Internet bakery,” says Mike Feuer, partner at NYC’s Mindsmack. “People have been baking them for years and it is clear that as a testing ground for programs; there is nothing like it. You also get instant feedback from your audience.”

He also points out another aspect of Web series — messaging for brands. Mindsmack recently provided post and finishing on a Web series for Lexus that runs on MSN as branded entertainment. “A win-win for all parties concerned,” he says.