At the time of writing, we are experiencing a renaissance in television, yet the fastest growing screen format seems to be the web series.
For a long time, the web was the home for disparate short films of all genres, styles and quality. Over the past few years, creatives all over the world have been trying hard to consolidate their efforts into anthologies, larger stories and entire brands offering web series content.
Television is still the place where more screen storytellers are employed than anywhere else. The path to get there has changed over time. When TV was in its infancy, anyone with ideas could build a TV career. Over time however, as the amounts of money involved increased, it became harder to break in. Today, anyone can move into television, after proving their worth on the web.
The Dark Ages
We are going back to 1995, and the early days of the internet. Do you remember what a web browser looked like (if you were already born by then)?
This is what I remember from my first experiences on the web, when the connection speed was about 14kpbs (today my speed is about 3,000 times faster):
With the introduction of Windows 95 in the second half of the year, for most computer users the computer experience became more visually pleasing. The internet needed to follow quickly.
If I paid my web provider a premium monthly fee, my speed would double and I would have access to the web through the super sexy visual web browser Mosaic. Groovy!
The speed at the time was lousy, and you couldn’t make phone calls while you were online.
Remember these early THX trailers? One day I wanted to download just the 30secs audio of it.
I clicked the download button around 8pm, before I went out for dinner. About an hour and a half later, I came home to find the download was about halfway. (Today, the audio PLUS video downloads in less than 1 second.)
You will understand that it was a bit of a challenge to view video via the web in those days. Still, some people enjoy challenges!
“The Spot” (1995) was part video, but a good deal of the story was told through characters’ online diaries and photographs, in a way that would be later emulated in the UK with ‘Online Caroline’. The Spot followed the lives of attractive twenty-somethings sharing a beach house in Santa Monica, California.
It was created by Scott Zakarin, who was really a visonary, as you can tell from the video. Scott worked for an advertising agency and convinced his employer they could make a huge profit selling advertising and product placement for an ongoing serial told through the web.
He was right – only two decades too early.
Because download speeds didn’t improve dramatically in the second half of the 1990’s, the format that worked best was flash animation.
Here is one of the first animations from those days:
2. When did you start watching web series regularly?