Q&A With Heroes Webseries Creators Chris Hanada and Tanner Kling

[show=heroes size=large]Looking back, it may seem like mainstream media was initially slow to embrace online video, but in fact a handful of creators have been working with the networks to produce web series for years. Since 2006, the guys at Retrofit Films have worked with producers to create tie-in web content for shows including Smallville, My Own Worst Enemy and Heroes. Their 2008 series Heroes: The Recruit was nominated for two Webbys last week, and their new original Heroes web series, Nowhere Man, launches tonight to coincide with the show’s return to NBC.
I chatted with Retrofit founders Chris Hanada and Tanner Kling via email about their interaction with show producers, the challenges of keeping costs down, and what a webseries is really worth to a show’s bottom line. An edited version of our correspondence is below.
NewTeeVee: How do you approach the creation of a tie-in web series like one for Heroes?
Kling: With shows like Heroes and My Own Worst Enemy, web series storylines have been developed in the writer’s room concurrently while working on the scripts for the TV series. Writers from the shows write the webseries scripts and we work as creative consultants with them, not only to provide a fresh perspective, but also to coordinate what is feasible from a digital production viewpoint.
Hanada: It can be pretty amusing because the creatives are used to playing with multimillion-dollar budgets and suddenly we’re all working with a small fraction of that for their web content. Fortunately, most everyone has some indie or low-budget film/TV experience in their background so these meetings gave them a fond callback to the “good old days.”
NewTeeVee: So on a day-to-day level, how much interaction do you typically have with the creators of a parent show? Read More about Q&A With Heroes Webseries Creators Chris Hanada and Tanner Kling

Vid-Biz: TV.com, Oscar.com, Pro Content

TV.com Launches iPhone App; beats Hulu to the mobile punch as the battle between the two premium content portals heats up. (Contentinople)

Oscar.com Serves up 26.3 million Videos Since Jan. 22 Launch; 18 million of those came from the short-form content made available on the day of and following the event. (emailed release)

Professional Content Accounted for 41.6 Billion Views in 2008; study from Accustream iMedia Research found that pro content grew 25 percent last year, and that 30 percent of professionally produced online video was for kids. (eMarketer)

Heroes Prepares Fourth Web Series; despite the TV show’s ups and (mostly) downs, the superhero franchise is set to release another web series spinoff. (Tubefilter)

Koldcast TV Adds Six New Shows; broadband network adds a mix of comedy, drama and travel series. (release)

Canoe Ventures to Provide Programmers with Detailed Specs for ITV Applications; cable ad company finished up technical trial of a viewer-voting app late last year across several MSOs. (Multichannel News)

Concept TV Does Both Standard and Widescreen; odd concept design does away with those black bars. (Gizmodo)

StatShot: 30Rock’s all A-Twitter

Heroes lost some of its power on Trendrr‘s list of the top Twittered broadcast TV shows for the week ending Jan. 13, down from the 2,000 tweets a day it was getting before the new year. Gossip Girl got some of its social mojo back to finish the week strong, and 30 Rock returned to the airwaves bringing the Twitter thunder along with it. Unfortunately, last week’s buzz for Superstars of Dance went bust as it fell off the list.

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StatShot: Most DVRd Shows This Season, Top TV Shows on Twitter

As you might expect, after dominating the weekly charts of the biggest DVR audiences, Grey’s Anatomy finds itself as the show with the biggest DVR audience this season to date (ending on Nov. 30). The rest of the top 10 doesn’t hold any surprises (House, The Office, etc.). Check out the full list of the top 20 DVRd shows over at TV by the Numbers.

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Trendrr tells us that over on Twitter, Heroes still held all the buzz with the most tweets from Dec. 9-15, but in a surprise turn of events The Big Bang Theory bumped Family Guy from the top five. Should I be watching that show?

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Vid-Biz: epix, DVRs, Battlestar

Viacom/Paramount/Lionsgate/MGM Venture Has a Name; the new premium content channel launching next year will be called epix. (MediaDailyNews)

Survey: 90 Percent of DVR Users Skip Ads; TiVo-based Starcom study finds higher percentage of ad zappers than others, which put the number closer to 60-70 percent. (MediaPost)

Battlestar Galactica Webisodes Debut Today; “The Face of the Enemy” is a 10-part online series revolving around a frakkin’ murder mystery in space. (Sci-Fi.com)

Heroes the Most Time-Shifted Show of the Year; according to Nielsen, with Fringe, Lost, Bones and Grey’s Anatomy rounding out the top 5.

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Anvato Raises $2 Million; automated video content identification and monetization company raises half of its $4 million Series A, led by Oxantium Ventures. (release)

Andrew Lloyd Weber Goes YouTube; his branded channel will feature clips from Jesus Christ Superstar, live performances from other shows and interviews. (Variety)

StatShot: Heroes Tops Twitter

We’re adding a new data point to the StatShot this week. Trendrr will be providing a weekly snapshot of the most Twittered broadcast TV shows.

Trendrr is an online service that tracks and graphs consumption trends across social networks, blogs, torrents, Amazon, Craigslist, Twitter, Google News and dozens of video sites. Trendrr is a white list partner with Twitter, which gives the company access to the full public timeline via an open API.

Heroes had the most Tweets Dec. 4 – 10 (perhaps because everyone in the audience is prescribing ways to fix the ailing show). CSI and 30 Rock enjoyed nice bumps on the day after their broadcast, while Gossip Girl shot up above all but Heroes after its broadcast night.

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Vid-Biz: Magnify.net, AT&T, Jathia

Magnify.net Raises $750K; Innovation Ventures led this Series A1 round for the video publishing company. (Silicon Alley Insider)
AT&T’s Viral Series Not So Viral; Lost in America stars iJustine, but is not attracting lots of eyeballs. (Advertising Age)
Open-Source Movie Lets Fans in on the Action; footage from Jathia’s Wager will be uploaded and fans can edit together their own version of the movie. (io9)

Universal Music Group Hooks Up With Meebo; agreement will deliver ad-supported videos from UMG acts like Kanye West and Ludacris to the online chat platform. (release)
Hulu Adds to HD Gallery; episodes of The Office, 30 Rock and Heroes now streaming in high-definition on the site. (Broadcasting & Cable)
Dori Media Group Taps Kaltura; open-source white-label video service to power Novebox.com, a new social network dedicated to telenovelas. (emailed release)

Vid-Biz: Move, iTunes, Unhappiness

Move Networks Partners with Permission TV; adaptive streaming company hooks up with online video platform provider to resell integrated services to smaller media companies. (Broadcasting & Cable)
ITunes Numbers Still Tiny for NBC; TV by the Numbers says at most, iTunes downloads are less than one percent of viewing if you add them to the TV viewing numbers. (TV by the Numbers)
Unhappy People Watch More TV; new study says that people who are “not happy” watch 30 percent more TV hours per day than their “very happy” counterparts. (Reuters)
Neuros Reveals Next-Gen Box; unlike other PC-based media extenders, Neuros gets web video to your TV via the cloud. (Zatz Not Funny)
Heroes Launches Friend or Foe Online; extends the ongoing NBC saga onto the web to let fans interact more deeply with the show. (emailed release)
Global Market for Set-Top Boxes to Peak in 2012; market will grow for the next few years, topping out at 110 million shipments, decline after that due in part to transition to all-digital broadcasting. (ABI Research)
Pixsy Adds 5 Video Syndication Partners; private-label video search service to be used by eZanga, GenieKnows.com, IceRocket, EgoTVOnline and GossipGirls. (emailed release)

NewTeeVee Live Panel: Bridging the Gap Between TV and Web

gappanelIt’s all about “transmedia” — the convergence of media and the spread of content across platforms — says the panel of experts made up by Jesse Alexander, Writer and Producer, Heroes; Bill Gannon, Director of Online Operations, Lucasfilm; Jeff Gomez, CEO Starlight Runner Entertainment; and Greg Goodfried, Co-Founder, President and COO, EQAL. The metrics are experimental right now, though if companies are buying ads it’s a good sign, says the panel. But be careful — it can all go horribly wrong! And remember the geeks that consume your digital transmedia bits are powerful and will be the torch bearers of your brands.
How Important Is Transmedia?: Lucasfilm’s Gannon says the key to managing transmedia well is to have everyone on staff think the same way. Lucasfilm has a phenomenal licensing division that explores the transmedia universe, he says. Heroes’ Alexander warns that care needs to be taken in order to avoid missteps. EQAL’s Goodfried’s agrees and says you need to establish trust with the user, by using open dialogue and communication. Starlight Runner’s Gomez says the trend of converging media brought the new president into the White House and it will do the same with online video. Our own Chris calls it the equivalent of unicorns and puppy dogs!
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