Digital Spotlight: Honey and the Whirlwind

We’ve been talking about Digital Spotlights since May and now that we’re in post production for This Is Art, it’s time to put up or shut up! Needless to say, we’re really excited to FINALLY kick off this companion series. We’ve met so many amazing new media artists while working on This Is Art and we’d be crazy not to ask them to share the pearls of wisdom they’ve gleaned from their process with all of you!

So without further ado, here’s our first Digital Spotlight, featuring the creator of the amazing webcomic Honey and the Whirlwind, Tim Ferrara. He gave us some insight into how self publishing on the web became a tool for him to tell a story he’d had locked up inside him since being a creative writing major in college. He also offers some advice on how new media artists can begin to monetize their work and connect with new audience members.

 

What I love about our webseries, This Is Art, is that it’s about real people facing real obstacles while trying to make art happen at the outset of their careers. Tim truly embodies the struggle that the characters on our show face.

He’s doesn’t have a major publisher backing him or previous artistic successes to supply Honey and the Whirlwind with a waiting audience. He is independently producing work on a consistent schedule while still working a day job to make ends meet, but he stands out from the crowd because of his determination and the innovative strategies he’s employed to start making a living as a new media artist. He is making smart decisions and constantly refining his methods to grow his project from the ground up. The things he has done to monetize his work are things that anyone can do in the context of their own project. We can all stand to learn a lot from him!

Tim, thanks so much for letting us pick your brain! If you’re interested in being a guest on our Digital Spotlight series, leave a comment, DM us on Twitter, or email us at thisisartwebseries (at) gmail (dot) com.

Anne Richmond

@annerichmond

@followthisisart

Facebook

Tumblr

This Is Art New York Comic Con Meetup: Are You In?

As you may already know, we recently hosted our very own This Is Art Livestream party to celebrate the success of our IndieGoGo campaign and to thank our donors and supporters. You can watch the video and read about how we put it together here.

In our webseries, Anne and I tell the story of creating art through the main characters, D and Cami, and their artistic experiences. The art they create is vastly impacted by the people they meet along the way. That is, after all, a huge part of the artistic process. As such, the idea of community has always been an important one for This Is Art. This was one of the main driving forces behind our Livestream party; we wanted to give our community a chance to interact and share, and – most importantly – to show themselves! We were not disappointed. For me, one of the most exciting parts of the event was watching the chatroom scroll as our community – a vast combination of people of all ages, locations, and demographics – got to know each other. That sense of bringing people together is one aspect of art that is always a favorite of mine.

Of course, bring a community of people together and you’re bound to hear a variety of different opinions and ideas. One such idea arose from the community gathered at the This Is Art Livestream party: the idea of a New York City Comic Con meetup.

Anne and I instantly loved the idea the moment it came up in chat, but in the days that have since passed we’ve discussed it and are now growing even more excited at the prospect of bringing our community together in person, especially during an event that represents an even larger community of which Anne and I consider ourselves a part. We would love the opportunity to organize a meetup for new media fans and creators – in other words, the community we are creating through This Is Art! Anne and I will both be at NYCC all 4 days (we’ve got our press passes and we will be there representing This Is Art, of course!), and we’re confident that we could find a time convenient for everyone (ie, not during the Felicia Day panel).

So here’s where you come in. Friends, family members, fans, new media creators, and new media lovers – sometime between October 13 and October 16, would you be down to attend a New York Comic Con meetup hosted by This Is Art? Let us know! If there’s interest, we will be happy to put it together! Simply comment on this blog post, hit us up on Facebook, or tweet your interest with the hashtag #thisisartnycc to let us know!

 

Emily Floyd
@emilythespoon
@followthisisart
Facebook
Tumblr

Tips for Livestream Broadcasters


 

Last night, we hosted our “This Is pARTy” Livestream event. We planned this event as a way to get our community interacting with us and each other. We wanted to publicly share our excitement and gratitude with them for all of their support in funding the project on Indiegogo (66 hours left!) and spreading the word. We’ve had over 6,800 views of the project and a thousand of those views were referred by donors. Thank you so much for carrying our banner!

This post will give you some insight into our process for the event.

Originally, we were going to use USTREAM to do the event, but when Emily and I tested it out, the whole system seemed super slow, clunky, and hard to operate. There were a few different chat streams and the one it automatically put you into was not actually the chat room. Most notably, Emily said that the sign in process was confusing. The last thing we wanted to do was discourage people from logging in to the system to start a dialogue with each other, so we thought we’d try Livestream and see if it worked any better.

The entire Livestream system was cleaner from start to finish not only from the viewer side, but from the broadcaster side. It puts everything on the same page (recording monitor, view counter, chat room, twitter, moderator privileges, etc), so that you can easily monitor your broadcast and interact with your viewers without having to move all sorts of windows around the screen. Note: Close down the actual channel when you start the broadcast or you’ll get a horrendous echo. The biggest plus for Livestream was how easy it was to enter the chat room. You start typing, the system asks them for a nickname, and you’re put into the chat room. It doesn’t require any involved account making or registration.

The ease of chatting resulted in viewers of all ages and demographics being able to participate in the Livestream event. It was incredible to see people gathering for the stream a whole hour and a half early. When I peeked in the chat room, folks were already buzzing about what was going to happen and starting to meet each other.

Part of this is because I recruited a bunch of friends from online chat rooms I frequent to come and help us break the ice. This was wonderful, because it made our chat room active when the bulk of people arrived around 9PM EST when we officially started the broadcast. Thank you to everyone who came and “pre-gamed” for the event in the chat room!

In addition, give your supporters their time in the sun. This kind of event gives you the unique opportunity to thank specific people in the chat room who you haven’t been able to thank face to face. Because we’re all about bringing artists and creators together, we also tried to plug their projects whenever possible.

We filmed the whole thing on my MacBook Pro, but in the future, I think we’ll try to use a nicer camera. This would allow us to get a better picture that wouldn’t require us to huddle so closely. As much as I love my cast mates, it made lighting difficult and one of us always had to be far from the mic. Having a separate camera would also allow us to keep the computer closer to us so we could interact more with chat room while filming. Having reviewed our footage, the biggest issue is that I think we need to be closer to the microphone, which is also in the computer. So, those are all things to think about if you’re putting one of these events together.

One integral part of the event was having a moderator in the chat room. In our case, this was Bryan Vu, our webmaster and graphic designer. I chose him because I wanted to involved as many cast/crew as would come and because I know he’s frequented these types of events in the past so he would know what to expect. He’s also based in Texas, so unless he flew out to NYC, he wouldn’t be able to be on camera. We did have a few “trolls” pop into the chatroom, but we banned them as soon as we were able. This is bound to happen with an open event on the internet. It’s just part of the territory. Don’t panic, just deal with them accordingly. Note: When you ban them, select ban IP address instead of ban nickname because they’ll just create a new name and come back.

You’ll also need someone to keep track of interesting questions that folks in the chat room ask because you will be so busy talking most of the time that you won’t be able to follow all the text that’s scrolling by on your own. I also tasked Bryan to instant message me questions that people asked so when we got to the final section of the show, we could answer them. Bryan had a big job that evening, so thank you so much for being an absolutely integral part of our This Is Art team!

One of our less successful parts of the event was our contest. Here are the details:

Anyone who Tweets about this event with #thisispARTy or tags “This is Art: The Series” in their Facebook status (http://www.facebook.com/wa​tchthisisart) between now and the end of the party on Thursday night will be entered to win a digital download of our score and original songs by the amazing Laura Intravia (www.lauraintravia.com).

In theory, we hoped this would help us spread the word about the event and increase interest, but I think it may have been premature. We’re very early in our process for the show and while we do have a growing number of supporters, we didn’t get very many entries to the contest. The biggest factor here was that our incentive doesn’t carry much weight at this juncture. While Laura is a wonderful composer and has a lot of fans of her work, we haven’t completed the scoring process for the show and people don’t have much to go on when imagining how cool that reward might be. In addition, because we’re so early in the process, her fans probably aren’t even aware of our show. In my opinion, this kind of contest will be more successful once we have our episodes online. If you choose to use this kind of reward system for those who help publicize your events via social media, choose an incentive that will have a more immediate reaction and, as always, let us know how it goes!

The last suggestion I have is that you plan the event as best you can. Don’t script it, because then you’ll be visibly wooden and the whole point of this is interaction and spontaneity. We just plotted out sections of the broadcast- Welcome, Introductions, Thank the Donors by name, Clint Interviews Anne & Emily, Emily & Anne Interview Clint, and answer questions from the chat room. With this loose framework, it allows you to know where you’re going and watch your timing, but it will also allow you to move freely with whatever is happening or being requested/suggested in the chat room.

In fact, we are now creating a This Is Art meetup at New York Comic Con because someone in our chat room suggested it. So be open and aware of the ideas your viewers throw at you because they may not only be brilliant, but your audience will enjoy knowing that they had an effect on you. Interactive projects go both ways. You affect your viewers and in turn, they’ll affect the project. That’s one of the biggest joys when it comes to working on the web.

If you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments section below. We’d love to hear what everyone thought!

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
Facebook
Tumblr

The 10 Best Sites About Webseries

A successful webseries isn’t just about good content. It’s about learning the territory.

As we developed the script for This is Art, and now as we march through preproduction and fundraising, I have been doing my best to keep up with industry news, watch as many other web shows as possible, and engage in meaningful dialogue with other webseries creators. The following is a list of sites that I check almost daily in order to improve my knowledge of new media entertainment.

News

Tubefilter aims to be the leading authority on web television and webseries. They were the creative minds behind The Streamy Awards (think of it as the Oscars of web tv) and the IAWTV (International Academy of Web Television). They post articles daily about developments in the industry, previews for new shows, and they cover major distribution deals as well.

Slebisodes not only provides news and reviews, but also amasses a broad list of webseries for you to browse.

 

 

Gigaom has a lot of great articles not just about webseries but about new media entertainment news in general in their NewTeeVee section.

 

Discovery

Koldcast is an online webseries channel that features several shows and even sponsors some of them. It’s just a great collection of shows with a lot of variety.

 

Blip.tv is a site that webseries creators use to distribute their shows across multiple platforms. They also feature episodes on the front page as well. This is a great tool if you’re creating webisodes, vlogs, or video podcasts. It can be helpful to see how others are using it.

Digital Chick TV was created by writer/director Daryn Strauss, who seeks to amass a reliable database of the finest online video content available for a female audience. The site breaks down its featured shows into a broad spectrum categories, from comedy to experimental, so you can easily find shows that might be similar to yours or explore genres you haven’t looked into yet.

Dialogue

Dialogik Digital is a boutique digital marketing consultancy for entertainment properties. They have several notable clients including Tubefilter (mentioned above), Anyone But Me (an award winning webseries), and the IAWTV. They also publish a blog that shares their PR strategies and news about their clients. I think it’s generous and very much in keeping with the spirit of this industry that they share their “how-to’s” with the rest of the community.

Celebrate the Web was created by Kim Evey and Jenni Powell in 2010 as a way for web content creators and their supporters to start a dialogue about the current state and the potential future of web tv. They mostly hold events on the west coast, but they also ran a pilot contest online that gave creators around the world an opportunity to win money to put towards producing their show. It’s got a serious “by the people, for the people” vibe that I really dig.

BigScreen LittleScreen is a monthly meetup series sponsored by Digitas, Tubefilter, 10ton, Focal Press, AskLocal/Zami.com, and Mo Video Mojo and hosted by Matthew Semel and Paul Kontonis. Every month, they present a group of videos and post viewing, you get a chance to do Q and A with the creators. There’s always great company, good conversation, and many opportunities for networking. I check their meetup page to sign up for the events because there’s limited capacity. If you are in NYC, definitely start attending. They also recently announced that there will be an LA version starting up soon.

“The New York Webseries” Facebook Group is a site I check daily without fail. You have to be a series creator/writer in order to join the group, but people post questions, suggestions, and show links every single day. It’s a very active hub and an extremely welcoming/supportive community. This is, of course, geographically focused, but if you’re a NY series creator, you’d be shooting yourself in the foot if you didn’t join the dialogue.

Those are my best 10 resources for the webseries industry. If you have more suggestions, please feel free to add them in the comments below!

-Anne Richmond

@annerichmond
@followthisisart
Facebook
Tumblr