Monday, August 27, 2007

Another Sci-fi Web Serial: 'Afterworld'

Web serials are becoming more and more prevalent on the internet. Long-spanning stories told in small bits seems to fit right in to the short attention span of the average net viewer. The latest I've come across is a nifty series dubbed Afterworld, which tells the story of a man who suddenly and inexplicably faces a world without technology and the disappearance of almost all its inhabitants.

Afterworld tells a somewhat familiar story (so far it reminds me of The Omega Man, Dark Angel, and La Jettee) in an unfamiliar way. Sort of an animated graphic novel, we see a lot of CGI still imagery mixed in with animations created with with Poser and After Effects software. There is a constant voiceover from main character Russell Shoemaker, along with a great moody soundtrack. Best of all, the screenplay is well written, and we get interesting situations with good dialogue. I also appreciate the voice talent which is well done, most notably the lead played by Roark Critchlow.

The story is very episodic (webisodic?) with our hero trying to get back to his home in Seattle, Washington. Along the way he tries decipher clues about the world's present state and what caused it. He must also stay alive--a chaotic planet is a dangerous place.

Afterworld has it's own excellent website that provide a bunch of extra goodies to flesh out the story. The best of these is a journal with notes and drawings that clue us into Russell's thoughts and feelings. There are CGI heads of all the characters, which you can move in 3D space. I also like the interactive map that lets you track Russell's progress, and links to the episodes that take place in that location. All this is a wonderful way to immerse any fan interested in the series.

Episodes are scattered all over the web, but strangely, most are not on the Afterworld website. Nope, Bud.tv has the most episodes (thirty), and you'll have to register there if you want access to them. There are reportedly 130 total chapters, so we have quite a ways to go to follow Russ and his quest to find his family and figure out this global mystery.

Afterworld is one of the best web serials that I've found thus far. The material is intriguing, the production value is high, and the presentation is unique. I admit that I miss real actors, but if this thing takes off, you know there will be a movie or TV series in the works. And then a video game, a book, action figures...

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