who's John Cabrera?

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H+ (Season) 2 behind the Glass

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It’s been an exciting several months. A lot of great things happening. And by happening, I mean a lot of things coming out of my fingertips and onto the page.

H+ Season 2

Actually, I gotta correct myself. It’s not a Season 2. None of us on the H+ team (including Warner) refer to it as a season, really. We only use that word when we talk to people outside the team (or for blog posts like this one that want to benefit from SEO ;) ). Unfortunately, it’s still the common way to reference subsequent chapters of serialized storytelling. But I think the word “season” makes no sense anymore — especially on the web — especially for series like ours that are distributed in such a fragmented, non-linear format already. So I can’t wait for this medium to be rid of the word.

We’ve just been calling it H+2. An update to H+1. A bunch of new content and features that will enrich and improve upon the content and experience that is already there… content, by the way, that is still being discovered by folks. So this next chapter of the story is going to fill in more of the gaps and allow audiences to dive even deeper into our story-world.

So yeah… H+2 is full steam ahead! Cosimo and I were working on it for the first half of the year between other projects on our plates. We now have a full 40+ page outline that we completed in early May. Our next step is the script, which won’t be nearly as long and arduous a process as the outline phase. All you H+ fans out there know that the story has a very dense and complicated mythology, so we’re planning things out in a lot of detail.

Anyway, I’ll likely be going to Italy this year to write the script with him there… and if all goes as we hope (fingers crossed) we’ll be in production shortly after. And as we work on creating the new content, we’ll be simultaneously updating and refining the experience. We learned a lot over the past year about creating a show like H+. Some were hard lessons, but all were great.

First, let’s talk about the format. While I can’t say it definitively (things tend to change constantly while working in this medium) these “episodes” will likely be longer.

The number 1 complaint from fans was that they wanted longer episodes. And we always said we were listening. We just couldn’t really make the change to H+1, because that chunk of content was already completed before we launched the channel. But for H+2 we can absolutely make that change. And we are planning to do so!

Our current outline has reduced the overall number of episodes from 48 to 40… which will allow us to increase the individual episode length by about 2 minutes — and give you guys more content overall. Episodes used to average about 3 and a half minutes and now they’ll be around 5 and a half. We found that this was actually a sweet spot in terms of preserving the fragmented concept of the series while giving you guys enough to feel satisfied (i.e. we rarely got complaints on episodes over 5 minutes in length).

But there’s more. We also heard you guys talk a lot about the schedule of release and how a couple episodes once a week made it hard to remember or follow the storyline. So we want to rework that too. We’ve currently pitched to Warner a daily schedule for our next release, and so far everyone has been very receptive. That would allow fans to either watch in larger chunks on a weekly/semi-weekly basis or once a day if they need that fix. The full release would span about 9 or 10 weeks with a hiatus supplemented by additional content.

Sound good?

Wait wait wait, there’s still more! We’re also talking very seriously about providing a weekly format that is different from our collected playlist “chapters” of the daily episodes. It would be a weekly 30 minute edited episode — more similar to traditional television. And to honor both formats, it would likely contain footage not seen in the mini-episodes (and vice versa, of course)

Now again, we’re still in development mode so any of these ideas could change (hopefully, if they do it would be for the better). But I just wanted all of you to know that we’re not just working to get new chapters of this story out there. We’re looking to grow and better this experience. We really do view this series like a piece of software. And we hope to one day look back on it and say, “Wow we’ve come a long way since H+1.” And we need you fans to stay with us for that. Help us. Share your ideas with us and share H+ with others who might like to be a part of this journey. This is your series as much as it is ours.

Google Glass

Some of you who follow me on Twitter and G+ may already know that I was chosen to be a Google Glass Explorer (Beta Tester). I’ve been waiting for my official pick up date, and it finally came. I’ll be picking them up this Saturday June 15th at 2:30pm. And I am so insanely excited.

A lot of people can’t help notice the similarities between the technology depicted in H+ and the tech behind Glass? We get the comparison all the time. So I’m hoping hands-on experience with the tech will open our eyes to even more creative uses of HUDs in the storytelling. And I’m interested to find out whether some of the ideas we put into H+1 actually work (e.g. characters looking into mirrors so that people on the other end can see their faces… did any of you pick up on that?).

And of course, I’ll also be using Glass the way I described in my ProjectGlass video a couple months back. I plan to turn it on throughout our creation process so that you guys can catch a glimpse into what it’s like to create a digital studio project – or any studio project for that matter.

So if you’d like to peek through my eyes from time to time, be sure to follow me on Twitter or G+ . I’m sure on Saturday when I go down to get them at Google, I’ll upload something to G+ and Twitter while there — and to my YouTube channel, of course.

Writing Other Projects

So as I said, I’ve actually been writing H+ between other projects this year. It’s why this post has been so long delayed. I can’t talk about any of those other projects yet, but they’re with some really amazing folks in the world of feature filmmaking. So I’ve been swimming those waters lately, and it’s been amazing.

I remember back when I was acting on Gilmore Girls, we had a fantastic director on the show named Chris Long. I really loved working with the guy, and I used to soak up any words of wisdom he was willing to share. Well, at one point during our run, he was directing a lot of episodes, and so I was surprised when I learned he was also directing another series at the same time. And crazier than that, it was a show in the style of The Fast and the Furious films! I know right? Even if you’ve just seen trailers for those films, you know they (and likely this show he was directing) have an entirely different set of rule than those he was subject to on Gilmore.

But he always used to say, working simultaneously on two things that are very different is one of the best ways to grow as an artist. The projects inform each other, and in some ways they benefit from the artist thinking differently about each of them.

The projects I’m working on currently share similar themes and genres, but jumping between serialized storytelling in the digital space and traditional storytelling in the feature world has been a huge challenge… but he’s right… it has also allowed me to look at each project through a different set of lenses. And in that way, I have learned a lot.

So, I guess I’m just passing his wisdom onto any of you who may be actively developing your craft — whatever that craft may be.

I’ve also been working on and off with an exciting company called Tastemade. These guys are the future of food related video content, and if you haven’t heard of them and you love recipes, restaurant reviews and food shows, check out their channel here. I could dedicate an entire post to the stuff they’re currently working on, and I will. But for now, I’ll just conclude my post with this video. It was created using a really exciting upcoming product that I helped them with about a year ago.

Talk to you soon.

9 Comments

  1. OMG YOU’RE VENTURING INTO FOOD PORN! OMGGG.

    … and everything else sounds awesome too ;)

  2. Haha! Yes Jeans, I’ve been in bed with some serious food pornstars lately (Pun intended? You tell me).

  3. Haha, excellent. Can’t wait to see what you cook up next.

  4. thanks for the link John , was an interesting read and look forward to more updates :)

  5. when is H+ coming back online, I can’t wait to see what happens/happened!!!

  6. WHEN WHEN WHEN can we see what happens/happended?

  7. Popa we’re working on Season 2, I promise! We finished the first draft of H+2 script late last year and now working on getting it to production as soon as possible.

  8. I’m so glad to hear H+ will return. But we *loathe* the short episode format. Really. The reason is that the way we are watching shows together is by getting together in a VOIP (Teamspeak, Mumble, skype) and we start shows at the same timer. We are spread around the country, indeed the world. We’ve been doing this for five years or more. Many people are using netflix, etc to watch shows and movies communally. With the format of H+ it becomes a truly obnoxious experience. Even when episodes flow from one to the next on youtube, one person gets a skippable ad, one person, gets a long ad, one person goes into credits, and one person starts the next episode instantly. We got to episode 30 or so and had to quit trying to do this fun activity together. After discussion, my group at least felt that anything under 15 minutes was just not fun, although we don’t care if the times are very elastic, just not so short that it becomes a bad experience. Hoping this new way of watching things together will be taken into consideration.

  9. Been waiting a long time for more H+. I see several folks asking for an update but couldn’t find any responses. What’s happening next and when? Very interesting creation of yours and your team. Really enjoyed it. Please continue with it and let me know as soon as more come out.

    Many thanks and blessings.
    P.S. Glad your eyesight is better.

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