Web Shows: How To Make a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Show

With the advent of web shows the Internet is as revolutionary to home entertainment as TV was in the 1950s. One form of story telling unique to the Internet is the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure show.  The name is derived from the popular children's books where the viewer was given the ability to make decisions for the story's characters and thus control the direction of the story. Internet animation videos have had this ability for almost a decade thanks to Flash animation. It is only a recent phenomenon that live action videos have been able to take advantage of this new format thanks to YouTube Annotations.

Develop the Story

Before you shoot any video you need to develop a solid story. Create a concept and characters, and then outline a story. The Choose-Your-Own-Adventure format offers you a lot of creative option because you don't have to lock yourself into a lot of plot decisions. You can explore what happens when a character chooses or doesn't choose to do something.

Your outline is going to end up looking like a family tree. Try to keep the options limited to just to choices so that your story doesn't end up getting tangled up in itself. Also, try to limit how many choices are in a webisode. Webisodes are generally five to ten minutes in length. Try to have the choices be spread out by at least two minutes. You want to make the outcome of the choices like a roller coaster ride. When the viewer makes a choice build up some suspense to have them guessing for a minute if they did the right thing. Then pay off the choice with an unpredictable outcome that will leave them amazed. 

Shoot the Story

Once your script is finished its time to begin production. Assemble cast, crew, locations, and equipment. Come up with a shooting plan that will make sure you shoot every possible outcome with the highest possible quality. The Internet is full of videos and most of them are bad. Users first identify a video's production value to see if it's worth their time. If your video is poorly acted, has poor quality video, or awful sound then the audience is not going to bother finishing it.

Editing the Story

Once the production is finished shooting you will focus on post-production. YouTube's Annotation's work by pausing a video and then offering other links on the screen that the viewer can click on. Thus, each choice is it's own individual video hosted on a separate YouTube page. This means that every choice you offer needs to be it's own separate video project.

Develop an easy to use organizational system so that you know what webisode each choice is for and where it comes up in the video. Your first segment can be Video One where the story is set up. Then the choice videos can be Video One Choice One A and Video One Choice One B. You want titles that are easy to identify.

Link the Videos

Once the videos are edited it's time to export and upload them to YouTube. Once your videos are on YouTube you can use the Annotations feature to pause the videos at the end and create the two options with links to the next video. If you're organized then this step should be pretty smooth.

Once everything is up and running you want to test every choice yourself to make sure it works properly. If a link is broken or leads you to the wrong video then you need to fix it immediately. Once everything is working perfectly then you can share your work with the world.