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NRI firm to launch first sitcom for smartphones

There’s a brand new sitcom coming to a small screen near you in the New Year. Anirudh Bhattacharyya reports.

india Updated: Jan 02, 2012 23:58 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Hindustan Times

There’s a brand new sitcom coming to a small screen near you in the New Year.

Actually, to a really small screen, as the series, ‘Totally Amp’d’, will the first original show made specifically for smartphones and tablets like the iPad.

In an interesting coincidence, the first of what its makers are calling “appisodes” will be available on Republic Day, January 26, across the world.

The series has been created and developed by Toronto-based company Smokebomb Entertainment, which works on digital content and convergent media, and will be published and distributed in the form of downloadable apps by XMG Studio, which is headed by Indo-Canadian entrepreneur Ray Sharma.

Totally Amp’d will consist of ten appisodes, each about six minutes in duration. Daniel Dales, CEO and Executive Producer at Smokebomb, said, “We think this is an industry first. Frankly, we’re excited to see what the response is.”

The series is targeted at a demographic that makes the heaviest use of mobile devices — tweens and teens.

As Sharma pointed out, “When we look at the app economy, about 50 per cent is being driven by teenagers. They are not only responsible, perhaps, for the multi-billion dollar app economy, they have influence when it comes to virality.”

The idea here is to look at the habits of a teenager taking the subway or bus to school, a ride of about 30 minutes, during which they remain on the phones, emailing, messaging, texting, on social networks or checking their calendars.

Watching a quarter or half of a made-for-television episode of a series like Seinfeld may not be fulfilling in that context, but a six-minute appisode could work.
The appisodes will initially be launched on Apple’s App Store, but as Sharma said, porting it to other platforms like Android was “eminently doable.”

While the launch appisode will be free, there will be a one-time fee of $4.99 for the entire series.

Obviously, given the nature of an appisode, there will be a wealth of interactive elements adding to the experience, like mixing music, or users dynamically creating their own video, along with other immersive activities.

Smokebomb defined Totally Amp’d as “an entertainment App that tells the story of five talented teenagers who are brought together to become the next big pop group.” Dales said, “We see this as a brand new category.”

There’s huge potential in the mobile space.

After all, hundreds of millions of new smartphones and tablets are sold each year, each of them a possible device for scripted entertainment like this series.

The series stars young actors and actresses who are already known from their work on popular North American television productions.

As Dales said, the show has a “very stylized look” and one that has been created for the mobile platform, so that it offers its own unique viewing experience on even a three-and-a-half-inch smartphone screen.

If the series “gains traction” there could be a second season for ‘Totally Amp’d.’

But Smokebomb is already working on its next project of appisodes, State of Syn, a series “for the hardcore sci-fi audience, another very dedicated audience.”

First Published: Jan 02, 2012 23:54 IST