The Lonelygirl15 Universe Returns 01/11/10 With LG15: Outbreak

lg15outbreakIt’s been over three years since a young girl named Bree started posting YouTube videos under the lonelygirl15 username. The webseries has since released three seasons and spawned a number of spin-offs both domestically and internationally. The latest addition to EQAL’s Lonelygirl15 franchise, LG15: Outbreak, premieres tomorrow at LG15.com/Outbreak and will be showcased on the lonelygirl15 Youtube channel. EQAL selected Outbreak from a number of pilot submissions for its second The Show Is Yours contest (TSIY). Outbreak will run for eight weeks, with new content released every weekday.

EQAL offered TSIY as an opportunity for fans of the show to add to the lonelygirl15 canon, leveraging the company’s distribution networks. LG15: The Last was the first series produced as a result of TSIY. For the first iteration of the contest, EQAL provided the winning team with $2,500 to help with production costs. For its second iteration, EQAL sweetened the pot, offering $5,000 for the rights to the show, agreeing to split the net profits from the show.  Additionally, Glenn Rubenstein, the creator of the OpAphid alternate reality game, agreed to offer some assistance to the winning production team.

The Lonelygirl15 series built its community around interaction and puzzlesolving, so fans of alternate reality games should look closely at the first few episodes. Earlier today, the show’s executive producer Austin McConnell linked to an image on twitter with a string of binary code promoting tomorrow’s launch.  McConnell will be producing the series through his company, Tempest Pictures.

Click Here for breaking news from LG15Today on Outbreak.
Click Here to watch Outbreak‘s TSIY2 pilot.

Digi-Novel “Level 26: Dark Origins” Goes Live Today

level26Level 26: Dark Origins, the first installment in CSI creator Anthony E. Zuiker’s new “digi-novel” series, hit the bookshelves today. The novel, co-written by Duane Swierczynski and published by Penguin’s Dutton imprint, follows former FBI agent Steven Dark as he hunts down a serial killer known as “Sqweegel” as part of an elite, unnamed investigations unit. At least two more novels are planned for the franchise.

The novel’s text is supplemented by twenty “cyberbridges” interspersed throughout the novel. By visiting level26.com, the reader can enter a code to access short cinematic scenes that “bridge you from one platform to another.” Additional features including interviews, character breakdowns, and a social community will emerge at the Level 26 website. EQAL was brought on to the project to develop Level 26’s interactive website, leveraging their experience on projects such as Harper’s Globe and Lonelygirl15.

While Level 26 does not aim to be an alternative reality game, it serves as another step along the path of making reading a more interactive process. As Zuiker explained to Forbes,

[t]he digital novel will never take over traditional books, but what it does do is give the consumer a different way to experience the narrative. I think the special sauce here is once you watch the first couple of bridges, which are about three minutes each, you’ll begin to read with those [visuals in mind and you really have this movie experience in the read.

Be warned, however: Level 26 is for mature audiences, as Zuiker refers to its content as “hard R”. Plus, the novel deals with a killer in a full-body condom.

To read more about Level 26, head over to the digi-novel’s website or read the coverage at LG15 Today. You can also enter to win a Level 26 FlipCam with exclusive footage by tweeting using the hashtag #Level26 between today and September 15.

UPDATE:  I have just received word that in honor of the release, SuicideGirls has teamed up with Zuiker to release a photoset, which goes live at 6pm today. SuicideGirls.com seems to be embracing cross-media publishing partnerships, as they previously teamed up with JC Hutchins and Smith & Tinker for the release of Personal Effects: Dark Art.

Harper’s Globe – TV never looked so deadly

harpersislandAn island’s quiet life is rocked by a brutal murder — that is the beginning of the story behind Harper’s Island, the new TV series by CBS set to air starting on April 9th. But even before the series premiere, the curious among us can already immerse themselves into the narrative by participating in the “social show” that has been built to promote the show, and we have news from the team at EQAL as to what we can expect from both Harper’s Island and its multimedia counterpart.

The proverbial rabbit hole, or starting point, is found at the web site harpersglobe.com. Designed as the island’s news resource, it introduces the players to Robin, a college student that was recently hired under mysterious circumstances to be the paper’s community manager and archivist. Working diligently, she posts videos of her progress which is when things get weird. As she starts to unravel the mystery of the island’s past (in full view of all the players, no less), a new character is introduced that has seemingly sinister intentions, drastically changing the atmosphere of the community.

Once the TV show airs, the players will advance further into the story and the mystery surrounding it. CBS is tight lipped about the project’s details, other than promising that the players/viewers will not only watch but also help catch the real killer. It’s possible that this is why people are encouraged to setup their profile once they sign up on Harper’s Globe — the social networking features may help players to interact with the characters of the ARG/TV show.

We had a few questions about what might happen with the online experience once the television show debuts in two weeks, so we went straight to the source yesterday and got in touch with Miles Beckett, the co-founder and CEO at EQAL, who has partnered with the producers of Harper’s Island to create Harper’s Globe. Beckett had as many answers as we had questions, so hit the jump for all of the gritty details.

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DIY Days Boston: Catching up with Lance Weiler and hanging out with filmmakers

DIY Days logoWhen I heard DIY Days was coming to Boston, mostly I was looking forward to reconnecting with filmmaker, Alternate Reality Game enthusiast and ARGFest Boston speaker, Lance Weiler, (Hope is Missing and Beyond the Rave) and maybe getting a scoop on his next project. While I did get to do all that, I also got to meet some incredibly talented independent filmmakers, culture researchers, and writers, and participate in a great discussion not only about independent filmmaking, but also about the future of media and technology.

DIY Days is an offshoot of Weiler’s The Workbook Project, and is paired with the From Here to Awesome Film Festival. All are grounded in his commitment to open-source filmmaking, mentoring and encouraging creativity and helping independent filmmakers to finance, distribute and promote their projects inside and outside of traditional media channels (but mostly outside). Weiler’s partner in DIY Days is Arin Crumley, co-creator of indie film/YouTube phenomenon, Four Eyed Monsters.

DIY Days Boston, a free, all-day event, was the fourth and final conference in this series. (A new series will resume next year.) Speakers for the day included, among others, Weiler, a venture capitalist, MIT researchers, and, of course, many filmmakers, all bringing their knowledge and expertise to share with others. You can watch the conference proceedings online at the DIY Days site, so instead of giving a blow-by-blow of each talk, I’ll highlight my favorites.

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Lonelygirl15 sequel proves that resistance isn’t futile after all

LG15: Resistance logo

“The fountain of youth is real. It’s in the blood of innocent girls scattered across the world. They’re hunted, murdered, sucked dry of their precious lifesblood. We are The Resistance. We fight to protect and save these girls.” (from LG15: The Resistance)

When we first met Bree, the original lonely girl of YouTube fame, it was clear that there was more to the seemingly innocent girl than met the eye. After all, after only a handful of webisodes, clues tucked into them revealed Bree’s affinity for the occult, and exposed the darker reality hidden behind Bree’s seraphic surface. Now, two years later, the series continues down a path that is more Hannibal Lecter than High School Musical.

Yesterday afternoon, we received word that EQAL, the company behind LG15 and Kate Modern, is preparing a sequel to begin in September. For ARG fans, we have exclusive news that there is, indeed, an alternate reality game – now playing and full of surprises – preceding the launch of the debut video.

According to an inside source close to the project, the game includes assets that go beyond the online videos which have become a signature of the brand. In the mix are crowleycollection.com, lifesbloodlabs.com and verduspharma.com/press/, the latter of which outlines a legal battle between a pharmaceutical company and an experimental R&D sub-division gone rogue. Of the three, the one we connected with the LG15 mythology immediately was the Crowley Collection site, as it was the picture of occultist Aleister Crowley which began the speculation about the truth behind Bree.

As a bonus for our readers, we can reveal that entering the code 1103 at the Crowley site will yield information important to the game. This code was interlaced in fliers handed out at ComicCon and at various comic book stores, and has only been delivered to a handful of LG15 fans — we’re the first news site to reveal this code.

For those interested in following along until the new video series kicks off, there are a number of threads on the Lonelygirl15 forums, such as this thread, discussing how to get into crowleycollection.com, and this thread, which documents many of the developments of the last few weeks.