Internet-video service cuts deal with Shaftesbury's Smokebomb to distribute four short-form series
Hulu cut a distribution deal for four short-form series from Shaftesbury’s digital division, Smokebomb Entertainment, and the studio is prepping a unique companion game for Google Glass to promote one of them, dystopian sci-fi show “State of Syn.”
All eight episodes of “State of Syn,” each about 5 minutes, are slated to premiere on Hulu’s U.S. service Jan. 18. The series stars Jewel Staite (“Firefly,” “The L.A. Complex”) and David Hewlett (“Stargate SG-1” and “Stargate: Atlantis”).
After the Hulu debut, the related Google Glass app for the “Blade Runner”-esque series is expected to be released in late February or early March.
The game for the Google Glass eyewear, keying off the series’ storyline, puts the player in the role of a “white hat” hacker who must reclaim the identities of active operatives compromised in a cyberattack perpetrated by an unknown superpower. The app will use Google Glass’s gyroscopic head gesture control — letting users play the game using their eyes, by looking at objects in the scene.
Toronto-based Smokebomb probably won’t charge for the Google Glass game, a promotional side project the studio hopes will attract cachet among the target sci-fi audience given the format for the new device.
“We believe in traditional storytelling but we also believe in storytelling across other platforms,” said Jay Bennett, Smokebomb’s VP of digital and creative director. “If we do charge for it it will be low, but at this stage I’d rather have people saying, ‘When is the next Smokebomb project coming out?”
Regardless of how cool it may be, the app won’t be available to many people: Google Glass is still in a limited release, only recently expanding the invite-only beta program to up to 40,000 users. Bennett noted the game could be ported to tablets or smartphones later on.
Smokebomb is creating the Google Glass app under a developers’ boot camp being run by San Francisco-based Mind Pirate and the Canadian Film Centre’s IdeaBoost initiative.
The nonexclusive deal with Hulu is the first for Smokebomb. The first two series of “State of Syn” are already on YouTube, but the full run will hit Hulu first. “We see Hulu as a great platform, with name recognition that generates a lot of views,” Bennett said. “We’re trying to get our message out wider in America.”
A glasses-free 3D version of “State of Syn” also is on deck for 2014, according to Smokebomb. The show is a “motion novel,” combining live-action photography with animated backgrounds.
The other shows in the Hulu pact are scripted drama “Long Story, Short,” to debut on Hulu Feb. 15; and tween adventure series “Unlikely Heroes” and tween musical comedy series “Totally Amp’d,” both of which have yet to be scheduled.
Watch the first episode of “State of Syn” on YouTube: