Tech by VICE

Tune in Now to Watch the Pilots for Five Potential Web Shows on Motherboard

We're excited to welcome you to our first Pilot Week: a week in which we put a bunch of new video series in front of your eyeballs and see what stands out.

by Derek Mead
May 31 2016, 8:50pm

Dearest Motherboarders, I'm excited to welcome you to our first Pilot Week: a week in which we put a bunch of new video series in front of your eyeballs and see what stands out. In TV land, studios always produce one pilot episode of a series before greenlighting the show. We decided to do something similar, except instead of presenting our ideas to network executives, we're showing them to you. You can watch the whole shebang in the stream above, or wait with bated breath as we roll our pilots out throughout the week.

We're opening up the mindspray spigots because online video is currently going through the same growing pains as editorial did in the slideshow clickbait era of the late aughts. Powered by Facebook's algorithmic nudging, there's a very specific recipe for finding a huge audience on social channels for video: It's the same formula of bite-sized snippets of multimedia—often snatched and remixed from the creator itself—packaged together as simply and grabbingly as possible.

At their best, these videos are informative and easily digested; at their worst, they're misleading, stolen, or simply vacuous. Regardless, you'll be seeing these videos in your feeds for some time to come.

This puts Motherboard in a rather interesting position. We produce the best science and tech documentaries online, and have done so for about seven years now. That won't ever change, because producing immersive, thoughtful stories is why all of us at Motherboard came here in the first place. But the problem with docs is they're expensive and slow to make. This means we don't produce as much video as we'd like, and more importantly, we're not stress-testing nearly enough of the ideas and formats that we have scribbled away on the proverbial napkin.

With that in mind, Pilot Week is a vehicle for us to test fly video ideas ranging from the clever to the experimental. This go-round we've got five pilots just for you, and we've chopped them up to distribute on as many platforms as we can get our hands on, with the goal being to see what works, what makes us happy, and what you, dear viewer, think of what we've put together. We'll make more of the series that seem to have potential, while we'll toss the others back into the old video crock-pot to simmer a bit more.

Don't worry, we'll come to you: We're putting videos out on every platform we've got, from Instagram to VICE Media's cable network Viceland, so stay tuned! We're looking forward to hearing what you think.

This is our first time doing a Pilot Week, but it won't be the last. We're in the lucky position of being able to produce a truly diverse array of video programming, from short video to online series, longform online documentaries, television, and original scripted sci-fi, and the way to do it all is to make sure we're constantly testing our ideas in the wild. I hope you enjoy what we've got this week, and stay tuned for more.