Ah, The Abridged Series
. A way of shortening any work that ranges from So Bad, It's Good
to taking itself too seriously and adding tons of humor and lampooning of the work's flaws, it's been popular ever since the genre's Trope Maker
, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series
, was created (though the concept of abridging works goes back for a while
). If you want to take a shot at joining the parodies yourself, look no further than the advice below.
(Side note: Although abridged series are generally allowed as far as legal matters are concerned, due to being parodies, the use of copyrighted material pits them against the DMCA. Because of this, YouTube
has a habit of having abridged series pulled down and the channels suspended. So don't be surprised if your own Abridged Series
gets taken down as well.)
- Humor. Out of all the things you need while making an Abridged Series, humor should be a top priority. It's part of the entire premise of The Abridged Series, after all. Popular methods of humor are Alternative Character Interpretation of canon characters into a screwed-up cast, lampshading ridiculous and illogical moments, and completely original subplots deviating from the parodied canon.
- Clip editing. The entire point of The Abridged Series to spoof a visual work's pre-existing material, so you'll need to have a general knowledge of how to splice and use clips. You may also need a good editing program, such as Sony Vegas or Adobe Premiere Elements. There are free ones, but they tend to be less user-friendly.
- Audio and clip quality. When making an abridged series, make sure your viewers will be able to make out what's going on and hear what the characters are saying. We're not asking you get the best of the best, but it'd be nice to make it at least somewhat clear. Decent USB microphones can be had for under $100 these days, and decent recording software does exist in freeware: check out Audacity to start with.
- Voice acting. You'll need to get a few other people on board to provide voices for the characters, unless you're a Man of a Thousand Voices who can do it yourself. Most of us aren't, so don't hesitate to look for fellow thespians.
- Knowledge of the series you're spoofing. What's the point of making an abridged series if you don't know your source material? You don't have to be an obsessive, die-hard fan of the source material, but you need to at least have a grasp of what it's about and its flaws in order to lampoon it. Otherwise, you'll miss opportunities for jokes and Lampshade Hanging.
do you plan to abridge your series? You can either just take all existing episodes and dub over them, but you can also cut episodes shorter, abridge them in Anachronic Order
, or even combine them into your own spin-off plots.
What sort of alternative interpretation are you going to apply to the plot? Play it straight as usual with added snarkiness, or make your own out of the original with added Alternative Character Interpretation
for the main cast? Some fans love it when you flanderize the characters into something different and kooky; some hate it, and prefer every line to be in-character. You can't please everyone, so choose.
What kind of humor are you going for? This is partially dependent on your source material; Barney & Friends
is ripe for, say, raunchy sex comedy, but Grave of the Fireflies
. But's also dependent on your personal talent. Part of humor's appeal is that we can joke about things that are otherwise too sad to talk about (at least normally
), and if you know you can be radically funny and turn something solemn on its ear, you should feel free to do so. Just make sure you can
Since The Abridged Series
is subject to Sturgeon's Law
, there are quite a few.
- First off, Schedule Slip is a big danger here. Working on each episode of an abridged series takes at least several hours, and a lot of people don't have time for it. If you're really, truly interested in committing yourself to an abridged series, make sure you have a few hours to spare in your free time to update.
- Bad audio and clip quality.
- Not being funny. But nobody can help you with that.
- It might be wise to have some idea of where you're going. It's not easy to turn out multiple jokes on command, and Writer's Block can contribute to Schedule Slip. With this in mind, feel free to ask for help. Most television comedies have an entire writing staff, because two heads are better than one. You don't have to One-Man Army it.
- Overzealous copyright protection. One the one hand, that's good—if the source material's lawyers feel threatened by your product, it means you're doing something right. On the other hand, it keeps anyone from seeing your product... and YouTube has a shoot-first-ask-questions-later policy when it comes to copyright violation, Fair Use: Parody or not. The alternative is, of course, other hosting sites; many abridgers have migrated to blip.tv precisely because they're less hot-headed about copyvio.