Frank Rose - From linear narrative to storyworlds


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Op de Beeldenstorm Content-dag van het Nederlands Film Festival op 26 september 2011 gaf Wired-redacteur Frank Rose (VS) een keynote over storytelling in nieuwe/cross/transmedia. Hoe kun je een verhaal zó vertellen dat het één platform overstijgt?

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  • Linear narrative —> story world\nAll familiar with linear narrative\nWhat we grew up with\nSo I want to look at nonlinear narratives\nAnd then at story worlds \nAnd finally, how they’re coming together\nAs you might think,\nIt’s not a straight-line progression.\n\n
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  • This man\nNot on the face of it a radical thinker\nBut appearances can be deceiving\n\n
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  • Bush’s suggestions were forgotten\nNo practical way of realizing them\nBut in the avant-garde, \n
  • Alain Resnais, Jean-Luc Godard\nNonlinear narrative—Jump cuts, time shifts\n
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  • Defies rational comprehension\nNot that that bothered Nelson\n
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  • Still—another 25 years before it was implemented\nNot just because of computer advances\n\n
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  • In other words, we’re watching TV\n
  • So the whole past century was about moving toward nonlinearity. \nWhat about story worlds? \n
  • Meanwhile, a separate strain\nFantasy, science fiction, action adventure\nA contemporary of Bush\n
  • Wrote The Hobbit for his children\nFound its way to a publisher\nAdults liked it as much as children\nPublisher asked for a sequel\nWrote The Lord of the Rings\n
  • To Tolkien—world-builder creates a “secondary world”\nWhat the story-maker as world-builder supplies:\nNot merely imagination but coherence\nCoherence not required in a story set in the real world: \nWe know its laws\nAs long as the creator adheres, we’re fine\n
  • Talked to a lot of people in Hollywood\nMany of them had been huge fans of Star Wars \nObviously a movie\nThen a series of movies\nBut also exploited the narrative potential of comics, novels, T-shirts, toys\nAt first, these were just standard licensing deals\nGeorge Lucas controlled the licensing, but not what his licensees did\nMarvel did comics\nBy episode 8, Han Solo and Chewbacca encounter a giant rabbit named Jaxxon\nHomage to Bugs Bunny\nWhat happened—\nBy mid-80s—trilogy was complete, merch was dying\nHoward Roffman: You couldn’t give the stuff away.\nThat’s when he was put in charge of it.\nAn epiphany: All the “ancillary material” had to tell the same story\nAnd thanks to the way Lucas had constructed Star Wars, plenty of stories\n
  • “Immaculate Reality”\nThe movies only tell a narrow slice of the story\n“You can engage on a simplistic level—\nBut If you want to drill down, it’s infinitely deep”\nDigitally conceived, but with so much detail it felt instantly familiar\nFully realized interior of the Death Star—moon-sized Imperial battle station armed with a superlaser capable of destroying an entire planet. \nEvery single utensil in the kitchen of Owen and Beru Lars—humble moisture farmers who sheltered young Luke Skywalker on Tatooine. \nRoffman: “You could zoom in on any section of any frame and have a hundred stories to tell. \n“But it wasn’t because George ever imagined anybody would zoom in like that—he just wanted to make it feel real.”\nResult: The Star Wars Expanded Universe\nLucas: Movies, TV shows\nRoffman: Everything else\n
  • And to do that, I’m going to tell another little story\n\nLost\n
  • Transition from a story world the author controls\nTo a story world the audience inhabits\nHow do we get there? \n
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  • Inevitable that nonlinearity and world-building would converge\nIt’s the next step\nBut how will it work?\n
  • Frank Rose - From linear narrative to storyworlds

    1. 1. “Time forks perpetually toward innumerablefutures. In one of them, I am your enemy.” — Jorge Luis Borges, “The Garden of Forking Paths”
    2. 2. “The human mind. . .operatesby association. With one itemin its grasp, it snaps instantlyto the next.” — Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think,” THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY, July 1945
    3. 3. “Wholly new forms ofencyclopedias will appear, readymade with a mesh of associative trails running through them.” —Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think”
    4. 4. Georges Franju:“But surely, MonsieurGodard, you do at leastacknowledge the necessity ofhaving a beginning, a middle,and an end.”Jean-Luc Godard:“Certainly. But not necessarilyin that order.”
    6. 6. “Attention Deficit Disorder —we need a more positive term. . .Hummingbird mind, I shouldthink.” —Ted Nelson, quoted in WIRED
    7. 7. “Hypertext is text which isnot constrained to be linear.” —World Wide Web Consortium
    8. 8. “It’s the nature of life now. In oneday we are in Iraq, in Pakistan, inNew York City, in a car. Memoriesare coming in and birds are flying.If you were to put that together, itwould be like a crazy film.” —David Lynch
    9. 9. “The greatest of all reversals occurred with electricity, thatended sequenceby making things instant.”—Marshall McLuhan,UNDERSTANDING MEDIA
    10. 10. “He makes a Secondary Worldwhich your mind can enter.Inside it, what he relates is true:it accords with the laws of thatworld. You therefore believe it,while you are. . .inside.” — J.R.R.Tolkien, “On Fairy Stories”
    11. 11. “The essential medium of the Internet is social networking. But how do you marry social networking to storytelling?” —Damon Lindelof“If we knew how to do that, we would do it.But we haven’t figured it out.” —Carlton Cuse