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Transmedia storytelling - Carolyn Miller


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Transmedia storytelling - Carolyn Miller

  1. 1. Transmedia StorytellingWhat It Is and How It Works # Carolyn Handler Miller
  2. 2. Transmedia StorytellingA Single Story Told Across Multiple Media
  3. 3. Transmedia Stories:Can Employ Virtually Any Medium n  Medium: a form of communication (or platform) that can reach many people n  Established: newspapers, books, magazines, radio, TV, movies, flyers, posters n  Digital Media: the Internet, video game consoles, mobile devices, computers, Virtual Reality, social media
  4. 4. Same Story Can Employ Traditional And Digital Media
  5. 5. Transmedia Storytelling: My Definitionn  Project exists in more than one medium (usually more than 2)n  Typically includes both digital and traditional median  Often includes live eventsn  Is at least partially interactiven  Each story component expands the core narrativen  All components are tightly integratedn  Ideally, designed from ground up to be transmedia
  6. 6. Idea Seems New, But an Ancient Concept Egypt As Example:Employed Architecture, Painting, Sculpture, Hieroglyphics to Tell A Single Story
  7. 7. Today’s Transmedia Stories:Same Approach, Different Media
  8. 8. Transmedia Hugely Popular Now, But Why? n  For creators: can promote products; can extend an entertainment property with new assets; can be lucrative n  For audiences: rich, fascinating stories, can “live” in fictional world, can participate in it
  9. 9. The Critical Components of StrongTransmedia Storytelling…
  10. 10. Usually Built AroundA Solid Primary Fulcrum n  Fulcrum: the supporting element n  Can be a media property, a character, a location n  Central to the project n  Capable of supporting its various components n  Holds story pieces together n  Keeps the work in balance
  11. 11. Story Pieces Tightly Integratedn  Each media component expands the same core storyn  Each media component is consistent with core story (the canon)
  12. 12. Best When Entire Transmedia Story Built At Same Timen  Ideally,story should be built from the ground up as a work of transmedian  Pieces should NOT be glued onto existing property
  13. 13. Also, Built Around a Vibrant STORY WORLDn  Story World: the fictional universe of a narrativen  Deep and invitingn  Unfolds in the present time, as user investigates & experiences itn  Consistent across all platformsn  Some big story worlds: Ø  Avatar Ø  Toy Story Ø  Star Wars
  14. 14. Jeff Gomez:His View of the Story World n  A rich world, real or imagined n  A story with a past and future n  Must be populated with engaging characters n  Must have something about it that makes us want to participate in it
  15. 15. Strong StoryWorld Example: Toy Storyn  Rich cast of characters, all well developedn  Unique conceit: toys come to lifen  Mix of toys suggests ongoing storiesn  Mix of challenges provides opportunities for interactivity
  16. 16. Storyworlds ContainTwo Types of “Holes”
  17. 17. 1. The “Rabbit Hole”n  Rabbit hole: entrance to story… way that users find initial piece of story and initial cluesn  Borrowed from Alice in Wonderlandn  “Fall” into the story, escape not easy!n  May be more than one
  18. 18. 2. The “Cheese Hole”n  Spaces in the story that allow the audience to participate, contributen  These can be forms of social media (FB, blogs, YouTube, etc.)n  Audience participation in story: one of reasons transmedia is so popular
  19. 19. Examples of Transmedia Projects
  20. 20. Earliest Successful Example: Blair Witch Project n  Debuted in 1999 n  Just 2 components: movie and website n  Website in same documentary style as film Ø  Gave more details of “disappearance” of filmmakers Ø  Used “archival” material
  21. 21. The Matrix Sequels:Pure Transmedia Storytelling n  Elements: 2 movies, video games, website, DVD, comic books, anime shorts n  Designed from ground up to tell different parts of same story n  Most massive transmedia project to date (2003)
  22. 22. More Recent Example: The Movie, District 9A very clevertransmediamarketingcampaign, includingan Alternate RealityGame (ARG),websites, voicemessages
  23. 23. One of Most Clever Aspects: “Warnings” n  “Humans Only” notices posted on buildings, bus stops, buses n  Could “report” aliens by calling phone # n  Faux warnings helped build anticipation for film; lots of press n  Transmedia approach increasingly used as promotional strategy
  24. 24. My Own Experience: Toy Storyn  My first project with transmedia elementsn  Goal: to expand world of movie with interactive storybookn  First endeavor joining Disney and Pixarn  The fulcrum: the Toy Story movie
  25. 25. The Challenge:n  Not able to use Tom Hanks (Woody)n  Instead, Hamm (the piggybank) would tell story (John Ratzenberger cheaper)n  Challenging: telling this story from POV of a piggybank!!
  26. 26. A BIGGER Challenge:Meaningful Interactivity n  Pixar’s view: should be a series of games and activities n  Disney’s view: a unified story the child could control n  Showdown: a game of checkers (Pixar) n  Solution organic: players put toys away before humans come
  27. 27. Not Only Hollywood!Malaysia Also Creating Transmedia Stories n  Example: Saladin n  Based on true story of Islamic hero in 12th century n  Produced by Multimedia Development Corporation n  Components: TV series, comics, games, mobile app, feature film
  28. 28. Transmedia StoriesAlso Created for ProjectsWithout Traditional Media Components
  29. 29. Example:The Due Return n  Focal medium: life sized ship with 3 decks n  Storyworld: revolves around intergalactic space ship, has traveled through space & time, docked in strange land n  Crew: scientists, explorers n  Created in Santa Fe by an artists’ collective
  30. 30. Interactivity and the Due Returnn  Experiments and other artifacts you could examinen  Ship’s interactive control roomn  Other media: ship’s archives (on Web); mobile app to interact with ship; live events
  31. 31. Roswell Project:Another Unusual Approach n  Being produced in little town: Roswell, New Mexico n  Low in budget n  High in creativity
  32. 32. Roswell A Special Placen  Famous For Landing of Space Ship (a UFO… “Unidentified Flying Object”) and alien passengern  Space ship supposed crashed there in 1947n  Alien “captured,” examined by doctors
  33. 33. Goal of This Transmedia Project:n  To promote Roswell Film Festivaln  To promote the town of Roswell
  34. 34. Roswell the TownAs a Strong Fulcrum n  UFO story is famous, and large number of believers n  Community businesses support alien story and project
  35. 35. Roswell Project:Full of Unique Components n  Crop circle (signal to outer space) n  Mysterious cult members n  A novel (backstory) n  Both a story and game n  Clues in real locations n  Internet: Webisodes n  Magic amulet n  Phone app (Layar) with augmented reality n  Culminating event: space ship flying overhead
  36. 36. Transmedia Storytelling Can Be Used For Non-Fiction Works, Too…
  37. 37. Documentary Approach n  Woodrow Wilson biography (PSS) n  Components: TV show, DVD, Website (with game, other interactive elements) n  All with same graphic style n  Designed from ground up to give viewers different facets of Wilson’s life (the StoryWorld) and to let viewers participate
  38. 38. Non-Profit Organizations: To Tell Their Story, Involve the Public (And Raise Funds)n  Online journal (documentary): ecology of Mississippin  Contests: submit own photosn  Live events: team in NY marathonn  Facebook page: users post about favorite wild places in US
  39. 39. Toy Companies Also Use Transmedia: Marketing Technique n  Example: Monster High n  Conceit: dolls are offspring of famous monsters; attend same HS n  Also: Facebook page (“freaky fab style”) n  Human-sized clothing line n  Robust website
  40. 40. On Website:n  Can “enroll” in Monster Highn  Decorate your lockern  Send a screamn  Watch webisodesn  Play gamesn  Interact with favorite monsters
  41. 41. Now, a Closer Look at One of the Most Robust And Purest Forms Of Transmedia Storytelling The ARG(Alternate Reality Game)…
  42. 42. ARGs: What They Are: n  Experiences that contain well-developed storyline and gaming elements n  Story broken into tiny fragments over multiple media n  Users have to piece fragments together to understand it n  Played out in real time n  Often incorporate live events n  Story unfolds as players solve puzzles
  43. 43. “This is Not a Game!”n  Fans’ motto for these gamesn  Say that because goal is that they should feel like real lifen  Never announced or promoted (viral marketing)n  Other term: unfiction
  44. 44. Great definition:(from Transmedia Conference at USC) “It’s like digging through sand to find shards of pottery…
  45. 45. Definition, continued….… and if you find enough shards, you can reconstruct the entire pot.”
  46. 46. The First: The Beast n  To promote movie AI (Artificial Intelligence) n  Sci-fi story based loosely on film – murder; sentient robots n  Debuted in 2001 as stealth marketing endeavor – created at Microsoft n  Still a model for the genre n  Rich story, rich puzzle solving
  47. 47. Important Convention: Both Story And Gamen  But not pure form of eithern  Not pure narrative because story broken into tiny fragmentsn  Story also dependent on solving puzzles (like chemistry puzzle here)n  But not pure game, either: no victory conditions, no rules, no prizes
  48. 48. Story Told in PartVia Hundreds of Faux Websites n  Here: website from company that makes android companions n  Each website in “voice” of creator – individuals, corporations, scientists – in French, Latin, etc.
  49. 49. The Rabbit Hole: In the trailer for the film, in the credits, a mysterious credit for “Jeanine Salla, the film’s “sentient machine therapist” (a shrink who treats robots)
  50. 50. If Google “Jeanine Salla,” will find the family’s home page (“Made” by teen girl, her granddaughter) Dive into story from there
  51. 51. Other Characteristics of ARGs…
  52. 52. ARGsCan Spill Out Into Real Life n  Clues delivered on pay phones (I Love Bees) n  Staged fist fights at conferences n  Car stolen from auto showroom n  Staged rallies n  “Poker Games” in graveyards
  53. 53. Clues Can Be Anywhere! n  Inside jars of honey n  Inside library books n  Onbanners pulled by airplanes
  54. 54. Transmedia Storytelling: Summing Up….
  55. 55. Single Story Told Over Multiple Forms of Media
  56. 56. RequireA Rich Story World n  Well developed characters with complex relationships n  Multi-layered setting n  A deep backstory n  Much to explore
  57. 57. Work BestWhen Users Have Agency n  Goes beyond interactivity for interactivity’s sake n  Meaningful involvement n  Can contribute to story or how it turns out
  58. 58. Also, Work Best When Contain Strong Fulcrumn  Fulcrum informs overall projectn  Fulcrum provides focusn  Fulcrum suggests logical components
  59. 59. Work BestWhen Approach Is Organic n  Components grow out of fulcrum naturally n  Not forced
  60. 60. And Finally… Transmedia Projects Need A Clear Unified Visionn  Creators need to agree on what they want to achieven  Creators must work together to create components and make sure they are consistent
  61. 61. QUESTIONS??? Ask now…. Email or refer to my book: