Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 1ONE YEAR INTRANSMEDIA 2nd Edition by Simon Staffans 27 December 2011
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 2INDEX————————————————————————————————Introduction 4The Core of Transmedia 6 The Three Facets of Transmedia Transmedia - the Story of the Story Twain on Transmedia The “Why” of Transmedia Interview - Jeff Gomez Interview - Nick DeMartinoDeveloping Transmedia 23 Musings on Transmedia Development Creating a Transmedia Symphony The NOT of Transmedia Transmedia, Time and Context The Value of Truth in Transmedia Interview - Andrea PhillipsThe Transmedia Format 36 What Makes Good Transmedia? The Mixing of Real and Not Real in Transmedia Transmedia Sans Fiction The Transmedia Format Interview - Nicoletta IacobacciTransmedia and the Audience 48 Transmedia - Story, Experience and Needs What Motivates a Transmedia Audience Users, meet Story. Story, meet Users Interview - Yomi AyeniTransmedia and the Market 58 Pitching Transmedia Funding Transmedia - a comment On Transmedia and Funding On Funding Transmedia, part two Interview - Brian Clark Interview - Robert PrattenReports from Transmedia Gatherings 79 Transmedia - it’s kind of everything; SXSW MIPTV 2011 Wrap Up Transmedia and Multiplatform Business
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 3 MIPCOM 2011 Roundup Storyworld - Five Thoughts Interview - Alison Norrington Interview - Karine HalpernOther Transmedia Musings 98 Ten Advice for Transmedia Storytellers Doing it the Transmedia WayTransmedia - a Future 104 Transmedia in 2020 AD Interview - Lina SrivastavaResources 115About the Author 118
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 4INTRODUCTION 27th of December 2011————————————————————————————————UPDATE for 2nd edition - As I read this publication again some weeks ago, Isuddenly felt there was something severely lacking - the voices of other people. I’velearnt so much from so many people and have had so much inspiration andawesomeness thrown at me from all corners, it felt unfair not to include the thoughtsof some of these great thinkers and practitioners. Said and done; I contacted anumber of people and asked them some questions, each connected to one chapteror another in this publication. I’ve decided to include the interviews at the end ofeach chapter to put them into as much context as possible. Thank you to all whograciously agreed to answer my questions! I’ve been in media for more years than I would ideally like to remember. Since theage of 13 I’ve been writing, producing, reporting and hosting everything fromnewspaper articles to tv reports to radio shows. In 2005 I left for the life of a formatdeveloper. The past couple of years might have been the most exciting in my professionallife. I love doing radio and writing articles and producing television, but utilizing thepowers of a connected multiplatform media landscape, drawing on transmediastorytelling methods, learning from a lot of great people all around the world andtaking part of so many brilliant projects… it’s a whole different and very enjoyableballpark. To come to grips with my thoughs and jot them down for further reference, Istarted blogging about my development work, my thoughts on transmedia, some ofthe talks I’d listened to and ideas that had been put to me. I also thought that ifsomeone else could find something of essence in my writing or find something in myexperiences that would help them in their work, it would be a truly beautiful thing. So,without (hopefully) breaching any NDAs, I’ve written some 70-odd posts on thesesubjects to date. So, what’s this publication? Well, a couple of days ago I was reading somethingin an article and suddenly realized I had thought and written about the very samesubject in a blog post myself. I went to look for it and had to search for ages (well,“Internet-ages”, I.e. more than 3 minutes) until I found the paragraph in a post fromDecember last year. Then it struck me: why not curate my own writings on thissubject so far into one single accessible and hopefully coherent document? That’s what this is. I’ve divided the texts loosely into eight different subsectionsand start each subsection off by introducing it. I’ve also added the original publishing
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 5date for each entry, as I think there is a bit of an evolution to be seen from how Ithink and write about transmedia and how it correlates with events and projects Icome in touch with over the year. Also, the examples and links that are prevalentmake more sense if related to a certain date. As always, if you find something of interest or something useful, that’s great. Andif you want to talk transmedia, formats or fishing, hit me up :). Contacts are includedat the end of the document. PS. I’ve included some of the comments on some of my posts. All of you, thankyou. You’re linked and all, and I greatly value your input. May the discussions neverend :). DS
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 6THE CORE OF TRANSMEDIA————————————————————————————————Key elements: philosophical, “deep thoughts”, “not sure I understand what I’m reallysaying either”, “but really I do” “I think”In this subsection I’ve put the texts and posts that talk about transmedia andtransmedia development on more of a meta-plane; some might be slightlyphilosophical, some perhaps less so. What the texts all have in common is that theytry to look at the essence of transmedia and different transmedia genres, andexamine bits and pieces of that essence, many times through things I was workingon at the time of the posts. The posts are divided by their own headline and date oforiginal publishing, but they do not necessarily appear in a chronological order.I believe this might be the right place to jot down the expected “My Definition ofTransmedia”. I’m pretty sure there are as many definitions as there are professionalsand scholars in this field, something which became quite clear in the definitionsdebate in the spring and summer of 2011. In my book, transmedia is telling storiesover a number of media platforms, stories that are connected to a higher or lesserdegree, but always connected and rooted in a common story world. Simple as that,really; and as I usually need definitions of transmedia for only one purpose - to keepmy mind straight when developing transmedia - it works well for me.For a clear and concise post on what transmedia is NOT, I’d suggest you’d readJenkins’ post on “Seven transmedia myths debunked”.The IntervieweesThe two people interviewed under this headline are Jeff Gomez and Nick DeMartino.Jeff is one of the foremost advocates of transmedia that I know, and Nick has awealth of experience reaching back decades - I believe between them they’recovering most of the ground needed!
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 7The Three Facets of Transmedia21st of February 2011There has been an interesting discussion going on over at the Storyworld group onLinkedIn, about transmedia; what should be constituted as transmedia and whatshould be filed under ”flimsy cross media marketing”, to quote, and what should betaken into consideration when transmediating content. Deriving from that, I felt theneed to expand on a couple of points, regarding the three different facets of atransmedia project:The telling of a storyTransmedia storytelling is, at its core, simply that. By spreading out over differentmedia and by creating a greater whole, we move deeper into the realms oftransmedia. What it is, is basically the art and technique of telling a story, or rathermultiple stories, connected directly or indirectly inside a larger story world and/ornarrative superstructure and/or mythology.As we all know, this can be done in many ways; through characters in blogs, throughexciting and engaging television drama series, through sms, Twitter, Facebook,apps… The key is create the stories and the world, and use the platforms that comesnaturally to the different parts of the storyEngaging an audienceThe second facet is also crucial, that of embracing the audience and bringing theminto the story/stories, to sandboxes or cheese-holes or perhaps even to lessstructured, more open areas in the structure of the stories and the story world.This, of course, as many have discussed, profoundly changes the notion of anaudience. Your audience is your audience, but at the same time they are your co-creators, investing themselves in your story and inevitably bringing change withthem. It is then up to you, the creator, to choose just how much change you want.But generally, the more people invest, the closer they will feel to your content. Bestcase scenario, you not only have an audience and a horde of co-creators, you alsohave advocates that bring your stories to people in a fashion you yourself nevercould.
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 8Financing your creationsThe third facet is that of building sustainable financial structures, which have to bere-developed for each case, just as the stories and the worlds are re-developed foreach new project. Transmedia projects have so many variables in play, that theyinevitably become different from each other – more different than, say, televisionseries or feature films. This leads to the creators needing to re-think the financing forevery project; for sure there is a measure of recycling financing models fromprevious transmedia projects, but there will always be new possibilities in the contextof a new project. This – sustainable financial structures – can take many shapes;from brands financing the lot to crowd sourced funding via IndieGoGo or a similarservice.Win-win-winI firmly believe that to transmediate content opens up a whole lot of new possibilitiesto turn a project into a win-win-win situation, where you as a content creator winsince you can tell more stories to more people in more ways, and get more andbetter (as in more fitting with your project) money in when you can play with anumber of platforms and a number of stories. The brands or financiers win since youcan target their message better, and since there is room for more financiers topartake - tv, online, books, mobile - the cost is less per participant with more bang forthe buck as the end result. Finally the audience wins, as you have more money tomake better content and make it available on more platforms to be even easier toobtain, engage and participate with and advocate for the audience.
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 9Transmedia - the story of the story10th of November, 2010.I find it exhilarating and exciting to follow the current flow of interesting discussionsand even more interesting projects and examples of transmedia bouncing around theInternet these past few weeks. Suddenly it seems like everyone is talkingtransmedia, from a great number of angles.So, having read some tweets and comments on current transmedia projects today, Ifound myself sitting staring vacantly into space, my mind trying to grasp somethought that just did not want to be grasped. Irritating in the extreme, as Im sure youall agree.The glimpses I could see of the thought implied that it had something to do with thecore and underlying premises of transmedia. I finally gave up and decided to startwriting instead, hoping it’d show up.After a while, it did. And with it, and in the sentences before this one that gave thesetting and the background of it’s arrival, it brought the meaning of transmedia. It’snot the story you’re telling. It’s the story about the story, that gives your storymeaning - that’s transmedia.In that sense, we actually don’t need media. So, in the most simplified sense, there’snothing for the transmedia to trans- around from and to.OK, so we have no trans- and we have no –media. What’s up with that? I foundmyself thinking. Wasn’t it namely transmedia that I’ve been happily embracing for thepast year or so?Actually, I don’t think it’s transmedia I’ve been embracing. I have not, for instance,been embracing the production of storylines on three different media, stemming fromthe same storyworld but adding to each other rather than copying or duplicating eachother. Or rather, I have, but that has rather been a by-product.What I’ve been embracing is the thought process and the development process ofcreating more than you need, just in case (and there is always the case). Theprocess of not saying ”this is enough, we don’t need more than this” but rather ”heyhang on, let’s elaborate on that for a bit”. The process of building the story, and at the
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 10same time the story of the story, to enable new stories and explain and expand onold ones.It’s like you’re planting a sapling and nurse it to be a massive tree, trunk and all –even if audiences just pick the fruit, i.e. your stories, the stories would not be there tobe enjoyed without the work before.At this point, the elusive thought let out a sigh and went away, mission fulfilled. I willcontinue to grow the tree tomorrow, and at lot of other trees as well. See, the tellingof the story, that tells of the story, thats work thats never done.Comment: Paul Burke said...Agreed. If you come at a project from a tech perspective things fall apart veryquickly. Story and narrative can **lead** to undiscovered narrative structures andjourneys for the audience. You probably could have a go at doing it the other wayaround but you will surely come back to story / narrative in the end.There is something about story and experience which are subtly different though.Need to think on that a bit!To extend your analogy: I really like that you can grow different and super tasty fruiton the well crafted branches of one transmedia tree;)
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 11Twain on Transmedia17th of February 2011 Ideally a book would have no order to it, and the reader would have to discover his own. - Mark TwainThrough the wonderful world of Twitter, I was pointed in the direction of a post onMark Twain and social media from last summer. Twain had, some 120-odd yearsago, written a piece on how to tell a story. It’s a good and true read, and in manyways instantly transferrable to any transmedia project being considered or developedtoday. In his text Twain refers to the two ways to tell a story – the humorous way andthe witty way. Says Twain – The humorous story depends for its effect upon the manner of the telling; the comic story and the witty story upon the matter. The humorous story may be spun out to great length, and may wander around as much as it pleases, and arrive nowhere in particular; but the comic and witty stories must be brief and end with a point. The humorous story bubbles gently along, the others burst.The humorous story, Twain argues, needs an artist to tell it right. The witty story, onthe other hand, is a story that could be told by a machine.This is, I feel, a kind of crossroads where transmedia is today, as more and morepeople are beginning to see the uses of a transmedia approach to telling a story, asproducers and companies can point to increasing revenues from transmedia projectsand as technical and sociological means and practices open up newer, quicker anddeeper ways of telling stories over different media.Some will be – are, already, actually – going the ”comic/witty” way of developing andcreating transmedia. To, again, quote Twain: […] the teller of the comic story does not slur the nub; he shouts it at you-- every time. And when he prints it, in England, France, Germany, and Italy, he italicizes it, puts some whooping exclamation-points after it, and sometimes explains it in a parenthesis. All of which is very depressing, and makes one want to renounce joking and lead a better life.
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 12I see that as a great pointer to what NOT to do with a transmedia story. There is nomagic and no fun – and most of all, nothing to discover – in a story that someone isbanging you over the head with, no matter how the story unfolds over different mediaplatforms and/or turns out hundreds of different merchandize possibilities. On theother hand, as the quote on top says, an ideal transmedia story could also have ”noorder to it, and the reader (user) would have to discover his own.” …which is anapproach that tickles the imagination a lot more vigorously.As Bill Wren, who wrote the post on Twain and social media, translates Twain’smusings, there are two ways to tell a story; the right way and the wrong way. It alldepends on your ulterior motives: As Twain describes it, telling stories is manipulative. However, the reason for the manipulation is what makes it a good or bad thing. Doing it to delight your audience is good; doing it to bamboozle them into doing something that profits you, is bad.So, with the possibility of transmedia as a term being connected to a lot of not-so-beautiful projects in the near future – and with Steve Peters’ tweet from yesterday,which I believe was a reaction to the massive transmedia hype at the NY Toys Fair(which actually was mostly franchising in the traditional sense), in mind – we mightbe wanting to take care of the term transmedia a bit more. For me, transmedia hasbeen - and still is - a term that tells of possibilities and excitement, not necessarilyrevenue streams and franchising. If too many projects labels "transmedia" are told inTwains comic/witty way, we might be looking for a new term in the not so distantfuture.On the other hand, terms are terms, and should not be taken too seriously. It’s whatwe create, why we create it, how we create it and how we execute it that matters.However, to round off with a final quote from the great Mark Twain, I thinktransmedia, in all of it’s momentum forward, might want to rein in a bit and reassess: Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation. - Mark Twain
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 13The ”Why” of Transmedia21st of June 2011I’m thrilled to see a great many transmedia projects springing up all around theworld, in different settings; from marketing campaigns for blockbusters and tv seriesto crowdsourced international mystery-stories, from web based crime fiction projectsto socially engaged documentaries – the powers of transmedia storytelling are beinggrasped and acted upon my a steadily increasing number of practitioners. The like-button is firmly pressed for my part.One thing I myself have found to be of great importance to keep in mind whendeveloping stories and content for a transmedia project is the simple question”why”? It might sound naive, but believe me, it can at times be a hard question toanswer, at least in a way that would satisfy yourself, let alone anyone you would liketo invest in your project.A simple ”because I (or we) can” just does not cut it. That’s a sure-fire way ofdeveloping something that doesn’t fit together in the seamless and logical way that’scrucial for any transmedia project. There are just too many pitfalls along the way;there is no need to go digging them yourself.”Because it’s cool” or "because its what everyone is doing nowadays" are hardlybetter reasons. Yes, it will be cool, providing you get it right. Chances are you won’t,and it will not, therefore, be particularly cool. Yes, many others are doing it. This doesnot mean that you, necessarily, should be doing it as well.If it’s a transmedia marketing campaign for a release of some kind, that makes itinfinitely easier. It’s”to raise awareness of this particular property” or ”to make peopleengage in the content and get more viewers in through word-of-mouth”. In this senseyou know what you’re aiming for and your results are possible to observe, analyzeand draw conclusions from.Another reason, especially if we are talking about a transmedia campaign connectedto an existing property (the new Pottermore instalment might be an example) can be”to extend the storyworld and offer more content to an engaged audience”. This is areason that probably could be adapted to most transmedia projects, and in thatsense needs more clarification – is it ”to offer alternative or complementary storiesset in the original storyworld”? Or is it ”to give the audience a playing field, a
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 14sandbox, intended for user generated content”? Is it something else?It can also be ”to explain the background and the history of the main property in thestory” or ”to expand on the mythology through new stories” or even ”to act as abehind-the-scenes view of the main property” (especially in the case of transmediadocumentaries).Whatever reason you have for developing transmedia content (and the answers tothe ”why?” above are probably as many and as diverse as the number of transmediaprojects in existence), ”Why?” remains a good question to ask, at any point of thedevelopment, production and execution phase.PS. It was swiftly pointed out to me that one - perhaps one of the most central -reason for transmedia would be "to generate revenue" and in the long run "toincrease the value of the IP". I will concur, although I will add that at the moment Ithink most of the transmedia projects we are seeing are pretty happy just to breakeven. Thanks Simon Pulman for pointing it out. DS
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 15Interview - Jeff GomezJeff Gomez is the world’s leading producer of transmedia entertainment properties.He is an expert at incubating new entertainment franchises, strategic planning andproduction for cross-platform implementation. As CEO of Starlight RunnerEntertainment, Jeff leverages intellectual properties into global franchises thatsuccessfully navigate an array of media channels. Jeff has worked on suchblockbuster universes as Disneys Pirates of the Caribbean, Microsofts Halo andJames Camerons Avatar. He sits on the board of the Producers Guild of AmericaEast, as well as on the PGA New Media Council. Jeff has also recently joined theAdvisory Council to Power to the Pixel. Follow him on Twitter at @Jeff_Gomez.There’s been an at times fairly heated debate on “what is transmedia?”. You’vekept a fairly low profile, not arguing for or against any notion. How come?Not my job, man. Ive been working for a very long time to get a lot of people tounderstand the basic concept of transmedia narrative, the bits that most of us canagree on. That task is pretty much done, at least in the entertainment industry, soStarlight Runner is moving on to joining with our partners and clients do this betterand better.Many of your projects constitute marketing to some extent; is this a future fortransmedia? In the post of Mark Twain on Transmedia he talks about the wittystory (marketing, shouting from rooftops) in contrast to the humorous story(which needs an artist to tell it right). Where do you feel transmedia has its’home and why?Good transmedia storytelling involves marketing on two fronts: 1. The infrastructure of marketing can actually be leveraged to help tell the story. Itcan be used to familiarize people with the story world, and familiarity helps to drawpeople in. I so wish that the pre-release marketing of Martin Scorceses "Hugo" didmore to familiarize young people with that story world, so that the audience held astronger stake in seeing how the movie turns out, because it is such a great andimportant film and its underperforming in the United States. Instead the movie wasjust sprung on its audience, and odd-looking period fantasy dramas simply haventdone well without an indoctrination process. Transmedia marketing could havehelped introduce Scorceses story and direct connect with the audience well in
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 16advance. And, 2. But the true role of marketing in good transmedia storytelling is that it becomesa flourish of brushstrokes on a much larger canvas. Marketers need to beempowered by the studio to extend the voice of the storyteller. They need to usetheir talent to engage a mass audience, but with the firepower of being able to buildupon the narrative or further explore the story world. But the same holds true forlicensees, social media campaigns, everything.Above is a post I wrote on the “Why” of transmedia; do you stop and ask“why?” Is it something you do for every project or not at all? And what is mostoften the answer?Well, first I appreciate that you ask such questions. "Why?" is everything to me.Asking "why" things need to be the way they are is what got me as far as Ive comein life. Any good storyteller, whether they are communicating through music, throughtelevision or through prose, needs to understand (intuitively or through experience)what techniques are going to be most effective in their chosen medium. The sameworks if you are mixing or combining media. Starlight Runner has turned down worknot because the project was too large or too small, but because the project didntlend itself, in our opinion, to transmedia narrative. Sometimes a violin concertosimply doesnt necessitate the composition of a symphony around it.You’re probably the best speaker on transmedia I know. One of yourcornerstones is authenticity; there needs to be authentic content, based onreal feelings, real pain, real longing… so, what would your ideal transmediaproject look like?You just described it. My ideal transmedia project tells a story that is striking andresonant with its audience, fostering their participation and creative expression withinthe context of the story world, but also sparking dialog between us all outside of thestory world. The power of this technique is that it triggers action, whether that is theaction of "liking" something on Facebook or the action of taking an insight from thestory and your dialog with the story world and applying it toward improving your life inthe real world. Think of all the scientists and computer experts inspired to theircareers by Star Trek and Tron; all kids moved to become environmentalists becauseof Avatar; the Harry Potter Alliance committed to acts of social good around theworld. Amazing!
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 17I’ve heard several voices arguing that transmedia isn’t quite “there” yet anddoesn’t have the ability to evoke the same deep feelings as more traditionalmedia forms. At the same time, transmedia can encompass all these types ofmedia forms if they fit the context of the property. Is this a concern for you onany level? If transmedia is to be an own artistic expression, what steps areneeded to get there?I look at the things youre talking about here from a completely different perspective.What ever the entry point to the story world might be—movie, television show,YouTube video—if the narrative resonates with me and I want more, Im going to goafter it. So the content has to be evocative and compelling in the first place.Whether the transmedia implementation was created purposefully or not, Star Wars,Doctor Who and Star Trek have been generating exciting, emotionally enthrallingstories for years, as have any number of rich fictional worlds from Japanese popculture. So whats relatively new here, and what we are doing at Starlight Runner, isto bring a true and meaningful design sensibility to the unfolding of these storyworlds across these platforms.By thinking about the best way to tell different aspects of the story in different mediaforms in such a way as to increase the level of intimacy and emotional intensity ofthe experience, and then to play these aspects out in concert—thats what will makefor transmedia as artistic expression.Finally, how do you envisage the future of transmedia in, say, 2015?By 2015, transmedia narrative will have taken root as a form of artistic expressionunto itself.
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 18Interview - Nick DeMartinoNick DeMartino has a background as Senior VP for Media & Technology at theAmerican Film Institute for over two decades, creating a range of innovativeprograms at the intersection of technology and creativity, leading the AFI intoinnovative developments and creating opportunities for thousands of creativeprofessionals. A visionary pioneer in the development of breakthrough media,DeMartino provides strategic consulting services for creative businesses, producers,nonprofits, philanthropists and educators. He is @nickdemartino on Twitter.How have you seen the transmedia industry evolve during the past couple ofyears? Where do you think it will end up? An accepted part swallowed by therest of the media industry or something else?Its interesting that you set "two years" as your marker. In March or April it will be twoyears since the formalization of a "transmedia" credit by the Producers Guild, thespecifics of which drew fire from some practitioners, and gained a good deal ofattention from all parts of the industry, as I have written in my series in June, 2011. Ihave to confess that until I dug deeply into the issue, I did not understand the varioustribal strands within the transmedia community, even though I knew a lot of thepractitioners and had been championing multi-platform media for nearly 20 years asthe chief digital guy at the American Film Institute.So, from that I would have to conclude that the emergence of the concept of"transmedia" and the struggle over its definition has given much greater visibility tothe field than ever before, certainly within mainstream media companies. We seeevidence all around: the emergence of new divisions and partnerships withinmainstream companies, the de rigeur commissioning by many movie, game andtelevision properties of "transmedia" extensions, the increase (though not enormous)of investment capital behind various transmedia studios, the experimentation inmulti-platform release of properties by "name" talent, and increased credibility ofindependents who aspire to create breakthroughs in transmedia storytelling.I have also experienced first hand in the last six month a palpable surge of activitywithin the "movement" of transmedia activists, by which I mean practitioners who aretrue believers in aspects of the storytelling form which are fundamental and notsimply extensions of existing media. Among the most interesting areas, to me atleast, are new platforms for story creation and audience co-creation, new
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 19organizations (like StoryCode.org and the t-m meet-ups overall), the Story WorldConference, and increased attention from academia.You’ve seen hypes come and go, methods and technical innovations likewise;is transmedia different? What earlier phase would you most liken it too?This feels to me like the early 90s independent film community, in terms oforganization-building, in terms of the search for business models, in terms of theuneasy alliance with mainstream distribution, in terms of the fluidity of the story formsthemselves, and in terms of the openness for access to the means of production.What is different, of course, is the collapse of many of the existing indie film models(business, distribution), and the rise of a much more media-savvy audience that iswilling to experiment on a small scale without permission from the mainstreamculture.Does anyone actually care about "transmedia", except for part of thepracticioners? Is the audience just reaching for great experiences no matterwhat label they have?I have no answer yet for this question. There is a sense, as there was in the early90s indie film world, that everything is changing and its an amazing time to becreative. At the end of the day, of course, this will only be true if the work reachesand touches audiences. I have written more than once that Ive yet to cry from atransmedia production. Film makers and other artists working with forms that aredecades or hundreds of years old have conventions to rely upon (and react agains)which generate emotional connection with audiences. If transmedia storytellers areinventing both the form and the story, they have a harder time making the connectiontruly emotional, which is all that really matters in story. I personally dont think that"faux" stories, genre stories, scavenger hunts, and other examples of transmediaelements we have seen to date are very significant in the history of storytelling. Imnot yet sure what is.What, for you, have been amongst the most exciting transmedia-related thingsto happen over the past year? Why?From the perspective of community-building, I really do think Story World wasimportant, as are other conclaves that bring the practitioners together. In my world, Idid not encounter a work of art that touched me especially, certainly not like dozens
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 20of movies and television programs and books have. Im still waiting.Do you feel conﬁdent that there actually WILL be a transmedia project that willtouch you like the television programs, books etc you mentioned? Or are welooking at a long and winding road to build the same conventions as other artforms?Im not sure that "transmedia" per se is a new art form in itself. Right now, as I see it,we have an emerging style of story telling that utilizes a series of techniques andattitudes which are largely enabled by new media capabilities. That sounds like thedeﬁnition of a format more than a full blown media form, if the distinction matters.One might look at "reality television" as an analogous form, as I have written. I beganmaking videotaped documentaries back in the early 80s that were able to capturereality in a new way, largely because small-format portable video technologyproduction and low-cost videotape allowed it to happen. We called it documentary,not reality TV. Arguably the ﬁrst mainstream "reality TV" show was Alan and SusanRaymonds AN AMERICAN FAMILY on PBS, immortalized this year by HBO in"Cinema Verite". That show was shot on 16mm ﬁlm, but was inﬂuenced by a "let thecamera roll" sensibility of the video movement, certainly as much as the "verite"pioneers from 16mm ﬁlmmaking (Leacock, Pennebaker, Wiseman). It was alsoinﬂuenced by the emergence of PBS, an outlet that was willing to run many hoursover weeks to the story, unlike earlier ﬁlms, which hewed to the 90-120minute limit oftheatrical exhibition. I would say that the ﬁrst "reality television" series was Bunim-Murrays "Real World" on MTV, which debuted in 1992, just shy of 20 years after "AnAmerican Family." The show was made possible by continuing advances in low-costvideo tools (not just cameras, but desktop video editing) and again, the willingness ofa network to support the concept. In addition, there was a noticeable shift in ethics,with regards to how much content was "real" and how much was coached. As theHBO movie brought out, there was a LOT of tension around how much "reality" waswarped by the presence of cameras, as if somehow anyone imagined it wouldnt be.By the time of REAL WORLD, the whole thing was created artiﬁcially FOR thecameras, and shaped for entertainment value, not as a journalistic or sociologicaldeep dive into an existing world. In the intervening period there were certainly many many programs that used veritedocumentary techniques in multi-part series. (Scared Straight, etc.). But they didntget pegged as "reality television."
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 21Id say that the 00s have been a decade in which masters of the form haveemerged, people who have stories to tell and have experimented with tools andtechniques as well as assembling resources to do so well. The best examples ofwhat is possible seem to have come from organizations with resources, LOST,HEROES, TRUTH ABOUT MARIKA, CONSPIRACY FOR GOOD are examples. Inevery case there has been a key visionary (or team) who manage to assembleresources from a patron (broadcaster, sponsor, public authority). I think some of thebest of the lot have track records in transmedia that can become the basis for whollyoriginal work. I look forward to seeing that happen. Chances are, the stories that willbe told will take aim at the genre market that seems most willing to be adventurous.Im probably not a good arbiter of success in this realm, as Im so tied to old mediaforms and Im not that keen on some of the genres in question. But Im certainlyteachable. But the audience will follow the visionaries, of this Im quite certain. Justas with indie ﬁlm, or mainstream ﬁlm or television, show-runners or auteurs orvisionaries earn a reputation and a larger and larger fan base with each effort. I thinkwell see this happen with the folks whose keep trying and working. Im not sure howmany at the indie level will make it, as the resource issue remains considerable. Thisis not a solo enterprise, or at least not on a sustainable basis. And that meanspeople, and money. Where do you think transmedia as a whole will be in 2015?Historically, movements are effective when they move the people who matter.Political movements change major parties and candidates and create public supportfor policy changes. In the media, weve seen (and Ive been part of) manymovements that sprang up in opposition to a mainstream which has limitedparticipation, has marginalized voices and forms of content, or which havecentralized control. We are in an era in which technology and consumer tastes favordecentralization and open access. The problem is not the ability to make stuff. Itsthe ability for the stuff to be any good, and to matter.To the extent that the story forms and engagement modes have value, they will havecertainly been assimilated into mainstream media by 2015. Television and digitaldistribution of cinema will almost certainly include as a matter of course variousalternate story scenarios, engagement opportunities, and even co-creationopportunities for audiences. If audiences tire of this stuff, it will go away, to me thereal question remains: will there be breakthroughs in content and form from the
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 22outliers that capture attention and allegiance, not just from audiences, but as a flashin the zeitgeist. Todays zeitgeist seems almost entirely dominated by rapid turnoverof functions and fads. Even huge digital incumbents like Facebook and Twitter areconstantly innovating. This takes resources, which clearly the indies dont have.
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 23DEVELOPING TRANSMEDIA————————————————————————————————Key elements: development, design, “hey, I didn’t think of that!”-momentsDeveloping transmedia takes on so many shapes and forms that it’s near impossibleto cover them all. You can be appointed by a big studio with millions to burn onmarketing or you could be chipping away at a transmedia art project all on your ownin a university somewhere, or just about anything in between. Still, there are anumber of things these all have in common; the use of multiple platforms and thechallenges that come with such an approach, the need to tell a story (or severalstories) that are branched out but still connect logically and effectively and engaging,the urge to reach an audience (and perhaps foster co-creation), the need to pay for itall… Developing transmedia - it’s the best headache you’ll ever have :).In this chapter I’ve compiled some texts that I’ve written while heavily engaged indeveloping content, formats, stories, characters, audience engagement etc and soon. Sometimes I feel I just think to many thoughts and need to write them down toget the train of though straightened out, or I will never be able to remember how Iended up where you ended up in the first place…The IntervieweeThe interview is with Andrea Phillips, as I believe she, with her diverse track recordof developing transmedia projects of many different varieties, is the right person tovoice an opinion on the subject.
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 24Musings on transmedia development26th of October 2010We (i.e. I and my colleagues at MediaCity Finland) started out as developers ofinteractive television-formats some five-six years ago. These were based ontelevision as the core of the content, with interactivity included either via mobilephones or via digital set-top-boxes. We realized very early on that if you want todevelop something that should accompany a traditional piece of content - like a tvshow - you needed to develop the two (or more) together from the start. Thus youavoided the awkward feeling of added content being slapped onto existing content,without any form of seamless and enjoyable experience.As time has gone by, we have thankfully been able to let go of the limited MHPinteractivity for set-top-boxes and have happily embraced the cross media /transmedia approach to telling stories, be they music shows, kids shows, gameshows or just about any kind of content. Now, some things are always good to keepin mind while starting up or being in the development phase of a transmedia project:First off, make sure youre developing and creating compelling content - you need agreat story to function as the framework, with enough holes in it for the audience tobe able to fill in stuff themselves and become engaged in the story (Jeff Gomezs"Swiss Cheese-model"). Dont forget the narrative superstructure - build it solidenough to serve as a vehicle for this particular story, but also as a bed for futurestories (from past, present and future in the story universe) to spring from.Secondly (but developed at the same time so it all fits together nicely without anylast-minute panic solutions, thank you very much) - logical ways for the audience/users to connect to the story, from platforms that are themselves logical ways intothe story. I.e., do not make an iPad app just cause everyone else has one. If its notessential for how you experience the story, leave it out.Thirdly, get out there and get some traction for your content. Lots of stuff getsdeveloped and produced and perhaps gets a blog mention or three, topping out at452 users over a three month period. Dont do that. Get those people interested thatcan tip your little thing over the edge and into the abyss of a global phenomena. Geteveryone to step over that invisible "WTF"-threshold (the threshold where youKNOW you should be doing something else but youre seeing thousands of people(who also should be doing something else) involving themselves in the story and
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 25having the time of their lives, so you think "Oh hell, WTF" and you jump right in).How? Read up on Propagation Planning. As they say - plan not for the people youreach, but the people they reach. Find your spokespersons. Be inclusive, notexclusive. Which nicely builds over to...Be interactive. Listen. Communicate. Youre probably not right every time, and othersmay have better ideas for your story and its development. Face it - it is no longeryours only. Embrace that fact and take it onwards - its all a good thing.Lastly, dont leave people hanging. Theres nothing worse than getting peoplesexpectations up and then letting them down. They have invested in your creation.Make sure they get full value for their investment. If you do, theyll be back.
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 26Creating a Transmedia Symphony16th of November 2010I re-read the article in Wired on transmedia today, and found it as good a read as thefirst time. Coming to the last paragraph I read Jeff Gomez’s comment abouttransmedia and the birth of a new Mozart, ”We are going to see visionaries whounderstand the value of each media platform as if it’s a separate musical instrument,who’ll create symphonic narratives which leverage each of these multimediaplatforms in a way that will create something we haven’t encountered yet.”This rings true for me as an analogy of what many of us are trying to create. Thequestion that popped up in my head was, however, “but hey, how do you create a“normal” symphony?”. Lo and behold, a Google search later I found this wikihow on,yes, how to create a symphony. After reading it, the analogy rings truer still. So, totranslate the creation of a “normal” symphony to the creation of a transmediasymphony, these would/could be the steps to take:1. Before considering creating a transmedia symphony, you most know a lot ofthe theory behind the storytelling and the structure, as well as the analysis ofaudiences and the different media platforms. If you have done this, follow the nextsteps.2. Be inspired. Take some time, relax, bring som inspirational material with yousomewhere and create. Wherever you are, when the ideas suddenly pop up in yourmind, write them down, no matter how small. Keep letting life inspire you until youhave a bunch of these ideas. Try to make your ideas connect with people on anemotional level.3. You’re going to need some good writing and scheduling software. Set upyour project thoroughly, with all the different elements in place from the beginning. Inthis way you can see how they fit together, and where strengthening is needed. Thebase of the project is the story and a couple of platforms. Unless you’re taking on amassive Hollywood project you shouldn’t need to worry about every possibleplatform and outlet. It’s all up to you, what you want your project to look like and howyou want it to be perceived.4. When you’ve selected the platforms you want to work on, go back to yourideas. Expand on them, build the world around them, put them in the middle of some
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 27context and think about how you would like to introduce them, and how you willdigress from them as the narrative rolls on. Which ideas would be best at thebeginning, or in the middle of the narrative? What should be the grand finale? Slowlyadd onto these ideas and interlink them. Make sure to stay within logical boundariesand watch for errors that would throw an audience off. This is of course unless youreally feel you want some of these. Many creators throughout history have soughtout theoretical guidelines, but if you encounter an opportunity to do something whichbreaks the rules but really feels right to you in the context of the piece, you mightwant to leave it in.5. Eventually you will have a number of different, fleshed-out ideas going on.Try to get them all work in the same context, yet have their own unique style. You willuse this to develop the different movements of your work. Keep expanding on theseideas, adding subplots, side characters, and so on. Watch and study other greattransmedia projects to hear, see and feel how they progress, to help give you ideasof your own.6. Eventually each idea will become a decently long plot. Do a walkthrough of allthe different parts of your project. Does it flow right? Change and fix anything thatdoes not feel right. Remember the interlinking of the different parts and how theyshould exist in the same story world and fit logically in the same context. Keeprefining your project until it is complete.7. This creative process may take a while, but by this step you should have afully developed transmedia project down on paper. Take it to a group of peopleyou know closely, or perhaps a group of students, and narrate the project to them, orask them to partake of any material you have produced so far, like written text,graphic novels, online portals etc. Observe them partake of your idea. Did theyexperience it like you expected? Were their reactions the desired ones? Make sureyou have the possibility to write down comments and reactions on the spot.8. Go back to your transmedia mess and make a second draft with the commentsand reactions taken in. Repeat these two steps until you are satisfied.9. Take it to someone in the industry. It depends on your idea, but could beanything from a broadcaster to a production company, from a publisher to a telecomoperator, depending on your idea and the platforms you’re concentrating on.Rehearse your pitch well, and reel them in with your great story and magnificent
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 28execution.10. If you get traction and commissioning (or at least adequate funding) - Voila!Time to unleash your transmedia symphony on the world!...and after writing this down, the analogy still rings true. Granted, there might be alot more involvement from different sources from the beginning - brands, partners,tech etc - but if I start developing a new transmedia idea, this could work pretty well!There is also other aspects, like the need for a viable business plan etc, but weretalking symphonies now, so I omitted those :)(Credits go to the Wikihow users who wrote the original post: BoldStepFixer, Gewg,Johnny, Nicole Willson, Maluniu, BR, Sarah Eliza and KP, wikiHow user(s) IsabelleC, Getmoreatp, Geena04, J424, Tryme2 and Anonymous.)
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 29The NOT of Transmedia9th of November 2011Late yesterday evening, as I sat writing on a transmedia mystery/horror novel I like tokeep at hand as my own personal pet project – a combination of jet lag and a fullmoon helps no end when you want to work nights, see – I had a small revelation.I had written a couple of pages and felt pretty good about myself, so I started lookingover the mindmap of all extensions from and to the novel and from and to the storyworld the novel is based in (and trust me, as with all transmedia projects, these arelegio) and a pattern suddenly emerged before me. It had a big fat headline as well,that pattern – a headline that said ”NOT!”.You see, as I gazed at the arrows and the dots and the squares and the texts, Irealized that transmedia is as much about what you decide NOT to use, as whatyou eventually end up actually USING. As was stated at the Storyworld conference –all stories can be developed in a transmedia direction; not nearly all need or deserveit. If your project does need and deserve to have transmedia methods applied tothem, it is very important to evaluate your project from the angle of ”what makessense”. I.e., even though you’ve already registered the YouTube channel and youreally want to produce them awesome webisodes and put them out there – if all yourproject needs is a blog, an automated e-mail response system and a novel, thenthat’s what your project should use.The same goes for interaction with the audience. I know many who argue that aninherent trait of transmedia storytelling is the activating and incorporating of theaudience, inviting them to take an active part in the storytelling. I would disagree, as Ibelieve you can deliver fullfledged transmedia content without the audience doingmuch more than choosing what to consume on which platform. I.e., use UGC oruser interaction when it makes sense, NOT when it doesn’t!The list goes on, but I’m sure you get my point. Your transmedia project will bedefined as much by what you did NOT utilize within the scope of it as by what youDID utilize.
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 30Transmedia, Time and Context3rd of June, 2011A couple of posts have gotten my mind working overtime these past couple of days.Andrea Phillips wrote an excellent post on Time and Transmedia, highlighting thechallenges facing anyone working in different time periods within a story, in a realworld where viewers can start experiencing that story from just about any pointpossible. In the comments, Scott Walker pointed me to a post of his that I’d missedlast year, on the challenges and possibilities of collaborative transmedia storytelling.Many good points, and with so many people moving into the field of transmedia fromnumerous different angles, these posts are simply required reading.My point of view on these matters come from the field of creating a transmediaexperience from scratch, without any previous brand or franchise to fall back on. It isan experience that is unfolding in real time, which at the same time will live andprosper drawing on the power of the long tail. In this context, context is, as we havefound, crucial. There will be many people entering the story from many differentangles, and the story might have unfolded to just about any point. As I see it, thereare some points that need to be taken into consideration:- The foundation needs to be solid. In order to attain this, you must have a graspof the time line of the project, and a general notion of the story archs and theschedules involved. At the same time, you cannot lock everything into place (at leastnot with a project like ours, that is expected to run and run) or you will be stifled.- The foundation needs to be communicated clearly and without anydiscrepancies. This goes for communicating outside the team producing the contentas well as within the team. In this matter, the task of simplifying is crucial. Test andtry and test again; if the story world and the basis for the stories you are about tocreate and tell people is blurry, press the ”sharpen” button immediately. This is not tosay that everything needs to be told from the start – quite the contrary – buteveryone involved, be it a viewer, a user, a programmer, a writer… everyone needsto see the same thing when they look at your story world and your story.- Once this is achieved, you need to drop the reins, but give some clear options onhow to interact, how to create within your world etc. This goes when it comes toletting an audience interact and create, but also when it comes to not locking downpeople on the project, but instead give them the right tools and the motivation to,
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 31themselves, create and interact within your project. It is nigh impossible to put all thison one person’s shoulders – much better (and much more true!) to give key peoplethe mandate to interact with each other and with the audience, within the context ofyour story and story world. You’d be amazed at what springs up.- Finally – don’t panic! With most projects you’ll be involved in that are of a moredocumentary type – like ours – there will be humans involved. Everyone will alsoknow that there are humans involved. Everyone also knows that humans makemistakes. Mistakes can even be beneficial, as long as you handle them in a way thatmakes sense within the context of your story and your story world. In a life-affirming,warm story and world, you laugh it off and the audience laughs with you. In a darkand brooding and violent story arc, you behead someone on the team with a vicioussnarl towards the audience, and the audience winces in terror but nods knowingly(and this is purely fictional then, of course. If you really behead someone on yourteam and refers to this post in your defense, I will not be held responsible).
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 32The Value of Truth in Transmedia31st of December, 2010There are many important aspects to consider when starting out creating atransmedia property. There is creating the mythology, the narrative superstructure,as deep and rich as possible. There is timing all different releases, and making surethe right things get released on the right platforms. There is securing a soundfinancial basis to stand on – i.e., where’s the money going to come from?Every aspect is vital, some to the core of the story being told, some to the frameworkaround the story that lets it find its’ audience and gives its’ creators and producersfunds to work with to take the story in the direction it is supposed to go. But sinceeverything about a transmedia project, in my opinion, goes back to the need toengage an audience and give them the best experience possible, I’ve found truth tobe the most important aspect.”Truth” in transmedia, as I see it, is the simple fact that everything needs to fit. Thethings that do not fit must also fit, as non-fitting parts (carefully planned, naturally) orbe re-developed or omitted. We as human beings can tell when things are not asthey should be, when they are not true. We might have been conditioned to set asideour beliefs, or willingly believe in certain things, but if we just let our instincts guideus, we mostly have the gut feeling of what’s wrong and what’s right, what’s ”True”and what’s false.”Truth” in transmedia is keeping in mind that platforms do not matter, OS orprogramming languages do not matter. What matters is the story and that the usersexperience it the way you as the creator/producer planned for it to be experienced.”Truth” in transmedia is a fragile thing. It can be shattered by a wrongly worded tweetfrom a character in a series. It contains a lot of pitfalls – and I know from my ownexperience that you, as a developer, will fall into many of them. The trick is torecognize when you’re in a pit and quickly get your ass out of there before anyonenotices. You might need help to climb out of the pit. You might experience resistance,in the form of partners, sponsors, financiers, directors. But you know what ”truth”means in your creation. Stick to that.
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 33Interview - Andrea PhillipsAndrea Phillips is an award-winning transmedia writer, game designer and author.Her work includes a variety of educational and commercial projects, includingFloating City with Thomas Dolby, The Maesters Path for HBOs Game of Thrones,America 2049 with human rights nonprofit Breakthrough, Routes Game for Channel4 Education, the independent commercial ARGPerplex City, and The 2012Experience for Sony Pictures. She is also working on Balance of Powers, anindependent, crowdfunded experiment in serial storytelling using a freemiumbusiness model. Her book, A Creators Guide to Transmedia Storytelling, will bepublished by McGraw-Hill in the spring of 2012. Find her on Twitter - @andrhia.Or, alternatively, her description could read “She was raised by witches and inventedthe paper clip. She lives in a hovel on chicken legs in the woods."You choose.How do you ideally approach a transmedia project?When I start a project, the first thing I try to figure out is what my goal is. Sometimes,as in a marketing project, its something like "get people to subscribe to an emaillist," or "persuade people to seethis film." Sometimes its "Lets see what kind of astory you can tell using this weird tool." And sometimes it starts from a morenarrative point of view; in that case, the goal is "How do I explore this theme?" or"How can I best convey this piece of story?"No one of these goals is superior -- theyre all valid purposes for building atransmedia story. But the first and most important step is acknowledging what youreafter, because it has a ripple effect on every other decision you make.Can you identify rookie mistakes to be avoided when starting out developingtransmedia?So many! One of the biggest mistakes is being ignorant of prior art. There is so muchgreat work out there, going back years and years, and a lot of creators come intotransmedia thinking theyve invented it. Everyone would benefit if we could just stopreinventing the wheel, and if we could just learn from one anothers mistakes.
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 34Theres no shame in not being the first person to have an idea.Its also common not to promote your work. Theres a myth that cream rises to thetop, that a really great project will get attention even if you dont actively send outpress releases and Tweets telling everyone its there. But it is a myth, andunfortunately the internet is not an attention meritocracy. You have to promote atransmedia property precisely the same way youd promote a single-medium story.In the context of promoting a transmedia property, is there any way you havefound especially effective? Social media? Approaching bloggers (as withGame of Thrones)? Billboards?The methods that work are going to depend on the project, basically, and whatresources you have available. Theres nothing about a transmedia narrative thatrenders it unfit for traditional marketing and publicity techniques -- trailers, billboards,posters, reaching out to journalists and to your natural fan communities. And as withother entertainment marketing, the more you have to spend, the more people youcan reach. The place where transmedia has a leg-up is in making each of thosecontacts a rabbithole into the fictional experience -- a call to action to participate.But you shouldnt try to get too cute and provide that rabbithole with no contextregarding who you are and what they should expect if they follow through. Its nice totry to evoke an air of mystery, but if you cant establish credibility and a reason foryour audience to care, hardly anyone is going to pay half a seconds attention to yourlovingly crafted and utterly non-informational item or website or email.What single part of your transmedia developer career makes you the mostproud to have achieved?Gosh, Im just proud to still be alive, you know? There are precious few people whoget to make a full-time living doing this stuff. The fact that Im still working andblogging after all these years -- that I havent had to give it up and get a real job at anoffice in the city -- thats a bigger victory for me than any one project or award or talk.If you’d be playing an instrument in the transmedia symphony orchestra,which and why?Oh, a tricky one! I assume youre comparing a transmedia project to a symphony,and not the whole transmedia community -- that would be quite a bit different.For the symphony of my projects, though, Id fancy myself the composer who wrote
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 35the music. Failing that, Id say percussion. Im the inexorable drumbeat that keepseach section on time and coordinated as the symphony plays out. With no beat, therest of it kind of falls apart, doesnt it? And even in places where there is nodrumming, the section is still an invisible presence as the rhythm keeping time inyour head. Thats me!Above is a post on “Truth in Transmedia” - what does “Truth” mean to you inthe context of transmedia?From your post, I think youre talking about truth in the way that I talk aboutauthenticity. You want your story to feel genuine to your audience. Anything that isnttrue to your characters and motivations, or true to your theme and vision, will pull anaudience out of your story and injure the experience theyre having.Thats not to say that everything should be completely realistic -- thats anotherrookie mistake, thinking realism is worthwhile for its own sake. And sometimes thereare good reasons for not being realistic, if there is an ethical question, for example,or even if its just more boring that way.Finally, if you’d gaze into a crystal ball - where will transmedia be in 2015?A prediction! I think were going to see tremendous shifts happening in television. Itsthe medium best-suited to anchor an interactive transmedia narrative right now. Itsepisodic, very often entire communities consume the work at the same time, and itsfairly nimble compared to feature films and print publishing. I think well see -- noteven innovation over the next few years, but such a volume of work that thetransmedia element of a TV show will become a no-brainer. It wont be special; itll beexpected, and a show that doesnt do anything will feel like its missing a beat.But I also foresee the rise of more tightly integrated Star Wars-style transmediafranchises -- stories where something seeded in one platform has a payoff inanother. Stories where each medium plays out a different subplot, and sheds newlight on the whole. So far weve seen a lot of sequential franchising, but I think theguys with the big bucks are going to see the value in intertwining the stories so thateach subsequent piece drives traffic to everything thats gone before. Transmediaisnt just good art, its good business, too.
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 36THE TRANSMEDIA FORMAT————————————————————————————————Key elements: formats, development, television, multiplatformDeveloping formats is what I’ve been doing for the past six-seven years, along withselling them, negotiating etc. I.e., I know quite a bit about formats. I want to bringtransmedia storytelling methods to the niche of entertainment that is formats… this,however, is easier said than done. In this chapter you’ll find some posts on preciselythat - the challenges of integrating transmedia and formats.The IntervieweeFor this chapter I’ve talked to Nicoletta Iacobacci, as she is a person who knows thetelevision industry intimately. She is also the head of cross media and multiplatformat the EBU and is right now overseeing the development of a very interestingmultinational transmedia project, with more projects in the pipeline.
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 37What makes good transmedia?19th of December 2010It is very encouraging to see how quickly transmedia has become a trend that notonly is a buzzword or a hype, but rather a phenomenon that seems to grab peoples’attention and imagination and spur them on to think in new ways, create new thingsand talk to new people.There are still probably as many definitions of transmedia as there are people talkingabout transmedia. These are not necessarily differing all that much from each other,but rather in a nuance here or a nuance there. It’s all good though; we should all fearthe day when we have the definite definition of what transmedia is. That’s the daywhen it’s time to start doing something else.It’s not just talk either. A growing number of people are starting to venture into thefield of transmedia to tell their stories. These range from major multi-million dollarventures to small dramas or documentaries with next to no financial power behindthem. Some will fail, even amongst the colossal ones, but some will succeedmagnificently, even amongst the small ones – such is the way of the storytellingbusiness.As more and more projects are being developed, there seems to be a need to lookbeyond the ”what is transmedia?” or ”why transmedia?” to the much harder ”should Iand this project go into transmedia?”.From my personal point of view, I know that some of the projects I work on lendthemselves nicely to transmedia development. Building the mythology, developing acanon, working on different storylines to be told via different platforms – even if it is adocumentary, a music show or even a game show, it is quite possible. On the otherhand, I know that some other projects – good projects, in and of themselves! – wouldnot benefit from a transmedia treatment. They are stories that either would not beenhanced by expanding the universe they exist in, or stories that would carry a muchtoo hefty price tag, should a transmedia development and implementation takeplace.Some people in the transmedia field were kind enough to give me their opinion onthe matter, and there is a pattern, at least so far. Tyler Weaver – do check out Whiz!Bam!Pow!, a project I’m looking forward to seeing more of – was of the opinion that
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 38the story was the most important feature. As he said:- The most important thing - a good story. I just want a good story well told. If I wantto welcome the characters into my home (good or bad), its a good story that I wantto revisit.We all probably agree with this. It has to be a good story, for there to be anything tobuild around. It also needs to be a story that can have a mythology, a universe of itsown (even if it is our own, real universe we’re talking about). If it’s a thin story, orunengaging, or linear withour the possibility of other storylines touching it, there’s justno way it would ever make a good transmedia entity. (I do, btw, love that definition ofa character in a story – ”if I would want to welcome them into my home” – and willhappily start using it to gauge the characters in my stories).Sparrow Hall, of Nightworks and Two Blue Wolves fame, shared his beliefs:- What attracts me to transmedia: the ability to inhabit the environment/vibe of astory, to see deeper into characters. What engages me with transmedia: seeing howconsistent art direction and tonality is achieved over multiple mediums. Subtlety.High production value even with little to no budget. Authenticity of feeling/language.Also the multiplatform aspect needs to feel compelling/enriching, not just a device tocontinue.Many things to agree with. Also, naturally, the possibility to offer many entrypoints, aswell as exit points, to and from your story universe, to let the users/viewers/audienceparticipate, either freely or via the Swiss cheese model and to, through all theseactions, find new stories where you thought there were no more stories to be told.So, to apply this on what one should do when assessing a development project; ifthere is a reason for there to be more than one platform involved, and the content onthese platforms are unique but can be and is being developed together, that is agood sign for a transmedia property. If you can see how the audience canparticipate, and to what degree, and if you can see this ”spread” of the storyhappening even without big bucks behind it, you’re even further on the road to atransmedia winner (or at least a doable project :-)I’ll leave the last word of this post to Stephen Dinehart, who commented on thecurrent hype around transmedia:
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 39- I think perhaps the best way to see through the hype is not to listen to it. Justcreate.So, let’s go out there (or, stay in here for that matter) and create. Im really lookingforward to the next few years.
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 40The mixing of Real and Not Real inTransmedia29th of October, 2010Transmedia formats always have been and always will be a bit of a different kind ofbeast. One particular challenge that I face while developing transmedia, is the thinline between being just about enough fictional, but not too fictional. I don’t work – or,should I say, I do not at the moment work – with drama-based transmedia projects;instead, the ones we’re working on now are music projects, game shows, kidsformats, etc.As I see it, one key element of any transmedia venture is the classical ”willfulsuspension of disbelief” (love the phrase, btw). You know that you have yournarrative superstructure in place, it’s solid and will be a fine, nurturing growth bed.You have some – three, then, to go by PGA’s rules for a transmedia producer –different media platforms utilized. The different pieces of content support each other,either directly or indirectly, but are not duplicates of each other. What you need nowis for the consumer / participant (the ”consupant”? sounds a bit constipated...) to gointo your story, your narrative superstructure, and embrace the willful suspension ofdisbelief and engage him-/herself.This is a bit easier when building a drama-based transmedia setting, as anyoneconnecting to the mythology of the story knows and has accepted that it is a story.When blending ”real” stuff with a narrative that contains fictional elements, the cracksare a lot easier to spot.What I’ve found out so far is one fairly simple thing, yet hard to stick to whiledeveloping, writing and scripting. Simply – be as true as possible. If you embark onthe mission to include real stuff – be it persons, objects, physical landmarks orwhatever – in your transmedia project, these different kinds of stuff will be a lot morecredible if they, to as large an extent as possible, base themselves and presentthemselves as their real selves. What you dont want is for these characters and stuffto show any light shining through them. They need to be as solid as possible - whichis only possible if they are, for the main part, grounded in who or what they reallyactually are. The only thing you need to add are the small fictional things that letsthese real persons and real places function within your transmedia venture.
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 41Transmedia sans fiction2nd of November, 2010One aspect that Im struggling with at the moment is when a development projectstrays from the path of fiction, or never originated as fiction to start with. As with theexamples Jeff talks about in the links above, well executed transmedia projects inthe vein of Avatar or Pirates of the Caribbean have a rich story world to build on, tocreate stories in, just as it should be. At the same time, this is almost a prerequisitefor creating these types of transmedia projects; you need that fictional world, wellbuilt and stable, to be able to tell your fictional stories that complement each otherand build the world onwards.The challenge, as I see it, is to figure out what happens when you base these in thereal world, omitting or at least limiting the fictional elements. Is it still transmedia? Orare we then reverting back to cross media (if that indeed can be consideredreverting?). If it is still transmedia, is it possible to base it in the real world and stillcreate a good transmedia narrative?My opinion is that this is more than possible. What you need to do is to create thenarrative superstructure in as great a detail as when you create your fictional world.Just because what youre creating is based on the real world, doesnt mean you cantake it for granted that everyone perceives this world the same way as you do - noteven your collaborators on the project. When writing this narrative superstructure,the mythology of your project, you need to explain the essence of, say, London, asrepresented in your project (if London is a part of your story of course) in as great adetail as the essence of Pandora is explained in the Avatar mythology.You also need to be able to explain this essence, via the descriptions and themythology, to each and everyone involved in the development and the production. Ibelieve this is the only way to avoid mishaps in the production (such as people notrealizing what you want to get out of the narrative, what feelings you want to convey,how you want people to interact etc). One hour spent on the mythology will save youfive hours in execution; production and editing.This will also assist you a lot when bringing new people into the development and/orproduction team. Finally, I agree with Jeff on one point he has been making; if youfeel the need to make some material to explain your project, a graphic novel is agreat way to go. And if you base it in the real world, so what? Who wouldnt want to
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 42be in a graphic novel?
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 43The Transmedia Format8th of September 2011I recently stumbled (again) upon this good post by Jason from The Connected Seton why television is an integral part of a transmedia format. Coming from a televisionbackground much as Jason, I guess it is no surprise that I agree with him on most ofhis points.Television is still very much a powerful player with it comes to getting viewers andaudiences engaged in your content. That engagement in turn will generate tractionfor other parts of your transmedia property – or the other way around, as, forinstance, HBO’s Game of Thrones showed this last spring. I wrote a piece forMIPBlog at around the same time, wondering if there was going to exist such a thingas a transmedia format. I wrote at the time:”The one thing that will be sure to stem the rise of the transmedia format at thisyear’s MIPFormats and MIPTV is simply the fact that very few formats aretransmedia at this point. As more and more projects are initiated, more and moretools are made available and more and more success stories unearthed, however,expect this to change, as transmedia simply offers so many logical and compellingways to engage consumers more fully into your content.”Since then I have become more and more acutely aware of the need that transmediacan have of television. TV still boasts impressive revenue. TV has tried and tested(and admittedly sometimes a bit outdated) business models. TV knows (again, a bitoutdatedly) how to calculate success. TV has a broad reach.Now, show me the transmedia project that would say no to impressive revenuestemming from tried and tested business models, with calculateable successfounded on a broad reach.So, as much as television needs to be looking in the direction of transmedia to beable to offer an audience the multiplatform approach many take for granted today (”ifthis show doesn’t invite me to do something on a 2nd screen (that ties logically andseamlessly into the show itself or the world the show depicts) I’ll just use that 2ndscreen to bitch about it on Twitter. Or play Empires & Allies on Facebook”)transmedia needs to be looking at television as an integral part of many transmediaprojects. And not as an add-on either, like a reversal of the state of affairs when tvshows should have interactivity at all cost, leading to slap-on, underdeveloped andseriously underwhelming interactive content being published regularly. Nope; just as
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 44much as multiplatform or transmedia content need to be developed at the same timeas a television show, so must a television show be developed at the same time asthe multiplatform and transmedia content.
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 45Interview - Nicoletta IacobacciNicoletta is a PhD candidate & researcher and responsible for Crossmedia andMultiplatform activities at the European Broadcasting Union. She coordinates andsupports the most interesting and innovative TV professionals of European PublicService Media. Her background is as a producer and reporter for television,computer graphics and digital television. She initiated the RAI TV interactive/digitalcontent factory in Italy and has been teaching Interactive storytelling. She is@nicoletta_iaco on Twitter.I think we agree that transmedia can play an important role when it comes tothe evolution of television. How about the other way around – do you see thattelevision can impact the way we view, create and produce transmedia?First we should ask, what is “television” today? Is it a genre, is it a medium, or is itonly a size? We have small, medium, large and extra large screens. Transmediashould be a method that is able to spread a story seamlessly on all these screens inorder to reach more, if not all users. We are in a transitional phase where TV isincreasingly considered to be just a bigger screen. Those able to use space and lay-out (and by space I mean the “living room” and the power of family aggregation, andfor layout, the user experience of Smart TV) will win the game in the coming months.I agree that Transmedia is impacting TV, but TV needs to become one of the screensin a multiplatform ecosystem. Today TV is still mainstream and is the aggregator thatallows you, at the production level, to involve the broadcasters, who do not risk toinvolve funding in “just” online/mobile experiences. In my opinion though, TV had itsday and its predominance won’t last for long.How do you see that television can make that impact?I can give you an example: I am currently facilitating and coordinating the firstinternational transmedial co-production, which involves, in its development phase atleast 3 broadcasters. In its original plan the project focused on the web as the maindistribution platform, and TV was considered one of the narrative’s entry point. At thebeginning has not been easy to involve broadcasters, since they are not yet ready torisk on a project that doesn’t come with all the proper monitoring methods (like in atelevision environment.) or on a project that it may fail. The, we changed strategyand gave TV the predominant role and the reaction was very positive for the same,identical project. If we want to seamlessly leverage Transmedia from being a trend to
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 46become a normal narrative method, we still have to give TV the leading role.How about non-fiction transmedia, as a lot of television is reality ordocumentary or game shows etc... and fiction and transmedia have a prettytight bond. Is there room for non-fiction transmedia, what does it and will itlook like?I believe in transmedia applied to non-fiction projects. Borders are fading, genres arefading, rules are changing. Transmedia gives you the opportunity to face thechallenge of audience fragmentation, creating content that can please many. It is stilldifficult to apply it to news broadcasts but Transmedia has infected the narrative ofdocumentaries and soon will do the same with current affairs and investigativereporting projects.I am working on enforcing a pure entertainment Saturday-prime time TV programwith some transmedia elements and we will see if we will be able to do it.Transmedia is a switch of mind-set that can be applied to everyday life, not onlyentertainment. Focus on your daily routines: don’t you apply some transmediamethods in telling your stories or proposing your new project? For example, from mypoint of view, if I need to engage a broadcaster in a new production, and the storyinvolves more than a platform, I build the proposal specifically for each stakeholder,with a different entry point for each partner. Therefore Transmedia is not only thenarrative strategy, it’s also the selling one.You’re with the EBU and hence on the public service broadcaster side ofaffairs. Still, with so much talk going on about how to finance transmedia;whats your view on this? Will transmedia in itself become a viable businessmodel, or is it already? Or will the marketing budget be a transmediaproducers best friend?It’s very difficult to predict because in my role of Head of multiplatform at theEuropean Broadcasting Union, which is the organization of a the majority of PSM inEurope and worldwide, I currently struggle to facilitate transmedia co-productions.There is a big discussion going on regarding “financing multiplatform projects” whereof course transmedia is one of them. Pay-by-the-audience, pre rolls, productplacement, sponsorships; but most of these opportunities are not viable for publicservice broadcasters therefore we should be creative, think-out-of-the-box.
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 47Media, besides strengthening relationships and transforming working habits, canboost the entertainment experience and specifically, for the public servicebroadcasters, can re-invent the audience experience. Television is still the most-usedmedia device although enjoyed differently than before. The VUP today (viewer/user/player, a term invented by Stephen Dinehart) mainly consume content digitally, in anon-linear environment; content that can be fragmented, shared, or played backstarting at any point.Yet the PSMs face a demographic threat. I read that around half of their viewers areover 65 years old, while only 5 percent are under 30. If the PSBs are to safeguardtheir future, they must attract younger audiences and it’s a big challenge becausethe youth market is demanding and quite elusive.Having at their disposal a multitude of media choices, young people, if the TVcontent is not integrated in a well conceived multiplatform strategy, prefer theInternet, mobile and game console over TV.But again, in my opinion we can’t predict. We have to try, make mistakes and keepgoing in experimenting. As I said think creatively, out-of-the-box and the businessmodel will define along the way.Where do you see transmedia in, say, the year 2015?I think in 2015 we won’t talk much about transmedia; it will be a current method ofcommunication, and we already use it. If you know how to manage all the availablecommunication tools, it’s common to tell a story that is enhanced, and deployed in amultiplatform environment. Different angles of your tale designed for your personalaudience, from your grandmother to your children, in circumstances where you can’tuse the same medium for everyone any longer. In 2015 transmedia will be a norm,a necessity. In order to make it happen, we should probably make more and maybetalk less.
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 48TRANSMEDIA AND THE AUDIENCE————————————————————————————————Key elements: audiences, engagement, research, implementationThere are several reasons for people to dive into the world of transmedia storytelling.Some are passionate storytellers with an affection for tech and new ways ofcommunicating, some want to better the world through their message, while someothers simply want to make money. All are good reasons in my book, but they’re alldependent on one thing - having and audience. In this chapters I’ve collected someof my posts and some interesting links regarding how to relate to and communicatewith the audience in the context of transmedia storytelling.The IntervieweeInterviewed for this chapter is Yomi Ayeni. He has a very diverse background, alwaysconnected to the audience. With his latest project - Clockwork Watch - hesuccessfully crowdfunded the first installment via IndieGoGo and has a bunch ofexciting stuff in the pipeline for 2012.
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 49Transmedia - Story, Experience and Needs18th of November 2010When Paul Burke commented on a post of mine a week ago he mentioned that thereis a subtle difference between the story and the experience. That thought has beennagging away at the back of my head for a bit, so I decided to elaborate slightly onthe matter.At MediaCity, we have a number of very competent people working at our UXlaboratory, doing research into user experience. Looking at stuff they put out isalways enlightening, even when it doesn’t touch on your project directly. They’vebeen talking a lot about the Needs of people and these Needs connection to UserExperience. In my mind it feels very true, that taking these Needs into account whiledeveloping transmedia will result in a better User Experience in the end.The Needs in question are six different ones (out of ten, developed by Sheldon et al);Autonomy, Relatedness, Competence, Stimulation, Influence and Security. Mycolleagues did a study last year,available here, that looks into these different Needswith regards to using interactive products and media. It’s a good read!So, to look at these Needs and how to apply them to a transmedia developmentprocess,:- Autonomy. This is a Need closely related to ”being real”, being oneself. Also to theflexibility of the product – can I use it anywhere, as it suits me? One good exampleright now is the as-of-yet only available in Finland iPhone social game ShadowCities; I can play it anywhere at anytime over my iPhone, connected to the real worldvia OpenMaps, and it really enhances my Autonomy IMHO.- Relatedness. The Need to feel connected to a bigger whole, a group of friends, theplace where you grew up… basically, your place in the world and in the story (and inthe story world, of course!)- Competence. The Need to master stuff, to feel that you can handle what’s thrownat you. No matter if it’s cracking a code on a website or just finding the website in thefirst place; it’s the feeling of being competent and up to the task. (I.e. don’t make ittoo hard for people to master your challenges!)
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 50- Stimulation. The Need that is most closely connected to creativity – the interactionwith others or with media (or with the challenges you pose them in your transmedianarrative) spurs people on and stimulates them. Given the opportunity to expressoneself brings out the creativity in people. (Leave sandboxes for people to expressthemselves in!)- Influence. The Need that is about reaching out to others, to communicate, to feelconnected. Your users will want to be part of a whole, but also be able to influencethat whole in some way.- Security. This last Need is closely connected with experiencing that things workthe way they should. A coffeemaker fills this Need, as it always works. It also fills theneed in a different way, as it is a familiar machine, thereby strengthening the feelingof Security. The feeling that everything is as it should be. Conclusion: you might verywell include things that don’t work, or hoax people, or make things be NOT as theyshould be – but plan for that and be aware of this need, Perhaps your users need asanctuary somewhere?
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 51What Motivates a Transmedia Audience28th of February 2011This must be one of the things that creators of just about anything wonder about themost – will people, my intended audience, feel motivated enough to partake of what Ihave to offer? Will they participate like I would want them to participate? Will theystick around? Will they advocate my content to their friends? Or will they just turntheir back and go do something else that they think is better?This goes for blockbuster movies, for television series, for indie graphic novels andyes, for transmedia projects as well. To try to get to grips with this challenge, big-enough companies do target group research, polls etc, while smaller producers andcreators poll their friends and family but mostly trust their gut feeling.I struggle with this as well, naturally. I am in the quite luxurious position of havingaccess to a laboratory and researchers focused on media and user experience, withwhom we at the format development department work closely to get to know asmuch as possible about the experiences people derive from what we have to offer.Granted, many times the bulk of work goes to getting the testing itself focused tosuch a degree that it actually helps us in the development work. But as we work onit, we refine it and become better, naturally.Something I’ll be bringing to the development work, and to the testing, is something Ijust saw. This very interesting video from RSA.org, featuring a talk by Dan Pink, isabout what motivates people in the workplace. Do have a look, it’s (as all RSA-videos are) very good indeed. Basically what is said is that research shows thatmotivating people to work better with more money as the sole reward works fine aslong as we’re talking only about manual labor. As soon as we go into any kind of taskthat would call for creative work, the people who received more money workedworse and failed more often. On the other hand, ventures like Wikipedia, Linux andApache show that people – highly educated, motivated people at that – will work andgive of their knowledge and skill, for free. So, what is the reward? Autonomy,mastery and purpose, according to Dan Pink.We’re big on doing stuff that we want to do ourselves, not things that someone tellsus to do. We’re also big on the feeling of mastering something, knowing that weknow this thing and we are competent in precisely this regard. Finally, we’re big onhaving a purpose; of knowing that today is a step along the way towards a goal,
Staffans / ONE YEAR IN TRANSMEDIA / 52whatever that might be – from ”making the world a better place” to ”teaching people”,for instance.This was the workplace, mind you. I am quite convinced that this goes for atransmedia project as well, where you would want people to interact, to participate,to become a part of your story world. To put it into the categories of Autonomy,Mastery and Purpose, if you want the audience to immerse, engage and participate:- You must not guide them too much, or the feeling of autonomy will be lost. Its atricky task, to leave enough openness for everyone to find something "new", and tobe able to make their own way through your story and your world, and make theirown stuff there; too much and you have no control (which might be what you desire),too little and you will have obedient people following your instructions (if there areany people left for you to instruct, that is)- You must not make mysterious content that no one will ever master, or they willnever get the feeling of being competent in your story world. Instead, perhaps, leaveareas where audience members can become masters; masters of what theythemselves have created within the ramifications of your story, or masters at guidingother audience members in understanding the intricate fabric of the story and theworld.- Finally, you must not build a story where the participation of the audience has nomeaning for anything, where their actions or lack of actions has no impact and itsimply does not matter what they do or not. Neither can you build a story world thathas no purpose in itself, or there will be no reason for anyone to engage in it.