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Transmedia storytelling Narrative strategies, fictional worlds and branding in contemporary media production.

Transmedia Storytelling - Lecture at the sLab - OCAD (Toronto) - July 2009

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Transmedia storytelling
Narrative strategies, fictional worlds and branding
in contemporary media production




Carlos A. Scolari - University of Vic / University Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona, Spain)
carlos.scolari@gmail.com
www.digitalismo.com - www.hipermediaciones.com
New users/readers/viewers/consumers

•   If ‘we’re are modelled by the media’ (McLuhan), then digital
    interactive media have created a new user/reader that deals
    with:
     – Interactivity
     – Networks
     – Fragmentation
     – Multi-screens
     – Fast adaptation to interfaces


•   If every text creates its reader (Umberto Eco) and every
    interface creates its user ... ¿How are ‘old media’ like
    television constructing their viewers? In other words: Who is
    contemporary TV talking to?
Paleo/neo/hyperTV

•   In 1983 Umberto Eco introduced the opposition between paleo
    and neotelevision…


•   Paleotelevision (1955 - 1980):
     – Public service (BBC, RAI, etc.)
     – Pedagogical discourse
     – Fiction / Information


•   Neotelevision (1980 - 2000?):Public service (BBC, RAI, etc.)
     – Private channels (Canale 5, etc.)
     – Fragmentation (clips) / Channel surfing
     – TV closer to audience
     – Mix fiction - information


•   This opposition today is almost useless for theoretical purposes.


    I prefer to talk about hypertelevision. Let’s see an identikit
    of hypertelevision.
From paleo to hypertelevision
From paleo to hypertelevision
From paleo to hypertelevision

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Transmedia storytelling Narrative strategies, fictional worlds and branding in contemporary media production.

  • 1. Transmedia storytelling Narrative strategies, fictional worlds and branding in contemporary media production Carlos A. Scolari - University of Vic / University Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona, Spain) carlos.scolari@gmail.com www.digitalismo.com - www.hipermediaciones.com
  • 2. New users/readers/viewers/consumers • If ‘we’re are modelled by the media’ (McLuhan), then digital interactive media have created a new user/reader that deals with: – Interactivity – Networks – Fragmentation – Multi-screens – Fast adaptation to interfaces • If every text creates its reader (Umberto Eco) and every interface creates its user ... ¿How are ‘old media’ like television constructing their viewers? In other words: Who is contemporary TV talking to?
  • 3. Paleo/neo/hyperTV • In 1983 Umberto Eco introduced the opposition between paleo and neotelevision… • Paleotelevision (1955 - 1980): – Public service (BBC, RAI, etc.) – Pedagogical discourse – Fiction / Information • Neotelevision (1980 - 2000?):Public service (BBC, RAI, etc.) – Private channels (Canale 5, etc.) – Fragmentation (clips) / Channel surfing – TV closer to audience – Mix fiction - information • This opposition today is almost useless for theoretical purposes. I prefer to talk about hypertelevision. Let’s see an identikit of hypertelevision.
  • 4. From paleo to hypertelevision
  • 5. From paleo to hypertelevision
  • 6. From paleo to hypertelevision
  • 7. Hypertelevision • Identikit of hypertelevision: – Multiplication of narrative programs.
  • 8. Hypertelevision • Identikit of hypertelevision: – Multiplication of narrative programs. – Screen fragmentation.
  • 9. Hypertelevision • Identikit of hypertelevision: – Multiplication of narrative programs. – Screen fragmentation. – Acceleration of rhythm.
  • 10. Hypertelevision • Identikit of hypertelevision: – Multiplication of narrative programs. – Screen fragmentation. – Acceleration of rhythm. – Intertextuality.
  • 11. Hypertelevision • Identikit of hypertelevision: – Multiplication of narrative programs. – Screen fragmentation. – Acceleration of rhythm. – Intertextuality. – Complexity of narrative and transmedia storytelling.
  • 12. Definition(s) • First mention: Technology Review (January 15, 2003) • Transmedia stories at the most basic level ‘are stories told across multiple media. At the present time, the most significant stories tend to flow across multiple media platforms’ (Jenkins et al., 2006). • Semantic galaxy: – cross media (Bechmann Petersen, 2006) – multiple platforms (Jeffery-Poulter, 2003) – hybrid media (Boumans, 2004) – intertextual commodity (Marshall, 2004) – transmedial worlds (Klastrup & Tosca, 2004) – transmedial interactions (Bardzell et al., 2007) – multimodality (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2001) – intermedia (Higgins, 1966).
  • 13. Definition(s) Transmedia storytelling ≠ Intersemiotic translation Jenkins Jakobson/Eco ⇔ Let’s see an example of Transmedia Storytelling…
  • 27. Anything else? Yes! User-generated contents! --> Prosumer
  • 31. User-generated contents • More examples of UGC (we need a taxonomy of them!)
  • 32. Implicit consumers • If every text constructs its reader, them transmedia storytelling is constructing a multilayer consumer(s).
  • 33. Strategies Strategies: • Creation of interstitial micro-stories • Creation of parallel stories --> evolution --> spin-offs • Creation of peripheral stories (satellites) --> evolution --> spin-offs • Creation of user-generated-content platforms (fan-fiction)
  • 34. Taxonomy Taxonomy: • TV-centered transmedia storytelling (24, Lost, etc.) • Book-centered transmedia storytelling (Harry Potter, etc.) • Comic-centered transmedia storytelling (Batman, Spiderman, etc.) • Cinema-centered transmedia storytelling (The Matrix, etc.) • This classification should be discussed! The ‘media- centrality’ may change (The first text? The most successful? The most important from a narrative perspective?)
  • 35. Transmedia storytelling is not just a semiotic affair: Transmedia storytelling --> More $$$$$$
  • 37. Branding • Holocron: FileMaker DB with more than 30,000 entries (characters, planets, weapons, etc.) for supporting the franchising business. • In the past 31 years… – Star Wars movies: $4 billion / Merchandise: $15 billion. – “Careful nurture of the Star Wars canon—thousands of years of story time, running through all the bits and pieces of merchandise—has kept the franchise popular for decades”. • From product placement to transmedia storytelling. The brand is not inside the fiction anymore, rather the fiction is the brand. • Transmedia storytelling was not invented by George Lucas…
  • 38. Transmedia storytelling is not new. • Disney: may be the first modern mass-experience of transmedia storytelling (first construction of a multiplatform narrative universe). • Why is it so important today? – Digitalization – Media explosion. – User-generated content platforms and culture. – Hypertextual experience makes easier to follow different media.
  • 39. Research agenda • To learn more about TS narrative structures: analyzing the structure will increase the possibilities of creating new stories (Propp, 1928). • To analyse implicit consumers. This classical semiotic issue could be very helpful for producers, scriptwriters and media programmers interested in producing complex textual structures intended for a broad spectrum of consumers. • To analyse fictional world expansion strategies. • To analyse transmedia consumers.
  • 40. Gracias! And may the Force (and the CTU) be with you!