Transmedia wyrdcon


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I participated in a 6/23/12 panel called "From Live to the Web and Back Again" at Wyrd Com, a convention focusing on live-action role-playing gamers and related storytelling forms. This presentation includes some historical framework and aspects of transmedia storytelling, and then presents current examples that may help LARP creators embrace innovations in other media based forms

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Transmedia wyrdcon

  1. 1. Presentation to WYRD CON June 23, 2012These slides were produced for “From Live to Web and Back Again,” a panel atthe WYRDCON conference, June 23, 2012. a discussion of the conference, go to my blog:
  2. 2. WHY ME? Movie Geek Journalist Filmmaker Marketer StrategistWhat qualifies me to give this talk?I am a movie geek.I am an ex-journalist, filmmaker and marketer.And I spent 20 years running digital programs and initiatives at the American Film Institute, some of which arelisted on the next slide.To learn more about my career, check out my website at
  3. 3. 20 YEARS @ AFI: Computer Media Salons Enhanced TV Workshop Digital Content Lab DigiFestI discuss a few highlights of my years at AFI and the relationships I developed with innovators at theintersection of Hollywood and Silicon Valley. I discuss a few highlights of the training-based programsand the showcase programs, leading into our signature approach: collaborative prototypedevelopment around content.To learn more about my career, check out my website at
  4. 4. WHY ME?Having heard the word ‘transmedia’ for some time, even as we were incubating many cross-media applications at AFI, Ibecame intrigued by the rise in the use of the term last spring, especially because there seemed to be a lot of fightinggoing on. This lead to a lot of research and a series of interviews with many of the leading practitioners in thetransmedia field, and a three-art series “Why Transmedia is Catching On” which was posted on the Tribeca FilmInstitute’s “Future of Film” site, and syndicated to sites around the world, including Huffington Post, The Wrap,MIPblogs, x-media Lab (Australia) and others. The series lives on my own blog: is a post that includes the links to all the different versions: )
  5. 5. WHY ME? Nick DeMartino Consulting Digital media strategy: Content, distribution, markets.I started a consulting business last year after leaving the AFI in which I help companies make the transitionoccasioned by the disruption that the Internet is bringing to every market. Most of my work is in the contentproduction and distribution markets.To learn more about my career, check out my website at
  6. 6. DEFINITION… Transmedia Storytelling: * Across multiple media * Each contributing to story * Multiple entry points into story Henry Jenkins:Transmedia StorytellingThe term transmedia storytelling is, by all accounts, a coinage from Henry Jenkins, a much-published academic fromMIT, now on the faculty at the University of Southern California. Henry is a good source for info, particularly hiscourseware, which is published on his blog: specific article is from MIT Technology Review, "Transmedia Storytelling.”Jenkins, Henry (2006). Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press.ISBN 9780814742815. Jenkins, Henry (2006). Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: NewYork University Press. ISBN 9780814742815. Jenkins, Henry (2006). Convergence Culture: Where Old and New MediaCollide. New York: New York University Press. ISBN 9780814742815.
  7. 7. EXAMPLE?So, is the Royal Wedding a transmedia story?
  8. 8. EXAMPLE?Or the Bible & Jesus Christ?
  9. 9. EXAMPLE?Certainly Star Wars is transmedia, with many different media and formats. Though, there are those in the field whoprefer to think of Star Wars as the first major storytelling FRANCHISE, not really transmedia. What is the distinction?Whether new elements to the story are added in every platform, and therefore make the experience of all platformsnecessary for a full experience of the work.
  10. 10. YOU COULD SAY: Franchise Multi-platform; cross-platform ARG Interactive media Multimedia Connected entertainmentThese are related words describing various story forms. Some would say that none is as complete as “transmedia.”Others say, to hell with the language wars. Let’s get to storytelling! (Note: ARG=alternate reality game)
  11. 11. Is It Really Transmedia START Storytelling? Is it on multiple Is it a single media YES story or multiple platforms? stories NO SINGLE Its not Transmedia! Was the story transmedia from inception? MULTIPLE NO YES Are the pieces of Do you own the content linked and YES in narrative sync IP? YES with each other? NO NO Is it an Is it really a Alternate NO story, or is it a Reality Game? story universe? STORY Its not UNIVERSE Transmedia YES STORY Storytelling, its just a crummy Entertainment THEME Franchise. Cmon, is it *really* a story, or is it a theme? Its not STORY Transmedia Storytelling, YES WHATS MOST EFFECTIVE its an TO REACH YOUR TARGET adaptation. AUDIENCE Are there action figures? Which is more important when deciding how content NO will be delivered? IDENTICAL Its not UNIQUE Transmedia Are the pieces of WHATS MOST ORGANIC story content Storytelling, TO THE STORY unique or its integrated identical? marketing. YES Is the story just a light narrative Are there YES wrapper? casual games? NO NO NO Congratulations! Do the content Youre a YES fragments link Transmedia to each other? Storyteller! 2011 Steve Peters ( Peters (@vpisteve) has created a very engaging (and amusing) info graphic “Is it Really Transmedia Storytelling?”You can download here from Scribd:
  12. 12. Is It Really Transmedia START Storytelling? Is it on multiple Is it a single media YES story or multiple platforms? stories NO SINGLE Its not Transmedia! Was the story transmedia from inception? MULTIPLE NO YES Are the pieces of Do you own the content linked and YES in narrative sync IP? YES with each other? NO NO Is it an Is it really a Alternate NO story, or is it a Reality Game? story universe? STORY Its not UNIVERSE Transmedia YES STORY Storytelling, its just a crummy Entertainment THEME Franchise. Cmon, is it *really* a story, or is it a theme? Its not STORY Transmedia Storytelling, info WHATS MOST EFFECTIVESteve Peters (@vpisteve) has created a very engaging (and amusing) YES graphic “Is it Really TransmediaStorytelling?” You can download its an here from Scribd: TO REACH YOUR TARGET adaptation. AUDIENCE Are there action figures? Which is more important when deciding how content NO will be delivered? IDENTICAL Its not
  13. 13. ASPECTSNot every example I’m going to cite goes from live to the web and back again, which is the topic ofour panel. But I thought I might set up a key idea here, and that is, that properties that people arecalling transmedia today have a lot of different aspects. I’m going to whip through many differentexamples from our history in order to discuss some of these aspects, and wind up with a deeper diveinto a few from the recent past.
  14. 14. PERFORMANCE 1981: TAMARA. Interactive TheatreTamara was a theatrical event launched in Toronto in which the audience moved into different roomsand interacted with the actors. The story would unfold differently, depending upon your journey andwhat happened in each room. The show ran for many years in Los Angeles and New York, and wasrevived in Toronto. This is interactive, but not really multi-platform, though a CD-ROM wasattempted.
  15. 15. INTERACTIVITY 1990: Hyperland BBC & Douglas AdamsDouglas Adams, the creator of A HITCHHICKERS GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE built this work with the BBC at the dawn of theinteractive media age in order to explain and explore hyper-media. It could be said to be multi-platform because thelinks took the user into different environments and domains. You can tell that the ideas were ahead of the technologyby looking at the clunky fonts.
  16. 16. IMMERSION 1992: MYST from Cyan & BroderbundMYST was a ground-breaking game series on CD-ROM back in the 90’s, which remained the highest grossingtitle until the SIMS overtook it. Unlike the classic “videogame” format, which were usually shooter or role-playing games, MYST was a journey of discovery in which users proceeded into environments and worlds byfinding clues and activating elements of the system. Again, not really multi-platform, but a new way to tell astory. MYST and its sequels are now available in the iTunes store in both a free and $4.99 version.
  17. 17. MULTI(PLATFORM) 1992: Bram Stoker’s DRACULA Game based on Coppola’s FilmFrancis Ford Coppola created a successful film adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel about the original vampirestarring Gary Oldman, and Sony released a game version that utilized footage shot on the set of the film,which nudges into the terrain of multi-platform. We were excited to show it at the time because of the highprofile of the director, who created iconic films like THE GODFATHER trilogy.
  18. 18. MYSTERY… PUZZLE 1995: In the First Degree Interactive CD-ROM from BroderbundAnother CD-ROM title from Broderbund was created by my friend Haney Armstrong, a fllmmaker who came upwith this extension of the traditional police procedural story by allowing the user to interrogate people.
  19. 19. SCAVENGE 2002: Push, Nevada: ABC & LivePlanet Play along with the mystery to win $$TV interactivity is a whole topic in and of itself. I included PUSH NEVADA in this presentation because it didrepresent a breakthrough. Clues were peppered throughout the show and the website that allowed users toamass points leading to a winner. I think I remember that some clues involved mobile calling as well, Eventhough the show was not popular enough to be renewed, it was an early example of multi-platformenrichment of a primary story.
  20. 20. PARALLEL CASTS 1995: Johnny Mnemonic. CD-ROM from Sony ImagesoftThis William Gibson classic was made into a film with Keanu Reeves, not well reviewed, but significant becauseSony released a CD-ROM game simultaneously which allowed gameplay in a movie-like setting based uponthe same story. The casts were different.
  21. 21. MERGE 2003: Battlestar Gallactica. AFI team: Schematic, Syfy, othersWhen the Sci-Fi Channel wanted to bring back the classic Battlestar Gallactica, representatives of the company,as well as Universal’s game division, came into the AFI’s Digital Content Lab to create a multi-dimensionalviewing experience. The user interface, created by Schematic’s Dale Herigstad, allowed seamless movement bythe user in and out of the primary story (TV), a first-person spaceship flying experience (game), and deep dataabout the ship, the characters, and the backstory, which also included clues. This was not the versionlaunched at the time of the show, but inspired lots of others.
  22. 22. GREATEST HITSIn this section of the talk I whip through slides of what one might call the modern canon of transmediaexamples, expecially those originating on television, where I spent a lot of my time in development work.
  23. 23. HEROESDitto with HEROES, which launched its 360 experience, later renamed EVOLUTIONS. Producer Jesse Alexander workedclosely with the TV series creative team.
  24. 24. LOSTThe Emmy went to the LOST EXPERIENCE, an alternative reality game from ABC and Hi-ReS, a design and experiencecompany. The TV Show’s millions of fans could deepen their experience of the story world via this comprehensive site.
  25. 25. TRUTH ABOUT MARIKAMy mind was blown by this Swedish alternative reality game from Company P, headed by Christopher Sandberg. Theyused TV, newspapers, the web, live events and kind of took over the whole country for a few weeks. The premise was afake event, but it was treated as real, and people engaged with the story in a sort of ambiguous way, not knowing forsure what was real, what was fake, what was conspiracy, etc. Such a fictional trope is often part of ARG work, and manywould date it back to Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre’s radio adaptation of H.G.Welles’ WAR OF THE WORLDS inthe 30’s.
  26. 26. I LOVE BEES42 Entertainment produced an ARG called I LOVE BEES to support the release of Microsoft’s HALO game.
  27. 27. WHY SO SERIOUS?42 Entertainment created this multi-platform alternative reality game that invited players during the periodbridging the release of the two Batman films, especially the much-anticipated DARK KNIGHT from directorChristopher Nolan. Because the Gotham setting and the tone and elements of the franchise are so well known,the creators could play off of that with newspapers and other media released in sequence that contained cluesand links to fill in the complex world of the films.
  28. 28. YEAR ZEROYEAR ZERO is an ARG that involved fans of the band Nine Inch Nails at concerts by leaving USB drives inrestrooms. Those who activated the files contained therein on a computer got instructions that involved themin launching the viral game, which depicts a theocratic dystopian future, the subject of the album.
  29. 29. CONSPIRACY FOR GOODTim Kring created Heroes and in 2010 launched a global ARG called Conspiracy for Good which wassponsored by Nokia. There were extensive live events that contained clues that could be retrieved via mobileaugmented reality technologies, as well as many other events. The fictional elements, especially those aboutthe evil corporation, were quite elaborate. There was a real-world charity in Africa that benefited from theactivities as well.
  30. 30. HEAD TRAUMAThis is just one of the properties created by Lance Weiler, whose breakthrough film THE BIG BROADCAST wasitself a precursor to more complex storytelling components being added beyond the film “platform.” 2010: HEADTRAUMA/Hope is Missing Lance Weiler/ Seize the Media
  31. 31. COLLAPSUSCOLLAPSUS was a documentary film on Dutch television that was expanded into a broader transmediaexperience that integrated game-play, global mapping, animation and other elements. Directed byTommy Palotta, who produced Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly. Won the best interactive film awardat the SXSW festival in 2011. From Submarine and VPRO.
  32. 32. PLAYING ON THE WEBIf we are going to discuss going from “live” to the web and back again, it might be worth examining someexamples of trends in the presentation of content on the web.
  33. 33. TAKE THIS LOLLIPOP Interactive Live Facebook Connect ExperienceTake This Lollipop is a cinematic website created in HTML 5 that requires users to launch FacebookConnect and authorize the use of content in the account, which is integrated into a creepy, serial killertype short film.
  34. 34. TAKE THIS LOLLIPOPThe cinematic experience of “Lolllipop” is startling because it embeds images, maps, names and factsextracted from your Facebook account into the movie seemlessly.
  35. 35. ARCADE FIRE LEVERAGES HTML 5 VIDEOThe Wilderness Downtown. : Indie Rock Band Arcade Fire, working withfilmmaker Chris Milk, released a song “We Used to Wait” produced with HTML5. Users enter the zip code of theplace they lived as a kid, and the video incorporates street scenes grabbed via Google Map Street View feature.Milk has a slew of experimental video/web projects on his site, including the 2012 FWA Best website (voted byfans), another collaboration with a band, this time Danger Mouse.
  36. 36. MISSION IMPOSSIBLETommy Pallotta and other collaborators created a game to support the release Mission Impossible:GhostProtocol, requiring a Facebook Connect log-on.
  37. 37. FACEBOOK CONNECT INTEGRATIONThis is the image generated at the end of the Cobalt game, which is then sharable on Facebook.
  38. 38. 3 DREAMS OF BLACK WebGL/Chrome Project by Chris Milk & Aaron Koblin is another Chris Milk project using Google Chrome’s browser, this timeleveraging the power of Web GL technologies.
  39. 39. 3 DREAMS OF BLACKUsers can generate their own “dreams” by drawing on the landscape provided by the site or vote fortheir favorites.
  40. 40. LEVERAGES HTML 5 VIDEOAIM HIGH is a web series about a teenaged spy. “Viewers log on viaFacebook” and by giving permission, become part of the story.
  41. 41. FAN-VIDEO STORYTELLINGAnother web format that inspires is fan-produced video, uploaded into a storytelling frame. The innovationhere is the direct address format, with the user speaking to viewers via the webcam ubiquitous on personalcomputers, especially laptops.
  42. 42. LONELY GIRL 15The technique began at the dawn of YouTube: Lonely Girl 15 was a very influential early use of YouTube inwhich actors portrayed young people’s lives as if they were really opening up to the world via video. Mostpeople thought these were real people, and responded in kind with video uploads of their own, creating atapestry of video storytelling that was quite unique. What has become a standard feature of YouTube waspioneered by Lonely Girl, and the lessons are being applied by the firm founded by its producers: EQAL.
  43. 43. BECKINFIELD Beckinfield (2011) – User submitted videos tell the story of a townBeckinfield is a new site that creates a story world, e.g., a mythical California town, and a storyline thatcomes from the site, but the unfolding of the story is created by users who upload videos to the sitethat they have made in characters. The originator is an actor who had been helping fellow actorsupload “audition” type videos to YouTube, and yearned for a way to let actors use their improv skills tofurther their careers. The site’s platform company, Theatrix, hopes to license the software to othercontent companies who want to leverage their experience. They call it “mass participation television.”
  44. 44. Registered users get a weekly newsletter that provides a framework for “events” in the mythical town againstwhich users can create their characters’ performances in video, and then upload them. There are alsoauditions and contests conveyed thru the newsletter.
  45. 45. BECKINFIELDAs the site and story forms have matured, Beckinfield has featured more complexly edited pieces,generated by the site’s creative team. Otherwise, all of the content is in the form of direct address intothe camera, usually webcam-style confessional formats.
  46. 46. WHAT IS THEATRE?“Live” content with a live audience is an ancient art form: theatre. Some innovations in interactivity, like“Tamara” are being leveraged in today’s theatre world, along with the insertion of multi-platform story formsand web-based extensions.
  47. 47. SLEEP NO MORE 2011: Punchdrunk Interactive Production Opens in NYC“Sleep No More” is an interactive theatre presentation of Macbeth in which audience members in masksinteract throughout a physical space where the actors unfurl the story.
  48. 48. Punchdrunk Theatre, a London-based troupe, has experimented with interactive theatre in the past. Thebrought “Sleep No More” to NYC in 2011, where it has been selling out almost every show.
  49. 49. NO GOOD DEED 2012: Furious Theatre Company Play & Graphic NovelPasadena CA based Furious Theatre Company specializes in edgy productions by emerging playwrights. Furiouscommissioned Matt Pelfrey to write the play, which involves a young loser who inadvertently becomes famous for an actof apparent heroism and wanders into superhero fantasy inspired by the comics he wants to publish. His character--Hellbound Hero, is the subject of a graphic novel released in conjunction with the show. The show ran for severalweeks in 2012 at LA’s John Anson Ford Theatre.
  50. 50. NO GOOD DEED 2012: Furious Theatre Company Play & Graphic NovelThe show ran for several weeks in 2012 at LA’s John Anson Ford Theatre.
  51. 51. NO GOOD DEED 2012: Furious Theatre Company Play & Graphic NovelThe graphic novel Hellbound Heroes, written by Matt Pelfrey and illustrated by Ben Matsuya, is still availablefor sale online.
  52. 52. NO GOOD DEED 2012: Furious Theatre Company Play & Graphic NovelHere’s the hero, hell-bound, of course.
  53. 53. ACCOMPLICEThe Accomplice is an urban-based exploration game/theatre piece, launched inNY and now in Los Angeles
  54. 54. THE SEED The Seed (2012) – Facebook-based “Play” by David Varela, U.K.I just learned about The Seed, a “theatre” project from UK’s David Varela that takes place on Facebook. Here’ssome info from the author’s blog: and the FB site of the fictional character, anagronomist, who is the protagonist of the story:
  55. 55. HAUNTED 2012: BXX’s HAUNTED Daniel Knauf (Carnivale)’s online horror/mystery is the site for Daniel Knauf’s beta site for an interactive haunted house story called,fittingly, “Haunted.” His linear stuff (Carnivale on HBO) was beautiful and plenty weird. This is lower tech, notso beautiful, but addictive in a strange mesmerizing way.
  56. 56. HAUNTED 2012: BXX’s HAUNTED Daniel Knauf (Carnivale)’s online horror/mysteryMany items are available to help “viewers” navigate the story, including this map of the haunted house from anearly real estate ad.
  57. 57. BOOK ‘EMAuthors of books are also edging into multi-platform storytelling and interactivity. Here are a few examples.
  58. 58. AN AMERICAN STORY ETHAN RUSSELL ebook (2012): “It’s Your History: Help Write It”Rock photographer and music video director Ethan Russell justpublished his “illustrated” memoir “An American Story” that features copious photography, videos, and acompanion website that is seamlessly integrated into the narrative. He tells me the iBook version on the iPad isthe best user-experience. It’s also available for the Kindle, Nook, etc.
  59. 59. The website allows users to post their own reminiscences of the historical timeline events itemized withinRussell’s nonfiction book. He intends to release these user contributions in subsequent versions of the ebook,which he titled version 1.0.
  60. 60. Text Text
  61. 61. NEXUS HUMANUS 2011: Nexus Humanus from Michael GrantNexus Humanus is a new project, just launched, from Michael Grant, a best-selling children’s book author,and a transmedia team which has created a web-based story world for his next story, which is focused on amind-control organization.
  62. 62. NEXUS HUMANUS 2011: Nexus Humanus from Michael GrantThe story seems to be a satire of Scientology and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard.
  63. 63. NEXUS HUMANUS 2011: Nexus Humanus from Michael GrantAt the bottom of the page, after copious amounts of white space is a tiny button….
  64. 64. BZRK.COM 2011: Nexus Humanus from Michael Grant...and clicking the button takes you to another Michael Grant multimedia book and web project, this one forteens called “Go BZRK.”
  65. 65. BRANDEDBrands are experimenting with multiplatform storytelling. I dive into a particularly complex example in thiscase study.
  67. 67. COMPLEX & IMMERSIVE Online rumors > Live events > Phone Calls > YouTube videos > Website A > Backstory/Themes Revealed > Register > Objects with QR code mailed > Website B > Back Story > Videos > Gameplay & Levels > Codes from Gum > Facebook > Secrets… > ???HUMAN PRESERVATION PROJECT subjects neededProject ICEFLY
  74. 74. FACEBOOK SITEUltimately the goal is to play a game to progress thru levels that gain points and allow you to retrieve prizes. There werewinners in multiple cities.
  75. 75. INDIE MODELS • No-budget aesthetic • Grass-roots / DIY / “some budget” • R&D • Fan Incubation • Fan Funded (think pre-sale) • Arbitrage plays • Audience Product • Infrastructure PlayA review of the Brian Clark talk at Henry Jenkin’s transmedia class can be found at
  76. 76. REMEMBERING 9/11Clark’s GMD Studios created an interactive experience with the Smithsonian to remember 9/11.Simple, text and image-based.
  77. 77. REMEMBERING 9/11Clark’s GMD Studios created an interactive experience with the Smithsonian toremember 9/11. Simple, text and image-based.
  78. 78. ROBOT HEARTLance Weiler created an educational transmedia experience for kids in two schools, one in Montrealand one in Los Angeles, who manipulated a robot across the U.S. He calls this storytelling R&D. used IndieGoGo to raise funds to support the rollout of the project:
  79. 79. CHRISTY DENAAustralian Christy Dena offers “pre-orders” for her new transmedia experience, which involves audio overlaysof the story elements.
  80. 80. SNOW TOWNJan Libby has turned to Kickstarter to raise development funds for her interactive app platform within whichshe hopes to create a more fully realized version of her story SNOWTOWN.
  81. 81. FUNMother Jones Magazine produced three faux negative campaign ads around “candidates” from GAMEOF THRONES. View at<iframe width="560" height="315" src=""frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
  82. 82. WISDOM When you start out a career in the arts you have no idea what you are doing. It’s impossible to do anything wrong. Because nobody’s done it before, they haven’t made up the rules to stop anyone from doing that particular thing. Author & Screenwriter Neil GaimanI end this talk with these words of wisdom from Neil Gaiman’s recent talk at aUniversity Commencement.
  83. 83. Thank you for your attention. Let me know how I can help.Nick DeMartino Consulting provides strategic services to companies in the digital media and content markets,including marketing initiatives, strategic alliance and partnerships, business development and more. Detailsavailable at
  84. 84. NICK DEMARTINO• TWITTER: • WEBSITE: @nickdemartino• SLIDESHARE: • BLOG (and newsletter): nickdemartino blog• EMAIL: • DELICIOUS: afinickd/transmediaPlease feel free to contact me with questions. I will be posting this presentation on SlideShare. If you give me your cardafter the talk, I’ll send it to you, as well. Please check out my website, and if you like my blog posts, sign up for mynewsletter. Much of the research for this talk can be found on my Delicious site, under either transmedia tag.