Tuesday, April 1, 2014

IDEA Channel talks transmedia

The excellent PBS Idea channel on Youtube, for which I wish I had enough time to go back and watch everything, but I need space/time for my mind to reel out after each episode, anyway, they recently did an episode on transmedia. Or, as they put it, How Is Technology Changing TV Narrative? I'm looking forward to the comments recap on this at the end of the next episode.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Dark Tower disapointment

So this is why I haven't heard anything about that Dark Tower transmedia project that was supposed to happen ages ago. It's because the producers and studios couldn't get themselves sorted out. I guess this sort of thing is to be expected for projects this large. So, basically according to The Mary Sue, the Dark Tower project is still happening, they've just been faffing around too much. HBO now set to helm the TV parts though, does bode well. Oh, and that guy from Breaking Bad, Aaron Paul is now rumoured to be the lead - which kind of makes sense, as his level of stardom is not too big to prohibit him committing to so much at once (3 movies and 2 series of TV), but still established enough to draw some fans and credibility. Well, let's hope it finally gets off the ground...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What the Frey?

I must admit I had no idea what James Frey had been up to since the 'A Million Little Pieces' scandal (A book, which, in a fit of masochism, I actually read). I watched that poorly received film, 'I am number four', though it was so forgettable I barely remember it.  I didn't realise it was based on a book, let alone one by Frey. So I was quite surprised to come across this article, on Frey signing a seal with Fox, Google and HarperCollins for a transmedia YA series.

On reflection, I suppose one could make a case that the whole million little pieces, oprah-scolding awkwardness was actually an ill attempted piece of transmedia storytelling, mixing his 'life-story' as elaborated in interviews, etc with a novel. However, with that, the schlocky-ness of IAN4 and now reading about his fiction factory that doesn't credit authors, he leaves a bad taste in the mouth. I'm all for innovative transmedia projects that even team up with Google, such as this one announced, but I worry that Frey might not be the best person to help build positive concept of transmedia in the public consciousness. I will watch for the results with bated breath.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Questionable Art

Tumblr. It's where all the cool kids are at, or at least that's what Yahoo thinks. I thought I would give it a go, and so have been dabbling with a little Tumblr about art that interests me (my background is in the arts).

Questionable Art

So I've called it Questionable Art because I wanted to explore my concept of 'questioning' being an art form - not as in sitting around philosophising, but rather in the way we use surveys, questionnaires, polls and quizzes. We accept that survey's can be skewed by type of language used, question structure and order, (not to mention presentation), but what about the creative potential of such a subjective form. In a sense I see question art as a form of interactive art, perhaps interactive art at it's most basic.

Anyhoo, I also wanted to include in it art that is 'questionable' in that it sits on the periphery of 'high art'. We know that Pop Art dragged low culture into the art world (and I L-O-V-E pop art!), but there are still plenty of creative forms that have still yet to make that leap - video games, gifs, fantasy art, game art, toys, game play, memes, science experiments. None have yet to be fully embraced as forms of high art (perhaps because many pose a challenge of how to actually sell them).

So anyway, that's what you'll find there - odds and ends I have collected together along those themes, and a link to my first attempt at a piece of survey art.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Letting filmmakers tell stories, spoilers free

Over on Film.com Eric D. Snider makes some great points, asking how many scoops on plot and characters in upcoming films we really need, and if they are spoiling the experience of the film (they are), in his post 'Why Can’t We Let Filmmakers Tell Stories on their Own Terms?'. I think the point that is glossed over a little here is how much of this the studios are responsible for, as much if nor more so than media journalists. Which all goes to show what Hollywood is ripe for transmedia storytelling - people want info, or rather, they want to start experiencing the story of a film long before it comes out. If studios provided genuine pieces of narrative to their audience before the film came out, then they are going to be much less likely to go seeking information that will ultimately spoil it for themselves. Everyone wins.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Art of Immersion

On my recent holiday back to Australia, I had the opportunity to read Frank Rose's 'The Art of Immersion', and as was to be expected with anything that delves into transmedia, it had me completely absorbed. Rose doesn't offer any sort of blue-print or road map about how transmedia ought to work, but rather gives up a survey of many fascinating examples of transmedia from recent years.

Similar structurally to Henry Jenkin's 'Convergence Culture' which I read a couple of years back (it even goes over some of the same examples), it captures transmedia activities from the last few years. The pleasure from the book comes from the anecdotes and discussions with the producers of transmedia - I loved the insight into Howard Roffman's role in the creation of the Star Wars bible at Lucasfilm, the world that Cameron built for Avatar, or even the happiness factory for Coca-Cola. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the book for me was the discussion of brain function in relation to games and dopamine release - it provided a simple and useful understanding.

It would be nice to have a comprehensive survey listing all the transmedia narratives that have been attempted to date, perhaps with some sort of categorization for narrative that were intended to be transmedia, and those that have evolved to be such over time. There seem to be a lot of standard examples these books keep coming back too (Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Matrix, etc), and I'd find it useful to have a detailed map of the history of transmedia.

Ultimately though, what I'd love is a theory for how transmedia narratives should be created. Where does one start - with the characters or the universe? How do you break down the elements of the story, how do you determine which elements fit best in which media? What bits of the story do you give away for free (adverts) and what bits do you think the audience should pay for? There are so many questions that could be addressed by a good Theory of Transmedia Creation... I hope someone comes up with one soon!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Transmedia Storytelling and Documentary Filmmaking

There's an interesting article over on PBS's MediaShift on 'How Transmedia Storytelling Could Revolutionize Documentary Filmmaking'. It points out that Transmedia "can allow documentary filmmakers to not only reach new audiences, but also to create unique educational components to enhance their film's message and provide ways to partner with companies and brands, which can mean welcome financial relief to lighten the burden of the high cost of filmmaking."

And another good point:

"Kaplan believes the word "Transmedia" is a buzz term that while currently all the rage may soon go out of fashion. But the essence of Transmedia storytelling -- the integration of digital technologies and creating cross-platform experiences to enhance content, perhaps in a documentary's case its message -- is here to stay."

Friday, August 31, 2012

Chuck Wendig's 25 Transmedia Ejaculations

There is a great post on Terrible Minds which Chuck Wendig tells us 25 things we should know about transmedia storytelling, and I've got to say I agree with pretty much all of them. Still, even though I agree with him, and feel like I'm coming from the same place, I'm still going to also take issue with some of what he has said, because that's the sort of annoying thing I do. So let's go through them one by one:

  1. The Current Definition - I like this toffee analogie, and it does lack nuance, but at least it gives us all a starting point of reference, so yes I agree. 
  2. The B-word - I thought the B-word was 'bullshit', but maybe that's just me. Yes, it's a buzzword, but I like it because it brings all us nerds together on the same page.
  3. Reality Coalesces... - I agree, let's not get locked down in definitions. I've talked before about my initial nomenclature for the topic, 'disembodied narrative', before I knew what transmedia was. 
  4. Still gotta give good story - Yes, yes, YES. For further emphasis, let me also say, YES!
  5. To my woe, strongly marketing centric - Yes, marketers have picked it up fastest, and we should be wary that something isn't lost it the potential of transmedia because of that. 
  6. True Heart, False Face - Absolutely agree. 
  7. Tree Versus the Forrest - Lovely. Yes. Squirrels. 
  8. The Crass Retrofit - I also agree. This really irks me. Transmedia ought to be about universe creation from the outset, not building a universe around something because you think it will sell. That said, I don't think that the Marvel universe actually does that, in fact I think it is a pretty good transmedia example. If it has flaws, it's not the purity of the universe (which was started before people thought to try to make things consistent and create bibles), but rather that it doesn't always pick the best medium for right parts of the story - medium choice seems to be more about commercial possibilities than narrative necessity. Yes, Marvel could also do a better job of tying character arcs across mediums too, but it's still early days for transmedia in general, and they do at least overlap in mediums, so I think they should at least get a pass, if not a gold star. 
Ok, that's all I'll rant about for now, maybe one day I will come back to the other points in another post. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Advertising is Dead

I'm sure it's been said before, but it really is true. Oh, to be sure, the whole advertising industry in its current form isn't going to just lay down and die any time soon, but it will happen.

I increasingly find myself resenting a great deal of advertising these days, particularly commercials. So rarely are they related to anything I am interested in or would even remotely want to purchase, and I feel as if they are wasting my time when there is so much other culture I would like to be consuming.

When we think about the basic reasons why we have advertising, why it ever evolved, you can start to see why it makes less and less sense in our modern world. Advertising came into being simply to differentiate your product to sell it - either by highlighting qualitative differences, or if there weren't any significant ones, then by making your product conceptually different. From the latter branding was born, and we all went merrily along developing a culture whereby a great deal of our conceptual and abstract life was related through our consumption, we learnt to express our identity through our purchases. Then the information revolution happened, and suddenly we have at our fingers vast quantities of data with which to make those decisions about how we will construct ourselves through our consumption.

So in fact, I don't need a company to yell at me any more that they are good, or cool or what have you. If they have a product I think I want, I will find out for myself it's relative quality and coolness, in my own terms on my own time - I have no shortage of information with which to do that either. Advertising, the advertising that is dying, is push advertising that interrupts the narrative I'm watching to tell me I supposedly want cheese or soft drink (or worse yet, that I should think cheese or soft drink is cool). The advertising of the future is the sort that will sit and wait in numerous, easily accessible channels ready for me to find it when I want to know more, and I don't think that advertising, if it could even be called that, will look much like the brash, obnoxious ads we have today.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kevin Smith's vision at Sundance

Say what you will about Kevin Smith, but the guy has vision and follows through on it. I've been saying for some time that the creativity and money that goes into marketing a creative product, like a film, would be better spent under the original author's direction. In Kevin Smith's case he argues that it would be cheaper, which I think would be because it would be more sincere and hence more effective (Sincerity is the golden rule in the Social Media age). Here is the full clip from Sundance where he announces his distribution plans for his new film 'Red State'. I really hope it works and shakes up the traditional model.

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