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One year in now media

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A curation of the blog over at simonstaffans.com, together with interviews with some very sharp minds from different areas of the multiplatform storytelling field - Brian Clark, Christy Dena, Jeff Gomez, Ian Ginn, Andrea Phillips, Robert Pratten, Inga Von Staden, Nuno Bernardo, Michael Monello, Chantal Rickards, Steve Stokes, Yomi Ayeni, Scott Walker, Lance Weiler, Liz Rosenthal and Nick DeMartino.

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One year in now media

  1. 1. INTRODUCTION 7th of January 2013————————————————————————————————Last year I published a curation of my blog posts from that year, combined with interviewswith some of the sharpest minds in the field of transmedia. The publication – ”One Year InTransmedia” – is available for free on Slideshare and as direct download, netting some 2.500downloads all in all so far.This year I thought I’d try something a little different. The title is one thing. My mainprofession is creating new television formats – always with a social media strategy, secondscreen implementations and / or multiplatform strategy – which means that the internationaltelevision industry is the one field I know intimately. That’s why I decided to go with ”NowMedia” instead of ”Transmedia”; I’m enough of a purist when it comes to transmedia torecognize that some of the things I’m writing about are not specifically about transmedia, butrather multiplatform, cross media or sometimes even single media. I acknowledge that thismight be a knee-jerk reaction, especially as most of the articles still are about transmediafrom one angle or another. Still, I like the term “Now Media”, so I’ll roll with that for thispublication. What’s “Now Media” then? It’s my term for describing all of the media availableto the audience and to creators at the date of me writing this book. It is a term that evolves astime evolves, which I kinda like.The second thing is that I’m doing this a dual release. On Slideshare, most of the publicationis available for free, just like last year. Later on - think February, looking at my work load atthe moment - a Kindle version featuring the same content plus some added analysis focusedon television and multiplatform storytelling will be available for 2.99$. If it’s that versionyou’re reading now, thanks. If it’s the free version, an equally big thank you for your interestand time.While thanking, I’d like to thank all the people that have inspired me, challenged me andsupported me during this year. There are so many of you, the tribe of transmedia people, theproducers and creators and friends and foes that I love to talk to, argue with, listen to and justgenerally be around. Finally, a very special thank you goes out to the brilliant people whoagreed to participate and be interviewed for this publication. You all rock.So, here goes. One Year in Now Media. Enjoy!Simon
  2. 2. CONTENT————————————————————————————————Introduction 2Television and Now Media 5 How to develop TV shows for a social and multiplatform world Transmedia and fiction in television Four criteria for evaluating IP and transmedia potential Transmedia – knitting brands and television togetherMIP Blog posts 13 Why transmedia is a no-brainer for television Five things we learned from MIPTV 2012 What transmedia lessons can TV learn from video games? Five transmedia myths debunked The keys to transmedia success The audience is your channel TV and cross media - it’s getting there!The Philosophy 25 The five pillars of transmedia The transmedia translator Transmedia - does anyone care? Transmedia - the ketchup effect Time to create transmedia Interview - Brian Clark Interview - Christy Dena Interview - Jeff GomezThe Development 46 Starting out in transmedia - five points of advice The transmedia beat Planning for success in transmedia Trust in transmedia Transmedia and response Clarity in transmedia It’s about what you leave out Interview - Ian Ginn Interview - Andrea Phillips Interview - Rob Pratten Interview - Inga von StadenThe Business 74 Marketing transmedia
  3. 3. ONE YEAR IN NOW MEDIA / 4 Transmedia for companies Getting funding for transmedia - a comment Brands and transmedia Interview - Nuno Bernardo Interview - Mike Monello Interview - Chantal Rickards Interview - Steve StokesThe Audience 96 How to get your transmedia project in front of people Closed or open participation in transmedia? Transmedia and the audience The audience conundrum Interview - Yomi Ayeni Interview - Scott Walker Interview - Lance WeilerThe Events 113 MIPTV 2012 - thoughts and comments Nordic Game and Nordic transmedia meetup Cross Video Days wrapup Pixel Lab 2012 half-time report Reflections on transmedia - Nordic Panorama edition MIPCOM 2012 - it’s getting there London Transmedia Fest 2012 Future Media 2.0 - some thoughts Interview - Liz RosenthalThe Future 133 A future for transmedia Interview - Nick DeMartinoResources 140 Ten Transmedia People - Spring 2012 edition Five transmedia projects to follow - spring 2012 Five transmedia projects - May 2012 Five transmedia projects - autumn 2012
  4. 4. CHAPTER ONE TELEVISION AND NOW MEDIAAlthough I started out in publishing and radio back in the days, the best part of the lastdecade I’ve spent in the realm of television. It’s a fascinating world with a multitude ofgenres and a stunning breadth of scope. It’s a venue for taking on the world and an arenawhere anyone with a great idea can flourish, while at the same time being an industry with anextremely competitive streak and a fierce struggle to rise to the top. It’s also a great way toreach an enormous mass of people, but that mass of people lie beyond a select fewgatekeepers and some very set production budgets.It’s an interesting area when it comes to trying new things, like integrating social media,multiplatform solutions or transmedia storytelling . On the one hand the potential for evengetting a go-ahead is pretty slim. On the other hand the pay-off is potentially huge, especiallyin comparison with online-only projects. I’ve written a number of posts on the matter, someof which are included below, highlighting possibilities, challenges and possible solutions. Attimes it’s a difficult path to forge, but the audience is already in a state of multiplatformexistence, and television has never been afraid to take the big leaps; only hesitant, until thebenefits are clearly laid out and verified. I believe that day is not far away. In fact, it mightalready have arrived, and we will look back in decades to come and see that it was in the 10’sthat TV finally changed from a single platform to a multiplatform storytelling vehicle.
  5. 5. 26/1/2012Developing TV shows for a social andmultiplatform world————————————————————————————————The other day I spent 23 minutes watching a video from the BBC. It was 23 quite well spentminutes, as the journalist in question – Rory-Cellan Jones – had devoted quite a lot of effortto his subject, that of the future of television. The video features interviews with people fromMicrosoft, Google, Dijit, even Robert Scoble. The talks are all about how to harness theallure and the pull of television in a social and connected context, and in the end ofcourse how to make money from it all.What the video shows, is that there are a lot of interesting ventures out there; Google TV,connected TV sets, lots of apps for iPads and iPhones and Android gear and so on. But it also,quite clearly, shows that no one has really ”gotten it” yet. When, for instance, talking aboutconnected tv sets, the challenge is to get the masses to actually connect the sets, to see thebenefits of doing so and have the benefits outweigh the discomfort of actually having to gothrough the hassle of connecting the sets and using them for something else than plainviewing.Here is where I see that tv program and format developers have quite a challenging taskahead of them. Content is King is the old rallying cry for the creative industries. Context iseven more King, is something that has been argued lately, especially if talking aboutmultiplatform, cross media and transmedia. Now, what we need to do, is create compellingcontent in the right context and infuse it with that sprinkling of magic that will make itnear impossible to resist as a connected, social experience.Peter Cashmore of Mashable wrote a piece for CNN the other week, where he talked abouttoday’s television hits not being ”Must-See” television, but rather ”Must–Tweet” television;i.e. the sort of television show that craves interaction – if not with the show itself, then atleast with other people experiencing the same thing right then. This works fairly well withlarge live shows; the final of Idol, Champions League games in football, the Eurovision SongContest and so on. The challenge then, is how to create this craving to interact, comment,laugh and scowl (which admittedly sometimes is more interesting than the show itself) forother types of shows? Well, I propose – admittedly from my limited point of view butnevertheless – four points to take into consideration when designing, re-designing anddeveloping television shows for a social and connected world:1. Create the foundations for success. For many companies the first step will be to pulldown the silos between different departments and make people talk to each other and actuallymake an effort to understand each other and see everything in the same light. For a successfulmultiplatform tv-based project to work, the program development people must makethemselves understood to the tech people and the marketing people, and the tech andmarketing people must make their realities stick with the development people. All else issimply counterproductive.
  6. 6. ONE YEAR IN NOW MEDIA / 7 2. Do a lot of research and build on success (or failure). Andrea Phillips is quiterightly adamant in insisting that one does oneself a disservice by not looking at what hasalready been produced and distributed. There is absolutely no shame in standing on theshoulders of others; indeed, many of the best innovations, also in the media and televisionbusiness, are projects inspired by earlier failures or successes. From my own experience Iknow that almost whatever you try to create, someone has already thought of it. Which is allgood and well, as you can use this to make your own project better…3. Consider applying transmedia storytelling methods. Not every show should gotransmedia, not every show should even be true multiplatform. They can still generate a buzz,still build a hype, but do not need to go all the way. But for the ones that do go multiplatform,applying transmedia storytelling methods will be of use to everyone involved in thedevelopment and production and distribution parts of the process. As transmedia is based ondeveloping a thorough background, storyworld, mythology and narrative superstructure, thiswill help immensly when trying to implement point 1 above – getting everyone to see thesame project and understanding the same thing and work together towards a common goal. Itwill help in the development process of any kind of television show, it will give pointers towhere entry points can be implemented to invite an audience to participate, it will assist indeveloping story archs and characters, it will help when keeping multiplatform contentcoherent and logically connected between all parts… it’s all good, basically.4. Listen and respond. This is one strength that, say, a weekly game show has over a multi-million dollar drama series from HBO. It is possible to listen to what people say and discusson social media and use that to tweak the show. Also make sure there is staff dedicated to thejob – if someone has a great idea for the show on Twitter, respond! Drop a line to say ”hey,can we call you to hear you out on that idea?”. No one knows what gems might beunearthed…
  7. 7. 16/4/2012Transmedia and fiction in television————————————————————————————————I read an interesting article on the success story of Game of Thrones a couple of days ago,over at Lost Remote. GoT has been one of the transmedia marketing success stories I’vepointed to in talks and articles over the past year, what with their ”Smells of Westeros” and”Food of Westeros” campaigns. I was very happy to see that HBO were rewarded with anaudience for the first episode of the second season that was 73% up on the first episode of thefirst season.Now, the social media buzz around GoT is indeed remarkable. HBO are evidently doing allthey can to maintain and grow this buzz, and it would seem it is paying off handsomely.In the article I read, no one was speaking about ”transmedia” per say. Still, the principles oftransmedia storytelling are what made all the social buzz possible. George R.R. Martin hascreated an enormously rich story world, he already has a great number of story archs up inthe air and the mythology and the narrative superstructure are both firmly in place.This is what I would recommend anyone thinking of transmedia and television, in a drama/fiction setting, to take note of and even replicate. Making a mythology as rich as that of GoTmight seem excessive, but look at the possibilities it generates for entry points, characterinteraction, fan art and fan fiction and so on!If you’re working on a fantasy story, build it all as eloquently as GoT, or at least strive to. Ifyour fiction is more of the contemporary kind, make your own jigsaw puzzle out of factsfrom the world around you, glueing the pieces together with just the right amount of fictionfrom yourself and your creative brain.Above all, plan for the audience to join in. The HBO example in the article above is gettingthere. I do believe there are new routes to explore and new ways to implement, to tie theaudience even tighter to your content.2 comments:Sara Thacher said... Simon, I actually think GoT is an interesting case when youre talking expanded narratives, because (as I understand it) Martin strictly disallowed any additional growth/exploration of narrative not explicitly covered in the book. This makes the potential for thing that take advantage of the richness of the world – like direct character interaction almost impossible. What I think is remarkable are the ways that Campfire has found for fans to join in without directly working with the narrative. Youre right, they do take
  8. 8. ONE YEAR IN NOW MEDIA / 9 advantage of the richness of the world – but strenuously avoid the actual narrative/characters within that world. Instead of finding ways for the characters to make the leap out into our world and surround us (by communicating on twitter, blogging, calling the Talk to a Targaryen Hotline), they invite people to enter into the world of GoT (by choosing an affinity for a particular house, eating their food, empathizing with their weather, etc.Simon said... Sara, thanks for your comment, and yes, I agree. I was not aware of the fact that Martin had made such demands, although it makes perfect sense from his point of view. But yes, with something as rich as the foundations on which GoT is built, the very soil of the world can be an entry point into the world of the story - as Campfire have proven. I actually like this better. Having Daenerys actively updating her Twitter account would be at odds with the feel of the story itself; better to let the audience immerse themselves at their leisure
  9. 9. 5/10/2012Four criteria for evaluating IP andtransmedia potential————————————————————————————————A quick post on one thing I’ve been looking into lately; with all the rage aroundmultiplatform storytelling, transmedia storytelling etc, many of the examples and projects upright now are ”fresh” transmedia projects, fairly recently developed and released. At the sametime, there are countless great narratives already in existence that could workwonderfully if looked at from a transmedia angle.A lot of these will be on display in Cannes the coming days during MIP, but often not eventhe IP owners will have realized the transmedia potential inherited in their property.Here are four points that matter when it comes to evaluating a TV IP and its transmediapotential:StoryThere’s no contest here, at least not for me. Story is everything when it comes to transmedia.Is it a compelling and immersive story that has the weight and the bones to stretch todifferent platforms? Does it have a story world already in place, or is it easily conceivablehow such a world could be designed and developed? Are the protagonists and antagonists(and side characters) suitable for a deeper mythology? Is it possible to sense the existenceof a narrative superstructure somewhere along the road? If a project’s Story supportstransmedia, you’re halfway there. If it doesn’t, don’t bother.ContextI’ve heard several people arguing that in today’s world, context beats content hands down.While I don’t agree, I can see that they have a point – context matters. When assessing an IPfor transmedia potential, very much so; if transmedia extension does not make sense in thecontext of your IP, there’s absolutely no need to go there. ”Not making sense” can meanthat you realize the ROI on developing a full on transmedia experience would not justify theexpense. Or it can mean that you come to the conclusion that your property is better exploitedby extending the narrative on the original platform, without going into apps, online ARGs,graphic novels or whatever. Don’t get swept away by the hype, basically.AudienceIt’s quite simple really; even if you’d be hard pressed to find members of the potentialaudience harrassing you for not implementing a transmedia strategy for your IP, the fact isthat they – especially if they belong to a younger demographic – already AREtransmedia, multiplatform, 2nd screen and all that. To NOT create and extend with thatfact in mind is simply not realizing the full potential of ones IP. Even the older demographicsare increasingly up for some mulitplatform niceness. But always analyze your targetaudience; perhaps the young niche demographic you’re targeting is the one, that single one,that is actually averse to online existence?Financial / business models
  10. 10. ONE YEAR IN NOW MEDIA / 11Seldom do we get the luxury of having a budget split into fair parts for the different parts ofthe transmedia narrative. Mostly it’s about cannibalizing other parts of the project, or findingingenious ways of funding online and mobile and live events. But transmedia can work theother way around as well. Say that you have no way of getting sponsors to fit into yourtelevision series. A spin-off or parallell narrative on YouTube, however, might be theperfect fit for a sponsor to enter. One good thing about having to be very creative withfinancing when producing transmedia, is that it has a spill-over effect on the original IP aswell. We just have to go find money in strange places!If you would like to add to this – and I know the list could grow a lot longer and a lot morespecific and detailed (I haven’t covered issues with demands from collaborators, or marketingneeds, or the need to tap into existing audience behaviour, or….) – I’d be quite happy to hearwhat you think.
  11. 11. 1/11/2012Transmedia – knitting brands andtelevision together————————————————————————————————At the London Transmedia Fest at the end of October – an event put on by DMIC, Ogilvy andother parties – the power of brands was readily apparent. As commissioning budgets dwindle,producers worldwide are looking for new ways of funding content, and one of the moreattractive options is brand integration. The challenge is to succeed with such an integration inthe best way possible, so that the brand connection doesn’t detract from the content on offerwhile it at the same time gives the brand value for money.One effective method in such a case is to utilize transmedia storytelling methods for thedesign, development, production, distribution, marketing and audience engagement phases.By diving deep into the values of a brand, the history of the brand and the particular productat hand, the people who had developed said product, the people in the history of the brandand so on, we will be able to design campaigns that not only immerse themselves totally inthe fabric of the brand, they also have a number of entry points into the narrative, spread outover a number of media platforms, and a logical way of piecing all of this together.What I feel in the aftermath of LTF2012 is most of all a change in attitude. It might not bereadily apparent, but it is there. If ”storytelling” is the answer to the question ”what next forthe marketing industry?”, then ”transmedia methods” is the answer to the questions ”how onEarth are we going to accomplish that then?”.
  12. 12. CHAPTER TWO THE MIP SESSIONSTying in to the subject of television, multiplatform and transmedia are a series of blog postsI’ve written for ReedMIDEM and their MIPBlog. I’ve included a selection below, since I feelthey represent a slightly different angle than my usual one. ReedMIDEM arrange, amongstother things, the MIPTV and MIPCOM events in Cannes every year. These are the biggestevents of the year for the television industry with billions of euros worth of TV and othercontent exchanging hands over the course of a couple of days.The television world is a strong world still, commanding the attention of an impressiveamount of people, for hours every day, every week. But the world is changing and so couldand should television. In the posts I write for MIPBlog I’ve made it a mission of sorts to lookat transmedia storytelling through the lenses of the television industry and try to look at whenit actually makes sense in the scope of things. There are television content that does not lenditself to transmedia storytelling, for sure, but there is a lot more content that does. In mybook, it should be in the interest of anyone working in television to look at new philosophiesand methods to engage with the audience, co-create with them, increase immersion andloyalty and move from silo-filled ivory towers (or broadcast masts) to a living, breathingcontent-organism focused on integrating and immersing with the audience.Below is a selection of the posts I wrote for MIPBlog, starting from the beginning of the year.
  13. 13. 16/2/2012Why transmedia is a no-brainer for television————————————————————————————————There’s no denying it. The audience has moved on. It’s no longer a question of whether ashow should be developed for second screen action, forinteractivity and for a sociallyconnected, proactive audience. It doesn’t matter whether anything in television is developedwith this in mind or not,it’s happening anyway.If your content evokes any sort of feelings in anyone, they will Facebook it, tweet it, blogit and talk about it. What we’re experiencing right now is a whole industry which is tryingto find coherent best practices to address the challenges and opportunities that this situationbrings.Some productions have taken to this beautifully; Glee have been doing this for three yearsalready, shows like True Blood, Game of Thrones andDexter (the above image is from a‘transmedia timeline‘ of the show) are very much proactive in this area and just last week the2012 Grammy Awards saw over 17 million social media messages in one day, coming insecond only to the Super Bowl a couple of weeks ago (which achieved nearly 17,5 millionmessages).When developing a television show – be it a live show, a documentary, a drama series orsomething else – with social interaction, audience engagement and interactivity in mind,using transmedia storytelling methods make very much sense.These methods:- help creators and find logical, engaging ways to give the audience tools and reasons tocreate and interact- help marketing people find logical entry points for an audience to connect themselves to thestories told- and will give birth to new ideas and highlight new possibilities when it comes to usingtechnology, apps and software in connection to a given show.These are some of the points I raised in my publication late last year, One Year inTransmedia, where I curated one year’s worth of blog posts and combined them withinterviews with some of the brightest minds in transmedia today.Looking ahead at the coming years, Andrea Phillips, the award-winning transmedia writerand game designer, sees great possibilities for television:“I think we’re going to see tremendous shifts happening in television. It’s the medium best-suited to anchor an interactive transmedia narrative right now. It’s episodic, very often entirecommunities consume the work at the same time, and it’s fairly nimble compared with featurefilms and print publishing. I think we’ll see such a volume of work that the transmediaelement of a TV show will become a no-brainer. It won’t be special; it’ll be expected, and ashow that doesn’t do anything will feel like it’s missing a beat.”
  14. 14. ONE YEAR IN NOW MEDIA / 15Nicoletta Iacobacci, Head of Multiplatform at EBU, acknowledges that television facesserious challenges as well:“We are in a transitional phase, where TV is increasingly considered to be just a biggerscreen. Those able to use space and layout (and by space I mean the “living room” and thepower of family aggregation, and for layout, the user experience of Smart TV) will win thegame in the coming months. I agree that Transmedia is impacting TV, but TV needs tobecome one of the screens in a multiplatform ecosystem.”Finally, I also interviewed transmedia guru Jeff Gomez, of Starlight Runner, and asked him atthe end how he envisaged the discipline in three years’ time. His answer was encouraging tosay the least:“By 2015, transmedia narrative will have taken root as a form of artistic expression untoitself.”There is much more food for thought in the publication, which is available for free on aCreative Commons-basis.With these encouraging examples and discussions in mind, I’m thoroughly looking forwardto experiencing MIPCube, MIPFormats and MIPTV 2012 and all the brilliant new venturesthat we can take part in there.
  15. 15. 4/6/2012What transmedia lessons can TV learn fromthe gaming industry?————————————————————————————————The international game industry is currently worth something in the region of80 billiondollars annually. The TV industry by comparison is worth more than 200 billion dollarsannually. It could be argued that these two industries would benefit from looking at whatsynergy effects could be had from collaborating over IP and development. In this,transmedia storytelling methods can help a lot, when getting everything to synchroniselogically to create a greater whole.At the recent Nordic Game Conference (NDC), television came to the fore on severaloccurences. Yves Bordeleau from Cyanide gave an interesting insight into the challenges ofworking with the upcoming Game of Thrones game (photo); challenges such as keeping thesame tone and feel as the HBO hit series, while at the same time build a great gameexperience. He revealed that the development team had to put up two different wikis – onlinedictionaries – one for the game development and another for the IP itself. These had to beconstantly mirrored against each other to make sure that everything stayed logicallysynchronised.Another example is the rapidly increasing number of services offering second screensolutions for TV shows, where companies like UK’sZeebox are opening up for producers tointegrate own play-along apps via their platform. Another prominent company at theconference was Rovio, the creators of the blockbuster Angry Birds game franchise, who, aswas reported at MIPTV, is moving into television with a 52-episode weekly animation series,premiering in autumn.At NDC, I had the opportunity of talking to Andrea Phillips, a transmedia writer, designerand producer who has worked on projects like the Maester’s Path and marketing campaignfor Game of Thrones. She held a talk entitled ”Why Gaming Needs Transmedia”, wheremany of her key points could be related to the television industry as well.She agrees fully that television and transmedia can be a perfect match, especially whenlooking at some of the core characteristics of television:- “Television is brilliant, not only when it comes to storytelling but also since it has the greattrait of being scheduled. You know when a television show will be aired and you know howlong it will be until the next episode. That means that any producer or broadcaster has thepossibility to use transmedia methods to keep the conversation and engagement goingduring the span between episodes.”One solution would be to add what Andrea calls a ”B Plot”:- If the ‘A Plot’ is the story told in a television series, there exists the possibility to add a‘B Plot’, something that a character could conceivably do in the meanwhile leading up
  16. 16. ONE YEAR IN NOW MEDIA / 17to the next episode. This can keep the audience engaged and talking about the programme,not only the day after a episode is aired, but the next day as well, and the next day, and thenext.An example could be one character riding off at the end of an episode. His or herexperience could be shown as webisodes or blog posts or social media posts during the daysleading up to the next episode, furthering the plot or acting as a separate plot, while still notcontradicting the ‘A Plot’.The possibilities are many, while the challenges are almost as numerous. Still, fusingtelevision and games in a transmedia context has the potential to engage an audience on aneven deeper level than merely a great TV series, provided it is done well.
  17. 17. 9/7/2012Five transmedia myths debunked————————————————————————————————As with any new trend, a lot of falsehoods are banded about on the nature and potential ofcross-media storytelling. So I thought it was about time to debunk some transmedia myths.Ready?1. Transmedia is the newest of the new!Actually, no. It might be a new term for a lot of people, yes. But stories moving over differentmedia have been around for ages, from storytellers combining with cave painters andonwards. People have argued that the Bible was the first great transmedia campaign. Itis, admittedly, a pretty long-lasting project. Just goes to show what you can accomplish if youproperly budget for community management and get the word-of-mouth going!2. Everything will be transmedia and you’ll get bypassed by your competitors in aheartbeat if you don’t do transmedia!Actually, no. This is a line that can be used to try to tip a sales pitch in a favourable direction,but it holds no truth whatsoever. There is no need for a successful novel to think abouttransmedia components… unless they make sense and fit the needs of the story or thedistributor or the publisher, obviously. Accepting this statement for a fact would lead to alot of creative minds shutting up shop. From my own experience, I know that you can spend aLOT of time creating story worlds and narrative superstructures, without actually ever gettingdown to the point of MAKING THE ORIGINAL STORY into something that will appeal tothe audience. If transmedia doesn’t make sense in the context of a story – if that story isbetter as a stand alone novel or film or graphic novel or TV series – “going transmedia on itsass” won’t improve the overall experience.3. Today’s audiences crave transmedia!Actually, no. I have met many many members of “the audience”. Not a single one of themhave told me they’re explicitly CRAVING transmedia. It’s not oxygen, or food, or funnypictures of kittens on the web; you know, all those really essential things in life. On theother hand, of course, a well-crafted transmedia project will give participants and audiencemembers a richer and more fulfilling experience. So while they might not crave it, not in the”give us transmedia or your dog will die!” way, most audiences appreciate it when it’s there,it fits the concept and it adds value.4. Transmedia is really really complicated and only the gurus can get it right!Actually, no. If you can tell a story well, you can do transmedia. If you hear someoneshopping the “go to the gurus”-line, chances are they’re basically looking to get hired(as they are inevitably ‘gurus’ themselves, of course). Now of course, you should getcollaborators aboard, people who are better than you at coding, marketing, filming…whatever it is you need to do. But in essence, it’s all about telling a great story in a great way,utilising any means that make sense.
  18. 18. ONE YEAR IN NOW MEDIA / 195. Transmedia is just a buzzword!Actually, no. Even though it’s not the newest of the new, it’s not something that isinevitable for all content in the near future, it’s not something that an audience craves andgets upset about if it isn’t present and it’s not something that need a batallion of self-proclaimed gurus to get right, it’s still some pretty awesome stuff.Living in a world filled with social media, online interaction, dissolving barriers betweendifferent types of media and a growing acceptance that stories actually matter, utilisingtransmedia storytelling methods when developing, designing, producing, marketing anddistributing makes absolute sense. It’s worth remembering though, that just as witheverything else – if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Go transmedia, but when itmakes sense in the context of your content. And if someone sells you the above lines, well,just point them here!
  19. 19. 28/8/2012The five keys to transmedia success————————————————————————————————So, transmedia. The buzzword that alienates creators, producers and buyers alike. The termthat is almost impossible to define in a way that would go down well with everyone inthe media industry. The oldest of the old that at the same time is the newest of the new.Confusing? Yes it is, but it is also the direction that everything is moving towards, more orless willingly. See, the audience is already there. It’s just a question of who manages tomake the best out of the situation.I would liken transmedia to the encores at a concert. Whatever band you go to see,everyone knows that the last song is by no means the last song. After the band has struck thefinal chord and smashed a guitar or two on stage and left, all you, as the audience, need to dois clap your hands and shout ”ONE MORE SONG!” and lo and behold, the band re-enters thestage and does at least three more songs.Transmedia is the encore of the media industry, minus the clapping and the shouting; whenthe television programme or series is finished, transmedia storytelling gives theaudience an encore to go to, to immerse themselves further into the world of the story. Agood example might be the continuation of the Avengers-franchise, which is now reportedlybranching out into television, opening up untold possibilities for brand extension, mythology-building and revenue-reaping.With this in mind, here are five handy tips to keep in mind when travelling to MIPCOMthis year, to maximise your chances of transmedia success with your IP:1. Can you extend it?This is key if a property is to be considered appropriate for transmedia storytelling methods;there needs to be an underlying foundation to draw on and build from in order to create andproduce meaningful transmedia extensions or parallel storylines. For fiction this is almostalways a given, but when you start looking at game shows and quiz shows, for instance, thechallenges become more pronounced and demand thorough development work from theoutset.2. Can you integrate an audience into it?While not an absolute necessity, the possibility to interact with the audience and make thempart of your narrative and property is one that should not be overlooked, and one thattransmedia lends itself very nicely to. By engaging the audience in a logical and immersiveway you foster loyalty, which is a very valuable commodity in the fickle media industry oftoday.3. Can you format it?Transmedia formats – possible to sell as packages to different territories – are relatively fewand far between. But if you can get your hands on one that works, you might just have a
  20. 20. ONE YEAR IN NOW MEDIA / 21winner. If you can see a transmedia property that has worked in one territory, and onethat does not rely on hoaxing to succeed (since the hoax in that case would have beenrevealed in the initial territory and not work in others) you can localise it for almost anyterritory and use the experience garnered from the first territory to make it an evenbetter experience in another, ensuring the all-important revenue stream. Which leads me tothe next-to-last point, namely…4. Can you monetise it?Don’t get me wrong, I love art projects. I love properties that are created for the love ofcreating stuff and I’m in awe of many of the transmedia producers out there who manage tofulfill their visions, often with very limited budgets. But coming from a televisionbackground, I know that if you can’t make the financial side work — i.e. get revenue infrom sponsors or ads or the audience or somewhere — you won’t get to make the secondseason of that show. So when looking at different possible transmedia properties, alwayscheck to see if they include financially viable solutions.5. Can you get it?The perhaps most important aspect is that you actually get it. In a multi-platform world, it isquite easy to get mixed up in definitions, challenges, solutions and opinions. If you feel youdon’t get it, don’t buy it; whomever is selling it should be able to get anyone to understandthe property on offer. At times I can testify that it is a struggle, but any project, no matter howbig, needs to be able to be elevator pitched to anyone and convey the essence of the project.Otherwise, the end result runs the very real risk of turning into a shambles.
  21. 21. 5/11/2012The audience is your channel————————————————————————————————Are you looking for an audience for your content? Or are you perhaps looking to expand theaudience of your TV channel? Or are you trying to reach a new demographic, a newaudience? You are more than welcome to try achieving those things in the traditional ways,but one thing you have to take into account is a whole new channel that has opened upfor everyone – the audience itself.The beauty of looking at the audience as your channel to other members of the audience, isapparent when looking at the equivalent in marketing –propagation planning. The art lies increating not only for the people you want to reach, but the people you want them toreach. Namely catering for “friends of friends”, in social media parlance.This is where transmedia storytelling principles can come effectively into play. Bycreating interconnected stories at the foundations of your content, it is possible to offer theaudience content and experiences that could cater to many tastes and become the stories– with inherent tools –that your audience will spread to new audiences.When setting out creating and developing, producing and distributing with propagationplanning and utilising the channel that is your audience in mind, the following three thingsare good to remember:- Make the experience transparent. Let the audience experience your content through andwith other members of the audience. The audience’s best reactions can be had if themembers of the audience can ‘see’ each other. In today’s world this doesn’t mean that theyliterally sit with each other to experience content, instead they connect, comment, debate andlaugh with each other online. Make sure to give them the proper tools though, such as forinstance a clear and concise hashtag for Twitter conversations around your content- Plan for success. No matter if you subscribe to the 1-9-90 rule of audienceparticipation (1% actively contribute, 9% intermittently; and 90% simply consume) — or theBBC’s assertion that it’s actually now a question of the 17-60-23 rule — you will need toplan for there to be quite a substantial amount of content, challenges and so on availablefor a more inquisitive audience- Make it easy. No one likes a headache. Take your audience by the hand when necessary,and lead them in the direction you would want them to go.Create content so that they arealways led back on track should they stray. And be sure to celebrate their participation;make them feel utterly and greatly appreciated.All in all, the audience is your channel. You hold the remote control. Now you just have tofind that red ON button…
  22. 22. 10/12/2012TV and cross media - it’s getting there!————————————————————————————————After MIPCOM last October I wrote a blog post entitled “It’s getting there“. That sentenceperfectly summed up my sentiment about the television industry; the media world right nowIS a multiplatform world, and people and companies left and right are starting to getcreative around this fact. This includes all aspects of television, from initial development toscript writing, from marketing to distribution and from technical implementations to audienceinteraction.The one thing that is not necessary getting creative enough yet is the funding. At theFuture Media 2.0 conference in Riga, Latvia, Triona Campbell from beActiveEntertainment talked about beActive’s take on crossmedia, especially with regards tofunding. According to her, there has been a clear change in how broadcasters approachcrossmedia proposals: “I feel that the broadcasters increasingly want projects to have a clearcrossmedia or transmedia angle. The problem is that they are not prepared to paywhat it costs to develop and produce that kind of content.”This in turn means that the producers need to get creative, not only when it comes todeveloping content, but also when it comes to finding the fundsto actually produce thecontent. Tishna Molla, COO of Power to the Pixel, another speaker at the Future Media 2.0conference, has observed an increasing level of maturity among producers: “We’ve seen a clear change in how producers approach cross media at ourPixel Market since we launched the event three years ago. Back then it was very much afilm focus, while last year we saw an upswing in factually-driven TV series. This year, forthe first time, we’ve seen people coming in with native transmedia projects, both fictionand non-fiction. On the other hand, it’s getting harder to define the term ‘producer’, as theone fronting the project no longer necessarily is the one owning the IP. Still, if you want totake a look at a good example, look no further than “The Incredibles”, a great projectmeshing TV / film and comics.”But if you’re a producer and you’re faced with the need to go crossmedia, multiplatformor transmedia in order to get your project produced, and you know that you need to startlooking at the audience in a different way, where should you start? At the beginning, ofcourse. Here are three handy tips to keep in mind:1. Look at your project from all angles from the outset, without prejudice, to find outwhich platforms are necessary, which platforms are unnecessary and which platforms hang inthe balance. A platform can be needed for financial reasons (SMS-votes or suchlike) but betotally unnecessary story-wise. In such cases, story always takes preference.
  23. 23. ONE YEAR IN NOW MEDIA / 242. Find your audience… and BE your audience. You can never research your targetaudience too much. As soon as you know what your story will be about, you should findwhere the people from the target group exist. If many of them are on an online discussionforum, you should be there too, and not just when your TV series is coming out, but wayahead of that. Building credibility in the circles where your content ought to be received thebest can have very long-reaching implications. These can stretch from viral marketing booststo actual co-creation together with the audience.3. Be creative at all times with all aspects of the project. This is admittedly not whattelevision does best; releasing the hold of the IP is seldom what comes first to mind forproducers or broadcasters. In a constantly fluctuating world, with an audience that has amultitude of choices competing for their attention, any crossmedia project needs to bequickly adaptable to deal with demands, challenges and opportunities. Such an agility is hardto achieve, but possible, especially by applying transmedia storytelling methods from theoutset of the development process.
  24. 24. CHAPTER THREE THE PHILOSOPHYThere is a lot of thought behind most aspects of Now Media. Scores of articles and books andtalks and presentations and slideshows and discussions and arguments, all - or at least most -helping to move the knowledge about and the relation to Now Media just that little stepforward every time. It’s very easy to get caught up in the tangle that is the interaction andintegration between all media platforms and all media practices today; while we are spoiledwith possibilities, those very same possibilities can at the same time become our downfall ascreators.A lot of great minds have shared their thoughts and paths of reasoning over the past year. I’vetried to contribute some myself, when I’ve encountered something that I’ve felt I shouldshare, that might help someone else take that next step forward, hopefully in the rightdirection. One thing I am absolutely convinced about is that we should never stop discussing,debating and arguing. Even though it’s not the same as doing and making, it’s a great way tohone the arguments for one’s position and one’s reasoning. It’s also a great way to find flawsin one’s own reasoning - something that I’ve personally found happens with almost alarmingregularity.
  25. 25. 11/2/2012The five pillars of transmedia————————————————————————————————Again this past week I find myself impressed by the amount of thought processing thatpeople put into thinking about transmedia and its’ impact on all kinds of media (and otherkinds of art expressions, such as theatre for instance, (which admittedly was from last yearbut popped up on my radar only now).Reading through a number of posts and articles on everything from socialtelevision to transmedia in marketing, I think one thing stands out very clearly. Everyone islooking at transmedia from their own angle. This is very natural and exactly as it shouldbe, as everyone have their own area of expertise, everyone have their own skillsets andeveryone have their own projects in mind when deliberating using transmedia storytellingmethods.What this means, however, is that on many occasions a full-fledged transmedia projectcannot be successfully developed and implemented – at least not one that would realize thefull potential of transmedia storytelling – without there being people representing all thesedifferent areas of expertise present in the project. This, in turn, points to what wasdiscussed over atTransmythology earlier, the need for translators between different possibleparts and people in a transmedia project. These translators – or a very comprehensiveglossary that everyone would be required to memorize – are crucial in order for everyone tounderstand everyone else and pull in the same direction.Basically it is very easy to get lost in the myriad of storytelling, technical and otherpossibilities and connections outlined in the picture above. We need to remember that it isactual people who will design, develop, produce, distribute and market the content that iscreated; these people need to gel, at least in the context of the project, or else well havesomething worth less than the sum of its parts, instead of the other way around.
  26. 26. ONE YEAR IN NOW MEDIA / 27 Five people we need to get to talk to and understand each other, if a transmedia project is to be a successThe five pillarsAs I see it there are five pillars that a successful transmedia project must strive to get to worktogether and understand each other (disclaimer: there are transmedia projects where the sameperson sits on two or more of these chairs, as well as projects that differ in some other way;this is based on projects Ive worked on, where for instance tv has played a big part).The creative part.First off, this is not to say that any other part is not creative. They are, more often than not.By creative I mean the people responsible for creating the story, the content. They build thestoryworld, fill it with characters and plots and stories and plan how these can extend overdifferent media. They write the scripts, they plan the overarching story arc, the narrativesuperstructure and look at possible entry points via seeded storylines on different media.One thing that the creative people sometimes miss are the technological aspects of whatthey want to create. It’s comparatively easy to say ”…and then we’ll tell the story of XX viaa casual game on Facebook”. I mean, there are TONS of casual games on Facebook, right?How hard can it be? In reality, it’s a little trickier – a Facebook game can cost quite a bit (try100k€ and upwards) and you need to find someone who knows how to program it as well.And get them to GET your idea… and so on.It’s also often hard for a creative (I know, I count myself as one as well) to relinquish hold oftheir story or characters, whether it be to other people in the development or project teamor in the end to the audience. But if this is what makes sense, then this is what needs to bedone; we must try to keep a certain distance, while not letting go of any of the passion.The technological / production part.
  27. 27. ONE YEAR IN NOW MEDIA / 28Now, for tech people (of which I am not one, so any techies reading this and feeling harddone by, blame me) other challenges exist. Programming is an art form – you can writebeautiful code or ugly code or anything in between, that much I’ve learnt from myprogrammer brother – but lives bytotally different constraints than the creativestorytelling part. Deadlines in the programming world are often not the same as deadlinesin, say, the television world. There is no ”putting forward the release date” of theprogramming part of a project, if the television part of it is supposed to air at a certain dateand time.This is a minor problem though; a greater challenge for tech people can be to immersethemselves in the story to the extent that they actually try to enhance it with technicalpossibilities, not just make the stuff that the creative team asks for. There are a lot ofpossibilties with apps and web portals and HTML5 and what have you, that creatives simplydo not know about.If the tech people can immerse themselves in the story, they will start to see possibilitiesthat the creative people then need to be able to take in and understand, in order to work theminto the story. This all takes some time and a lot of trial and error – believe me.The financial part.These are very important men and women. Not only because they are the ones who will getyou the funding you need to be able to do what you are setting out to do, but also becausethey will be very close and intimate with your project.See, money very seldom comes without any strings attached. It’s your financial people thatoften will broker the deals that say which strings will be attached where and why. Thecreators will have their say, naturally, and so will the tech people. But in the end, if there isno money, nothing gets made. That’s why it is so very important to integrate these peopleinto the story and the story world, using transmedia storytelling methods to tell the stories tothem as well to ensure they see the same project and the same content and the samestories as everyone else. Only then can the financial people properly care for the project intalks with possible partners.(Or you can crowdsource on Kickstarter etc; that again brings its own challenges (unlessyou’re producing Double Fine and start a Kickstarter campaign, of course, then its all coolsailings :)).The distribution part.The distribution people are the ones that ultimately will be in charge of makingsure everyone can take part of what you’ve created. If you’re a small indie (or youvecreated something that doesnt need any bigger and more costly platform) you might simplydistribute your story on YouTube (if that is an applicable platform), via an e-book or by someother means, depending on your content. If you’re relying on television you have yourbroadcasters or IPTV providers, if it’s a film then you deal with the theaters and the DVDdistributors, and so on. A lot of this is technicalities; follow the set of rules for submittingcontent and the end result will be as projected.What distribution people increasingly need to pay heed to is the fact that they too are a part ofthe bigger story. Distribution (and this goes very much for the ”old” media, such as
  28. 28. ONE YEAR IN NOW MEDIA / 29television) need to adapt to fit into a bigger picture; for instance, the television part of astory can no longer dictate all other parts of a transmedia project, or everything willsuffer.Distributors need to take into consideration the instructions from the creative people aboutthe story and the storyworld as well as the possibilities and demands the tech people mightoffer and have. This in turn means that the distribution people need to look beyond their corearea of interest – distribution – and be prepared to take in the whole of the narrativesuperstructure, the mythology and the story world, to make sure the distribution modelsADD to the overall experience, not DETRACT from it.The marketing partI know many people scoff at marketing when it comes to transmedia. And yes, a cause can bemade for transmedia marketing not being a ”true” form of transmedia, but since no globalorganization has established a single definite definition of transmedia yet, I guess you cancall transmedia marketing ”transmedia” if you want to. In this post though I would lookbeyond this and focus on the role that marketing has for any transmedia project.As I wrote last week, there should be no ”build it and they will come”-thinking when itcomes to transmedia. You have created compelling content with groundbreaking use oftechnology, good funding and distribution secured. You even have a set target group asintended audience. Now you need to put it in front of them, and here’s when the people atmarketing come in. They are – if they are worth their salt – usually very good at gettingthings in front of people. The more people you can get to take note of your content (andproviding your content is good enough to measure up) the more chance you have of yourproject turning into a breakaway success.What marketing people need to ponder and understand is that transmedia most often has aparticipatory nature. It’s not marketing in the sense of ”show them this can of soda enoughtimes and they will buy it!”, it’s ”tell the story of the content, give them a reason to tell it– or their own connected stories – onwards and the tools to do it”. There’s quite a bigdifference that needs to be understood and adhered to, in order for marketing to work for atransmedia project.The sixth part - the audienceAll of this leads to one thing; the need to create a transmedia experience that will engage,excite, enable and enrich an audience. This, while all the people representing the fivepillars above need to communicate fully and thoroughly with each other, communicationwhich may or may not include the use of translators and glossaries to assist with theunderstanding. What it all boils down to is that everyone must strive to understandeveryone else and open ones eyes to the possibilities and challenges that will arise.Or, rather, open one eye to possibilities and challenges, as the other eye needs to stayconstantly fixed on the audience, ready to adapt, respond, re-develop and communicate.The audience is the foundation that all these pillars need to be grounded on, else we’lljust have a heap of rabble in the end. More on them in another post.
  29. 29. ONE YEAR IN NOW MEDIA / 302 comments:Kevin Beamer said... The ultimate goal of these five pillars of transmedia is to please the audience or consumers. It should find ways on how to excite, and effectively communicate to the audience its products and services. The gauge of a successful transmedia can be determined whether the content has been fully relayed to the consumers and whether they fully understood and appreciate the message. 12:20 AMMarc Binkley said... Hi Simon, Thanks for the link to my article. I thought your post was very insightful and I do agree that my position is taken from my own frame of reference namely - marketing. Cheers, Marc
  30. 30. 29/3/2012The Transmedia Translator————————————————————————————————A brief post from Helsinki Airport, as I’m off for six days of the craziness that is MIPCube,MIPFormats and MIPTV. As I look at the people and companies congregating on the Coted’Azur, I’m once again struck by how difficult many of these will have when it comes to notonly talking to each other, but actually understanding each other.I’m not talking about a language barrier either, but rather a barrier that arises from context.This is all perfectly natural, as tv producers will talk another language than for instance 2ndscreen app providers, in much the same way as someone working in publishing would have ahard time grasping the fine details of a corn farmers professional life and vice versa.The difference there is that the publisher and the farmer seldom would have anything to dowith each other. In a transmedia world, everyone have to collaborate with each other, to acertain degree at least. And just as the farmer would have needed a person who understandsboth farming and publishing in order to explain publishing to him, and understand whichquestions he is asking and why he is asking them, in the same way transmedia projects needsomeone who understands it all, at least up to a certain level, and is able to facilitatediscussions and collaborations by greasing the wheels of conversation and informationexchange.Christy Dena touches upon this issue in her post ”Do You Go Both Ways”. People want toexcel in one area and leave the rest to others (some practicioners apart, who enjoy leapingover the boundaries). And, precisely because of this, I feel the Transmedia Producer end title,or Transmedia Director or whatever, should be accompanies by one more – TransmediaTranslator, responsible for getting everyone to talk to each other and UNDERSTAND eachother.
  31. 31. 23/4/2012Transmedia – does anyone care?————————————————————————————————I’ve had a blog post sitting on my computer, half-written, for quite some time. The essence ofthe post was that there are only about 200 people around the world that actually care if yourproject is a ”true transmedia project” or not, the 6.999.999.800 others either don’t care or willnever hear of your stuff.Brian Clark beat me to it though, and in a much more profound and challenging way, in hisfollow up to last years debate-post over on Facebook; this time, the title is ”Transmedia is alie”, and it, and the comments, are well worth a read.I feel the need to write something here on the subject as well; I, contrary to Brian (I think?)still believe there is a use for the term ”transmedia”. Granted, there has not been a definitedefinition over the past 12 months, and granted, there has been a severe dilution of the term(if I could get 10 cents for every new ”transmedia producer” I met at MIPTV this year, thatwas a ”cross media producer” only 6 months earlier, I’d have…. about 50 cents). As a termfor working together with other professionals in the field, it has therefore probably outlivedit’s purpose – much better to take a longer route and explain the concept thoroughly,including platforms, interaction, plot (if applicable) and so on. Other professionals will seewhere they can slot in quite easily, while not being confused by differing definitions of the
  32. 32. ONE YEAR IN NOW MEDIA / 33”transmedia” term.Also for pitching purposes the term has become next to redundant; what you’re selling is thestory. Everything else only serves to confuse. This goes for upwards of 75% of thecommissioners, producers and buyers I pitch to. This in turn is quite healthy for you, eventhough it means harder work: you need to a) make the story good enough to stand on it’s ownlegs and be sellable, while b) you need to have the transmediated parts lined up so you cananswer any questions about them should they arise and preferrably c) have a next-to fool-proof financing plan for these ”extra” parts.Now, the discussion over at Brian’s note is quite existential at times. It’s a ”what is this andwhy do we do it and really there is no such thing as transmedia and NO YOU SHUT UPand….”. I.e., it’s all great fun, and something of a necessity. I believe people will float in andout of the term ”transmedia”, while still continuing to create and tell stories interconnectedover multiple platforms, under different headings. Nothing wrong with that.I will, however, continue to use the term transmedia. For this I have two reasons:It keeps my mind straight when developing and producing content. I have my own definitionof what transmedia should be and what I aspire to, and keeping this in mind really helps mebrainstorm, create and refine content.For anyone entering into this which perhaps is transmedia and perhaps isn’t transmedia, it canbe a confusing world. I’d like people to come into it the way I did – with a solid backgroundin storytelling and media, then getting your mind blown away by extremely inspiring peopleand projects, then gradually starting to pick up on nuances and relevant discussions,implementing the methods into my own work, experiencing what works and what doesn’t,stretch my mind and my imagination and get better at coming up with engaging and doablestuff. This is something I would not have done without a term – ”transmedia” – to hangeverything on, to keep my mind focused. Only by embracing a term can we truly understandthe critizism of it (wow, that sounded profound :P)Rant over. Now off to evaluate some transmedia projects….8 comments:Lucas J.W. Johnson said... Simon, well put. I agree with you 100%. I find the term useful in organizing a community and in organizing my thoughts, and as long as it *continues to do so*, its useful to me in that regard. Thanks for the post!Simon said... Lucas, thanks for your comment. Yes, I believe the term will remain useful for quite some time... Simon
  33. 33. ONE YEAR IN NOW MEDIA / 34ihashimi said... Well I think transmedia will always inspire people and how the social media environment will be. It will be the impetus from nothing to everything.Unknown said... Im beginning to wonder if the mis-use of the term is just an American thing. It does seem to me that most of the European community gets it, and generally doesnt confuse it with marketing/franchising. Hmmm.Simon said... I dont know either - even if there are differences between the US and the ROW (Rest Of the World) I find quite a few real and genuine transmedia people in the US as well as in Europe, and also quite a few of the other kind.Doro said... Simon, great post. I try to focus on the story and decide then how were going to tell it. In this way were trying to avoid becoming to narrow-minded because of definitions. But the term helps to create communities of like-minded people, and thats great! Thinking about wether a project is transmedia or not helps me to improve my own work - so the term is still useful,I think.Simon said... Doro, absolutely! And in that sense I, as Ive said, agree that the term needs framing; itll cut a lot of corners when collaborating with other transmedia-minded people... but if it becomes an excluding term, then I believe the gain to be had from it will diminish substantially.
  34. 34. 8/8/2012Transmedia - the ketchup effect————————————————————————————————Transmedia, as we all know, originated some 20 years ago. As a practice it has existed waylonger, depending on how you define it. The Bible has been quoted as one of the firstinstances of transmedia in practice.For several years a lot of talented people around the world have been working on transmediaprojects, producing transmedia projects, promoting transmedia practices and lobbying fortransmedia as a way of thinking, creatively as well as financially and from a marketingperspective. Right now, I have the feeling that the long-awaited ”ketchup-effect” has finallyarrived.I hear of a new exciting transmedia project almost every other day, ranging in scope from thefairly small, like the ARG ”Miracle Mile Paradox” to the fairly big, like the Avengers-rumours about interconnected tv-series and films, from the areas of theatre to the areasof gaming – transmedia, world building, narrative superstructures and mythologies are all ofa sudden found everywhere. Simply brilliant to witness. And I think I can see one shifthappening already, one that only six months ago seemed like an impossibility, but now notonly looks probably but even quite inevitable – the lessening of the importance of the term”transmedia”.There are quite a few people tired of the term, which has become readily apparent indiscussions over the past couple of years. I know myself that I hesitate to use the term incertain discussions; at the Pixel Lab, for instance, there was no problem using the term, buttalking to possible sponsors or buyers I prefer to explain the actual setup of the transmediaproject rather than branding it ”transmedia” from the outset. But now I believe the shift ishappening. ”Transmedia” is rapidly becoming a term as common as ”television” or ”media”,and is starting to represent the notion of ”something more than just a movie, a book or a tv-series” in the minds of people. The fact that this ”something more” can be just about anythingin scope and size is of lesser importance. And it is increasingly being taken for granted; justas the mantra has been that the audience wants to access their media anywhere, anytime, nowthey want to access the continuation of their stories, anywhere and anytime.It’s a bit like going to a concert. Everyone knows that the band goes off stage, the crowdshouts for a bit and then it’s time for the encore. The same thing is happening with theaudience with regards to media now, except they don’t have to shout – when the book or themovie is finished, it’s time to explore the encores.
  35. 35. 17/8/2012Time to create transmedia————————————————————————————————On Wednesday the research company Latitude released a pretty interesting study called TheFuture Of Storytelling. I highly recommend it as essential reading, and I’m thoroughlylooking forward to the second and last instalment in the study series.There are a lot of good points in the study, and in my mind they all clearly point to one thing.”Transmedia” might have been a buzzword for a while. It probably still is, in the minds ofmany. But the term is of infinitely lesser importance; of greater importane is the fact that theaudience – anyone we wish to target with our content – is already inherently geared towardstransmedia.For us as content creators it can only mean one thing. Kicking and screaming, or willinglyand eagerly, we will move into the world of content transcending media platforms, or storyworlds and neverending narratives, of co-creation with users and co-distribution with others,of using technology to weave stories to evoke feelings and induce experiences. There is noturning back, and we do ourselves a severe disservice if we do not acknowledge this withopen eyes and strive to make the very best we can of this fact.At the same time, my ”old-media-developer-and-producer”-character raises its head andhighlights the fact that while all of this is very nice, someone also need to pay for everything.Just developing the mythologies and / or story worlds needed comes with a cost. As doesproducing for different platforms, as does distributing content to different platforms. Will wejust end up doing a helluva lot more work and paying a helluva lot more money for the samereturn?I may be naive and I may be overoptimistic, but I am convinced that financially viablemodels will appear, more and more frequently. Crowdfunding is one way to go, working withsponsors another. My firm belief is that – just as with Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and otherventures no one had envisaged five years ago – we will see new financing models come tothe fore that will make us all go ”oh, ok! Yeah, that’ll work! How come I didn’t think aboutthat?!?”In the meantime what we can all do is create. Create, create, create, and then create somemore. Create magical worlds and stunning characters, create enchanting narrative arcs andriveting interactive possibilities. Create more and better (and why not harder, faster andstronger while we’re at it). Exciting times indeed!
  36. 36. 27/11/2012Da Vinci on Transmedia————————————————————————————————I’ve been reading a bit about the genius that was Leonardo Da Vinci these past weeks; hislife, his innovations and his pure brilliance. I will admit this might have something to do withme playing AC a bit over the past few weeks, but I find it fascinating to think whatsomeonewith a mind like his would be able to create, were that person alive today. Still, eventhough we’re closing in on half a millennia since Leonardo died at Clos Lucé, so much ofwhat he thought and taught is applicable today. It’s even possible to directly relate some ofthe truths he spoke to the multiplatform transmedia cross media world of today. Here are fivegreat quotes from the thinker and my take on their application today: Life is pretty simple. You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. And that’s the trick, the doing something else.Amen to that. There is no other way to succeed than to be prepared to fail and learn. Thelearning part, especially when it comes to something as volatile as the media industry, iscrucial; what works and what doesn’t, and being able to identify why something works ordoesn’t and how that applies on other projects. This is something that naturally becomeseasier with experience… and again, you will not get that experience by anything else than, asDa Vinci put it, ”doing some stuff”.I would also recommend people to not copy. Let yourself be inspired, without a doubt.Learn from what other people have done, of course. But be original, don’t copy outright, andyou will learn so much more. Building on that… I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.Planning is great. Reading up on stuff and projects and case studies is important. Discussing,debating and defining is essential. But at the core of it all, it’s the ”doing” that gets ussomewhere. I find myself frustrated when projects do not move ahead for one reason oranother; not only because of the projects themselves, but because I don’t get to actually DOwhat I feel I need to be doing. This goes for most of us, I assume; I have, however, goneincreasingly towards the decision toalways have at least 2-3 smaller side projects running,without any strict deadlines, that I can apply my skills to when other, bigger projects are heldup. And quite often, through work on these smaller projects, I gain knowledge or come upwith ideas that can be directly translated into something that will be a gain for that biggerproject. We must do.It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.I love that sentiment. I want to be a person that goes out and happens to things; preferrably
  37. 37. ONE YEAR IN NOW MEDIA / 38the media industry, the art of storytelling, an audience and so on. As another of my favoritesayings goes: ”It doesn’t matter if you’re on the right track; you’ll get run over if you just sitthere”. I firmly believe that transmedia needs to be this as well; a movement that goesout and happens to things. It’s already getting there, of course. But from a transmedia POVit could be happening even more. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.As someone who has created a lot of content for publishing, radio, TV, online, cross mediaand transmedia, I can vouch for this. The hardest part, as I think you all know, is to keepit simple. Keep trying to simplify whatever you’re doing, over and over again; when you feelit’s too simple, it’s probably just about right. And whenever you feel like something willrequire that you spend more time explaining it than what it would take to just experience it,you should seriously consider to re-develop that part. For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.For me, the moment happened some years ago. I was developing a kids show for the FinnishBroadcasting Company, developing physical games to be played on the show andsynchronizing them to similar content online, knitting it all together through a narrative thattook place on a gigantic Space Cruiser. We went to the studio to test it all with kids from thetarget audience, not really knowing what to expect. Watching the kids do it all, with aneagerness and an engagement that transcended anything I could have hoped for, wasawe-inspiring.For different reasons, the final product was limited in comparison with the blueprints we haddrawn up, but that feeling – of integrating media, physical stuff, online interaction intosomething that made that Willful Suspension of Disbelief feel like a given – led me to the artof transmedia storytelling. I might have to do a lot of toiling down here on the ground, tocater for customers and get the job done. But my eyes are steadily turned skywards, towards aworld where platforms have ceased to exist and all there is are the narrative and the story.
  38. 38. INTERVIEW - BRIAN CLARK————————————————————————————————Founder and CEO of GMD Studios, experimental media theorist and experience designproducer. @gmdclark on Twitter.You held a brilliant talk at Storyworld this year, a talk which also is online, basing it allon phenomenology? How did that come to be?I had a chance this year to really dive deep into the theories of experience design lurking ineach design discipline and started to recognize some common threads. Then I realized thatdead German philosophers had beaten me to the insights by at least 100 years and that Iwasnt even the first artist to dive into that question.The core ideas - that meaning is created by the audience and that the experience of a thing isdifferent (but related) to the thing - seem like exactly what weve been dancing around in thetransmedia community, but are suddenly freed from the messy language of practice bycentering the conversation on the audience experience. So Storyworld was the first time Itried to talk about these insights publicly, but I hope it is just the beginning of a larger dialog(phenomenalwork.com/manifesto).You have a knack of lifting the cat on the table so to speak, be it about transmedia oranything else. How do you find the discussion climate when it comes to transmedia?Defensive? Too narrow? Just about right?I swear that cat jumped up there all by itself! I think like many communities (especially onesas intimate as ours) if we arent careful it could become a self-congratulatory Tony Robinscult. We also suffer from the curse of the Internet era where we feel a need to be inventingsomething instead of building on whats come before. We can certainly tie ourselves intoknots if were not careful.But on the other hand, the community is exceptionally open to new voices and newperspectives, much the way the independent film community loves new talent and first-timefilmmakers.There’s been some upheavals, looking at what happened to 4th Wall etc; what would beyour predictions for 2013? And wishes?Entrepreneurs are risk takers and not all risks are going to pay off, but those kinds of cyclesseem less like upheaval and more like research & development to me. I certainly wish formore risk taking in 2013, not less. My other wishes (and predictions) are that this communityis going to start looking like the American independent film movement of the late 1970s. Ifwe look at that model as inspiration, the roadmap of what we need to do seems clear: create amarketplace for financing, build systems of hands-on peer education, and move from apatchwork of regional communities into some larger organization we could all pour ourenergy into.
  39. 39. ONE YEAR IN NOW MEDIA / 40When I started my career in early 1990s, the organizations filmmakers had built in the U.S.were fifteen years old and provided a roadmap and instant community for new artists. Weneed to start now building that legacy that we want to leave behind for artists just enteringthis field in 2026.
  40. 40. INTERVIEW - CHRISTY DENA————————————————————————————————Transmedia PhD, Director of Universe Creation 101, writer, designer and director. Followher on @christydena.Are you keeping tabs on the academic part of transmedia? If so, is there anythinghappening there that you’re excited about?I don’t actively look at academic publications and so I can’t give an overview of what ishappening. I was an internal assessor for Markus Montola’s PhD “On the Edge of the MagicCircle: Understanding Role-Playing and Pervasive Games” (http://www.markusmontola.fi/),and Silvina Bamrungpong’s PhD “Stories in Motion: Inviting immersive possibilities throughthe chimera of transmedia and chameleon of mediatecture” (http://gradworks.umi.com/35/24/3524003.html). As for upcoming events, I’m really excited to see what comes out of“Narrative Minds and Virtual Worlds” in Finland (http://networkedblogs.com/Fs93g) – thereare great speakers and the topics look spot on. Last year’s “Storyworlds Across Media” wasequally interesting, and the videos are online (http://www.storyworlds.de/). Anotherupcoming event is “Transmedia Storytelling and Beyond” in Sydney. It is a mix ofpractitioners, academics, and educators and I’ll be the opening speaker! (http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/research/research-nexus/digital-nexus/global-project-on-transmedia/transmedia-storytelling-and-beyond/)Did 2012 turn out as expected?Ummm. Not really I think. For myself and many of my colleagues, it was a difficult year. Wedid see some cool and meaningful projects come out (which is good), and we also saw someindie projects funded. So more coming!Tell a little bit about what you’re working on right now; as much as you’re allowed totell, I guess - AUTHENTIC IN ALL CAPS for instance?And speaking of forthcoming things – my project (http://www.AUTHENTICINALLCAPS.com)! We did a playtest at the beginning of last year, thendeveloped it and did an iPad prototype. The prototype was actually nominated for a “BestWriting in a Game” award for the Freeplay Independent Gaming Festival – so very happyabout that! Now we *just* need the last bit of funds to finish the project at the beginning of2013. We’re very excited about getting it out in the world soon, along with the Creator’s LogI’ve been working on (which is diary of my writing, design, directing and producingdecisions). Stay tuned for our crowdfunding campaign for a chance to make this unique webaudio adventure happen! :pWhat are your wishes and predictions for 2013?Gosh. I wish for things to be a bit easier for all of us. I would love to see more peopleat peace with what transmedia is for them. This great article about UX and craving external
  41. 41. ONE YEAR IN NOW MEDIA / 42validation sums up my wishes for transmedia practitioners in 2013: http://uxmag.com/articles/stop-explaining-ux-and-start-doing-ux#. I would love to be pleasantly surprised in2013. As for predictions? I foresee being pleasantly surprised!
  42. 42. INTERVIEW - JEFF GOMEZ————————————————————————————————CEO of Starlightrunner Entertainment, evangelist of transmedia. Follow Jeff on@Jeff_Gomez.You participated in "One Year In Transmedia" last year; did 2012 turn out as expectedback then? What were the highs and the lows in a transmedia sense?From the perspective of Starlight Runner Entertainment, the year has been fantastic. Thougheverything has always moved a bit more slowly than wed prefer, there were a number ofsignificant moments that reflect both advancement for the company, and by the fact that thesewere firsts, advancement in the transmedia space.As noted in Variety this past June, our involvement in the Men in Black III project, anddevelopment of the Men in Black Universe for ongoing transmedia implementation hasevolved into the very first ongoing major studio-level transmedia consultation and productioncontract in history. This means that our attorneys and Sony Pictures had to hammer out anagreement that incorporated the new terminology of transmedia and entirely new models ofengagement, credit and compensation. It took over six months to create, but it kicked inimmediately and I feel that all parties are deeply satisfied with the results. This was a year-and career high for me.You premiered the Ten Commandments at Storyworld; I know even the word”franchise” is touchy for some people but you’ve never shied from it. What’s your viewof franchise and transmedia?Lets put this to bed once and for all: the goal of Starlight Runner has always been to promoteglobal adaptation of narrative techniques that have been enhanced by new technologies anddistribution methods. We have never been in a situation where we have the time or financialwherewithal to make our point from the "bottom up" through independent art projects orsmall scaled creative endeavors.The success I experienced in the 1990s with Turok and Magic: The Gathering allowed me toleverage what influence I had to larger companies and C-level executives. Why not speak tothem about multi-platform narrative? I wanted to keep doing what I loved, and I wanted tobuild a business and career doing it, not just sit around as a freelancer waiting for the stars toalign and give me another opportunity to tell stories that way. But the problem was that veryfew of those executives understood what I was talking about, and it was enormously difficultto get them to understand how this seemingly radical approach can make them any money.My personal style has always leaned toward populism. One of my biggest heroes is BruceSpringsteen! I was the kind of storyteller who cared about who was in the audience, and Iwill always customize what I have to say to whom it is Im speaking with. In this case, myaudience is Hollywood, my audience is Madison Avenue, my audience is comprised of thetop executives of Fortune 500 companies. The whole rest of the world may not be
  43. 43. ONE YEAR IN NOW MEDIA / 44Hollywood, but most everyone understands the language of Hollywood. So those are thewords, words like franchise and brand and property, those are the words Ive used.At the same time, Im not precious about words. Words are just sounds in the air, subject toyour interpretation. You dont like a word Im using, well all I ask is that you get the gist ofwhat Im saying and if you find it useful, fantastic! If you despise the word "transmedia,"plug your own word for it into my sentence, but know that the word stands for a combinationof concepts that is unique and meaningful. It took a while, but people are getting that, but Istill run into people who look like they ate something bad when I use it.As for "franchise," all I mean when I use that word is that the property that you own, thestory world, is capable of being extended across multiple platforms in a way that generates afamily of products. Each one of those products is distinct and adds meaningfully to the storyworld. Some of these are used to market the narrative (even though they are part of thenarrative), and many of these products can be sold for cash on an ongoing basis to a large andengaged audience. Collectively this is your transmedia franchise. Its a story that makes youmoney in different ways across different media over an extended period of time. Who doesntwant that? Suffice to say, the language Im using is working, not just for me but for many inthe field.You have a knack for igniting the core in people; looking back, what ultimately ignitedyour core? And what keeps it burning?What truly ignited my core this year has been the magnificent evidence that you can take aconcept like transmedia narrative and affect change in the world. No one in Hollywood isasking me to define transmedia storytelling for them any more. Journalists are dropping theair quotes around the word and using it casually. Conferences and meet-ups are cropping upall over the world to share ideas about best practices and how to communicate it to localindustry. Mayor Bloomberg in New York City discussed transmedia with the leaders of thebusiness incubator were advising. That Made in New York Media Center will be the firsttransmedia entrepreneurial incubator and education facility in the world. How cool is that? Sowhat ignites my core? Stepping foot into fresh snow, into spaces where few have tread. Lotsof that in 2012.What keeps it burning? Waking up before dawn! By that I mean coming into projects earlierand earlier. With Avatar, production was already under way, but with Men in Black III, thescript was still being written. The impact we could have is more powerful. On our next majorproject, which were negotiating now, we would be coming in at the concept stage. Wereshowing everyone involved how big the canvas can be. Its not just two hours on a screen, itsdozens of hours across everything! Thats not licensing, thats a new storytelling art form, andwe can help you think about how to do it beautifully. That hasnt quite happened yet at thisscale, but it will, and I want to be there for it!What would you want for 2013?More please! Its only just beginning, isnt it? In 2013 I will be watching eagerly as
  44. 44. ONE YEAR IN NOW MEDIA / 45transmedia practitioners come into their own. People like Andrea Phillips, Lucas Johnson,Ivan Askwith and our own Caitlin Burns are going to show us some amazing work. And justas important will be that credit for this work is going to be attributed. The Fast Companypiece on Starlight Runners work for Nickelodeon on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was themost detailed and explicit about our contributions.The derivation of brand essence for the purpose of transmedia spreadability, how best toleverage aspects of a story world on different media platforms, and best practices in 21stcentury franchise production are all going to be criteria that companies will be proud to talkabout. Each of these require skill sets embodied by writers, designers and producers oftransmedia narrative. This coming year were going to see significant (and far more public)advances in this space.
  45. 45. CHAPTER FOUR THE DEVELOPMENTThe hardest part of transmedia is not surprisingly the art of actually getting it all done. Donein time, done in the fashion intended, done according to available resources, done in a waythat will make sense to an audience… done, and done as well as possible. From my ownexperience I know what an uphill struggle it can be, even when resources are available, to getwhatever project you’re working on to turn out the way you envisioned it when you startedout.There are as many ways to develop a transmedia or a multiplatform or cross media projectsas there are projects, but some general guidelines (and some quite a lot more specific) canstill be of use to people in different stages of the development phase - the development phaseof their projects as well as of themselves. These are points I’ve tried to address in the postsbelow - from what to think of when you start out in trying to create something that will moveand exist on several platforms, to the nitty-gritty of killing your darlings and actually havingto think about an audience. And as stressful and painful a development and productionprocess can be, most often it’s a hundred times more rewarding in the end. Here’s to a greatmany more brilliant projects in 2013!
  46. 46. 6/2/2012Starting out in transmedia - 5 points of advice————————————————————————————————I was approached the other day by someone looking for a bit of advice on transmedia. Hersituation is one that I believe is similar to a lot of people’s. With the growingacknowledgement of transmedia storytelling as a possible way to tell stories and engageaudiences, drive brands, foster interaction and generate revenue, many have started to lookat incorporating these methods in their own work.This is all well and fine if you work at a company (although this has its’ own challenges,what with tearing down silos etc) or if you have a proven track record as a producer, designer,writer or developer, a record and a network of contacts that will enable you to get traction foryour idea from the start.But what if you don’t have a company? What if you don’t have a track record or a networkof contacts? What if what you have is a brilliant idea for a transmedia project, andnowhere to turn? The situation differs, naturally, depending on where in the world you aresituated. Here though, some points that can help a bourgeoning transmedia storyteller on theway:Write down your idea in as much detail as possible. Include everything, from story tocharacters to story world to technical specs to possible revenue models to… well, everythingyou’ve developed so far. Also use this to work on a 30 second pitch (the so called ”elevatorpitch”), as this will help you hone your idea considerably. If you can’t explain your idea in asellable manner in 30 seconds, it’s probably too complex. You can, if you want, take a look atScreen Australia’s template for a Transmedia Production Bible – if nothing else, it will giveyou some pointers on the areas people will have questions about.Do some research (which is a point that has been mentioned before) on what else has beenmade that is similar to your project. Whatever it is that you’ve come up with, chances aresomeone, somewhere has done something vaguely similar. Study and learn as much as youcan from these examples and tweak your idea accordingly, to simply work better. There isalso quite a few case studies that can give valuable information – take a look at the Game ofThrones case study or … well, just do a Google search and pick the ones suitable for you!Look at entry points for collaborators from the outset. If you’re creating something wherea novel or a graphic novel (physical or online) is a major part of the property, perhapsapproach a publisher or someone connected to a publisher? If a game is an integral part, lookat how a game developer could come into your team, and which developer that would be. Ifit’s an online treasure hunt (as at least 60% of transmedia ideas are wont to be (don’t quoteme on that, it’s just a feeling I have ! )) then a web agency or suchlike might be the rightone to approach. Try to think of the project from their point of view – how can they applywhat they know and get the most possible out of it? (This is me guessing you do not have thefunding to hire them outright; if you do, call me ;)