simplifying transmedia

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    Simplifying Transmedia

    Taking a startup approach to Transmedia

    By Maya Zuckerman | July 07, 2013

    By Maya ZuckermanEdited by Juliana Loh

    Over the years, I have been immersed in numerous talks and discussions centered on thequestion of How can we streamline and simplify the concept of transmedia so that it is easyto understand? My response to that question is: YOU CANT - how can you simplify a concept that bydefinition represents not a description, but a complex construct; a model in fact?

    My first approach was to describe the term Transmedia as the perfect ecosystem of astoryworld. But having said this, you almost need to be a systems person or at least befamiliar with what an ecosystem is in order to fully appreciate the definition as a descriptionof a story construct. Most of us understand the concept of transmedia albeit abstractly andwhile we do appreciate that there is more detail, the truth is we want things to be simple.As a resident of San Francisco, I am accustomed to the many concepts that have defined thestartup and silicon valley ecosystems and have to agree 100% that

    Simplicity is INDEED the ultimate sophistication
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    Startup Concepts:

    Lean Startups Agile and scrum MVP (minimum viable product)

    My experience and knowledge has given me insight into offering you what I consider asimple yet perfect formula and recipe for understanding transmedia : Note: Please remember that each concept sits on a mountain of complexity.Understanding that there is complexity underneath the simple concepts will help you to seethe bigger picture:

    The Transmedia Formula:

    My concepts are based upon the experiences of my friend, a veteran of the startupcommunity. Over the years, he observed that projects especially in app development that

    begin minimally (the Minimal Viable Product Stage) offer the audience the greatest

    opportunity to affect in which direction actual products could possibly evolve.

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    Why? Because the products themselves begin as mockups - the most basic examples ofwhat the potential product could be. These mockups are given life through the interactionthat occurs between developers and users as feedback and discourse facilitate ideas.

    My friend compared the process of developing startup projects to that of how transmedia is

    created. He observed that transmedia is not only defined by content and audience, but alsoincludes the same all-important notion of audience interaction.

    ex. Pilots of shows like Arrested Development whereby content is evaluated by the publicoffers the same opportunity for Film Producers to tweak their craft.

    Simply put, Transmedia cannot only be defined by content and audience - but must alsoinclude audience or user Interaction.

    With this understanding in mind, I have reduced the concept of transmedia into 3 elements.

    A brief expansion on the formula:

    Content - refers to all content: From books, films, blogs, images, live performances, UGC,etc.

    Platforms - Where do we interact with them, where do they consume the content, how do wemarket it, etc.

    Audience - Beyond who they are, how they interact, and how do we engage with them.

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    The Transmedia Recipe: (how-to run a successful project versus what makes a greatTransmedia story or experience)

    As a life cook I believe that great projects should be cooked like a great meal:

    Think about what ingredients must make a great meal, get them, use the correct tools for the job, use your own skills and imagination and voila - bon appetite!

    I chose the recipe metaphor to aid with the concept of explaining how ideas can move fromconcept to execution albeit (with a certain flow and elegance + blood, sweat and tears.)

    I. Story - can also refer to storyworld or brand narrative. What is the why of the story, theheros journey, the origin story, why should it be told on the many platforms,

    screens,treatment with attention to plot, logline, user centric scenarios, etc. .II. Content - what are you producing for the multiplatforms? Film, webisodes, book, game,

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    ARG, play, experience, social film, social tv, etc.III. Team - once you established the above - who do you need in your team to make this asuccess? Each piece of content needs to have the correct team member in order to accomplishit.IV. Audience - Who is your audience? why would they want to interact with your project?

    whats their personas? what is your audience journey ? how do you engage, interact, attractand retain them?V. Tools - what tools are you going to use for the job? - your cameras, software, authoringtools, apps, etc.VI. User Experience - once you know your audience you will need a great user experiencedesigner on your team - the reason I created UX as a sub-category is because of itsimportance - you have to have great ux in order for your audience to interact with your

    project - whether its a game, film or any other piece of content - the user needs to be movingseamlessly in between the different platforms, screens, experiences.VII. Platforms - which online platforms is the content going to interact with - social media,new platforms. Could also refer to the multi-screens we are using, real live events including

    breaking the fourth wall.VIII. Business Model : Most important ingredient: How will you make money? how will youraise money first and then make money from your project so it can become sustainable,what's your distrubution models?

    The biggest next step is how to organize all of this now into a working project.This is definitely the place of another blog or several on developing a great project, writing agreat Transmedia bible and then making it happen.

    Transmedia and Crossmedia Convergence in a Connected World


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    AN INTRODUCTION The Matrix is a science fiction action film that was initially created by Larry andAndy Wachowski in 1999. The narrative starts with the actor Keanu Reves, a manwhos living two different types of lives. He works as an computer programmerduring day time in the actual world and at night, he transform to another person, amalevolent hacker in another world which, is the Matrix.The first film turn out to bevery successful that later on, the Wachowski brothers decided to produced anothertwo films continuing from the first one. The following films The MatrixRevolutions and The Matrix Reloaded also turns out to be successful as well.Both films were released in the same year, 2003 but in different month.

    LONG LIVINGThe Matrix manage to continue develop from the first film in 1999, it has goneextremely popular and from there, they release a matrix series of films, comic books,video games and animation. Matrix series is also a franchise that was created by thesame people. The products was released in the years between 1999 to 2003 and itwas distributed by Warner Bros.Pictures. The series started out with the first filmThe Matrix and later on extend into another two sequels which, was The MatrixReloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. The settings and th e characters of theMatrix fictional universe (a different world that is not exist in the real world createdby the humans imagination) are being further explore in other media formsincluding animation, comic books and video games.

    EXPANDABILITYThe platform of the Matrix is designed to be transmedia because of the fantasygenres, the creation of a storyworld that is different from the actual world and how itbrings the audiences in and be a part of the fantasy world.


    One of the very successful m edia platform in The Matrix was the animatrix.Animatrix is direct-to- video anthology film based on The Matrix trilogy. Its acombination of nine different animated short films that was released in 2003. Theanimatrix is a convergence that is created for a new chapter for the Matrix by the

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    films directors collaborating with some of the Japans anime films creators thatinfluences them. The animatrix was originated and overseen by the WatchowskiBrothers but they only wrote four of the segments by thems elves. They didnt do anyof the direction in fact, most of the projects technical side was overseen by notablefigures from the world of Japanese animation. The fans gets to seek for a newdifferent experience in Animatrix in relation to The Matrix films.

    Games o From the Matrix films series, they develop the series further by

    creating the very first video game, Enter the Matrix. It wasdeveloped by Shiny Entertainment and published by Atari and WBInteractive. They release the platforms in GameCube, PS2, Windowsand Xbox. The game was designed similar to the Animatrix, to be anessential part of the Matrix series. Numerous previous films have beenadapted as games but in Matrix case, the game expands upon the thestory told in the films. The martial arts moves and in-engine cutscenesof the game feature actions captured directly from the films actors andstunt doubles to recreate their unique fighting styles while suspendedfrom wires under the supervision of the series fight scenechoreographer Yuen Wo, Ping.

    o The Matrix: Path of Neo is also another video game that was developedby the same company and it was released in November 2005. This isthe third video game base on the Matrix series. The games works in asimilar method like the previous games but it provides new optionsand in the game, the player may choose to participate in manydifferent actions scenes at one time.


    After the first Matrix film got released, there were books written about The Matrixstarted being published. The Art of the Matrix was the first book that werereleased a year after the Matrix film. It was written by both Wachoski brotherstogether with another author, Spencer Lamm. The book gives the readers an insightof the first Matrix films progress providing details such as conceptual drawings,storyboards, interviews with the people like the artists and participants that were apart of the film as well. Apart from that, the other books that were published later onwere The Matrix: The Shooting Script, Like a Splinter in Your Mind: ThePhilosophy Behind the Matrix Trilogy, Philosophers Explore The Matrix and manymore.


    Apart from the books, Matrix also produced a series collection of comics. In 2003, theWachowski brothers collaborate with Geof Darrow (comic artist) and produce twocomic books which was The Matrix Comics Vol.1 and The Matrix Comics Vol.2.The first comic book was released in Nov, 2003 and the second book was a year laterafter that. Besides the books itself, Matrix also use another way to interact with the

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    audiences by creating webcomics. So the webcomics is like a normal comic books butonly published online. It allows the fans and readers to get access through Interneteasily everywhere without needing to buy the books. In total together, the produce 3series of webcomics base on the Matrixs stories.

    SELF CONTAINED The Matrix has various of branches and it has been branch out successfully in itsown way however, not every branch is related to the original content. The contentfor each branch has its own narrative and uniqueness. Hence, the branches are notself contained. The audiences can't really proceed to other films or games withoutgoing through to the original narrative first.

    AUDIENCE RECEPTIONThe Matrix films still remains popular up till now and what makes the audiencesenjoys watching the films so much besides the narrative was the special effects. Theywere so successful that the fans started to create their own videos by making a shortfilm and dedicate it to the Matrixs films. There are websites that features short filmsor videos that were made by the fans and this is one ofthem, .

    ECONOMICSAll three Matrix films has done exceptionally well and in the economics. Each filmmanages to successfully gross more than the budget that was given in domesticallyand internationally.

    CONCLUSIONThe Matrix has been successfully adapted into the transmedia storytelling. Themedia platforms that were created was able to extend the contents from the filmsand Matrix series.


    AN INTRODUCTION Avatars first appearance was in a form of film that was produced and directed byone of the famous filmmaker, James Cameron. Avatar is a science fiction film and thenarrative was situated in the mid 22nd century. Its a story about the battle betweenthe United States armies and the Navis avatars from another planet calledPandora. They both have different mission in the war against each other, theUnited States main intention was to seek out for a type of precious mineral that wascalled Unobtanium whereas the avatars was the opposition, they were trying toprotect and prevent them from getting it. Starring withSam Worthington, aparaplegic marine was given the order to go on a unique mission, who travels toPandaro and had to blend in as an avatar, trying to convince the avatars and gains

    their trust. But later on the incident became an obstacle between following his ordersand protecting the world and the girl that he felt in love with throughout the story.
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    In the early years when James Cameron was producing other films such as Titanic, atthe same time, he begins the development of Avatar by written up around 80 pagesof scriptment. On August 1996, he announced that after completing the Titanic film,he would start working on the Avatars film but he then realise and stated that itwasnt really the right time to do yet because the technology that he wanted to use inthe films hasnt been developed and so, he decided to postpone the filmsproduction further till the necessary technology was invented. He waited for 15years for the arrival of technology and only then he put himself back on the filmsproduction.

    LONG LIVING The film was released in December, 2009 and was first premiered in Londonfollowed by United States later on. Avatar was the first film that was made in 3Dformat, described as one of the absolute striving, most breathe taking film in thefilms history using the latest technology that modernize the film making. Duringthe filmings process, James decided to developed a new gene ration of stereoscopiccameras. Its basically two cameras strapped together with each providing a slightlydifferent perception on the scene, impersonating the way how we as humansobserve the world in three dimensions way.

    EXPANDABILITY Avatar is still a recent film production and because it's still a quite new and recentfilm production, there wasn't much and it may have the possibility of working onextending the contents and making it transmedia.


    Before the film was released, a number of books was published and one of the bookswere written by Maria Wilheim and Dirk Mathison, it features a confidential reporton the biological and social history of Pandora. It contains 224 pages, providing thereaders an insight of the form of a field guide to the films fictional setting of theplanet of Pandora and its illustrated as a collection of data collected by the humansabout Pandora and the life on it. The book was released on November, 2009 byHarper Entertainment. The other books that were found on the website that relatesto Avatar were The Art of Avatar: James Camerons Epic Adventure, JamesCamerons Avatar: The Navi Quest, The Making of Avatar, and many more.


    In the process of making the film, Ubisoft Montreal (Game Company) created athird person action video game and it was launched on December 2009, same timearound when the film was released as well. The game was first launched withdevices such as PS 3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii and Nintendo and later on they released aPSP version. Ubisoft also announced that they will be using the same technologythat was shown in stereoscopic 3D cameras for a better entertaining purpose.According to James Cameron, Avatar was created for a world rich in characters,detail, conflict and cultural depth. It has the raw materials for a game that the more

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    demanding gamers of today will want to get their hands on, one that is rich invisuals and ideas and challenging in play. As a result, the game were successfullysold nearly 2.7 million copies on May, 2010.


    On December 2009, Mattel Toys made an announcement that they will introduce aline of action figures for Avatar itself. Each action figure will be made with a 3D webtag, called an iTAG. What it does is that the consumers get to scan it using through aweb cam, revealing its own unique content that is made specially for each of theaction figure. Besides that, a sequence of six different toys of different charactersfrom the film were distributed in McHappy Meals in McDonalds fast food chain s inmany different countries including in United States itself. On the same month,France Post (France Mail Services) released a special limited edition stamps based onAvatar. Apart from that, there are also some websites found on the Internet that sellsAvatars merchandise such as T -shirts, collection of toys and action figures from thefilm and many more.

    SELF CONTAINED Avatar is still reasonably still quite new and there hasn't really been any branchbeing build up or further extend. Therefore, there is no answer whether Avatar isself contained or not.

    AUDIENCE RECEPTION In terms of the audience reception in the Avatars film, audiences were impressedwith mostly the 3D effects but not the narrative itself. Apparently Avatar wasnt assuccessful as it was expected to be, some people love the film and some peopledislike it. According to one of the film reviews, No doubt that Avatar has the mostspectacular 3D and visual effects that draws millions of people to find the adventurein it. But it nevertheless feels unsatisfying and somehow lacks the pulse of a trulyalive film. Another review that was written by Andrew Pulver , he stated that The Titanic directors monstrously -hyped creationdoes look fantastic but, in trying to cover all the bases with militarist sci-fi, vacuouseco-waffle and an intra- species love story, its too baggy.

    ECONOMICS Although the Avatar did not gain a massive popularity from the audiences but thefilm certainly has gross more than its expected. The given budget in making the filmwas 237 million dollars and as a result, the total of gross revenue in United Stateswas around 760 million dollars and the world has a total of 2.7 billion dollars.

    CONCLUSION Avatar ha snt been successfully or well adapted in the transmedia storytelling. The
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    The shortest distance between two people is a story

    This is a two-part post written by Mitesh Solanki the last five things (that brought me closerto Jeff Gomez) will feature in part two.

    (Image courtesy of Brad Trent , NY)

    Not so recently, in August of 2011, I attended X Media Labs Jeff Gomez TransmediaMasterclass. Megan Elliot was kind enough to invite me as a guest (thank you Megan!). Ithink he should tour again next year and I hope this post will help to make that happen.

    The low down on Jeffs transmedia credits include: Avatar, Tron, Transformers, Pirates of theCaribbean, Hotwheels and Coca Colas The Happiness Factory. Links to: XMLMasterclass XML Jeff Gomez Transmedia Master Class 2011 , and Jeffs profile Jeff GomezCEO Starlight Runner Entertainment .

    I was fortunate to learn from the number one transmedia guru, who begun his class with anancient proverb The shortest distance between two people is a story . Key take-outs from theday were underpinned by this notion, and the truth of this proverb rang loud and clear by the

    days end.

    The first of its kind in the world, this one-day masterclass promised to deliver practical, how-to, hands-on training to help ramp up your income with transmedia storytelling. The session

    promised you would learn how to:

    1. Take titles/stories/films/media/brands across multiple platforms2. Evolve them into high quality persistent narratives3. Which in turn generate multiple revenue streams for you
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    This promise attracted a few dozen transmedia consultants in Sydney, who were all keen tolearn how to crack the IP and revenue issues. The masterclass delivered on this promise (plus

    more) and I want to share the headlines with you as I am intent to spread the word and helpsecure a 2012 tour with a larger and wider audience.

    However, it is tricky to write this post as I am treading a fine-line: I do not want to give toomuch away and risk compromising Jeff and XML, yet I think I need to share some of it togive you a taste. So, without giving too much away, I hope Jeff and X Media Labs dontmind if I share with you, s ome of the headlines from my key take -outs.

    The first 5 things that brought me closer to Jeff Gomez, are:

    1.0 Threshold assessment

    Take Out: Learn how close you are to someone and map out the thresholdoutline. Then learn how to cross the threshold (with good intentions).

    Why: Not only can it help to win over a bully (as it did for Jeff), but thisassessment can help a brand to get closer to its audience.

    2.0 Story telling with campfires and firewalls

    Take Out: We all want to be heard. And we all like it when we know that

    something or someone can hear us. Naturally, when this happens, ourmentality says Lets all join in. This then creates a longer lifespan for storiesand drives loyalty and engagement.

    Why: As humans, when we became self aware, we drew on cave walls toexpress ourselves and tell our story. Then we sat around campfires to tellstories, however in the beginning we were appalling at it (as speaking was arelatively new skill). To help us out, the shaman would pull stories from tribeleaders, or from the audience voice, and they would tell our story tous. Nowadays, technology allows us to create our own feedback loop, just likethe shaman did in the campfire days when we were learning how to talk.
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    3.0 Transmedia is not (common stereotypes)

    Cross dressing Scavenger hunting Rocket science TV on the internet A game or alternate reality (with points, winners and leader boards)

    4.0 Transmedia is

    Unfolding a narrative Extending the narrative Placing the narrative IP in the middle of all touchpoints Three or more narrative storylines existing within the same fictional universe

    on any of the given transmedia platforms Appealing to and validating the torchbearers Allowing for co-creation and co-ownership Allowing the audience to make a small phsysic leap between each layer (so

    the experience feels more like reality than a contrived and fake experience)

    5.0 The audience

    Needs to be cultivated, validated and celebrated Will always have something to say (especially youth) are used to being acknowledged Take everything as fact (especially if growing up with technology) Needs a dialogue Needs a theme

    The last 5 things that brought me closer to Jeff Gomez will feature in part two and willinclude: s uccess criteria, the grand narrative, a characters aspirational drivers, distantmountains, and the story canon.