What exactly is Transmedia? Cross-platform? Multi-platform? Cross-media?
First a few definitions. When anyone uses/plays/reads/watches they are a consumer of the storyworld. And the ‘story’ will henceforth be known as the Intellectual Property. That’s because what transmedia does best, is take the initial IP and weave it magically across many platforms. The IP remains unchanged – stronger even.
Transmedia, is storytelling across multiple platforms. Or as uncle Henry Jenkins explains ‘it’s storytelling across multiple forms of media with each element making distinctive contributions to a viewer/user/player’s understanding of the story world. By using different media formats, it attempts to create “entry points” through which consumers can become immersed in a story world’
Transmedia seems to lend itself best to an IP that has deeply loyal fan base – like, yes, Sci-fi, Horror and Comic Books. Starlight Runner is widely considered the leader in Transmedia planning and implementation (Avatar, Tron, Prince of Persia) and founder Jeff Gomez was drawn to the biz after his discovery of the world of Kikaider. A Japanese sci-fi hero.
The big news this month, that Imagine signed a first look deal with Black Light based on ‘well thought out concepts with strong underlying symbolism and archetypal foundations, with graphic novels and designs that were exquisite’ was really no surprise.
Brian Grazer then goes on to lament: ‘we can’t afford to buy Marvel’.
But if we unstitch this grandiose concept of building story worlds (or story architecture) around these more, erm, (anyone got another word for geek? nope?) ok then – geeky genres – what are we left with?
Does Transmedia work with Romantic Comedy? If we look at Candice Bushnell’s Sex and the City, and the answer is yes, please!
What began as a series of columns in the New York Observer, grew into a book, then into the hugely successful HBO TV series, and now we wait for the second film.
The first SATC film had a 300% return on investment on US box office sales alone, while the other big franchise film India Jones and the Kingdom of Something or Other returned less than 200%.
Now there’s not a lot of deep mythological background to SATC, but there was a story progression, and different entry points – and the results speak for themselves. (I’ve heard it called transmedia lite – nice)
Does Transmedia work with kids? Hell yes.
Naturally & intuitively kids consume without prejudice. Online they are almost exclusively interested in the interaction with content. I’m mostly talking gaming here – gaming means engagement, and when gaming becomes an extension of the over-all story world you have a very powerful tool for growing your IP. But I’m also talking toys, ring tones, comics – anything kids can access their favorite hero or heroine. They’re the early adopters, and their consumption is the future of consumption.
Seize the Media showed the incredible power of transmedia & horror with their launch of Head Trauma. I’m still in awe at the incredible experience they put together, which included a ARG played out from the trip to the theatre, during the movie, and – as sinister as it gets – when the consumers got home.
Lance, Anita and David must be the holy trinity in Transmedia. Writer, Producer, Techy – they build on the Transmedia ethos by specifically citing the digital possibilities – ‘the online components exploit the social conventions, and social locations, of the internet.’ (And isn’t that totally the fun part?)
Selling the need to build a story ‘architecture’ must be a tough task. But we’re starting to see the amazing results when you do. And what happens when you don’t.
Transmedia seduces the consumer, leads them on, and show’s them something new. The story has moments, hints, messages, clues, links, merchandise – whatever is best – to lead the consumer through the story world, resulting in loyalty, a deeply rich IP, and ultimately, massive revenue potential.
If you’re a writer – for script, screen, graphic novel, book – should you be writing for multiple platforms? My answer is is not necessarily. Worrying about the where’s and how’s of delivering the IP can be the job of a brilliant cross-platform, multi-platform, transmedia producer. Don’t waste your time figuring out what the kindle is good for – just keep writing your book, play, game….
An idea is an idea. A story is a story. Keep thinking about the world, the journey, the IP – protect it and invite a producer in early to help you build the story architecture.
Let someone you trust decide where to stick what bit of it.