For this blog post I am going to explore the topic that best captured my interest out of six presentations I was given that week, that was the presentation on the subject matter of Transmedia Storytelling.
Figure 1 – Convergence Culture by Henry Jenkins (Cssmentor.com, 2017)
So what is transmedia storytelling? well it’s a subject created by Henry Jenkins in his book ‘Convergence Culture’, it can be defined as to tell a single story over multiple platforms using a variety of digital media to deliver unique pieces of content with different points of entry accessible when combined or on their own.
Figure 2 – The old world and the new world (Storify, 2013)
The first key thing to note is that it’s easy to create components to a story that vaguely go together or allign side by side, this is not transmedia storytelling though, for it to be truly transmedia the elements have to combine to tell a bigger story, while still working in their own right, when combined they will tell a story that is more satisfying than it’s individual parts as shown in the diagram above.
I think this subject still has a lot of untapped potential, it’s still evolving with a lot more to come, it covers areas of interest and skill right at the forefront of the industry mixing those skills with new technology and when successfully done it’s extremely effective at reaching it’s audience. It’s also the dream topic if you are a fan of telling a good narrative with layers and depth.
Figure 3 – The online trailer for Pokemon Go (Vine Report, 2016)
Pokemon Go was the latest evolution of a long standing story that has been evolving for years with Pokemon and their interactions with each other and us. This was the biggest game of 2016, it was the second coming of Pokemon probably being at it’s most popular since the original game was released on the Game Boy in the late nineties. Over 30 million people worldwide playing the game regularly in it’s peak over last summer.
Figure 4 – Gorillaz – The animated video for ‘Do ya thang’ for converse shoes ft Andre 3000 (CGMeetup : Community for CG & Digital Artists, 2014)
Cartoon band the Gorillaz, the product of Blur front man Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewitt, have been celebrating twenty of years of working on this project this year, the band that exist in their own realm of comics, adverts, games and videos, yet can cross over to do live interviews, performances, release music and headline festivals. Their new album ‘Humanz’ is the latest chapter in the story being released to critical aclaim, this evolution of the band has already seen the first 360 degree video created by the band, the first live interview chat on facebook with the cartoon band members and further treats in store for the audience as the band embark on a world tour over the next year celebrate the new music and greatest hits.
Figure 5 – What media can help to tell a transmedia story (Blog.teachnet.ie, 2015)
I think a big part of the appeal of this kind of storytelling is that, you can be very playful and experimental as long as you are well organised, as you can see in this diagram there are plenty of outlets to tell components of your story/campaign ranging from video, gaming and film, to music, web and photography. There is so much potential in this area, so many combinations yet to be explored or fully achieved, there is a lot more room for progression in this area and in time some of the great storytellers of the modern generation are likely to rise and gain notoriety by working in this transmedia environment being flexible with their story to tell it over the piece of media that best suits the content and audience at that time, embracing skill with new technology as it comes and continues to reshape and redefine what is possible within this area.
Figure 6 – The virtual landscape of Bear71 (Bear71.nfb.ca, 2017)
While I knew very well about well documented examples such as Star Wars or Lost for transmedia storytelling, the stories that caught my interest fell into areas I had never explored before, an example of that was Bear71, this fascinating interactive website where you follow the story of a bear that has tracking information on it, you can follow a map, hear stories, even poetry and see social media posts in the eye of the bear, the story follows this idea of man intruding on it’s habitat to the point that we track it to keep us safe and we track the bear to keep the bear safe, the end result is wonderful and really interesting.
Figure 7 – Welcome to Pine Point opening animation (Pinepoint.nfb.ca, 2017)
Another example that really captured my attention was ‘Welcome to Pine Point’ a project about a man returning to a place where he grew up, an American mining town that literally doesn’t exist anymore today. To see it in this manner brought up lots of emotion and old memories.
Figure 8 – The story of the high school beauty in Pine Point (Pinepoint.nfb.ca, 2017)
Which then began this creative collage project retelling his story of his former home in the opinion of his own and by tracking down other former members of the community to see what happened to them and how life has treated them since moving on from this former town that held them all together.
Figure 9 – Presenting the lost footage of life within the community of Pine Point (Pinepoint.nfb.ca, 2017)
I believe there is a wonderful narrative here, a great project to collect and retell old stories and give a real ghost town, it’s digital stamp so it can be read about by those who cared about it and future generations, this was really inspiring to me.
Figure 10 – A table of various childrens characters and where they fit in terms of the development of key skills for children who follow the content and story of those characters (Articlesdirectoryme.info, 2017)
I also explored areas such as transmedia storytelling for children, parents and education, mixing up how a child learns so it’s not all in front of a screen or tablet and can encourage more activity designed for healthy living and exercise as much as to learn and get attached to a character/brand that has been developed and aimed very much at them.
Figure 11 – One Tree Hill – Comic style artwork, initially featured as the hobby of the character Peyton on the show, fan art has developed and evolved from this in the same style as featured on the show (Ward, 2006)
The final area that I was exploring that was relatively unexplored from my own point of view was begining to tap into the powerful world of fandom, where if your story has been a success it will become a cult classic or even immortal, where the demand for new stories within that franchise will keep on spawning as well as developing other avenues, spinoffs, origin stories and what if scenarios with the same loved characters, perhaps given new twists even devised by new authors, that level of passion and technology available to the internet generation in this modern era makes it easier than ever to get involved in creating content and sharing it around a passionate community to generate buzz and feedback.
To make something viral that captures the actual interest of the those involved with the core/original product would be a dream come true for these passionate fans. This is a really interesting world to explore and see where that may take you, the levels of fandom and passion for good stories being told can be on a more intense and personal connection than most of us ever hope to achieve with one another.
Figure 12 – A Transmedia Project Development diagram as highlighted by a transmedia storytelling success story (Pratten, 2010)
Now this is the concluding point to my research to date, I discovered this presentation slide from another transmedia storytelling project where they like to share with their fans the process of creating their production and how they make it fit within those rules as well as to keep it exciting, what I discovered was these are the six key areas to look into when creating a story, when you explore it further each of those six options raises nearly an equal number of questions each, leaving you with roughly thirty different questions to try and answer and address when creating your own story.
At this point I’m exploring those questions and exploring the complexities behind creating that next great story and trying to find further examples of those out on the road to that success. This begins my exploration into Transmedia storytelling i’m intrigued to see where it might take me over the coming months as my project and research evolves.
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Bear71.nfb.ca. (2017). NFB/Interactive – Bear 71. [online] Available at: http://bear71.nfb.ca/#/bear71 [Accessed 3 May 2017].
Blog.teachnet.ie. (2015). Microsoft Educator Network Ireland – TeachNet Blog › Transmedia Storytelling. [online] Available at: http://blog.teachnet.ie/transmedia-storytelling/ [Accessed 3 May 2017].
CGMeetup : Community for CG & Digital Artists. (2014). Making of Do Ya Thing Gorillaz. [online] Available at: http://www.cgmeetup.net/home/making-of-do-ya-thing-gorillaz/ [Accessed 3 May 2017].
Cssmentor.com. (2017). Journalism & Mass Communication Books. [online] Available at: https://cssmentor.com/journalism%20books.html [Accessed 3 May 2017].
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Pratten (2010). Lowlifes transmedia storytelling. [online] Slideshare.net. Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/ZenFilms/lowlifes-transmedia-storytelling [Accessed 3 May 2017].
Storify. (2013). TMS | TransMediaStorytelling. [online] Available at: https://storify.com/alltagslabor/transmedia-storytelling [Accessed 3 May 2017].
Vine Report. (2016). ‘Pokmon GO’ tips and tricks: Venusaur, Blastoise, Charizard and Dragonite are hardest to catch, zero capture rate for Pokmon Mew, Mewtwo, Zapdos, Articuno and Moltres – Vine Report. [online] Available at: https://www.vinereport.com/article/pokemon-go-tips-and-tricks-which-pokemon-is-the-easiest-hardest-to-catch/13380.htm [Accessed 3 May 2017].
Ward, H. (2006). dessins de helen ward. [online] Skyrock. Available at: http://helen-ward-pict.skyrock.com [Accessed 3 May 2017].