The TENTACULAS of Transmedia Storytelling

I live in a story world and I am the Hero and the Princess.  Each and everyday I am creating and sharing my life with the world around me.  I blog, I tweet, tumbl, and make short films to express myself.  I am empowered and entrapped by media.  It’s 2011 and everyone is a producer and consumer, audience and performer; we are filling the void with the banal details of our lives as if they were epic poems. The Internet has given us huge entry points and tools to share and consume which has altered how we can tell our stories.  We are the tribe of the transmediated.
After attending IFP and Power to the Pixel’s Cross Media Forum this week I am filled with positive and creative ideas about storytelling, marketing, and media consumption. The conference centered mostly on the idea of transmedia, a new industry buzz word that has been described as a technique of telling stories across multiple platforms and formats like film, ARG, (Augmented Reality Games) television and is now recognized by the Producers Guild of America.
The event brought together a well balanced line up of speakers from all over the entertainment industry. We heard from Jeff Gomez of Starlight Runner Entertainment, a company that has designed story worlds for Hollywood franchises such as “Avatar” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Gomez spoke about the importance of fostering dialog within a community, but more importantly bridging a dialog between us all as a whole. “These Transmedia, multi-platform story campaigns give us a new way to sell stuff, but it also gives us a new way to control what we want to say.”
Veteran ad man Ty Montague spoke exclusively about the importance of a well-crafted story and it being the crux of any project. Though Montague works primarily in the world of advertising he believes that, “Story is the handle that people use to curate whether you are in or out of their lives.” This applies to brands, movies, games and any other content we choose.
Kevin Slavin of spoke about parasocial relationships in media; “It’s not the size of the screen or the speakers, it’s the crowd that releases storytelling magic.”  He showed us the Laffbox, a device built in 1959 that generated the laugh track for recorded sitcoms that lacked a real audience. The Laffbox contained a collection of recorded laughs from anonymous people no longer living, that created the illusion of an engaged audience. We have replaced it with Live Tweeting, a living record of verifiable audience engagement.
Story architect, Lance Weiler showed us how NFC (near field communication) enable phones added to his Sundance Film Festival project, Pandemic 1.0, to interface with the physical world in new ways.“Technology can open portals that shift perceptions toward life affirming values.”
Case study of Pandemic 1.0 by Lance Weiler.

As this type of work evolves I think that the core value of story should stay strong. “Transmediating” everything doesn’t always mean success. Brands, artists and audiences will still need to find the right entry points that connect to create unforgettable work.



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  2. joey
    04/25 2011

    nice post JR. re: Pandemic 1.0… ambitious to say the least… had to watch the vid twice to digest everything.

    will look forward to more about video game stuff… curious if video-games are a viable platform for story-telling or other narrative possibilities, and where branding lands within all of that.


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