Monday, November 24, 2008

Transmedia Storytelling and the Future of Entertainment

In his book Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, Henry Jenkins describes the term "transmedia storytelling" as "a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience."

He added that, "Transmedia storytelling is the art of world making. To fully experience any fictional world, consumers must assume the role of hunters and gatherers, chasing down bits of the story across media channels, comparing notes with each other via online discussion groups, and collaborating to ensure that everyone who invests time and effort will come away with a richer entertainment experience."

Is this the future of entertainment?

Transmedia storytelling was the subject of a recent panel discussion at NewTeeVee Live called Bridging The Gap Between Television and Online. The session was moderated by Chris Albrecht, NewTeeVee and the panelists included Jesse Alexander, Former Writer and Executive Producer, Heroes; Bill Gannon, Director of Online Operations, Lucasfilm; Jeff Gomez, CEO Starlight Runner Entertainment; and Greg Goodfried, Co-Founder, President and COO, EQAL.

In the session "Content creators both indie and traditional tell us about pushing the limits of format, interactivity, and storytelling to reach their audience." They talked about the important of transmedia, what are the metrics for transmedia and how to make transmedia media work. You can read the NewTeeVee post on the seesion here or view the video below.

At their at Streamingmedia West keynote Greg Goodfried and his creative partner Miles Beckett discussed their version of transmedia which they call "social entertainment" for their web series LG15|The Resistance which encourages participation from their dedicated fan base to figure out puzzles, find clues and watch videos to unravel plot mysteries.

The web site is a fundamental tool to tell the story in a MySpace type format with ARG (Alternate Reality Game) elements, daily blogs, videos and social shows. They created a universe for community to be an active participant in to help solve puzzles and be part of the resistance. A good vs. evil storyline.

"We call the shows that we produce ’social shows,’ and they’re very different from a TV show or a film,” says Miles Beckett. “The way that you actually construct the narrative, the way that the plot points flow over the course of the week, the way the site interplays with the video, the way the community works together and talks to the videos and talks to the characters, is all different,” - from EQAL » Blog Archive » Video: ‘Lonelygirl15′ creators Beckett, Goodfried discuss new drama

Their keynote from Streaming Media West 2008 is featured below.

In this video, Jesse Alexander at NewTeeVee Live from Chris Albrecht on Vimeo, Alexander says for his next project having a transmedia component integrated into the DNA of the show is very important. He thinks the next step in transmedia drama fiction is building gaps in your fiction to create a participatory space where the audience can interact with the narrative in a meaningful way. Much like what Greg Goodfried and Miles have done with their LG15 franchise and what CSI Franchise creator calls Anthony Zuiker "cross-platform storytelling."

Jesse Alexander at NewTeeVee Live from Chris Albrecht on Vimeo.

Clearly, transmedia storytelling is not for everyone but it will continue to grow as Hollywood studios and content creators look to broaden their markets and direct their content across many channels to increase revenue.