Transmedia: The Future of

Collapsus Introduction from SubmarineChannel on Vimeo.

I just met Tommy Pollatta at the Open Video Conference in NY. He's the producer of Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, and now the producer and filmmaker behind a "transmedia" project called Collapsus. (See this BB post on Transmedia.) Not only is Tommy about the sweetest guy you'd ever want to meet, but he's also developing some great tools and content dedicated to informing and engaging people about major issues through entertainment. His new form, what he's calling 'transmedia,' is basically documentary mixed with narrative branching off into video games and social networking. If Mafia Wars had been invented for good instead of, well, I'm-not-sure-what, it may have been able to leverage some of what Lammotta is hoping to put into the service of peak oil and energy policy. I'm not sure the above trailer does the experience justice, so please do check out the actual project, too, at


  1. Not sure if it’s just me, but vimeo embeds on BoingBoing don’t seem to play for me lately. I have to click thru to the vimeo site. I’m running Safari 5.0.2 on OS X 10.6.4. I’m also using Click to Flash, but even when loading all flash on a page such as this, clicking the vimeo play button doesn’t do anything.

  2. Yeah there was a guest blogger here back in June who wrote extensively about transmedia. I’m not really sold on the idea myself but perhaps this is the future of entertainment narratives.

  3. Saw Tommy speak at the Picnic conference in Amsterdam last week… his story about getting A Scanner Darkly out there was very interesting :)

  4. “His new form, what he’s calling transmedia”, isn’t really accurate. Henry Jenkins came up with the term back in 2003. The term only recently caught on, perhaps spurred by the creation of the Transmedia Producer credit by the Producers Guild of America. Previous to being called “transmedia”, many of us working in the genre have called it by another name – “Alternate Reality Game” (although there’s still much debate over what is or isn’t transmedia and/or an ARG). :)

    I wait to see what Tommy Pollatta does with the it!

  5. As varin said, the term “transmedia storytelling” has been in use by Henry Jenkins and other media scholars for years as a description of something that was already happening. Transmedia is any use of multiple media, such as movies, books, traditional games, and ARGs, where all media tell important parts of the story. Making a movie based video game is transmedia if the game extends the story, including backstory or plot points that are “canon” and don’t exist in the other media. Jenkins used the Matrix series as an example of transmedia storytelling. The idea is that to get the complete story, the audience has to follow it through many different forms.

  6. otoh, one of those things that can give a narrative greater depth and meaning, which is cool. otoh, this form more often degenerates into the classic ‘comic book crossover’ where you have to buy dozens of different titles [here, various ‘platforms’] just to have some kind of clue or understanding what the hell is going on. Just a clever way to extract more $$ from us poor saps who only want to be entertained :)

  7. I’m surprised at the few comments on this post, considering that it’s been ricocheting around twitter on all the #transmedia hashtags!!

    Transmedia, when carefully planned, respectfully considered and elegantly rolled out can, and does, extend story across platforms and timelines. Transmedia ‘rabbit holes’ can give immersion, placing the reader/viewer/audience at the centre of the story.

    I’m not sure that I agree that this form often generates into the classic ‘comic book crossover’ though, and doesn’t have to point to buying different titles to understand what is going on.

    There is no doubt that there will be transmedia campaigns that are designed to extract more $$ from the consumer as they’re encouraged to buy, buy, buy this extension or that, only to figure out what’s going on. But that’s not the RIGHT way, necessarily. The ethos behind a great transmedia project, in my opinion, is where you can consume content as a stand-alone experience on a primary platform, with the option for deeper immersion or wider perspective by ‘discovering’ the other platform channels too.

    A good transmedia rollout will increase spreadability, drillability, immersion and extension. Check out some good and bad examples at and –

    And I don’t know why really, but I’m surprised that Rushkoff, speaker at ToC if I remember rightly, isn’t more versed in transmedia than to simply define it as, “basically documentary mixed with narrative branching off into video games and social networking”.


  8. I’ve since learned that my saying that Henry Jenkins “came up” with the term might not be entirely accurate either. It was a term used in other circles before Jenkins, he just applied it to our field first. Or so I’ve been told! :)

  9. Check out this interactive #ARG #FBapp game at Complete real-life missions and write missions for other players! Complete real-life missions to climb levels and then write missions for the other players! Do it all from your Facebook profile! See what ARGnet has to say about Pheon at #transmedia

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