Transmedia Storytelling and the New Media Convergence

 Wikipedia Commons C C3 David Goliath Blanton

Narrative media is undergoing a shift from the traditional model of
single, linear story lines to much broader explorations of the story
world. Narratives are developed within larger contexts where even
tertiary characters can act as launch points for new stories that
flesh out the fictional universe. These bleed into the physical world
through alternate reality gaming and transmedia cross-platform
experiences that directly engage the audience, drawing them into the
story through real-world challenges. ARG's may not be especially new
but they're being more commonly integrated into franchise productions
through transmedia campaigns across web sites, mobile engagement,
shorts, graphic novels, video games, music, and any other possible
medium that can extend the story.

While much of this shift has been driven by the entertainment
industry, typically around run-up advertising campaigns, transmedia
experiences are perhaps most compelling as native expressions of a
fully-articulated narrative universe. This is transmedia world
building: creating a fictional universe so rich and complete that a
multitude of interweaving stories can emerge from it, taking form
through the social and technological spaces we share.

The video game
spin-off becomes an opportunity to extend the narrative and create a
new experience. The web site becomes a breadcrumb in the story arc
offering a phone number that conveys a meeting place. The graphic
novel picks up the life of a tertiary character from the original
story. The audience is asked to participate in the unfolding
narrative.

The pieces here aren't particularly new but they're all starting to
converge with the technologies that enable these experiences. Most
importantly (and disruptively) they are converging in a way that
radically empowers independent content creators at exactly the moment
when they've been completely abandoned by the industry giants of
yesteryear. The majors have ditched or shelved their independent film
houses and now focus solely on tent-pole blockbusters. Premiers at
Cannes, Sundance, and other indie fests are barely selling to the
studios. Yet, independent creators can set up powerful home studios
and score a RED camera or even a Canon 5D mk2 to shoot & produce
exceptional, authentic work. And very soon the audience will control
access to this massive Long Tail of content right from their living
room (and from their mobiles, and laptops, and kiosks, and car
stereos, etc...)

Indeed, the near-simultaneous announcement of both Google TV and the
new iteration of Apple TV herald the final arrival of truly integrated
internet TV. This is the enxt major wave of convergence. These devices
will fully legitimize web video - the pre-eminent domain of
independent film, tv, and short-format creators - and bring it
directly into the living room for mass consumption. Viewers will be
able to open chat streams, web browsers, interactive content, and
feedback polling while watching content from YouTube, Hulu, Vimeo and
anyone else uploading to the cloud. Content providers will grab
analytics off the back-end, manage ad placement, and push interactive
challenges directly to the viewers. Internet TV convergence will be
radically disruptive.

The majors are fighting hard to control this space. They'll continue
to defend the old models & limp box office gimmicks like "3D" movies
while new media innovators will be figuring out how to use Microsoft's
Kinect and augmented reality and geolocation to extend the reach &
impact of their content. New models of crowdfunding & collaboration
will bring the audience into the production, and creators will push
out distribution through iTunes, Netflix, torrents, and the emerging
array of independent web hosts. Whatever the role of Old Media may be
in the future, independent creators will play a much larger role in
the new media landscape.