Mar 312011
 

How does a country encourage its creative producers to innovate media projects & services? Many leave it to commercial forces only, where it is an innovate or die, sales driven culture. Some though with small or fledgling production communities have to rely on government subsidy and kick-start funding to get most ‘innovative’ projects off the ground. I have looked and been involved in the latter for many years as Multi-Platform producer devising initiatives, director of training units and lecturer in education sectors which include several European countries, Canada, Australia, UK and US. How can we better divvy up millions of tax payers dollars and spread it between heritage and multi-platform?

Below are a few excerpts of a longer article/paper & book chapter (full of juicy stats & facts!) on public tax payers funding of global multi-platform media projects from a perspective of “are we giving it a ‘fair-go’” – as they say down under. It is focused on all government creative funding agencies who help divide up ‘new and old’ screen culture funds in their respective countries. Its intention is to help multi-platform (as opposed to the vagary ‘digital’) move forward rather than be held back by analog thinking or status quo market approaches. I will PDF and link later…

As some of this sails close to one or two of my ‘day jobs’ (some of my credentials in this area are listed at the bottom of the post) I have kept it as generic as possible, without any intentional finger pointing. I hope some top level ideas I suggest to help fix something that has been broken for decades, may not fall on deaf ears.

Preface – Traditional Media vs Multi-Platform: Where’s the engagement?

To choose an excerpt or ‘why multi-platform’ this old argument about the old vs the new is appropriate here. There are many who say we are in a golden era of TV and Film. Audiences both love and trust these mediums and growth is strong across the board. So naturally “we must find and fund new talent and projects in these areas for the good of our culture”. Telling stories through film, tv, galleries, concert halls and books is the only real media to take into consideration. Or is it? This is the status quo, most public funds for media are for localised film and TV and ‘culturally’ significant ‘art’ projects. The ‘other stuff’ oft called multi-platform or digital or online is still not taken seriously. I suggest it still does not reflect what and how its people are consuming media and how they are engaged in that usage.

To give a sense of this disparity, for example in Australia last years total spend (note this includes commercial investment) on film was US $336mill yet overall funds for ‘multi-platform’ creative projects across all public agencies amounted to approx $12-15mill – with the largest funder in the space Screen Australia about to provide approx $4mill annually for creative multi-platform. If we also add TV funding into the mix and think of other territories also (UK film spend US $1.48 bill) we can get to an estimate ratio of around 9:1 of traditional media funding vs multi-platform. Note this is about creative ‘story-centric’ projects vs digital business or hardware enterprise. That means around 9 times more is publicly granted/invested in Film & TV than Multi-Platform or it’s storytelling child, transmedia. I am still adding up figures from other regions which may alter that slightly and although I would like to, don’t get me started on the balance spent on training and education across these two sectors!

As I presented in my last post/article (Navigating the World of Multi-Platform) the media landscape has now significantly fragmented from the 1970-90s yet those in control of the ‘funding’ & educational mechanisms are, I would suggest, still basing decision from those days by funding what is effectively just ‘linear video stories’ – vs more interactive across multiple media channels. Sure there are a lot of statistics that on the surface back this up – for example, TV viewing has remained static and even growing regardless of the increase of  video watching on the web or games usage and box office is strong even with illegal digital distribution and on and on. But when you look at some sectors, print and music for example, who themselves were saying ‘business as usual’ 2 years ago, it tells a completely different story purely from a sales perspective – due to online distribution (eBooks & mp3 torrents) traditional sales are falling at between 10-30% annually.

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Jan 172011
 

Social media is a humbling experience much of the time. For one it is a super fast barometer of many aspects of our digital persona made up partly of a) our online influence, b) what people ‘feel’ about you (sentiment) and c) who we are connected too but more recently with the introduction of Twitter Lists we now have an element of ‘labelling’ aka ‘tagging’. Like most I am not keen on being pigeon holed, filed and rubber stamped as ‘this kind’ of person or someone who only ‘thinks/creates/is involved’ in those things, but I was fascinated this morning in doing what Laurel Papworth did some months ago, looking at how others saw me based only on my Twitter activity.

I have currently been added to 700 lists (which I think is up in the top 10% or so?) –

the key of course is that these lists are created un-prompted by those they follow, they have selected ‘you’ quietly in the background to be a part of a personal filter, carefully structured by users who want a way to distill the vastness of a 140 character universe of noise, that is twitter – making lists for themselves of a few key personal influencers through to hundreds of sharing tweeters across several lists on quite broad topics, the lists themselves followed by thousands.

There were over 6.5 million twitter lists at the start of 2010 so I suspect at least double that for 2011 according to TNW and there are hundreds of tList directories on the web now such as ListAtlas that focuses on the most popular lists such as 22 000 following the @bieberarmy :: justinfollowplease list of 91 fans who “want to be followed” by JB himself or  38 verified world leaders compiled into this list @verified :: World Leaders followed by 15 000 or so. But back to my own little world…I am not sure if the lists below represent ‘who I am’, especially as 75% of my twitter activity is sharing links, but they certainly represent areas I work in and am interested by.

… without further ado – I quickly used TextWrangler to pull out key words and broke the 700 lists (I am on) into smaller ‘categorised’ batches. This serves as a one stop shop for me to dip in and out and decide which lists I will follow and for you to possibly find ones you may find of interest.

What do your lists say about you?

TRANSMEDIA

  1. http://twitter.com/tlists/transmedia-995 The most listed Tweeters on 37 lists about Transmedia
  2. http://twitter.com/#!/aliciakan/transmediatweeps Teaching me a little bit more about transmedia, everyday
  3. http://twitter.com/#!/annabelroux/transmedia
  4. http://twitter.com/#!/matthanson/screen-bleed Media theories & futures in a multiplatform world.
  5. http://twitter.com/#!/brand_candy/transmedia-storytelling People interested in transmedia storytelling
  6. http://twitter.com/#!/bulldogmi/isthistransmedia A list of crossmedia, transmedia and storytelling tweets
  7. http://twitter.com/#!/Ch_Larue/transmedia
  8. http://twitter.com/#!/daniele_ferrari/crossmedia-transmedia
  9. http://twitter.com/#!/DilemmaLA/transmedia
  10. http://twitter.com/#!/eceilhan/transmedia
  11. http://twitter.com/#!/FilmThreat/transmedia-artists A self-updating filtered list of people I follow (generated by http://twitter.com/#!/formulists)
  12. http://twitter.com/#!/FLB_AlainThys/media-innovation tweets about media innovation, crossmedia, transmedia and other interesting media developments
  13. http://twitter.com/#!/frank_tentler/transmedia-avangard List of Transmedia and Transmedia Storytelling Avangard on Twitter
  14. http://twitter.com/#!/geoffreylong/transmedia Scholars and practitioners in transmedia.
  15. http://twitter.com/#!/helloflow/worldoftransmedia all people you want to follow on transmedia storytelling!
  16. http://twitter.com/#!/ivanovitch/transmedia People working in, interested in, thinking about Transmedia.
  17. http://twitter.com/#!/jlsimons/transmedia TM
  18. http://twitter.com/#!/KH_enthu_Ziasm/transmedia well, are you transmedia ready ?
  19. http://twitter.com/#!/melaniemcbride/gaming-transmedia-10 Makers, observers, researchers and players of games/transmedia.
  20. http://twitter.com/#!/nouners/transmedia
  21. http://twitter.com/#!/nwangpr/transmedia This list follows those who are exploring new storytelling opportunities for brands and agencies.
  22. http://twitter.com/#!/nyuji/transmedia
  23. http://twitter.com/#!/onceuponaword/transmedia A list of people who regularly tweet smart things on transmedia
  24. http://twitter.com/#!/pascalmory/transmedia
  25. http://twitter.com/#!/paulalexgray/transmedia
  26. http://twitter.com/#!/Pixel8studio/transmedia Stories to be told.
  27. http://twitter.com/#!/pseudonymDK/transmedia Important people to follow to learn more about transmedia
  28. http://twitter.com/#!/Sarn/transmedia-2
  29. http://twitter.com/#!/tactica/transmedia
  30. http://twitter.com/#!/TedHope/transmedia
  31. http://twitter.com/#!/WebVideoMedia/transmedia-storytelling
  32. http://twitter.com/#!/nativeshell/trans-incidental Transmedia news and peeps

NEWER MEDIA

  1. http://twitter.com/#!/thatgreg/new-media-2 People actively changing the way media is created and ultimately consumed.
  2. http://twitter.com/#!/chicklitgurrl/new-media-9
  3. http://twitter.com/#!/ftiwa/new-media
  4. http://twitter.com/#!/iamlowetion/new-media
  5. http://twitter.com/#!/Morgan_Flood/new-media
  6. http://twitter.com/#!/pascalroeyen/new-media
  7. http://twitter.com/#!/RichGarner/new-media

AUGMENTED REALITY

  1. http://twitter.com/#!/AaronMarshall/augmented-reality Cool folks tweeting interesting things about Augmented Reality.
  2. http://twitter.com/#!/ayaLAN/augmented-reality
  3. http://twitter.com/#!/Balubab/augmented-reality Augmented Reality universe
  4. http://twitter.com/#!/bobbyverlaan/augmented-reality
  5. http://twitter.com/#!/BrianSe7en/augmented-reality
  6. http://twitter.com/#!/chrisgrayson/augmented-reality-peeps People & Companies involved in Augmented Reality, as well as AR Blogs
  7. http://twitter.com/#!/claudiochea/augmented-reality-ar
  8. http://twitter.com/#!/fbeeper/augmented-reality
  9. http://twitter.com/#!/Franck_Briand/augmented-reality
  10. http://twitter.com/#!/jamesalliban/augmented-reality
  11. http://twitter.com/#!/renatefischer/ar
  12. http://twitter.com/#!/konterkariert/augmented-reality
  13. http://twitter.com/#!/mikeyjhay/augmented-reality
  14. http://twitter.com/#!/RWW/augmented-reality
  15. http://twitter.com/#!/eduardovalencia/augmentedreality
  16. http://twitter.com/#!/tomyun/ar
  17. http://twitter.com/#!/GaryPHayes/alternate-augmented
  18. http://twitter.com/#!/siyann/immersive virtual worlds, augmented reality, immersive experiences
  19. http://twitter.com/#!/dromescu/ar Augmented Reality
  20. http://twitter.com/#!/jlapoutre/mobile-ar Mobile Augmented Reality

INTERESTING, THOUGHT LEADER & MINDS

  1. http://twitter.com/#!/_Antonella_/ar-thoughtleaders
  2. http://twitter.com/#!/9dimension/brightside bright ppl
  3. http://twitter.com/#!/owlark/interesting-people-a1 Great people: listed or interested
  4. http://twitter.com/#!/InShot/thought-leadership James Grant Hay’s Thinking Out Aloud
  5. http://twitter.com/#!/7seashell/interesting-people
  6. http://twitter.com/#!/torridluna/minds
  7. http://twitter.com/#!/BlessTheTeacher/interesting-people
  8. http://twitter.com/#!/CelticWitch99/no-idea-but-interesting
  9. http://twitter.com/#!/holla_tweet/interesting-ppl
  10. http://twitter.com/#!/LMurphy140/from-far-far-away non local interesting
  11. http://twitter.com/#!/ManuCedat/interesting-people
  12. http://twitter.com/#!/Marcey_H/interesting-people
  13. http://twitter.com/#!/MikeFreyParadux/bloggers Bloggers! Check these wonderful blogs by interesting tweeps.
  14. http://twitter.com/#!/OwenKelly/people a miscellaneous assortment of interesting people
  15. http://twitter.com/#!/paolonieddu/insight-and-cool-shit Links to interesting stuff
  16. http://twitter.com/#!/robbnotes/interesting
  17. http://twitter.com/#!/sonjagottschalk/interesting
  18. http://twitter.com/#!/WayneNH/interesting-watch

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May 252010
 

…and the truth about ARGs.

Now that transmedia is everywhere and the Producers Guild of America have turned the ‘transmedia producer’ into a bona fide (or at least recognised) professional role one thing that rears it’s cross-media head is, who and where are the best transmedia producers going to come from? I have spent a good part of the last 15 years mentoring & training traditional & non-traditional media types in multiple platform content and now question where the best producers of this multifaceted ‘new’ content will come from – academia, film, book authors, social media consultants, game designers, TV, web developers, radio, advertisers, young, old, not yet born? Read on, a ‘hypothetical’ interview follows 🙂 and this is an opinion piece I cannot put in my book or lecture about!

TRANSMEDIA – AMBIGUOUS CONCEPT?

Firstly what is it and does it actually mean anything at all? It is fantastic that the term ‘transmedia’ is now so widespread across the industry and with the official credit (attached ironically to film primarily) but is it a bubble about to burst – is what we have come to know as ‘transmedia’ in danger of being blown out of all proportion.

Here are some of the problems:

  1. Everyone is a transmedia producer – yes you’ve made a website that is attached to a TV show, your a TP. Created a mobile game that has a line or two from the comic, you’re a TP. No one will police this – is it a truly integrated story environment, does it have clever plot links or consistent characters?. A TP is a decathlete (multi-skilled, hard to get a one word answer about what they do in a bar!), gone is nice and simple mono media, a TV producer makes TV shows, film director directs films. You can be a TP if you merge your story across two or more media areas? But more on this later in the post.
  2. Transmedia as a concept is not focused. OK I know Henry Jenkin’s original definition has been spread around the web but it is a definition that is too broad. Perhaps I should exercise my floccinaucinihilipilification and suggest that something that tries to describe everything is actually worthless? Transmedia like a black hole in the universe it tries to describe sucks in everything that has come before (cross media, 360, social media, augmented reality, pervasive gaming and so on). At the other end of this spectrum citing Matrix or Blair Witch or other brand to justify the ‘field’ as mainstream it becomes apparent that the quoted definition itself is rather vacuuous. To quote Jenkins again from an LA Times article, transmedia – “means telling a story across different platforms, each element of which may or may not stand on its own but contributes to an enriched, dynamic, more participatory and “lifelike” experience.”
  3. We are still in the hype phase. Basically anything cool and different those transmedia types (and I point the finger at myself too btw) will take ownership of. I even heard the other day someone say Transmedia is the new Social media and augmented reality even gets a look in. I am not surprised those still getting their head around the ‘story’ potential of social networks or a cute mobile game find it all rather, dis-jointed. Also the increase in experimental and experiential ‘event’ based marketing suddenly meant transmedia is now inextricably linked with brand extensions (TV, film, product) – anything that is not a linear, branded film or TV show. I think for those who live in the transmedia echo chamber this has been the case for many years.
  4. It feels rather academic. Trans-media used to be an alternative semi-academic term to ‘cross-media’ (trans, from the latin ‘crossing’) but is now used to describe everything, non-linear, interactive, extension, participatory, social, brand, play, multi-platform, pervasive and so on. The idea that stories would be told in different places goes back thousands of years but in a modern media context a rich target for study and theorizing. Along came Henry Jenkins who coined the term transmedia almost a decade after the first basic cross-media incarnation. Henry admirably self confesses as being ‘too busy lecturing and presenting about transmedia, to partake’ of the industrial flavour of transmedia “some of it is not well done yet”.
  5. It is still a teenager. It has grown up before it’s time and become a troublesome big headed teenager without any true home and turned into a dysfunctional orphan at once protectively nurtured by over possessive academics, hijacked by experimental ad agencies and hardly understood by flailing stuck-in-time broadcasters. Originally cross-media was an intellectually stimulating concept – memories of mid 90s, pioneering BBC days also my old friend Brian Seth-Hurst who is “Referred to as “the father of cross platform” Hurst coined the term in 1998 as MD of Convergent Media at Pittard Sullivan”. Earlier definitions just talked about story based ‘crossing platforms’ element but since the exponential increase in social media as a place for millions to dwell it has suddenly had the participatory/social part added and also a suggestion that it is now a more integrated form of storytelling, I suppose I should have added a level 5 to my 5 year old (but about to be removed!) wikipedia cross media definition!
  6. Danger of being hijacked – Alongside all of this we have a ‘clique’ of so-called experts who try to describe something which is so simple on one hand (stuff on multiple platforms) yet so ambiguous on the other (fragmented narrative effervescence)  – time will expose the Transmedia echo chamber I suppose.

Of course I have nothing against the term per-say in the absence of alternatives having created transmedia entities/sites like Transmediadesign.org or lamp.edu.au or muvedesign.com – all transmedia in focus – but lets start thinking about the emperors clothes. Indeed the Producers Guild definition of the TP, however bold in its intention, is still a little ambiguous about the precise elements of the role to say the least

A Transmedia Narrative project or franchise must consist of three (or more) narrative storylines existing within the same fictional universe on any of the following platforms:  Film, Television, Short Film, Broadband, Publishing, Comics, Animation, Mobile, Special Venues, DVD/Blu-ray/CD-ROM, Narrative Commercial and Marketing rollouts, and other technologies that may or may not currently exist. These narrative extensions are NOT the same as repurposing material from one platform to be cut or repurposed to different platforms.

A Transmedia Producer credit is given to the person(s) responsible for a significant portion of a project’s long-term planning, development, production, and/or maintenance of narrative continuity across multiple platforms, and creation of original storylines for new platforms. Transmedia producers also create and implement interactive endeavors to unite the audience of the property with the canonical narrative and this element should be considered as valid qualification for credit as long as they are related directly to the narrative presentation of a project.

Transmedia Producers may originate with a project or be brought in at any time during the long-term rollout of a project in order to analyze, create or facilitate the life of that project and may be responsible for all or only part of the content of the project. Transmedia Producers may also be hired by or partner with companies or entities, which develop software and other technologies and who wish to showcase these inventions with compelling, immersive, multi-platform content.

TRANSMEDIA – CONTENT (THE TRUTH ABOUT ARGs?)

But this post is not just about the word – there are hundreds of blog posts even now still trying to really get under the surface of what transmedia means and it is too easy to fall down the semantic rabbit hole of terminology and the endless subjective splits between academics, industry and wannabes. Perhaps something more concrete can be found in the ‘transmedia stuff’ itself. What is this stuff and who is making it?

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