Aug 052010

…than Agencies and Filmmakers. Why do transmedia professionals have a difficult time achieving authentic and fluid transmedia stories and why do ‘existing’ branded entertainment & digital agencies tend towards lowest common denominator, tried and tested formulaic cross media, more about  PR, advertising and marketing than real ‘story’ focused engagement. Against this and rather paradoxically we have the ‘so-called’ audience/users actually telling their ‘life’ stories across platforms in a much more natural and engaging way.

Having produced and studied cross media since 1997 (“What do Audiences Want” BBC pres) one very large and persistent problem has always been creating authentic transmedia stories – natural story arcs and bridges that lead you onward through a long format, multi platform experience. So why is this? What techniques do makers of user created transmedia (you and I wearing our normal, connected people hats) employ that make it more interesting to their target audience and what can the ‘artificial storytellers’ learn?

Montecity July 4th Celebs

note: this is a personal/user POV condensed version of a  longer chapter intro section in my wip book Networked Media Storytelling: Transmedia Design and Production.

Networked Media StorytellingFirstly excuse the use of the term ‘audience’ in the title, it is still a convenient catch-all for the ‘great unwashed’, old BBC term 🙂 or rather, non-professional creators. Of course we are equals and participant users when using well designed professional transmedia services, but what do ‘users’ do when telling their own stories, that pro “experience creators” don’t do and may possibly never achieve?

Before we proceed this is not comparing apples and oranges as on one side we have ‘user created transmedia’ (UCT?) ‘life stories’ aimed at a specific ‘user group’ and on the other professionally created transmedia ‘fiction’ aimed at fans or niche ‘players’. Both have a target audience and both have stories to tell.


To help frame this even more a ‘simple’ example. A typical well networked person wants to share an experience, tell a single (or part of a longer arc) story to ‘their’ audience, lets say (deliberately mundane!) a personally amazing chance encounter with a strange overseas friend who share stories during a mini afternoon catch-up adventure & challenges at various city locations. Challenges being obnoxious shop assistants or overcharging taxi driver etc: 🙂 Remember this is their, Hero’s Journey, we all have one every moment of our lives, some bigger than others. In this example the main user has a pre-existing networked media story environment (amongst other networked elements) consisting of:

  1. 500 facebook friends
  2. run a well read blog
  3. 1200 twitter followers
  4. regular FourSquare user
  5. a heavily subscribed YouTube channel
  6. a busy personal flickr account
  7. use sms and skype a lot
  8. meet up with their physical social circle regularly

User Created Transmedia

Full size link – As the image illustrates I hope, and this is probably old hat to many reading this post, we can see how the rippling of moments (Laurel Papworth covers the social aspects of this in great detail in her post Ripple: Social Network Influencers) across the users ‘story world’ is constantly punctuated as the story develops. Also notice how the story world is setup – the Foursquare updates for example ‘this is where I am – if something happens you will already know…” reinforcing environment and back story. It is important also to take on-board that the user in this case feels the ‘need’ to share, part of their being is now about being constantly active in ‘their story’ network, that need will be reflected by by the network (aka a captive audience) – often it will be quick bursts of activity in real time, pushing messages outwards and occasionally responding to ‘influential’ friends as they know those contacts will proliferate the story even more. Notice also in the diagram that auto updates (twitter pushing into Facebook or flickr) are an acceptable part of more social storytelling as the need to know means a level of ‘spam’ acceptance. I could go on but this is to partly demonstrate how

Today’s socially networked users are evolving into the most talented and natural transmedia storytellers, able to fluently manipulate, create and respond across multiple ‘personally nurtured’ channels transforming in the process something very complex into something beautifully simple

OK the best pro-transmedia relies on the social media connections above to disperse their narratives but as with any form of 3rd party story, we see it is a temporary viral layer (movies, TV shows, games etc) on top of their deeper, personal life story…

The most successful element in user created transmedia are the natural bridges between channels and platforms whereas professional transmedia storytellers often force feed its audience explicit or contrived ‘in your face’ links

As usual my preamble has turned into a tome so without further ado here are ten sections that came from lectures I did on transmedia design at various presentations and higher ed establishments in 2008/9 which I will put up on my slideshare account along with some transmedia bible templates – highlighting some of the fundamental and underlying principles of an authentic networked story environment. I have compared responses to each from an UCT and professional creators perspective, across the specific kinds of interactions within the transmedia, social environment. These are all appropriate to drama, documentary and brand/ad transmedia design, production and storytelling.


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The Count

 Posted by on September 29, 2009 at 1:02 am  Add comments

Click for App Store Page

Original Counter and Post from 24 Sep 2009!

August 2016  ‘Social’ Update

  • YouTube mobile videos viewed 1 billion per day Source Jul 2016
  • Photos on Instagram 95 mill daily Source Jun 16
  • Likes on Facebook 10 bill per day Source Jun 2016
  • YouTube ad revenue $4.28 bill per year Source 2015
  • Hours streamed on netflix 42.5 bill per year Source Jan 2016
  • Snapchat video views 10 bill per day Source
  • iPhones sold $150 bill per year Source 2016
  • New mobile social users 1 mill per day Source Nov 2015
  • Plus 1s on Google Plus 5 bill per day Source Nov 13
  • Money made in US from PokemonGo $1.6 mill per day Source Jul 2016
  • Messages on Facebook messenger & WhatsApp 60 bill per day Source Nov 2015
  • Likes on Instagram 4.2 bill daily Source Jun 16
  • Profiles viewed on LinkedIn 25 mill per day Source  Jan 2016
  • Photos uploaded to Facebook 400 mill per day Source Feb 2015
  • Snapchat photos shared 9000 per second Source Jan 2016
  • Google searches 100 bill per month Source 2016
  • Videos viewed on Facebook 8 bill per day Source Jan 2016
  • Users joining LinkedIn 2 per second Source Nov 2014
  • Searches on Facebook 1.5 bill per day Source Nov 2015
  • Videos watched on YouTube 5 bill per day Source Jul 2016
  • Hours uploaded to YouTube 400 hrs per minute Source Nov 2015
  • Tweets tweeted 6000 per second Source Jun 2016

June 2013 ‘Social’ Update (mobile, games & heritage to come)

  • 2.7 billion likes on Facebook daily Source May 13
  • 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute Source May 13
  • 1.5 million Android phones activated daily Source May 13
  • 13.7 billion Google searches per month  Source Mar 13
  • 350 million photos loaded to Facebook daily Source May 13
  • 2.5 billion ads served on YouTube monthly Source Mar 13
  • 4 billion Tweets sent daily Source Mar 13
  • 5 million images loaded to Instagram daily – May 13
  • 5 billion minutes spent watching online video ads monthly Source Mar 13
  • 343 million new users of Google + monthly Source Jan 13
  • $5 billion made by Facebook 2012 Source May 13
  • 833 thousand Apple iOS devices sold daily – Jan 13
  • 4 billion hours of content streamed over Netflix per quarter Source Apr 13
  • 5 million press the Google+ button daily – May 13
  • 400 million made by Twitter per year from ad revenue Source May 13
  • 250 million users login and play a Facebook game monthly Source May 13
  • 1.28 billion YouTube videos are watched monthly Source Mar 13
  • 250 million Android apps installed every month Source Mar 13
  • 656 per second likes & comments by Instagram users on Facebook Source Jan 13
  • 3.4 billion searches on Bing per month  Jan 13
  • 2.1 billion searches on Twitter per day Source May 13

June 2012 ‘Social’ Update

  • 3.2 billion likes and comments on Facebook daily Source Apr-12
  • 40 billion android and IOS apps downloaded monthly Source Mar-12
  • 2 million blogs posts written daily Source Mar-12
  • 175 million tweets sent daily Source Feb-12
  • YouTube has 2 billion plays per day Source Apr-12
  • The Google+ button is pressed 5 billion times daily Source Feb-12
  • There are 300 million photos uploaded to Facebook daily Source Apr-12
  • 294 billion emails sent per day Source Mar-12
  • Samsung sells 42.2 million smartphones each quarter Source Mar-12
  • 2.2 million pages added to StumbleUpon monthly Source Feb-12
  • Pinterest gets 17 million visits daily Source Mar-12
  • Facebook has an annual net income of $1 billion Source Feb-12
  • Daily videos uploaded to YouTube is 829 440 Source Apr-12
  • 58 photos per second uploaded via Instagram Source Mar-12
  • 66 million iPads sold annually since early 2011 Source Mar-12
  • G+ gains 625 000 more users each day Source Feb-12
  • 22 million hours of TV & Movies watched on Netflix daily Source Mar-12
  • Facebook gets 526 million users daily Source Apr-12

August 2011 Update

  • 30 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook each month Source Jul-11
  • 550,000 Android-enabled phones are activated every day Source Jul 11
  • 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute Source May-11
  • $2.1 billion per year are spent on Virtual Goods in the US Source May-11
  • 1 billion tweets are sent per week Source Mar-11
  • YouTube per day has over 3 billion video views Source May-11
  • There are currrently 10 billion iPhone apps downloaded each year Source Jul-11
  • 20 million people joined Google + in the first 3 weeks Source Aug-11
  • There were 80 million new FB accounts 1st quarter 2011 Source Apr-11
  • 460,000 New twitter accounts daily Source Mar-11
  • There are 50 million likes of Facebook pages per day Source May-11
  • Skype users make 300 Million Minutes of Video Calling Per Month Source Jul-11
  • Google Chrome browser webt from 10-20% of global browser share in 10 months Source Jul-11
  • There are now one million new LinkedIn members every week Source Apr-11
  • Facebook ad revenues per year now more than $4 billion Source Jan-11
  • Google + users pressing +1 over 2.5 billion times every day Source Jul-11

ABOUT Living statistics  – Many of us who have been following social media since the early 90s are very sensitive to today’s exponential growth in usage of the sharing web. Inspired by other cool real time counters, Social Media Industry Head, Laurel Papworth, my own Rise & Rise of Social Media presentations and various ‘cool’ videos (you know the ones) I decided to put together this little Flash app (which is in constant development) showing how active & dynamic the Social Web, Mobile Industry and Game Business is.

If you want to embed this on your page just click the button in the bottom left of the app to copy the code to your clipboard OR use the code/s in the boxes at the bottom of this post. Drag select it all then copy/paste into any site. Use this code as I will be regularly updating it with latest stats.

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Mar 212009


There are a multitude of sites out there asking the ‘audience’ (grrr)  to submit films, music, scripts, stories, bits of their personal life and anything the brand or property feel will draw them into their branded world. Many go about it in a really poor way, providing virtually no incentive, a pretty small audience (as regards the actual community that will likely see their work) and often give little or no encouragement to learn and improve on their original submission. Many even resort to seeding the ‘competition’ with faux community created videos (made by pros deliberately shaking the camera!) – to pretend to kick-start it – they have no idea how easy it is for the community to sniff that out.

An easier and more enpowering way in for the co-creative community is to give them ‘great’ assets to create great content – it gives them a big kick-start. Giving them the same stuff that the pros get generates the real big incentive – it lets them show how ‘they’ are as good, if not better, than the pros! It also shows a willingness on the part of the usually out of reach ‘creative production’ to expose some of the real behind the scenes’ness and draw communities into the brand firstly from a ‘trust’ perspective. Secondly as the ‘creative audience’ members themselves will be spending many hours with the assets and this creates very strong brand/story loyalty. Often these creative types are pretty active influencers on the web anyhow and will draw their own communities into the brand. The list of benefits goes on.

Below are relatively recent examples of professional film and music folk throwing top draw fragments of content (rushes, isolated tracks etc) over the wall for the wannabee’s to work their own magic.


I have written about this subject a few times in the past but Bronwen Clune on Twitter pointed out her brainchild initiative, a Disney / AFTRS Film  “Two Fists One Heart” making available some rushes for the community to re-edit.  Cutscene site has all the information on the project and a mention should go out to my colleague at AFTRS, Bill Russo who has the enviable task (yes enviable as it is a joy to see community wisdom like this) of viewing potentially hundreds (see examples below) of alternately edited scenes.

We are giving you the chance to download and edit rushes from the international film TWO FISTS ONE HEART. This is the footage that editors work with and it is free for you to use under creative commons as long as you acknowledge the source and link back to the official movie page. We€™ve tried to give you a mix of scenes so that you can even download all of them and put together a short film of your own. When we told the folks at AFTRS and Disney what we were doing they were so exited they wanted a way to recognise some of the best videos that are created. SO €¦

The best 5 scenes will be posted on Disney€™s promotional TWO FISTS ONE HEART site. This is a great opportunity for some exposure to high-profile people in the film industry. The 5 best scene cuts will be selected by Bill Russo head of Editing at the AFTRS and the creative team from TWO FISTS ONE HEART. TWO FISTS ONE HEART Director Shawn Seet, Editor Milena Romanin and Cinematogropher Hugh Miller are all graduates from AFTRS, Australia€™s premiere Film and Television school.

The WINNERS will be personally contacted by Bill Russo who will give them editing advice and help with their editing careers. All you have to do to enter is post your video on YouTube, link to the Two Fists One Heart site for the movie in the info section and tag it TFOH, then email the link of your entry to



Of course this is not a new idea and I recall at least five major projects at the BBC I was involved in from 96-03 that did a call out based on downloading and then re-editing, ‘professional’ footage (and at least 20 other ‘mash-ups’ using web interfaces). A recent non-BBC, feature example (Jan 08) that springs to mind is Tracey Fragments – a sort of timecode’esque Canadian film that gave away the ‘whole’ film to re-edit and again used YouTube to show the re-fragmentation. These are still available on the site – click refragmented. Here’s one example of a re-edit that have around 10 000 views each on YouTube.

Tracey: Re-Fragmented made available all the footage from the shoot of the film for users to download and re-edit their own replated projects including music videos, new trailers or to re-redit the entire movie themselves. A contest for best use of the footage has just closed at the end of January and judging will commence soon. The re-reditng initiative also has a competititve elements with Bruce McDonald and his editors selecting the best from the pojects from Canadaa to win an Apple Final Cut Pro prize pack. The winning project will also appear in the bonus features on the DVD release of The Tracey Fragments.


As mentioned the BBC has a long track record of opening up its rushes to the public (well it would do because the ‘internal’ BBC av assets are effectively owned by the taxpayer!) as well as providing community filming skills to a vast audience with 15 year old initiative such as Video Nation. Another recent example (2006), was when the BBC Commercial Archive opened up some of the rushes from its natural history section and asked the audience to re-cut or rather creatively make a brand new trailer for Planet Earth. Here is one example entry to the BBC Planet Earth video editing competition

To highlight the creative potential of the Open Earth Archive the BBC is also running a competition to make a short ‘advert’ for Planet Earth. Novice editors can enter the competition through the Easy Edit Suite, an exclusive application available free on the Open Earth Archive site allowing users to create a short video with a sound track using some of the best bits of the archive. The competition closes on 30 April 2006 and winners will spend time in an edit suite with experts seeing how the professionals edit for BBC Television. The Open Earth Archive is made freely available for the UK public to use under the terms of the Creative Archive Licence. The Creative Archive Licence allows people within the UK to watch, download and edit material released for non-commercial purposes, using it to inspire and create their own creative endeavours.


insectmen02At LAMP there have been at least 20 projects based on the call for creative contribution. This includes the iEmmy nominee Scorched as well as a Gruen Transfer’esque ‘Sold in 60 Seconds‘ and most of our ARG variants. One really cool ‘video fragment’ example was on our very first residential workshop lab in late 2005,  Insect Men. Insect Men was a video fragment scavenger hunt. The mind of a character (of course represented by a linear film sequence) was shattered in a freak lab accident and his mind spread all over the web, outdoors and on linear channels (these things happen!). The audience had to find, collect them and put it back together in a meaningful way. This predated Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and other similar recent play’s on fragmented memory but this is less about story and more about bringing a game-play element into the re-cut too. The team were clear that there was no right or wrong way to put this unfortunate characters mind back together but rather courted community compare contrast – which is the best way forward.


What to do when all this great stuff comes back?! Looking at exactly the same methodology of – here are some professionally created assets by your heros for you to rebuild in ‘your’ wayImogen Heap (who I keep going on about?!)  in the past month gave away a song in the form of lead and backing vocals for the co-creative fans to provide their own music. This takes it a step further as the backing to the vocal tracks truly represents the genre and style of the contributors vs the more subtle ‘persona’ that comes through a pure film edit. Imogen and team got back nearly 400 completely rebuilt unique 3 minute songs and you can listen to 219 of them here on the Twestival site. They were so overawed by them they are going to release a special EP with the best ones on. Shame that wasn’t part of the original incentive – but it probably didn’t matter in the case of a loyal fan base already!


OK there are folk out there who use ProTools, Final Cut, Logic, Cubase etc etc: There are even more who are now familiar with iMovie, MovieMaker, Garageband etc: But although these will produce much better and original results it requires a significant amount of extra effort than a browser based tool.  I was a little derogatory about web based editing or mash-up tools earlier but there have been a few good examples over the past 12 years on the web we know today – yes folks they have been around for that long! Even I did some in 1995 when I put the first audio and video on the main BBC sites in the UK – simple quicktime based mixers which worked even in the days of 28k modems!

A recent one that works because it is so integrated with the TV component is ABC Australia’s Gruen Transfer. The thing that really works for me (above and beyond the AdMixer interface and usuabilty – yes they are getting better) is the fact the call out from the show gives a very specific task – this week/series for example the presenter said – go and create using a bunch of pre-built clips/audio and text, a promotional advert to sell Australia. Simple, a bit limited tool and clip wise, but really easy for an audience to quickly produce something meaningful with very little effort.



As regards remixing, mashable content there are many others worth investigating if your into the subject and a quick look around will reveal the likes of

But a last point I shall leave you with is make it accessible. If only 1-2 % of the audience will get off their a$&#s and make something and send it in then make it easier for them – grow that to 10% or more. I covered the sort of splits of the co-creative audience on my post Web 2.0 and the Myth of Non-Participation. Allow them to search and embed other peoples work, allow them to just vote or rate (obvious and used a lot of course) or give them some really good material so they can create something ‘they’ will be proud of – like most of the examples above here.

OK there are lots more examples of this including community driven film sites like my fav triggerstreet and I have probably missed the ‘big’ ones (so tell me in comments!) but the last message –  Throw good stuff at your collaborative, co-creative audience and they will reward you many times over!