Not the most concise title but I wanted to cover a bit of ground with it. I am leading a week long Multi Platform development residential lab next week in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales with some of the worlds leading mentors and Australia’s top projects – all linked to Screen Australia. This is followed by a one day seminar in Melbourne called ‘Idea to Market’ and top and tailing all of this, I have taken up the Executive Producer ABC Multi Platform TV role. More on each coming up.
As you know last year I founded StoryLabs, a global transmedia IP development network, with 3 other individuals in Canada, US and UK. Then, new format funding body, Screen Australia who were looking for a very practical, production orientated rapid development structure for their Digital Ignition initiative, looked to StoryLabs.
Screen Australia has engaged transmedia collective StoryLabs to direct the first workshop, under the guidance of its key founder Gary Hayes. He is recognised as one of the foremost digital thinkers. An award-winning multi-platform producer, author, educator and director. The founding director of global multi-platform training initiative StoryLabs he has recently become Exec Producer of ABC Multi Platform TV. He was the director of AFTRS’s LAMP program for 5 years, was Senior Interactive Development Producer at the BBC for 8 years, and was a Social TV Producer in the US. Gary has designed and lead multi-platform/transmedia courses internationally and in Australia with AFTRS and Metro Screen. He also runs MUVEDesign (creating story based augmented reality, virtual worlds and transmedia) and the influential media and marketing site PersonalizeMedia.. Gary will be supported by up to eight high-calibre international and domestic experts.
“The Digital Ignition Multi-platform Clinic falls within the suite of support offered through our All Media Program, which seeks to ignite and strengthen digital understanding, expertise and activity within the Australian screen content sector,” said Screen Australia Investment Manager Mike Cowap. “We’re thrilled to be working with Gary and his StoryLabs network to make this as rich and practical a workshop as possible.”
Founder of StoryLabs Gary Hayes said, “We’ll deliver a highly structured program focused on all the important practical topics, including storytelling, user experience, design, technical, business and marketing. We’ll be using case studies and tried and tested exercises to hone participants’ processes, and ensure they leave with a tangible ‘bible’ and clear list of next steps for their project to get it off the ground.”
“We live in extraordinary times and the last five years particularly, a renaissance of storytelling. We are, as we were pre-printing press days when we equally shared, enhanced and distributed the fragments of our engaging stories. Today’s technology has delivered a new spirit of connectivity, a democratisation of story given back to the ‘many’. Storytelling not at walking speed but the speed of light. You equipped to deal with this?”
OK enough opening fluff and straight to the point. I was having a chat yesterday with a colleague at Screen Australia trying to answer a simple question. Cue music…
If you have a story project, that’s a little bit ‘strange’, who ya gonna call?
Not Fearing to Tread - Photo cc GHayes
(Strange = new format, transmedia, innovative, social, game-like, fragmented.) If you have a film and TV project and you need assistance to develop the script, help with the production, work through the characterisations, get advice on Red or 3D etc: there are a zillion consultants, vocational educational courses and many willing wannabe advisors to draw on. Film, Radio & TV particularly have 100+ years of maturity so it is also pretty easy to incrementally innovate, floating in watertight boats on tried and tested waters. Sadly the options for story rich projects that fall outside the straight and narrow linear path, have a more difficult time.
To be professionally guided or get the skills to create new storytelling formats you can
Get in touch with professional agencies already doing this stuff. But they are often rather busy making ends meet and engrossed in ‘transmedia’ marketing big budget or existing story brands to really give you the time and advice you need.
Find a traditional academic ‘digital story – type’ course (marketed as a world first) in your local area. Spend 6 months or longer working with ‘we need to do this stuff’ academics and theorists or at best, passionate aggregators of the best ‘new story’ project trailers masquerading as educational case studies. Also these course tend to be trials and under resourced – erm not the views of me with lecturer hat on, local employers 😉
Find a local specialist individual who ‘seems’ to know about this new space – very few good experienced, passionate folk about and also a bit hit and miss.
Seek out a handful of seminars, short workshops or networking events around the world. There are actually very few and they are often of the evangelising vs really getting down to nitty gritty ‘storytelling’ processes.
So here we are, a great dawning of transmedia storytelling, innovative new services and products yet still no true, deep development initiatives? Academia and industry either too money-busy, unable to take risk or focused on the past to really fill in this void?
OK I had better blog this ‘press release‘ copied below which quotes me, but also as I am heavily involved in the creation of these courses and still running LAMP (the innovation unit at AFTRS). Frankly it is one of the best things to happen in Australian industry education for the last three years that I have been based in Sydney. AFTRS is renowned for its high production value filmmaking primarily with many students being nominated and going on to win Academy Awards, Oscars etc.
Via three years of LAMP I have had a key role in helping the internal AFTRS culture and curriculum adopt a new way of thinking about audiences and creating entertainment for them. This goes way beyond point and click, cross-media interactivity (very 90s) to experiential services and social media entertainment. So two key new courses below and a variety of ‘hybrid format’ workshops across the school will help create new thinkers – marrying dramatic story and immersive game, blending social with structured narrative and putting ‘play’ into areas where ‘playful interaction’ has previously dared to tread.
This press release from here and more about the courses here. There is already a high demand (Kotaku and Inside Film have more too) but pass this on to folk who want to play a part in the global development of the ‘gilm’ genre (thats mixing game, film, tv and virtual worlds to you and I) !
More on the wonderful world of Games and Film and Blended TV in an upcoming post with a Gary special, montage video 🙂
16Ã‚ September, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
15 September 2008
Games and Virtual Worlds: a new frontier of experience
Can games have real story and rival the emotional pull of the cinema? AustraliaÃ¢Â€Â™s leading screen arts school thinks so as is introducing courses that prepare students for a future of filmic games and virtual story worlds.
The Australian Film TV and Radio School (AFTRS) has created two ground breaking Graduate Diploma courses specialising in Game Design and Virtual Worlds. These are two of the only courses in the world to explore the link between games or virtual worlds and cinematic story.
Ã¢Â€ÂœThere are already major Australasian filmmakers like George Miller and Peter Jackson working at the frontier between film and games and we know it is timely for AFTRS to integrate games into our screen directing program.Ã¢Â€Â said Sandra Levy, CEO of AFTRS
James Cameron is currently creating games and social virtual worlds around his latest film Avatar and one of his most famous films, Titanic. He said at a virtual worlds conference last week “I’ve always wanted to let people see what it was like to sail aboard the Titanic, to really know the ship, the passengers and their place in history.”
The games industry is growing rapidly and now supports a vast diversity of content ranging from pure entertainment, online social gameplay through to educational simulations of real life and situations. Some of the leading practitioners in the world have helped to develop the AFTRS program including CTO of Relic Entertainment John Buchanan and Matt Costello who wrote the popular Pirates of the Caribbean games.
Ã¢Â€ÂœGames are a key element of the global revolution in digital contentÃ¢Â€Â said Peter Giles Director of Digital Media at AFTRS. Ã¢Â€ÂœWe have built strong foundations for our games and virtual world courses at AFTRS over the past four years. Our expertise in computer animation and interactive writing has been coupled with our experience of rapidly prototyping digital content through our Laboratory of Advanced Media Production (LAMP).
Habbo Hotel, Second Life, there.com and HiPiHi are among 50 social virtual worlds which now command more than 320 million users worldwide. Film and television producers have begun to extend their engagement with audiences by moving them into social virtual worlds and role playing games such as CSI creator Anthony Zuiker who said recently:
“In the gaming area, you want to give people tasks, to shoot things and upload pictures… You’re doing this because you want these people to be creating their own story and it will be part of the crime on the broadcast… Even if it’s not the actual thing I shot, I was part of that experience, that community, that narrative.”
Gary Hayes who has created the AFTRS Virtual Worlds course and led the LAMP initiative said, Ã¢Â€ÂœIt is important when designing any form of digital content that it facilitates active engagement by the audience so that, for example, they may become the protagonist in film-like games or the ability to create their own stories. Our courses will give students the tools to create this new type of experienceÃ¢Â€Â.
The courses will look at the cross-over areas such as previsualisation for films, virtual scenes that aid the filmmaking process, real life motion capture, cinematic writing, sound and music for game worlds and the role of artificial intelligence in creating rich game experiences.
AFTRS welcomes applications from all areas of the industry for these exciting cross-disciplinary courses. The courses are suitable for applicants from creative or technical backgrounds. So if you have highly tuned writing or directing skills we can help you to up-skill in games and virtual worlds. Conversely, if you have a games or virtual worlds background we can teach you the skills in leading and developing story-rich projects.
Slightly advertorial – For those folk who can get to Melbourne I have been organising what promises to be a really cool workshop. I will be there part interviewer and running the workshop components with the very cool Matt C.
GROWING WORLDS: TURNING YOUR STORIES IN TO GAMES
Presented by AFTRS LAMP, Australia Council’s Story of the Future and Film Victoria
So what makes a great game and what skills do creators of these experiences need in order to develop compelling commercially viable content for the future?
A seminar, interview and workshop for story-tellers interested in adapting their work for games.
When: Saturday 1st March, 2pm – 5pm
Where: Screen Pit, ACMI, Federation Square, Flinders Street, Melbourne
Cost: $45, to Register Call: 03 9602 2300 during business hours to reserve your place. Payments must be received by 29 Feb prior to the event
The recent emergence of games as a storytelling platform is extending the familiar narrative family of books, plays, film and television. The next generation of games will rely on story, narrative and character development to immerse users inside the experience and allow them to live the story. Come and hear award-winning novelist, TV and games writer Matt Costello talk about the key ingredients of planning, writing, designing and structuring a compelling game, referring to the types of stories and characters best adapted from other media. The interview session will also include a look at role-playing game environments inside social virtual worlds, production methodologies, user-generated games and a market overview. Matt will be joined by speakers including Kurt Busch from Krome Studios who will provide an overview of the games development business and contextualise new creative opportunities in this area. Attendees will have the opportunity to workshop stories and games in a rapid development session. This is a must-attend seminar and workshop for creative writers, producers and broadcasters of every flavour who are considering turning their stories into console, online or casual games.
Matt CostelloÃ¢Â€Â™s innovative work includes ground-breaking and award-winning novels, games, and television.
MATT COSTELLO – Writer and Games Designer, Polar Productions
Matt Costello is based in New York, London and LA and has written ground-breaking and award-winning novels, games, and television. Matt has scripted dozens of best-selling games and of one Time Magazine said, Ã¢Â€ÂœThe story is delivered with unusual art.Ã¢Â€Â He wrote the groundbreaking Pirates of the Caribbean 3 game across all platforms and has been commissioned to do the fourth in the series.
Since writing the critically acclaimed classic game The 7th Guest, he has scripted dozens of best-selling games such as Shellshock-Nam Ã¢Â€Â˜67 (Guerrilla Games and Eidos), Bad Boys 2 (Empire) and 2005Ã¢Â€Â™s Doom 3 winner of an unprecedented five awards at E3 including the Game Critics Award: Best of E3. Just Cause, co-written for Eidos, debuted as the #1 game for Xbox 360 in the UK. Named Ã¢Â€Â˜Best Adventure GameÃ¢Â€Â™ at the 2006 E3, it premiered on the US best-seller lists as the #2 Xbox 360 game.