#SocialSaturday - Transmedia: Collaborating Across Mediums
#SocialSaturday - Transmedia: Collaborating Across Mediums
Begin with the end in mind. Know your audience. Work with what you’ve got. We all know the adages, and swat them away to return to the creative deep dive in order to produce compelling characters, unique worlds, and relevant themes. Focusing on our role in order to complete our tasks is part of the creative process, but what if we’re missing part of the collaborative equation? What if the end isn’t just film or television? What if the audience you are trying to reach would enjoy your characters or your elaborate world in another form? What if the tools and outlets available to you are so much more than you realize? This is precisely why so many creators are turning to transmedia for solutions.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, transmedia storytelling is defined as *“*is the technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies.”
Where film and television have seen dips over the course of the pandemic, comic books, video games, and podcasts have seen spikes (among many others media experiences). Transmedia is picking up speed, and not just with the big players. Transmedia is creating big players. This is not to say that Transmedia should be on your radar, but rather that it is already on your radar. Now is the time to find ways to make it part of your process.
“Pump the breaks, K-dawg. Why do I have to learn about transmedia? Isn’t that what a producer is for?” you may be saying to yourself. What a producer does may include finding ways to expand what you’ve started, it’s true, but consider how your knowledge can elevate the value you bring to your team. How can transmedia help you to world-build? How can transmedia help you to finance and distribute your project? Could it even bring about technological advances in how we produce or exhibit our work? It can, and it has. *A special thanks to one of our most prolific blog writers, Tennyson Stead, for the blog links above.
You may have heard of writers who penned novelizations of their screenplay to create pre-existing intellectual property. Animators have created comic books to expand their concept art before investing in the series. You may have even enjoyed the recent boom of producers who created narrative podcasts to gain a following before expanding into other, more expensive mediums. But does that qualify as “transmedia”? As transmedia producer, Frank Konrath, warns - transmedia is not reactionary, like writing a comedy sketch for SNL, getting an audience response, and then deciding to make a movie from it. It is, in fact, very intentional and explored in anticipation of the audience’s experience.
Ultimately, understanding transmedia and adapting it into your process makes you more than a team player. It makes you an asset. One of Stage 32’s Community Leaders, Christian Nommay, wrote a fantastic blog about how writing for tabletop RPGs can help improve your TV show bible, but now it’s time to dig deep into the potential of transmedia. Today’s blog explores some of the best opportunities to incorporate transmedia into your craft so you can expand your business.
Contemporary professional writers are most likely to be familiar with adapting their work for different audiences. Transmedia writers approach the story similarly, but with one additional question: how might an audience member best experience this story? A worthwhile question for any writer. What comes first for you, the audience or the story?
You can discuss it with transmedia professionals in the community here. Even the formatting for screenwriting has nuances, but scriptwriting is far more diverse. To be a prolific writer in today’s marketplace, knowing how to craft a script for different mediums is incredibly beneficial. Check out these tips from a writer with over a decade of experience.
The other role that most often takes advantage of and benefits from transmedia is concept artists and/or animators. It can be intensive, the time and energy it takes to create a character design, complete the environment, even figure out action poses to help connect the story beats. If all of that work lives and dies in a pitch deck, then not only is there no return-on-investment, but you can lose an incredible amount of creative momentum.
The solution? Comic books, video games, even radio plays to help bring the characters to life. One such popular video game shared in the Animation Lounge shows how 2D animators can contribute to both the in-game cinematic and the game design.
Clearly, this has also become an endeavor for big companies, like Netflix announcing their intention to offer video games through their platform. There is a missed opportunity for animation and live-action directors alike. As the design phase of your project progresses, you have the chance to create a new experience for every unique element. This small company used figurines, magazines, and tabletop gaming to help fuel their audience’s interest in the fantastical world.
Can you imagine how cool it would have been if Peter Jackson had figured out to sell bigatures as he was touting their importance to the success of his Lord of the Rings franchise? The experience would be so enthralling for reenacting scenes, more so than collectible Gollum bookends.
If you have not yet watched the Netflix series The Toys That Made Us, please watch it as soon as time allows. Not only does it depict early transmedia - because every toymaker creates either a comic book or a television series in order to sell their toys - but it also paints a striking picture as to why it is so exciting. Audiences require a compelling story in order to experience the story again their own way.
For kids, they watch the show and then reenact it with action figures. There is a fantastic conversation in the Transmedia Lounge about understanding child psychology and how it relates to transmedia. HINT: The episode on He-Man on The Toys That Made Us also unpacks child psychology as the key to its success. If you’ve never considered market research before, this will convince you!
Wait. So, what does transmedia and child psychology have to do with financing your projects? Well, if you want your project to sell, then you have to understand who your audience is, what they would find exciting or satisfying about your product(s), and find the cheapest of the possible mediums to produce in order to ensure return on investment.
Consider the psychology of that approach as well. If you pitch your project from a place of knowing your audience as well as you know your project, then you’re offering something to investors instead of requesting something from them.
Right now, transmedia is being discussed in terms of marketing, or how the audience experiences the final product. Is it possible, however, that approaching the technical aspects of filmmaking with a transmedia toolkit could provide innovations?
Take for example ‘The Mandalorian’ on Disney+. Their projection technology was an adaptation of motion capture from video game development. The answer to their cinematography problem was found in video games. By learning about other mediums and being willing to consider their merits for your project, you too, could elevate your outcome. What solutions have you found in other media arenas?
What are all the ways you can reach your audience? Has anyone attempted to list them all? Let’s try here in the community! For those innovators, transmedia offers plenty of opportunities to blend technologies and try new distribution models.
After all, streaming has only been a recent development. E-books have allowed independent comic books to thrive and find a home. There is even chatter about VR headsets being used in the cinema as an example of finding new ways to distribute to your audience so that the experience still excites and satisfies them.
While transmedia is a relatively new term, the practice has been around for a while. It has only been recently that producers and production companies are leveraging other mediums simultaneously to ensure they keep their audiences engaged. It is also so companies can more readily track and report on the effectiveness of each medium, as Netflix is doing with The Witcher and other video game-based series. As another Transmedia Lounge Community Leader writes, sometimes these metrics are denied to creators. This is the best time to make your project into a transmedia case study.
If you’d like to learn more about Transmedia, you can start by subscribing to Stage 32’s Transmedia Lounge. There is also a fantastic resource post with a collection of recommended transmedia books as well. Also, since transmedia inherently requires learning about something outside of your own wheelhouse, I challenge you to subscribe to one other Stage 32 lounge that will aid you in your journey to incorporate another medium into your process.
No matter where you are in your process, you are always welcome to start the conversation in the Stage 32 Lounges! Not sure where to start? You can DM me or email me at K.Ross@stage32.com For now, why not start with the links above? Click, read, comment, and start a post of your own.
Speaking of reaching outside your wheelhouse, let’s get the rest of the socials a glimpse of what is to come! Share this blog, include the hashtags #SocialSaturday #Stage32 and #ContentGoldRush, and tag @k.osswrites, @rbwalksintoabar, and @stage32. Keep your eyes to the skies, and I look forward to seeing each of you in the lounges!
About the Author
Kay Ross is an actor, producer, writer, and champion for the "inner teenager.” While being a producer on a television show like Netflix’s “Sex Education” would be a dream realized, for now, she kicks ass on shorts, features, and hosts a weekly IGLive to empower creatives called “The Victory Round.”...