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16 March 2010 @ 11:25 pm
Transmedia Story Telling / Selling and other random tidbits  
I was at Transmedia, Hollywood: S/Telling the story conference today.  From 9 am - 9 pm.  And yep, this is sort of a vacation for me, so I felt a bit like a kid in a candy store.  The conference is an extension of the conferences that Henry Jenkins has been having over the years at MIT that is intentionally meant to be a fusion between media-industry professionals and academics so that, possibly, there can be some bridging of the gap between theory and practice.  Interestingly, because the conference was in the cinema school a lot of the industry people assumed that a lot of the audience was part of the cinema school as well (which I can assure you, wasn't the case - they were from all different kinds of disciplines, my own being one of them).

Case in point?  The definition of exactly what "Transmedia" is was actually differently described in each and every panel.  The more 'academic' definition is a story that is told in a variety of pieces, where no single medium holds all of the pieces of the story.  The 'industry' perspectives ranged from people who saw 'transmedia' as the source material for their new films, to 'transmedia' as the platform in which they put little bits of content to draw people INTO films and/or video games *before* the saw the film / watched the video game, to 'transmedia' as the thing that comes AFTER the property is released (like comic books after the film, or novels, or toys, or television shows).  Some seemed to think that all movement from one medium into another was a transmedia experience (ie: "trans" in the "traversing across a space" kind of idea), while others seemed to think it was about how you ensure that someone, somewhere, whether they're reading books or watching videos or seeing films or buying toys or playing video games - somewhere you need to ensure they're going to encounter your product.

Panel 1 - Was mostly dominated by the woman who heads up DC Entertainment, so we got this very 'marketing language' heavy discussion about what kinds of ways Entertainment is being Reconfigured to take advantage of different platforms.  The first use of the buzz word "authentic" came up here, and boy did they work that word for all it was worth throughout the afternoon.  I have to say that this first panel, though, seemed to be the most balanced discussion where the academics were listened to just as much as the industry professionals -- particularly Mimi Ito who suggested that content doesn't work as well on the push system (where the industry pushes content out) anymore but instead on the pull system (where users are pulling stuff from content or pulling for content).  But the conversation rotated back around at another point when another Academic/film guy suggested that we need to have an A&R rep at every gaming company --- when I think in retrospect what we should have is a fangeek at every gaming company (oh, wait, they are - they just don't make marketing decisions).  I tried to ask the panelists to think about how transmedia was problematizing their notions of "groups" like "men 18-24" (which seemed to still be everyone's fantasy group) ... and they didn't really get what I was talking about ... but comic books aren't just for boys anymore dammit!!

Panel 2 - ARGs (Artificial Reality Game or Actual Reality Game - not sure which one) and seemed really cool.  Though sadly they seemed to be stuck with these as marketing models, because there's no way to fund these things without pulling from the marketing department - and once you do that they get funded in order to funnel people INTO media properties, like film.  :( 

at this point I realized that we were never going to get away from marketing.  cuz it's the only way to spend money on some of this stuff (and so you don't have to tie things to return on investment)

Panel 3 - Designing Transmedia Worlds - guess what?  Authenticity came back again!!  You have to be authentic to design a transmedia world!!!  It's VERY IMPORTANT.  And there are three rules to transmedia worlds to make them successful:

don't talk about transmedia worlds.
don't talk about transmedia worlds.
don't talk about transmedia worlds.

Oh, wait, that's fight club.  For transmedia worlds you want to:
  1. make a world that has real depth and vision
  2. create characters that are "authentic"
  3. understand the mediums you're using
Yep, that's always TOTALLY easy to do.

By Panel 4 I was feeling a little bit glutted.  It all kind of turned into a blur about online entertainment, sadly.  Me and my girlfriend snuck out of the theatre as the last set of audience questions were being asked so we could escape the blatant self promotion (for some reason audience questions came from people who were only to willing to introduce themselves via their company names AND web addresses).

but i got a glass of wine and ended up talking to a bunch of other people post-Panel for like an hour and a half. (particularly two cute men who seemed fascinated by my understanding of the new media crap, which was hilarious but hey, a pretty welcome audience?  i'll take it!)  I came home and then reexplained the panels and my concerns to Neil because I was simply overflowing with responses even AFTER the hour of post-Panel conversation.


other random tidbits
  • kris allen was photographed at the Grove AGAIN today.  It is literally 4 blocks away from me. This is his 4th or 5th time being photographed there.  The unhealthy fangirl in me wants to stake out the place.
  • My horoscope: LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Here's your mantra for the coming week: "I disappear my fear. I resurrect my audacity." Say it and sing it and murmur it at least 100 times a day. Let it flow out of you after you've awoken each morning and are still lying in bed. Let it be the last sound on your lips as you drop off to sleep. Have fun with it. Dip into your imagination to come up with different ways to let it fly -- say it as your favorite cartoon character might say it, like a person with a Swedish accent, like your inner teenager, like a parrot, like a grinning sage. "I disappear my fear. I resurrect my audacity. I disappear my fear. I resurrect my audacity."
  • My spring break is almost HALFWAY OVER.  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  I haven't done *anything* that I had on my agenda except a load of laundry.  And to sort through some email.  This is not good, not good at all.