#Task1 – ‘Pretty Little Liars’

Tam Tran s3378994
Melissa Sugarman s3378807
Nina Weiss s3284909


Link: http://prezi.com/bagvozbnqiez/pretty-little-liars/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy#


This article explores transmedia storytelling through delving into two different ends of the spectrum; corporate branding and participatory fan culture. Edwards uses Henry Jenkins’ theory of convergence culture to explain multi-platform storytelling and uses it as a basis of the article’s argument. Whilst Jenkins does acknowledge corporate synergy, he still insists that audience expression is much more dominant through such models as ‘co-creation’ between the consumers and the producers. Edwards disputes this within the article, stating that corporate branding is still a central and problematic part of transmedia storytelling. As an example, the transmedia story of the Kardashians franchise is used as Edwards argues that the reality television show is merely about highly aggressive branding and corporate synergy that exploits fan practices, focusing on media saturation, product placement, and manipulative characters and narrative. Further spinoffs and autobiographic books are some of the other media platforms used to market and brand the family name. On the other hand, Edwards still acknowledges the developing participatory fan culture in contrast to the Kardashian model of excessive branding. As an example, he uses filmmaker Chris Milk’s The Johnny Cash Project as a platform for users to interact, collaborate and create a music video, putting emphasis on audience expression rather than corporate branding. Ultimately, Edwards explores the rise of transmedia storytelling by incorporating the problematic corporate branding versus the developing potential of audience expression.

The article looks at the theoretical approach of ‘Hoodlum’, a company based in Brisbane responsible for creating cross-platform transmedia and interactive content for major television series including Lost, Spooks and Primeval.
Hoodlum’s interactive storytelling is designed to incorporate the pleasures of television viewing with those associated with online media and ‘fill the gaps’ of the televised narrative.
The article contends that there are many different ways consumers view television and other content surrounding it but it will always involve some level of interactivity; a process of reflection, interpretation and speculation that happens inside the user’s head (aided by the use of technology). It is the combination of the text and the user’s imagination that creates the pleasurable ‘immersive experience’ that Hoodlum aims to create. The linking of different narrative experience across different platforms is what contributes to the creation of a hyperdiegetic space that exists in the consumers head.
Surveys conducted on some of Hoodlum’s work showed that audiences lost interest in particular transmedia content if it were simply a set of discrete activities with little to no delving deeper into the layers of meaning of the narrative.
Hoodlum is constantly conscious of the audience they are creating for and describe what they do as ‘manufacturing engagement’. ‘Rather than meeting an audience that has organically evolved in cyberspace – who is supposedly there waiting to participate – Hoodlum’s interactive content is encouraging televisions watchers to make the cultural shift to consuming content online.’

Blumenthal and Xu discuss the process of designing a transmedia experience for participant’s across different media, connected as a whole. They theorise that the design connectors for such relationships in transmedia works are: mythology, canon, character and genre. They claim that the effects of such elements are determined through the studies of media, production, literature and practice.
They explore this theory through a digital media test – The Ghost Club Storyscape.

Using this case study they created a mythology with conflicts, a history of great events, rules of the universe and characters that could transcend platforms. Additionally a canon of events was developed and genre conventions set. The transmedia story took place over: a planned movie, webisodes, twitter-novels, twitter characters, ghostpedia, connecting websites and a smartphone augmented reality game. When designing each individual component the team brainstormed how to connect and relate it back to the central mythology and other connectors, simultaneously ensuring the design made full use of the individual platform. Every step was reexamined to determine confluence. Through future user studies via feedback the understanding of different components being connected by these four elements of transmedia works will be further explored by the Ghost Club authors.

Bottom of Form

· Transmedia is not just multi-platform storytelling in which the story is retold through different media platforms but rather the platforms are used to contribute to the narrative being it’s own separate media entity that adds to the entire experience.
· Transmedia works need to delve deeper and further explore the layers of the narrative in order to gain consistent participant engagement. Mere glimpses into the story world will not suffice.
· Transmedia storytelling can involve ‘co-creation’ between consumers and producers. User generated content has proven to have positive potential for fan expression
· According to some sources, the four essential designs to transmedia works include mythology, genre, canon and character
· Transmedia storytelling is the sum total of connected works, seen as one complete story by the authors
· ‘The sum of the parts is greater than the whole’.
· Transmedia works can conform with convergence culture, including multimodality, user participation, blurring lines between real and fictional worlds
· Digital media add ons are not considered transmedia storyscapes as they are not the sum of its parties, where every party is a whole.
· Cultural complicity will match story complexity
· Adaptations do not count as transmedia

Edwards, Leigh H. Transmedia Storytelling, Corporate Synergy And Audience Expression. Global Media Journal, Volume 12 Issue 20 Spring 2012

Ward, Susan. Hoodlum and Interactive Storytelling: A Case Study in Mainstreaming Transmedia [online]. Communication, Politics & Culture, Vol. 42, No. 2, 2009: 136-158.

Blumenthal, Hank & Xu, Yan. The Ghost Club Storyscape: Designing for Transmedia Storytelling. IEEE Transactions on Consumer Electronics, Vol 58, No. 2, May 2012: 190 – 196.

Eller, Kimberly. ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars has mastered the social media game. 2014 https://www.capstrat.com/posts/abc-familys-pretty-little-liars-has-mastered-social-media-game/ last viewed 27 March 2014

Pretty Little Liars Wiki. Pretty Little Liars (Book Series) http://pretty-little-liars.wikia.com/wiki/Pretty_Little_Liars_%28Book_series%29
https://www.facebook.com/PLLeeks last viewed 27 March 2014

Jenkins, Henry. Revenge of the Origami Unicorn: The Remaining four princples of Transmedia Storytelling http://henryjenkins.org/2009/12/revenge_of_the_origami_unicorn.html last viewed 27 March 2014

Jenkins, Henry. The Revenge of the Origami Unicorn: Seven principles of Transmedia Storytelling (Well, two actually. Five more on Friday) http://henryjenkins.org/2009/12/the_revenge_of_the_origami_uni.html last viewed 27 March 2014

Puschmann, Matthias. How Social TV seals Pretty Little Liars’ success – VAST MEDIA Case Study http://blog.mipworld.com/2013/01/how-social-tv-seals-pretty-little-liars-success-vast-media-case-study/ last viewed 27 March 2014

Kahler, Nicola. The Transmedia Universe of Pretty Little Liars http://the-artifice.com/transmedia-universe-of-pretty-little-liars/ last viewed 27 March 2014

Examiner. Pretty Little Liars Bump & Tell Iphone app free http://www.examiner.com/article/pretty-little-liars-bump-tell-iphone-app-free last viewed 27 March 2014

Pretty Little Liars Wiki. Pretty Dirty Secrets http://pretty-little-liars.wikia.com/wiki/Pretty_Dirty_Secrets last viewed 27 March 2014


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