Production Project 1 – Assignment 1
Samantha Lloyd 3379205
Stephanie Milsom 3380119
Greta Robenstone s3334137
Presentation viewable at: http://youtu.be/01y7bXsdhHw (embed code:
‘Gossip Girl: Transmedia Technologies’, (Stein, L 2013)
Louisa Stein’s ‘Gossip Girl: Transmedia Technologies’ – a chapter from Jason Mittell and Ethan Thompson’s How to watch Television – considers the ways in which transmedia extensions of television’s Gossip Girl contribute to the show’s dual interest in digital media as a terrorizing threat, and a source of connection and empowerment. To begin, Stein encourages her readers to eschew preconceptions of television as a ‘pre-digital mass medium’ (pp. 338), a point reinforced by her outlining of the multiple transmedia extensions of Gossip Girl that have existed since the show’s inception – a Second Life game, an online store with a points-based game system, and a Facebook application called Social Climbing.
For Stein, Gossip Girl, both in terms of its narrative interest in digital media and the online world, and its “networked public” demographic of teenagers, represents an obvious site for transmedia extensions, while being wary of the “participation gaps” (Watkins, cited in Stein, pp. 340) that might emerge as a result of some viewers being unable to access digital content due to economic, racial, or ethnic factors, or simply having less developed Facebook literacy than others. Ultimately unresolved about the ways in which transmedia extensions contribute to Gossip Girl’s ongoing dialogue about the possibilities and pitfalls of our increasingly digitized age, Stein does suggest that the games does evidence that today’s world is “inextricably infused with digital media” (pp.345).
‘Transmedia teens: affect, immaterial labor and user-generated content” (Martens, M. 2011)
Marten’s reading highlights some of the issues surrounding transmedia content currently used by publishing companies, focusing specifically on female adolescents. She elaborates on the history of librarians and their roles on influencing young readers, and how this changes as online platforms develop. Where publishers were once reliant on librarians to market content, the Internet allowed publishers to gain direct access to their readers, using platforms such as forums to tailor content and explore user’s interests.
Citing examples such as Random House, Marten identifies issues other writers describe as “Net Slaves” (Terranova), where users participate in online activities for meagre rewards. Her key case study for this matter is a book series entitles “The Amanda Project”, a mystery similar to “The 39 Clues” series, utilising the proven successful combination of books, cards and online material, although this time inviting users to generate content instead of simply engaging and discussing the work. “The Amanda Project” features space for users to write explanations, create clues for others, participate in wider discussions, upload fan art and even design clothes. In this case, The Amanda Project is an unfinished story and this content can therefore be used to further shape the tale, with the intellectual property of everything uploaded to the site belonging to “The Amanda Project”, not the users themselves.
Marten argues that there is an underlying assumption that users are so focused on entertainment value that they neglect the economic value of their participation for producers, and instead remain engaged in the “material fantasy world” that they belong to. Of course, content on sites is tailored to what best suites the publisher, but Marten demands that an emerging concern in such transmedia works is the blurred lines between product/advertising and the creator vs. the consumer.
‘Transmedia Storytelling: Implicit Consumers, Narrative Worlds, and Branding in Contemporary Media Production’ (Scolari, C.A. 2009)
Scolari’s article proposes a ‘semio-narratological’ approach to transmedia storytelling to enrich analysis. He identifies categories – ‘implicit consumer’, ‘primary modelling system’, reading contract’ and ‘fictional world’ – to develop his theoretical approach from. Citing narrative as ‘the basic structure –creating device for meaning production’, Scolari examines how a text may ‘create different implicit consumers’ by presenting multiple levels of interpretation skills or by altering narrative structure, creating ‘multipath or multilane text’.
Using the ‘24’ franchise as a transmedia case study, Scolari differentiates between different audience types – those who engage in a limited fashion (single media/text consumers) and ‘transmedia consumers’, who engage with multiple aspects of the narrative. Here, ‘four strategies for expanding the narrative world’ are also identified – the creation of ‘interstitial microstories’, parallel stories, peripheral stories, and user-generated content platforms.
Acknowledging transmedia’s multiple entry points and target groups as audience expansion techniques, Scolari also focuses on branding – as transmedia can be as much self-promotion as it is storytelling. Exploring the link between fictional texts and branding in transmedia, Scolari explains ‘every fictional world proposes a set of distinctive narrative and discursive traits’, and uses his approach to suggest a mutation from ‘brands as narrative worlds’ to ‘narrative worlds are brands’.
Key Insights into Small-scale, Low-budget Transmedia Production
Ø In creating transmedia works, story choice is crucial – if your story isn’t conceptually strong, engaging, or rich at a base level, then your transmedia work will suffer from the get-go. This was evidenced not only in our class discussions about the kinds of stories that provide the most fertile ground for transmedia treatment, but also through our research into the Dark Score Stories case study. Steve Coulson, the creative director of Campfire, the production company behind the photo-essay series, expressed his delight in the way Stephen King has ‘connected all of his books in a story world,’ a world which new extensions are able to tap into, and expand upon.
Ø Consider non-fiction transmedia – potentially as a way to expand the storyworld or as an engagement device.
Ø Each medium has its own conventions/semiotics, how do they work together in the transmedia piece overall.
Ø Find a balance between transmedia as a device for promotion and transmedia as worldbuilding/storytelling, and how this is realised in the piece.
Ø A successful/clever transmedia piece probably contains elements of both ‘shareability’ and ‘drillability’, and doesn’t compromise the experience for either a devoted or a casual audience.
Ø A good transmedia work should maintain a consistent aesthetic, style, tone and voice over all mediums.
Ø At the heart of transmedia, a clear, simple story or concept can be more powerful than a complex, convoluted story. Aim to create detail in the different mediums, but keep it simple and memorable.
Ø Understanding your audience is as important as knowing your storyworld/concept; how it appeals/relates to them is important when conceptualising and creating engaging transmedia works. This extends to aesthetics, medium selection, audience participation and just about everything else.
Ø Aim for transmedia story that engages YOU, its creator. If you aren’t interested in what you’re creating, then why should your audience be?
Ø Finally, be realistic. Make sure your project is achievable.
Crumb, M. <firstname.lastname@example.org> ND, ‘Stephen King’s Bag of Bones: Dark Score Stories’, An overview of Crumb’s work as Art Director on the ‘Bag of Bones’ transmedia production, Michelle Crumb, viewed 24 March, 2014, http://michellecrum.com/STEPHEN-KING-S-BAG-OF-BONES-DARK-SCORE-STORIES
Dena, C. 2012, ‘Meanland — Some Things I’ve Learned from Transmedia Worldbuilding’, Meanjin, June, viewed 25 March 2014
Fera, R A. 2011, ‘Stephen King’s “Bag of Bones” Gets A Creepy Backstory,’ Fast Company, November 15, viewed 24 March 2014, http://www.fastcompany.com/1794489/stephen-kings-bag-bones-gets-creepy-backstory
Jenkins, H. 2011, ‘Transmedia 202: Further Reflection’, Confessions of an Aca-Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins, August 1, viewed 26 March 2014, http://henryjenkins.org/2011/08/defining_transmed
Martens, M. 2011, ‘Transmedia teens: affect, immaterial labor and user-generated content”, Convergence Vol. 17, Feb, pp. 49-68
Scolari, C.A. 2009, ‘Transmedia Storytelling: Implicit Consumers, Narrative Worlds, and Branding in Contemporary Media Production’, International Journal of Communication, pp. 586-606
Stein, L. 2013, ‘Gossip Girl: Transmedia Technologies’, in Mittell, J, & Thompson, E How To Watch Television, New York: New York University, eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost, pp. 338-346, viewed 26 March 2014