Benita Lin (3421674)
Julia Tran (3382159)
Character, audience agency and transmedia drama – summary by Benita Lin
Evans, EJ 2008, ‘Character, audience agency and transmedia drama’, Media, Culture & Society, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 197-213.
The internet has become so widespread and important, and has affected the way that transmedia works. Evans describes transmedia as the way that “new technologies have been used to extend dramas onto multiple media outlets…[taking] into account the shifting patterns of movement” (197). Evans uses the example of Spooks, a 2002 BBC series to illustrate this point.Spooks was a test programme for BBC “in terms of interactive and digital technology” (198) as games were created for the programme’s website. Evans states that the purpose of her research was to “explore the attitudes and behaviours of those who actively partake in transmedia drama” (198). Her research method included questionnaires, email diaries, and a series of focus groups. Evans talks about the types of interactivity present in the Spooks series and games and how they engage with the audience, finally concluding that characters are “a central, if not the central, point of engagement for the audience of a television fiction” (203). Again, she links this back to the Spooks series and games through the focus groups. From the results of the focus group discussions, Evans realises that “in order to create valued transmedia texts from a television drama…characters must remain key” (211).
Franchising/Adaptation – summary by Julia Tran
Parody, C 2011, ‘Franchising/Adaptation’, Adaptation, vol. 4, no.2, pp. 210-218.
In this essay, Parody discusses the media landscape as a convergence culture, which is the spread of content across multiple media platforms and the cooperation between multiple media industries. She claims that adaptations are part of a “particular market strategy” (212) that relates to franchise storytelling, when “the creation of narratives, characters, and settings…generate and give identity to vast quantities of interlinked media products and merchandise, resulting in a prolonged, multitextual, multimedia fictional experience” (211). Furthermore, Parody points out that cross-platform production is vital in the entertainment branding in convergence culture since “franchise entertainment relies on cohering principles other that narrative continuity” (215). This, then, revives and provides depth to creation rather than spoiling it (215-216). In addition, Parody makes note of the “complex interactions between media” and explains how adaptation is itself intermedial. By “intermediality” she refers to amalgamation between media, as “distinct from the additive mixtures of trans- or multimedia texts” (213). That is, when fictional texts or objects are placed in different platforms, they depend on different media conventions, which are then synthesized within their design. Lastly, Parody details how transmedia practice puts into question the definition of an adaptation—is it merely an “extension” of a text when it can “kick-start a transmedia franchise” (211)?
- The characters of a television fiction are often the unifying agent in a transmedia project. For example, Scooby and the gang are the recurring characters in every media platform (eg. the animated series, movies, comic adaptations, videogames, etc.). The narratives for each platform or series may be different, but the five key characters are what the audience identifies with the Scooby-Doo series. The same concept can be applied to many transmedia series.
- The growth of the Internet has altered the way that transmedia works. Online content plays quite a significant role in most transmedia projects as it has a higher level of interactivity compared to television or radio. This is because audiences have the ability to transform and rework the narratives and characters within their own domain, creating user-generated content.
- Now audiences can contribute to the transmedia process. In the case of Scooby-Doo, fans created a Scooby-Doo Wikipedia page and have updated it with information and trivia in regards to the multiple series. Furthermore, when fans speculated Velma to be a lesbian, the screenwriter responded to this rumour in the Scooby-Doo theatrical releases by portraying Velma as a lesbian. She and Daphne were to share a kiss in the first film, but the official release cut this out.
- Transmedia is not restricted to narrative continuity, but can simply adhere to similar principles across its multiple platforms. In addition, transmedia texts do not have to follow a strict story bible or sit within a timeline—the “rules” of transmedia can be broken when understanding the notion in terms of franchise and marketing. Scooby-Doo is an example of a transmedia text that relies on its colour and tone to remain apparent across its media platforms.
- Another way of understanding transmedia is through social media, when the same user moves across multiple social platforms yet maintains the same personality. Perhaps the essence of transmedia is itself the practice of social media, for one text is working in different ways across multiple media platforms.
- Evans, EJ 2008, ‘Character, audience agency and transmedia drama’, Media, Culture & Society, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 197-213.
- Parody, C 2011, ‘Franchising/Adaptation’, Adaptation, vol. 4, no.2, pp. 210-218.
- Jenkins, H 2010, ‘Transmedia Storytelling and Entertainment: An annotated syllabus’, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, vol. 24, no. 6, pp. 943-958.
- Nicolas, P 2013, ‘What am I looking at, Mulder?’, Science Fiction Film and Television, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 101-117.
- Jansson, A 2013, ‘Mediatization and Social Space: Reconstructing Mediatization for the Transmedia Age’, Communication Theory, vol. 23, pp. 279-296.
- McKee, Robert (1999). “Chapter 6: Structure and Meaning” Story: substance, structure, style and the principles of screenwriting. Methuen: London (p.110-131).
- Scolari, CA 2013, ‘Lostology: Transmedia storytelling and expansion/compression strategies’, Semiotica: Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies, is. 195, pp. 45-68.