Task 1: True Blood

Isabella Walker (3322602)
Tim Gunn (3241880)

Bella Walker 3322602 – Text Summary – “How To Ride A Lion: A Call For Higher Transmedia Criticism”, By Henry Jenkins.

In his essay, Jenkins addresses the inherent difficulties of transmedia criticism, as well as the need for criticism of the medium.

Jenkins outlines the difficulties in criticism: ‘should it only focus on transmedia’s unique characteristics? …Must a transmedia critic be ‘fluent’ in every medium in a franchise? Should it be assessed according to medium or as a whole?’ He further states that a robust system of transmedia criticism is worth the difficulty. As transmedia increasingly dominates the entertainment industry, it will require ‘both more informed practitioners and a broader audience for the medium… [and that it is] criticism that can achieve these breakthroughs’.

He reminds us that whilst transmedia is a medium “still in it’s infancy”, debates around the idea should begin in order to understand it more clearly. Until the medium has “a frame of reference and…a level of introspection” it cannot be refined.

Jenkins finally outlines differences between criticizing and reviewing, and a need for both: reviewing as directed towards the general public to broaden audiences; criticism as a tool amongst academics and professionals “which develops its own language akin to the language of cinema”. It is a combination of these two that may result in “better transmedia and a broader audience for it”.

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Bella Walker 3322602 – Synthesis

  •        Do not neglect story. Whilst platforms and media are the unique and transformative characteristic of transmedia storytelling, it is vitally important not to forget about traditional narrative structure. Audiences still expect conflicts and payoffs (etc) even if they are met with a beautifully designed or complex interface (Brettle, 2013).
  •        Audience should be able to delve into a story at any depth that they like.
  •        Can we gain insight into transmedia storytelling by looking at it as a meeting point between games and storytelling? “…Stories and games are intimately connected because they’re two sides of the same impulse. Stories give rise to play, and play gives rise to stories” (Rose, 2011).
  •        Remembering audience collectivism and interaction as we produce our transmedia projects: modern entertainment as designed to be engaged by collectives – perceiving audiences as collectives of people who interact with each other and with produces rather than isolated (Rose, 2011).
  •        There are many platforms for which a TS world can be expended and built upon to add narrative dimension. Consider all of these platforms at the beginning of production so as to choose what suits your story best. Do not dismiss a platform before brainstorming it’s potential. However, remember that too many platforms may be overkill; do not ask too much of your audience.
  •        Transmedia’s potential for navigation and a “hunting and gathering process, which leads across multiple media platforms” is what makes it unique medium (as opposed to Multimedia for example). Audience must “weigh the reliability of information that emerges in different contexts” (Jenkins, 2010) across different platforms. As transmedia producers we do not always need to spoon feed our audience clear narrative directions or plot points, this is what is exciting about the medium. Audience must participate and commit effort to further the story as well and hopefully they will want to.
  •        Try not to repeat information on different platforms, rather use different parts of a story to match a platform’s strength and maximize user experience.
  •        Worldbuilding as “the desire of audiences to map and master as much as they can know about such universes, often through the production of charts, maps, and concordances” (Jenkins 2009). The importance of consumers to engage directly with the world represented in narratives – treat you TM world as intersecting in some way with the consumers own lived realities! For example, adding a realistic platform element to what might be an unrealistic story.
  •        “There is no single place in which the whole narrative can be experienced” (Dena, 2009). Thus the potential of location within narrative at your disposal. Specifically with ARG’s, utilising setting and environment and the appropriation of objects, vehicles, and properties as the physical world of the story.

Bibligoraphy –

Brettle, K 2014. PP1.14 #3 Designing Transmedia Projects. Available online at:https://storify.com/KylaBrettle/pp1-14-3-designing-transmedia-projects (last accessed 27th March 2014)

Dena, C 2009. Transmedia Practice: Theorising the Practice of Expressing a Fictional World across Distinct Media and Environments. Available online at: http://ciret-transdisciplinarity.org/biblio/biblio_pdf/Christy_DeanTransm.pdf (last accessed 27th March 2014)

Jenkins, H 2012. How To Ride A Lion: A Call For Higher Transmedia Criticism (Part One). Available online at:http://henryjenkins.org/2012/03/how_to_ride_a_lion_a_call_for.html (last accessed 27thMarch 2014)

Jenkins, H, Rose, F 2011. Deep Media, Transmedia, What’s the Difference?: An Interview with Frank Rose (Part One)”. Available online at:http://henryjenkins.org/2011/01/deep_media_transmedia_whats_th.html (last accessed 27th March 2014)

Jenkins, H 2010. Transmedia Education: the 7 Principles Revisited. Available online at:http://henryjenkins.org/2010/06/transmedia_education_the_7_pri.html (last accessed 27th March 2014)

Campfire, a Vimeo video: http://campfirenyc.com/work/hbo-true-blood

True Blood: The Fan(g)cy Transmedia Story. Available online at: http://ibcomtransmedia2012.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/trueblood-the-fangcy-transmedia-story/ (last accessed 27th March 2014)

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Tim Gunn 3241880 – TEXT SUMMARY – Philips “The Four Creative Purposes for Transmedia” 2012

Phillips classifies transmedia storytelling as requiring four main elements that help to establish a compelling narrative that helps to lure the public into immersion and excitement about the story universe. Transmedia storytelling requires that all platforms have to have a fulfilling narrative purpose, without exception. She first classifies that the notion of world building is of vital importance; these techniques are used to engage the user and paint for them a feeling that the story world actually exists and that they can explore and be a part of it. The second challenge is to “shed light on a characters personality and motivations, allowing the audience to develop knowledge of and connections to your characters in a context that doesn’t necessarily need to extend to the action in the main story,” (p46).

Transmedia storytelling can also be used, Philips writes, to provide backstory and exposition. The problem with single-medium stories is that they have to carry the load of narrative exposition, with transmedia story telling it is possible to have story elements unfold over a variety of platforms so that each platform can achieve what it is most successful at achieving without becoming encumbered by clunky story telling devices.

The biggest difficulty with transmedia storytelling, however, is that its all well and good to tell a story across multiple platforms, but it is very difficult to move away from the idea of a ‘core medium’ and to enforce a story telling structure that utilises all elements of the differing platforms equally so that they all work together to tell the story. This is known as native transmedia, and it’s implementation is rare considering that most transmedia examples promote a core medium, (such as the True Blood series), and other platforms are supplementary, supporting story telling devices that are not completely essential, (such as the accompanying comic books).

I attest that the most rich and powerful transmedia stories will allow for the user to enter any medium, at any point, and still be able to build the narrative via exploration of the story, rather than having it drilled out in a linear fashion. Perfect transmedia storytelling is much like a jigsaw puzzle, it matters not which order the pieces are put together, they are all working towards ‘the bigger picture.’ It is also imperative that the selection of each media platform provides vitality to the project, if you’re using a comic book to provide backstory you need to give a logical reason for why a comic is being used, in concordance with Phillips notion of native transmedia.

Reference

Phillips, Andrea (2012) “The Four Creative Purposes for Transmedia”  A creator’s guide to transmedia storytelling : how to captivate and engage audiences across multiple platforms. New York : McGraw-Hill (p. 41-54)

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Tim Gunn 3341880 – Synthesis

  • It is imperative that information for the story is dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels to create a unified and enjoyable entertainment experience. This involves providing a reason for information to appear on one channel, not ‘just because it would be cool to divulge information that way,’ (Phillips; 2012; p 15),
  • Offer a depth of experience that cannot have been presented to an audience in other decades, (Jenkins; 2008; p 134). Build your world and allow the user room to explore to their hearts desire.
  • Character conflict drives the narrative, that cannot be neglected.
  • Platform decisions relate to user experience, (Dowd; 2013; p 13), the notion of the ‘second screen’ – where users access additional narrative content whilst viewing the core medium – can enrich a story experience.
  • Too many platforms will not work if they are irrelevant, debate the purpose of each platform and consider its vitality.
  • Native transmedia is essential to the success of the project, in my opinion. My objective is to craft a story where the user can enter at any point and explorethe narrative from any direction – it matters not where they start along the stories ‘timeline’ because all the pieces of the stories puzzle will come together at the end to form the big picture, regardless of how the picture is constructed, (Phillips; 2012; 53).
  • Start with a story bible and work your way through the construction of a narrative, consider the key events and the platforms and channels you are considering. This will help you construct a user journey and help you conclude a design aesthetic, (Hayes; 2011). This design will be the major factor in successfully achieving a transmedia project, good organisation and a meticulous overview of every aspect of the piece will ensure a rich and interesting story.
  • The story telling must be open ended, boundless in construction where a single medium story would not be, (Phillips; 2012; p 77). This relates to being able to enter the story at any point and journey through gaining information about the story just as easily be heading in any possible direction.
  • Blend theme and character development, (Dena; 2014; p6). Express change for your character in every element of the story, don’t write simple linear character development but rather a thematic progressive development.

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Bibliography

Dena, Christy (2014). “Chapter 3″ Transmedia Primer Presentation. Commissioned by RMIT PP1

Dowd, Tom. Michael Fry, Michael Niederman, Josef Steiff (2013). Storytelling Across Worlds: Transmedia for Creatives and Producers. New York: Focal Press (p.3-32)

Hayes, Gary (2011) How to write a Transmedia Production Bible; a template for multi-platform producers. Screen Australia

Jenkins, Henry (2008) “Ch.3 Searching for the origami unicorn; The Matrix and transmedia storytelling” Convergence Culture; where old and new media collide. New York: New York University Press. (p.95-134, 302-305)

Phillips, Andrea (2012) “What is Transmedia Anyway?”  A creator’s guide to transmedia storytelling : how to captivate and engage audiences across multiple platforms. New York : McGraw-Hill (p. 13-19)

Phillips, Andrea (2012) “The Four Creative Purposes for Transmedia”  A creator’s guide to transmedia storytelling : how to captivate and engage audiences across multiple platforms. New York : McGraw-Hill (p. 41-54)

Phillips, Andrea (2012) “Writing for Transmedia is different”  A creator’s guide to transmedia storytelling : how to captivate and engage audiences across multiple platforms. New York : McGraw-Hill (p. 75-81)

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