Sidebar: The Relevancy of Answers

A Day at the Park

A Day at the Park

A very interesting find.  Very apropos to the mantra of EYESthatHEAR:

“What’s the point if a wrong answer will stop you from returning to the right question.  Although sometimes people have no questions to return to… which is usually why they defend them, with such strong conviction.

That’s exactly why I am extra cautious with all these big ol’ answers that have been lying around, long before we came along.  They bully their way into our collection without being invited by any questions of our own. We accept them just because they have satisfied the questions of so many before us… seeking the questions which fits them instead…

My favorite kind of answers are those that my questions give birth to.  Questions that I managed to keep safe long enough to do so.”

~ Kostas Kiriakakis ~

I believe there are ultimate, universal answers that define our existence.  However, those dynamic answers are connected to a myriad of questions, purposed to challenge how we look at those answers with our finite understanding.  We think our little answers ARE the explanation of that universal answer but, when challenged, our little answers can be smashed into irrelevance. They are deemed insignificant and inadequate.  When found wanting, too many cast both the little and ultimate answer to the curb, disregarding both as a collective ‘wrong.’  But in reality, our answer to, or understanding of the bigger answer was the one in error – not the ultimate thereof.

Much to think about.  Much to “see with our ears, and hear with our eyes” differently.  Each time.

THERMODYNAMIC STORYTELLING

My love affair with social media strategy recently began by happenstance.  Out of necessity, situations at work called for someone, at the very minimum, to work as a community manager.  As the cliché goes in the military, I “Rogered Up,” having no clue that was the actual title of what I was getting myself into.  But that’s the kind of person I am: someone who would jump on the grenade rather than cower away from it.  Okay.  Enough with the military locutions.

By nature I am a storyteller.  I love to tell stories through video, photography, graphics and writing.  My style can be very illusory at times, but a labor of love nonetheless.  When you combine the four mediums, being careful to respect the intrinsic strengths of each, the collective story narrates more dynamically than in singularity.  This is called ‘transmedia’.

I found the same principles within social media.  Each platform is separate in function and expression.  To effectively tell a brand’s or an organization’s ‘story,’ it is counter-intuitive to post the same style of message across each toolset.  In the entertainment industry, this is called ‘crossmedia.’  Crossmedia differs from transmedia, in that the same narrative style and delivery differentiates only through digital rendering for each platform (i.e. computer, tablet, smart phone, etc.).  However, mirroring across each platform does not help develop a story any further.  The very same concept applies to social media.

Best practices in social media dictate the requirement for variation in delivery.  Psychologically, followers expect different styles and angles of a ‘story’ on each of their expressive platforms.  If not, what’s the use of following a brand’s or an organization’s Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and etcetera profiles?  They are all saying the same thing – probably through automation.  You can’t mask the smell of automation just as much as you can’t mask the smell of charred turkey on Thanksgiving.  ImageSeriously.  That’s why God invented the timer and thermometer.  And that is why social media strategy is necessary.  It is the regulating ‘tempuratic timer,’ or regulation of storytelling ‘thermodynamics.’  The basic definition of thermodynamics is:

 “It defines macroscopic variables (such as temperatureinternal energyentropy, and pressure) that characterize materials and radiation, and explains how they are related and by what laws they change with time. Thermodynamics describes the average behavior of very large numbers of microscopic constituents, and its laws can be derived from statistical mechanics.”

Before you scoff at me for being tangential, let me relate back to my point.  I love storytelling.  I love the idea of telling one story in varying ways through different mediums.  This is called transmedia. I have a new love for social media because a similar dynamic can be achieved through strategizing across different social media platforms.  Both ideological practices convect quantities of “temperature, energy and entropy” towards “absolute zero,” or “Thermodynamic equilibrium:” The achievement of balance.  You maximize a story’s impact by developing balance of enterprising values across different mediums and platforms.  Complicated simplicity, right?

Don’t judge me for just “geeking out.”  Due to their relatively conceptual newness, it is very difficult to define transmedia and social media strategy – kind of like trying to describe color to a blind person.  Again with the clichés… I promise I knew nothing about thermodynamics until writing this.  And I made up a new word: ‘temperatic.’ I may have even related the concept to my point incorrectly.  Or maybe not.  It makes sense in my head.  Hopefully it makes sense in yours.

“Law of Thermodynamics” Animated Song

Transmedia Storytelling: An Introduction

I consider it a privilege to watch any industry evolve in lieu of innovation.  Some consider change a threat, while others move with the tide.  But it’s really more than a tide.  Tides move in and out, but the substance of that tide remains the same, returning to its previous state.  However, with innovative evolution, something new emerges from combining elements of old.  Such is the case with storytelling.

Sharing stories are not necessarily told now through one channel alone.  Instead, the most effective practice involves employing multiple channels to tell varying dynamics of a single story.  This is called “Transmedia Storytelling.”  Unlike ‘crossmedia,’ where a story contained within one form is spread across different technological platforms (i.e. TV to PC to tablet to smart phone), ‘transmedia’ builds a universe around the story. The essence of the story is blown outside the boundaries of its initial scripting.  For example: During a film’s production, social media campaigns create ‘buzz’, while interactive evangelists create surrounding worlds through games and other tactile activities.  There are many ways to approach transmedia, but the core concept is to involve audiences beyond the traditional one-way exhibition, creating, as Brian Cain of Story Lab says, a “persistent experience across multiple platforms.”   

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There are still some audience members who prefer non-involvement.  But for those of us who want more ‘context,’ or want the story to continue farther outside its narrative, transmedia campaigns broaden the playing field.  Brian Cain says that, in his podcast titled, “The Story of Transmedia Marketing Stories,” transmedia is about enriching the “story world” by letting fans take over the brand.  Through ‘touch,’ that emotional and psychological investment deepens the experience on a very personal and individual level.  It becomes theirs.  They become a part of it, determining the lifespan of a brand.

This begins my series on Transmedia Storytelling’s essential role in various forms of media exploration, marketing strategies, and brand positioning. All things start with a story worth telling.  How that story is told will determine its relevance and resonance to, and the impact on the audience – or customer. The transmedia strategy has proved to be incredibly effective in achieving these goals.

The Art of “Cramming”

I have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. “Woo hoo…” you may say as you roll your eyes.  “Would you like a hero cookie?”  Actually, yes.  I would love one.  But I am gluten intolerant, so keep that in mind…  What’s my point?  Having spent a lot of time in school, I’ve become quite apt at cramming information into my head, hoping the mashed sweet potatoes of content makes a beautiful passing-grade casserole.  I love sweet potatoes.  They are really good for you…  But so is attending to your professional development.  Right now I’m studying to take a “Social Media Strategist” certification exam.  Well, kind of.  At this VERY SECOND I’m taking a “time out” to write a blog post.  But my motivation comes from the fact that, I’m studying to become a Social Media Strategist.  So, then writing a blog post is right in line with my curriculum.  Indeed!  But I digress from the topic at hand.  Moving on. 

As a “right-brainer,” I’ve embraced the reality that I learn most at the eleventh hour.  It’s true.  Most of my artistic creativity comes in a similar fashion, as well.  More often than not, creation ends up being a really messy experience. When I edit video, I tend to chuck anything that looks ‘pretty’ onto the timeline.  I then dig through aggressively, rearranging the puzzle pieces into a coherent story arch.  The same goes for studying.  I haphazardly through my brain at the wall of information and hope some of it will stick.  But I don’t hope so much, anymore.  I KNOW.  I know it will stick.  I know the swirling gray matter in my head will make sense of it.  I proved that to myself by finishing two degrees.  I’ve also realized that “Learning How to Learn” is the value I draw from school, more so than the certificate or topical specificity.  However, my contentment in that evolves into joy when I find myself passionate about what I’m learning.  Such is the case.  Right now.  I’m invigorated by the challenge of learning new things in the arena of social media, and I’m honestly excited to take a test on it.  That’s more than I can say for ANY college test I’ve taken.  Why?  I don’t really know.  Maybe it’s because I’m not being forced to.  It doesn’t feel like an obligation, and I’m truly in love with it. I’ve again found something I can sink my teeth into – and that actually tastes good. Then again… The pounding sound of house music in the background may be the reason for my invigoration, or I may just be excited because my oven temperature is now high enough to bake my sweet potatoes for dinner.  Either way, I’m in good spirits and looking forward to my exam. 

 And my sweet potatoes. 

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What IS EYESthatHEAR?

The essence of ETH is storytelling.  It is a Brand born to unify all things I find contributory to the telling of stories through the eyes and ears of my own perspective.  I am a photographer, videographer, editor, graphic artist, writer, singer and musician.  Traditionally, these outlets are how artists tell stories.  But there is now another tool capable of telling stories just as poignantly: Social Media.

On the canvas of the Internet, we paint the story of our lives.  Be it personal or business, the stories we choose to tell are largely open to interpretation – both by self and by others.  Herein lies the art: how an individual crafts, shapes, prioritizes, links, and projects their story (or NOT do any of those things) determines what that story is. The beauty lies in choice and control, or the choice NOT to control.  Whatever the choice (or non choice), the story finds its voice.  I think about it this way:

I have a great passion for the moving image – how footage is shot and arranged within a sequence and scene.  The mood and tone of the scene are dependent on the pacing, relation, or juxtaposition of each shot.  A quicker pace or sharper cuts may make a sequence seem more rigid and serious.  A slower pace and smoother transitions may convey thoughtfulness and warmth.  Content disseminated through varying channels of social media can have the same effect, depending on their timing, style or scale.  Heavy facts mean business.  Conversational tones mean personal.  But that doesn’t mean business is always about facts, or that personal is always warm and conversational.  Switch the contextual roles and you have a humanistic business culture that identifies with their customer, verses a serious and militarily minded person who may be seeking a management position at a correctional institution.  Whatever the choice, careful and purposeful action will determine what story is told.  Back to my point:

What is EYESthatHEAR? It’s a culmination of all things the eyes see, hear and feel juxtaposed, or in tandem with all things the ears hear, see and feel.  The gap between my last blog and now is rather embarrassing, but I’m less apologetic than I maybe should be.  Why? Evolution.  It takes time and space. EYESthatHEAR has undergone a bit of that. Now it includes the artistic interpretation of social media and it’s power to influence – just the same as all other forms of media and art do.

Influence: on me and “how so” on others.   That is ETH.

Transmedia and the Evolution of Storytelling

A few days ago I came across a podcast by Hollywood 2.0 called The Future of Storytelling.  The topic was “Transmedia.”  I’d never heard that term before.  Initially the word made me think of Transylvania and blood-sucking vampires.  
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Still of Bela Lugosi in Dracula

From there my mind connected thought to the awful trend of producing brain cell-killing films that numb the senses and suck life out of an audience.  And so, naturally, my first gut feeling was not a positive one.  Still, I was curious.  After learning more, I can now recall seeing it around.  But you don’t know what to look for until you learn there is something worth looking for.

Amanda Lin Cost, writer for PBS.org describes Transmedia as a tool for telling stories across multiple platforms. The same story will share elements of its core across outlets like movies, apps, and gaming.  Different yet distinct parts of, say, a film are designed to engage fans on a more dynamic level. All points of the process purpose unique story contributions to stand on their own.  An application of the methodology might include producing a video game of the story, creating Webisodes of character spin offs, or generating a comic book of unanswered questions directed by fans.  Transmedia has the power to extend a film’s deep back-story and characters beyond traditional, singular exhibitions.

Innovent’s CEO, Antonio Kaplan says their operations of this practice began before the process even had a name. He says the experience for customers is like looking through a “three-sided prism.”  Amanda Lin Cost describes the method as “breaking down the fourth wall,” and Henry Jenkins of Fast Company says Transmedia “allows gifted storytellers to expand their canvas and share more of their vision with their most dedicated fans.”  Transmedia Marketing Café compares what marketing was, and presently is, to what marketing could become through Transmedia as the difference between, “interruption to integration, from “sponsor” to “story contributor” and from a disconnected purchase path to instant commerce.” It’s important to note that Transmedia isn’t applicable to all films and forms of entertainment, but, in many cases, its relevancy is obvious. However, as the cliché goes, it’s hard to describe the taste of salt to someone who’s never had salt before.  For many, a salt-less meal is quite simply, bland.  Without Transmedia, some audiences could be deprived the pleasure of a savory viewing experience.  Translating a story into various forms of media has the power to fill that common dissatisfaction.

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Collaborative Intermedia Storytelling

Summer Anderson is a up-and-coming graduate of Full Sail University’s Entertainment Business Master’s Program.  Her 10 years of multimedia experience provides a foundation to examine the interrelation between all forms of media while looking through the lens, specifically, of cinema.

Lessons Learned: The Creative Entrepreneur

Over the past 11 or so months, I’ve been studying entertainment business through a degree program hosted by Full Sail University. Surprisingly, my business approach took a shape vastly different from what I started with.  As it is with creativity, inspiration very rarely reflects in exactness.  Instead, it often manifests in better form.

IMDb:Lone Ranger (1949)

What I’ve learned is that there is tremendous creativity involved in conceptualizing, articulating and creating a strong and solid foundation for a business.  As a creative, I’ve had to seek out various types of professionals for help in wrapping my head around a foreign subject.  Some were related to the entertainment industry, but many were not.  Business is the same whether you’re creating a manufacturing company that produces hot and spicy widgets or planning for world domination through filmmaking.  Even though it’s been a feat of great difficulty to force my right brain into compliance, I know learning “the business end of the rifle” is monumentally important to making a living making art.

In my last blog post I quoted a few professionals that have helped me better understand the relevance of learning business and how to effectively make it happen.  From Jim Cones I learned the difference between a Producer’s Package and a Business Plan.  The Film Method broke down the business of film into terms a creative person could understand.  Michael Berger has created a phenomenal business-coaching platform around his book, The E-Myth.  No matter the professional, they have all opened my eyes to how much I do not know.  But that’s okay.  Some of the most important keys to selling oneself and one’s business are, as Jayson Whitmore, co-owner of the design and media production company Royale says, humility and the willingness to learn.  I’ve always said that once a person becomes prideful they stop learning, growing and progressing.  A forward-thinking entrepreneur can’t afford stifling due to arrogance.  Some may make considerable strides, but I wonder just how much more they could’ve gained or grown without succumbing to pride?

One of the most important things I’ve learned from studying business and industry leaders is, as I’ve stated above, the fact that business building can be a very creative process.  Jennifer Lee wrote for Ladies Who Launch saying, “Your artistic gifts can actually help you find fresh solutions to your business challenges and enable your ventures to grow in ways you would’ve never dreamed possible.” She goes onto list “10 Tips for the Creative Entrepreneur,” encouraging ‘creatives’ not to compartmentalize their attributes but to fully embrace and apply them to every aspect of the business creation process. Tom James of Escape From Illustration Island says running a smart business will give an artist “more clarity and freedom to create your next masterpiece.”  Inevitably the dependability trait uncommonly possessed by artists will blossom.  Clients will gain confidence and repay in kind.  Consequently, commitment to these principles has the potential to incite a variation to the world’s eighth wonder: compound interest through referrals. Repeat business produces profits, which results in achieving the goal we all have in mind: to make a living making art.