- 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.
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.
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.