Crossing over

A couple of weeks ago I was invited by the SAFC and MRC to attend XMedia Lab in Perth, What’s Your Story? Having attended a few XML’s over the past few years I thought I knew what the day entailed; a few cases studies, the latest in hardware development and really cool international speakers.

Well not only did I get this but so much more. This XML was the most relevant one I had been to yet. In fact it was the most relevant for our industry, it focused on story in an interactive and collaborative space.

The first speaker, Esther Lim from The Estuary set the stage, this is all about creative community collaboration. Scary? Far from it, this is blurring the line between fiction and reality while allowing masses of people to go through the same story experience at the same time but from anywhere in the world. Now that’s exciting stuff.

And we can’t fight it anymore, hence my first tweet of the day:

“Beware auteur, community collaboration is happening whether you like it or not.”

While my call to arms may sound scary, Prof Duane Varan of Murdoch University demonstrated that just because it’s interactive we don’t throw the rules away. In the 10 Commandments of Interactive Storytelling, when it comes to cross platform narratives we embrace the same principles of linear storytelling. We just have to acknowledge that audiences live in cross platform worlds, but the trick is not to share the same content across platforms but intersect them.

Too much to get your head around? Well let Marshall Vandruff help clear it up for you, the things that stay constant are;

The Journey – takes us on one, not a tour.

The Thrill – through ups and downs; reversals, turning points/twists, build to a peak of tension, that way everyone cares about the outcome.

But most of all, give some meaning to our lives through that story.

Just when we thought we had it all down pat, Dominic Knight from The Chaser came to the stage to remind us that when it comes to storytelling, there are so many ways you can be innovative. It can be from setting to situation to character to dialogue to platform. But most importantly if you can nail storytelling then you can go far but if you don’t get that right you lose your audience.

If your story is good enough it will get out there, just make sure it is not about fixed media but evolving media. Renowned Australian producer Robyn Kershaw knows this and has picked up on it quick. Through her teenage children she has found a generation of stars who are broadcast on YouTube with cult followings.

Focusing on My Chonny she refers to this generation of viewers who do not engage in traditional forms of story as Screen-agers. And Chonny is not alone; there is Natalie Tran, Shane Dawson and Peter Chao. These are not just raving attention seekers; they are creative personalities with their own cult followings. The numbers of views on their absurd and off the wall clips reach over 1 million hits.

Transmedia can be daunting for traditional filmmakers but that’s because of a lot of misconceptions about it. Henry Jenkins broke down these as the 7 myths of transmedia;

1. it refers to any strategy involving more than one platform

2. it is a promotional tool

3. it means games

4. it is for geeks

5. it requires a large budget

6. everything should go transmedia

7. it is so 10 minutes ago

Once you wrap your head around all this you will soon see that: “In the brave new world of transmedia content is still king, conversation is just something to talk about.”


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