Transmedia Storytelling



By: Lauren Richardson (@r_lauren13)

According to Carri Bugbee, transmedia consists of the technologies and processes that allow connections and interactions between fans, content creators and distributors of video content.

Henry Jenkins in his weblog, Confessions of an Aca-Fan, further explores the basics of transmedia with an outline on his blog called  “Transmedia Storytelling 101″.

Here is a summary of some of Jenkins’ transmedia basics:

1.  Transmedia storytelling is a process where parts of a fictional plot are spread across  platforms to create a cohesive experience. Each medium contributes something different to the story line. Jenkins uses the example of The Matrix because it is a trilogy, a series of animated shorts, comic book stories, and  video games which all contribute different kinds of character information and  make viewers want to read more content because it is difficult to collect all the information.

5.  Transmedia can appeal to different audiences that TV alone might not reach. This strategy allows  viewers who are comfortable in one medium to try different media platforms.

7. Consistency is important in transmedia and also hard to manage. Transmedia storytelling requires extreme attention to detail and coordination across different media platforms. It typically works best when one person produces all the content.

9. Transmedia content does not only disperse information but also creates content that viewers can identify with. This idea is demonstrated with the popularity of action figures, which encourage children to use their imagination and develop different story lines based on the characters and costumes they see or read about.

Examples of successful transmedia storytelling:

1. Dr. Who: During a ten-year television hiatus, the BBC produced radio dramas to continue the Dr. Who story line and keep fans interested. Programs like this are intended to reveal more history, personality and motive about a character that may not be fully developed in the TV show.

2. Dexter: In anticipation for the fourth season of Dexter, the show released a massive online campaign including games, an interactive online investigation, web-series, street marketing ( included red water  or “blood” coming out of public fountains) and a series of famous magazine cover spoofs featuring Dexter to increase viewers’ interest in the upcoming season. The @SHO_Dexter has over 105,000 followers and the Facebook page has more than 7.5 million ‘likes’.

3. The Witness: This is an extensive incorporation of different media applied to multiple scenarios that increased viewer awareness of the show creating an experience viewers wanted to be part of. They combined viewer competition, technology and mystery to promote the show and get viewers to participate in the series.

Watch a video of the campaign here.

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