The Business of Transmedia Storytellin

What is the most significant benefit of the transmedia storytelling? My answer is quite simple for this, engaging more people and earning more money. Transmedia storytelling helps build an interactive, stable and lasting relationship between users and providers. McErlean claims that” Somehow, technological know-how must be combined with storytelling skills to create new products that build audiences to achieve a commercial return. Internet TV providers increase audience share by regularly revising and updating their programmes. New product gives the audience a reason to come back” (2018, p.153). I believe that is why the game-adapted movies became popular in recent years. Besides game-adapted films, TV platform such as BBC also has realised the business opportunities of the transmedia storytelling in today’s world.

On 28 February 2016, a five-episode drama, Thirteen, was premiered by BBC Three. The idea of Thirteen is similar to Room, which tells a story of Ivy Moxam, a woman who escapes from a kidnapper after being held for thirteen years. At the same time, BBC Three launched an online activity ‘#FindTheGirl’ , inviting audiences to get into the Thirteen’s world and join the investigation of finding the missing girl. This event attracted a large number of audience to follow BBC Three’s Twitter while they were watching the drama.

From my point of view, the most successful transmedia case is Star Wars. Since 1977, the Star Wars has become a worldwide pop culture phenomenon with the release of the first episode. It was followed by Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983). After these three films, Star Wars became a famous IP which has driven a series of peripheral products such as books, TV series, games, toys, comic books and clothes.

The book:

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The TV series:

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The games:

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The toys:

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The comic books:

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The clothes:

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With the continuous production of these items, Star Wars has been occupying a vital part of the pop culture. Even if Disney released the new episode in 2015, it had been 10 years since the last one was released, but the whole world fans still ran to the cinema with enthusiasm.

In my opinion, transmedia is a new power which has impact storytelling. In today’s world, no matter the TV or the film, content are updated day by day. It’s getting hard to attract people’s attention and let audience remember by using just one method. Transmedia is a system which separates the original content into a lot of sub-content. And then, people would give these sub-contents individual market and target audience to attract more potential fans. Meanwhile, transmedia is money-saving. If Star Wars wants to contain a certain number of the fans, it must keep updating its content. However, it’s impossible to produce a film year by year, especially Star Wars is not a low budget film. Therefore, producing peripheral products and using social media is not only profitable but also money-saving.

 

Reference:

McErlean, K 2018, Interactive Narratives and Transmedia Storytelling : Creating Immersive Stories Across New Media Platforms, Taylor & Francis Group, Milton, ProQuest Ebook Central.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Participation in Documentary

casting-jonbenetTo talk about the participation in a documentary, the first thing comes out from my head is Casting JonBenet, a creative, novel, and revolutionary documentary. The Hollywood Reporter comments that “It expands the formal horizon of the documentary” while the IndieWire uses “think with intrigue” to describe this documentary. In my opinion, Casting JonBenet is unique because it involves ordinary people who have the relationship with the unsolved killing of JonBenet Ramsey. These people join the film for various reasons. Some of them have an assumption about the case, and they think they know who killed the girl; Some of them just want to find a place to show their performance talent; Some of them share stories of themselves as they feel something in common with JonBenet. Therefore, the Casting JonBenet is not only a representation of the murder but also a reflection of people who intend to express feelings. At this point, these people participate the film and JonBenet’s life.

Here is a question which is led by the Casting JonBenet. What people can get from participating in a documentary? Nichols claims that “For every documentary there are at least three stories intertwine: the filmmaker’s, the film’s, and the audience’s. These stories are all, in different ways, part of what we attend to when we ask what a given film about”( 2001, p.61). People usually think documentary talks about the story of someone else, so they don’t become aware unless they are part of the story. In the case of the Casting JonBenet, those actors were witnesses or even suspects of the murder, but now they are all participants. The most interesting thing is that once those people have started to act the parties, they could understand more about the whole thing. For example, JonBenet’s mother was the number-one suspect because people thought that she couldn’t tolerate the bed-wetting of JonBenet. The majority of the people, of course, think that is a stupid assumption. However, one or two actresses in the documentary claim that they don’t think that is a silly assumption because they had had the same feeling in their lives when they were dealing with kids. At this point, I think people can have a chance to get closer to the fact, considering from the outside of the box and coming up with some new solutions.

It is hard to say that if we still can read the film like the Casting JonBenet as a documentary. It’s more like an experimental film which collects perspectives from people and gives them back to people. But, it’s still innovation.

 

Reference:

Nichols, B 2001, Introduction to Documentary, Indiana University Press, Bloomington.  Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central.

Is Victoria an immersive narrative? No!

This week, my classmates did an incredible flipped lecture — Interactive and Immersive Narrative. It was an excellent lecture, and I learnt a couple of fresh ideas. I remember that they took a film Victoria as an example to define the immersive narrative. This is a one-shot film made by Sebastian Schipper in 2015. The reason for discussing this film through this blog is that I do not think that it’s a so-called immersive narrative. 

Firstly, let’s review the definition of the immersive narrative. Arrow says that”Immersive storytelling is a technique that is finding its way into new spaces such as theatres, games, documentaries, advertising and journalism”(2016, para. 1). And, Bucher points out that”Narratives now have the potential to play out anywhere we can crane our necks to glance or stare. Like in life, any place we can walk to or journey toward becomes the screen for a story”(2017, p.1). In my words, an immersive narrative is a form that allows the audience to participate the story or break the story. At this point, I think the Sleep No More, an immersive theatre, is an appropriate instance to explain the immersive narrative. The Sleep No More breaks the fourth wall and makes the audience be a part of the situation. People are physically immersed in the story.

Moving back to the flipped lecture and the film, Victoria. According to my research, a lot of people, not only my classmates but also some bloggers and filmmakers, are supporting that Victoria is an immersive narrative. They claim that the feeling of watching Victoria is like “You feel like you are there, a member of their gang, experiencing every moment with them, and making every decision (the good, the bad and the dangerous) right alongside them”(2016, para. 8). However, this doesn’t make any sense for me. The immersive narrative relies on the VR (virtual reality). According to Bucher, In the 1990s, VR machines began to turn up in some pop culture conversation; In 2007, Alex McDowell coined the phrase “immersive design” in a discussion; In 2012, the Oculus Rift prototype was developed, and story conversations began. And, in 2015, people saw Victoria. Then, they read this film as an immersive narrative. However, before the Victoria, in 1982, Béla Tarr directed a film, Macbeth, an only two-shot film; In 2002, Alexander Sokurov made the Russian Ark, a one-shot work; In 2013, Shahram Mokri produced the film, Fish & Cat, which is through a without-a-cut single shot. The thing is that people read these film above as the one-shot film before 2015, but re-defined them as the immersive narrative after Victoria just because of the “immersive narrative” came up around 2015. That’s doesn’t make any sense for me. Besides, in fact, for the Victoria, the director took 3 attempts to film the movie. The take used for the final cut was the third take. Therefore, regarding Victoria as an immersive narrative is illogical and unreasonable. This film doesn’t let people participate in the story. It is just a good result of planning and rehearsal. It is just a one-shot film.

In conclusion, in the past, I thought the film is a straightforward thing. In my opinion, there are only fiction and non-fiction narrative. With the development of the digital culture, interactive narrative, database narrative, and immersive narrative came up. However, personally, I think these concepts just re-named the existing things. And, they made me confused.

 

References:

Melanie Arrow 2016, ‘ Immersive storytelling is everywhere and there’s no going back’, Media & Tech Network, blog post, 31 May 2016, viewed 28 March 2017, <https://www.theguardian.com/media-network/2016/may/31/immersive-storytelling-360-vr-technology-marketing>.

 

 

The weakness of the database narrative

The database narrative is not a simple concept to understand. To prepare the presentation, I’ve done some research to figure out the definition of the database narrative. I was surprised that there are many explanations for the database narrative while people have the various opinions about it. Some people think that the database narrative is good for us to create video work. Marsha Kinder quotes that ‘We believe this kind of nonlinear, open-ended storytelling is ideally suited to the interactive narratives and on-line games one finds in cyberspace—where story fragments can be drawn out of a rich narrative field and recombined by interactors like you according to your own chosen lens or frame of reference. We hope this structure encourages you, as you move through this DVD-ROM, to remix these fragments and come up with your own vision of Albert Einstein'(Kinder, cited in MK 2016). However, some people doubt the future of the database narrative. I stand with the latter.  The rest of this blog is going to explain why I think the future of the database narrative might not be bright.

Firstly, the database narrative is illogical. My previous blog compares the difference between the linear narrative and the non-linear narrative, which can be reviewed to think about this point of view. The database narrative can be read as a non-linear since they both break the classic three-act structure. However, the database narrative might be more complicated because it may have no beginning and ending, or even have no perspective. Therefore, it will be difficult for the audience to understand the meaning of a database narrative. For instance, I have no idea about the concept of the Man with a Movie Camera, a 1929 film made by Dziga Vertov. I have tried to understand what Dziga Vertov wanted to express through this video but I couldn’t. For me, it’s just a video that contains a bunch of clips.

Secondly, the database narrative has made a role reversal. The database narrative made us realised that for the first time we are deciding what we see and creating what we see. In the past, the video/filmmaker decided what people see. They use the dialogue and the movement to build character and create conflict, and they manipulate the audience by using editing. However, the database narrative has changed this. People now can choose not only what they see but also how they see the narrative. As a media student, especially an editor, I have a concern about this.

Finally, the database narrative is going to lose a number of the audience since it requires computer/digital knowledge. The database narrative is related to the digital culture, which means it’s more easier for young people to understand. Therefore, some database narrative cannot target the senior people.

In conclusion, in my opinion, the database narrative is a new product of the technology in the digital age. It will enrich the media industry and people’s life but it won’t be mainstream.

 

References:  

Marsha Kinder 2016, ‘Database Narrative’, Marsha Kinder Legacies, blog post, 2016, viewed 19 March 2017, <http://www.marshakinder.com/index.html>.

 

 

Linear or Non-linear, does it matter?

What we talk about when we talk about the linear narrative and the non-linear narrative? The answer is Structure. Then, what is structure? Bell claims that ‘Plot is about elements, those things that go into the mix of making a good story even better. Structure is about timing—where in the mix those elements go’(2004, p.22). In other words, structure is about how we tell the story. Traditionally, people use the Three-Act structure (Beginnings-Middles-Ends) to tell a linear story. Because it works all the time. Bell points out that the Three-Act is ‘in line with how we live our lives’(2004,p.23). Oppositely, some people are keen to challenge audiences by using a non-linear narrative. Dancyger and Ruch make a point that ‘The first noticeable quality of the structure of the non-linear film is its elusiveness. It doesn’t look like the clear structure of the linear film’(2006, p.158). That’s true. In the non-linear film, there will be multiple characters, and they may all have a motivation. And, sometimes, the filmmaker will build multiple connections between characters to confuse audiences.

So, which structure is better? My answer is that there is no better structure but a better storyteller. I’d like to use two examples to explain that perspective. The first example is Pulp Fiction (1994), a successful film made by Quentin Tarantino. In this film, there are three stories. They are independent but relevant. Each character of the story has their own journey, and their journey will all stop at one point at the end of the story. Pulp Fiction is a typical non-linear film, but it doesn’t confuse people. Firstly, Tarantino is a good storyteller. He knows profoundly how to use movements, analogs, plots and sounds to make everything reasonable, connectional and logical. Also, of course, a good editor will make the story clearer. Let’s move to the second example. The Open House(2018), a film made by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote, a classic linear film. The story is very simple, it’s about a teenager and his mother move into a new house, and they find themselves besieged by threatening forces. However, this film hasn’t got a good reputation even if Dylan Minnette was involved. The biggest problem with this film is that the entire story is smashed. There is no connection between the plot and the character’s motivation. The filmmakers were trying to scare audiences by using sounds or lights, but they totally forgot the basic rules of writing a story. The Open House is a good case to indicate that a bad storyteller can ruin a simple linear film.

In conclusion, I think it doesn’t matter which structure we use. Linear and Non-linear are just two different ways to tell the story. It’s always okay to challenge audiences, and it’s always good to tell a story with various ideas. Unless you are not a good storyteller.

 

References:

Bell, JS 2004, Write Great Fiction – Plot & Structure: Plot and Structure, F+W Media, Ohio. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central.

Dancyger, K, & Rush, J 2006, Alternative Scriptwriting: Successfully Breaking the Rules, Taylor & Francis Group, Burlington. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central.

 

One benefit of the digital age: Unlimited participation

Today is the digital age. The digital technology has become prevalent, universal, essential, and irreplaceable. I think the most significant change that caused by digital technology is the way how people build the connections with others, with the outside. Baym argues that ‘For many, the increased amount of mediated interaction seems to threaten the sanctity of our personal relationship. For others, new media offer the promise of more opportunity for connection with more people, a route to new opportunities and to stronger relationship and more diverse connections. Both perspectives reflect a sense that digital media are changing the nature of our social connections'(2009, p.12). I couldn’t agree more with Baym’s point of view. Also, I think the digital technology has changed the relationship between people and information/knowledge. In the past, people received knowledge passively. However, in today’s world, people learn, share and spread knowledge via the Internet actively. In other words, people have got the participation of creating a new thing and changing an old thing with others online.

With this blog, I’d like to talk about one a significant affordance of digital work, the participation, by using an existing example The Johnny Cash Project. The Johnny Cach Project is an interactive website that was built by fans to commemorate a great musician Johnny Cash. On the website pages, participants from all over the world are allowed to contribute their own portrait of Johnny Cash. And, these paintings will be integrated into a collective whole as the screenshot below. In this way, people from all over the world can participate in the activity freely. And, indeed, the participation here is measurable. People can see how many participants are involved in one piece of work, and how this work be developed day by day. This project has already attracted more than thousand people to submit their own painting work to make the project bigger.

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I think The Johnny Cash Project is a good example of commemorating an artist or promoting an artwork. Using the technology to motivate people’s participation is a smart way to spread arts, ideas, thoughts, and knowledge as people are all connected to the Internet. In other words, with digital technology, we could gather as many as possible people to do one thing without any limitation.

 

References: 

Baym, NK 2009, Personal Connections in the Digital Age, Polity Press, Chicester. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central.

Dezuanni, M, Foth, M, Mallan, K, & Hughes, H (eds) 2017, Digital Participation through Social Living Labs : Valuing Local Knowledge, Enhancing Engagement, Elsevier Science & Technology, Kent. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central.

 

Are we still watching?

I have a massive passion for TV shows, and this passion has increased since I have become a Netflix addict. I’ve spent all my leisure time flipping through the pages and watching various shows. This year, I’ve found that some short plays such as The End of The F***ing World, The Good Place, and Re: MInd are available. These plays have a lot in common. For instance, each episode of these shows is around 20 minutes, which means the whole season only takes three hours maximum of an audience. Besides, these shows prefer to tell a simple story, avoiding complicated relationship between characters and focusing on a specific time. And, apparently, all these shows use young or famous actors to attract young age.

I have been attracted by these short plays. I guess the majority of people know that Netflix always releases all episode at once, unconditionally. As a result, people can finish an entire season in one night if they want to. I finished all of these three shows in three nights, one night for one show. I was feeling pretty good when I was watching them. Because, firstly, I did not need to wait for the update; secondly, I could just press the button to fast-forward if I don’t like some plots. I did have a satisfaction after I finished these three shows quickly. However, here is the problem, did I really watch them? Or, I was just scanning them?

I still remember how did l watch a film or a TV show in the past. The whole process of watching a screen work was like a ritual, and I could keep talking or thinking about the stories, the plots, the characters, the music with my friends after I watched it. But, things have changed since we have had the Internet. Actually, in the past few decades, except Netflix, more and more companies have invested in the Internet industry to create their own streaming videos to get money. Samaei notes that ‘This makes perfect sense, considering the fact that streaming is one of the “fastest-growing consumer sub-segments” and is projected to reach $10.1 billion in 2018, up from $3.3 billion in 2013′(2017,p99). It is easy for us to get a conclusion that the Internet technology is changing our way to produce and receive entertainments. Taking myself as an example, I barely remember when was the last time I went to a cinema.

So, here is a big question in front of me. With the development of the increasing convenience of receiving the image sources, are we still watching a film or TV shows?

References:

Alex, N. Samaei, 2017, “The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: AreYou Still Watching“, HeinOnline, vol. XVIII, no.1, L98, p98-124, viewed 28 February 2018, HeinOnline.

Kesha, K. Coker, 2017, “Skip it or View it: The Role of Video Storytelling in Social Media Marketing”, Marketing Management, p.75, viewed 28 February 2018.