Thursday, August 19, 2010

Transmedia books

What is transmedia?

Wikipedia defines it thus: as storytelling across multiple forms of media with each element making distinctive contributions to a fan's understanding of the story world. By using different media formats, transmedia creates "entrypoints" through which consumers can become immersed in a story world.

According to Henry Jenkins, author of the book Convergence Culture, transmedia storytelling is a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes it own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story.”

What is transmedia and is it different than crossplatform?
Jill Golick explains in her blog post on Transmedia her understanding of transmedia as being a subset of crossplatform. She believes all transmedia is crossplatform, but not all crossplatform is transmedia.

"When I use transmedia two conditions have to be met:
The story world must be expressed on at least three platforms. It can be more, many more, but three is the minimum.

The expression of the story world on each platform must be unique, not the same content repurposed on a different platform. So Harry Potter, in which the movies, video games and other elements are all retellings of the books that JK Rowling wrote? Not transmedia. Julia Child’s autobiography, My Life in France, Julie Powell’s blog The Julie/Julia Project and Nora Efron’s movie, Julie and Julia? Transmedia. (I have a post elaborating on this thought on the blog TransmediaTracker.)

Transmedia books to explore

1. Skeleton Creek

“Skeleton’s Creek – Ryan’s Journal” is the first book in a new series by author Patrick Carman. Carman has already experimented with New Media in his Atherton series and, once again, he returns to the format with this new book and series which is, ostensibly, a kind of ghost story – with a secret society thrown into the overall mystery. Taking into account that this book is aimed at adolescents, the results are almost entirely positive with Carman weaving a successfully creepy and suspenseful tale, while taking advantage of the internet to augment his story.


2. 39 clues

YA book series like The 39 Clues, which ask participants to read the book and investigate clues online.

39 Clues tells the story of two children, Amy and Dan Cahill, who are thrust into a global hunt for clues that will reveal the secret to the Cahill family’s power. The series is a cross between The Westing Game and The Amazing Race as the two children compete against members of four branches of the Cahill family to uncover the secret histories of famous Cahills including Benjamin Franklin, Anastasia Romanov, and Amelia Earhart. Although the series initially portrays their competition as cutthroat caricatures of their respective family houses, the series gradually reveals the complex motives of their fellow competitors.

While the story is primarily told through the books, each novel serves as a launching pad for further exploration, as a number of clues are hidden within each book’s pages. For instance, in The Maze of Bones, a series of apparently misnumbered pages spells out a secret message that aids the reader in solving a puzzle on one of the six collectible cards that came with the book. By going to the 39 Clues website, the reader can complete a puzzle solving mission culminating in an online game that explains the message.

Scholastic assembled materials to help teachers using 39 Clues in the classroom, and libraries have organized 39 Clues discussion sessions “to attract a new crew of young patrons through their doors to meet, share, and sleuth to solve the fantasy adventure as a team.”

3. Level 26 books

Level and the Level 26 books combine to form a "digi-novel," a multi-platform experience that moves the reader from passages in the books to videos and interactive content right here on the Level 26 website.

Level and the Level 26 books combine to form a "digi-novel," a multi-platform experience that moves the reader from passages in the books to videos and interactive content right here on the Level 26 website.

How do I participate in the digi-novel?

Read the books, sign up for a profile, and enter codes to unlock the Cyber-bridges.

The first installment in the series "Level 26: Dark Origins," will be available in stores and online September 8th. As you read the book, you'll see calls-to-action that direct you to this website to sign up for a profile and enter codes to unlock Cyber-bridges. These cinematic Cyber-bridges take the experience to the next level, immersing you in the action and putting you inside the twisted mind of a serial killer.

4. Nubs

The book Nubs is a true story about a dog and a Marine in Iraq. The website includes facts about the story, a book trailer, photo gallery, and a review of the locations in the story. Use this book to start an exploration of animal and journey stories. Think about ways you could create your own multi-platform story.

5. Cathy's story

Written for a young adult audience, Cathy's Book, Cathy's Key and Cathy's Ring by Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman includes an evidence packet along with a website for each book. A website is also available for fans who want to discuss the book. The fictional character has Facebook and Flickr accounts you can visit.


Other transmedia to explore

Metro2033 is a computer game. The premise is a post-apocalyptic Moscow where humanity has retreated to the subway Metro system. On the surface are mutants and desolation. Below is factional subterranean tribal states in the Metro tunnels.

Metro 2033 been getting rave reviews as a game but what’s interesting in the context of Transmedia is a) that its based on a novel and b) that the original novel was self-published online.

Murder on Beacon Hill app

Normally, viewers experience the story of the murder as they travel a mapped route around Boston’s Beacon Hill, watching sections from the video at eight different stops. At the film festival, though, audiences will stay firmly in their seats, watching all 33 parts of the video in continuous order. “We were just blown away at how watchable the story is in a theatrical setting,” BIFF director Patrick Jerome said in a statement. “It’s quick-paced, full of juicy details, and, to our knowledge, it’s the first location-based application to screen at a film festival.” Untravel Media, founder Epstein says the film’s acceptance at BIFF is a sign that the filmmaking community is gradually waking up to the possibilities of transmedia storytelling—in particular, storytelling that immerses viewers in a thoughtful way in real geography. “For a few years now we’ve been talking about doing more than your typical audio guides and walking tours,” Epstein says. “With the iPhone, apps can be fairly rich, so filmmakers know their stories won’t be reduced to little clips, but that the actual story can be expanded and become more engaging.”

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