What is Transmedia?
Defined by Screen Australia as “Storytelling across multiple forms of media, with each element making distinctive contributions to a user’s understanding of the story universe, including where user actions affect the experience of content across multiple platforms (eg. reaching a score level in an online game unlocks the next mobile episode).” Often a term associated with the evolution of film and TV marketing, digital content platforms in technology have given the term more prominence in the last 5 years. Hollywood discusses the strategy of transmedia in bringing characters and stories to life after (or before) their screen debut. Although, increasingly brands are taking note in stories that they have to tell with a tech savvy audience increasingly ready to engage through mobile, web and social, not just passive media.
Modernista! creative and communications agency put together this case study for their work for Showtime’s original series, Dexter. They used transmedia and varying digital platforms to continue the Dexter narrative with fans to create hype and interest between seasons.
Digital platforms used: Web Platforms, Mobile, Facebook
Platforms: TV, Web, Mobile application
What Platforms are Best for Bringing Your Campaign or Story to Life?
Mobile- Mobile application development has played a huge part in transmedia storytelling. Most current campaigns (The Witness in 2011 & Pandemic 1.0, to name a few) are integrating stories through applications that continue narratives or allow the user to interact, whether it be within a game, augmented reality experience, or video content.
Print to mobile- Print takes the mobile experience one step further with QR code scanning, a catalyst to narratives on audience’s mobile, whether through a mobile website or application to download. We have seen a lot of QR codes for advertisement use, but recently the trend has gone to interaction with branded content over calls-to-action for buying. Volcom, a popular brand in action sports has been using the QR codes to show athlete content and Facebook contests associated. Volcom uses technology to continue the story of their athletes and their brand, something we can put the transmedia stamp upon.
On the topic of cross-platform content, Jimmy Fallon got a lot of buzz after showing QR codes instead of album covers in LP album size. The QR code would take the viewer to the band’s website to watch videos and listen to music. Print on TV to mobile device to tell the story of a band; yup, that is transmedia (a bit less traditional then the film examples as the user would drive their own stories over a curated experience provided by the brand or agency).
Games- Branded games based on film, tv, comics, or other popular narratives are often the most common examples of transmedia. Although, we have seen a surge in the opposite path of content absorption, meaning games are continuing narrative through TV and film. Uh, remember Tomb Raider, of course we wanted to see game character Lara Croft of the big screen. Defiance, and multi-player PC and Xbox 360 game by Trion Worlds ia rumored by Ad Age to be creating a TV show that plays out the game narrative, explaining why the character exists in the post apocalyptic world and what happened before gameplay.
Physical Objects in the Digital World- Just like with print, some brands are using physical objects for digital interaction to continue narratives or create stories. An example from a Siggraph 2012 presentation, Labrat, a Norwegian digital media company developed an interesting Augmented Reality app that has some great features. They joined forces with several partners to produce an interactive AR app for the largest milk producer in the country, Tine Melk. The concept was simple, they put a QR code on the carton to act as a marker for the AR app and users were able to point their smartphone at the carton to see a 3D rendered animation with talking/interactive cows as entertainment. One aspect that received some very positive feedback was the fact that, depending on the area of Norway you lived, the cows spoke with your dialect and signage was customized to your city, making it a personal digital experience. In the end, the number of cartons a staggering 50 million! The campaign ran for 5 months and the app was downloaded 110,000 times, which is great for a country like Norway with a population of 5 million.
Jenna Hannon | Director of Marketing | @JennaHannon