I recently interviewed creator, Mike Vogel, about his latest project, Phrenic, which, at the time of our discussion, was undergoing review by iOS. Mike e-mailed me this morning to let me know that Phrenic had finally been accepted and was available for free download on iTunes. Check it out: http://appstore.com/phrenic
Let’s face it, 2012 was a rough year, from fires to floods, to hurricanes, mass shootings, tense elections, economic uncertainty and “Call me Maybe” playing on every radio station, across the U.S. I think I can officially say it was a pretty sucky year on many levels. And Canada, I’m going to demand an official apology for Carly Rae Jepsen, you have one year to meet my terms and conditions.
But aside from bad music, national disasters and a horrible job market. this year did give hope to many of us in the transmedia community, we had a few stumbles here and there, but the overall feeling is one of hope, and dammit, hope is all we need to get 2013 started. So here it is, my (un) official list of some awesome transmedia stuff that happened this year.
Bear 71: is an interactive web documentary by Leanne Allison and Jeremy Mendes about a grizzly bear in Banff National Park, who was collared at the age of three and was watched her whole life via trail cameras in the park. Bear 71 explores the connections between the human and animal world, and the far-ranging effects that human settlements, roads and railways have on wildlife. The webdoc features a map of Banff National Park that allows users to follow Bear 71’s movements by scrolling over the cameras, and look at other users by activating the computer’s webcam. Additionally, Lance Weiler helped produce an interactive, live performance of Bear 71 during the Sundance Film Festival.
The Lost Children: is a sci-fi thriller that tells the story of Evelyn Hamilton, NYC socialite turned would-be messiah. Running from her troubled family, Evelyn joins The Lost Children cult, who believe they are aliens from another world, stranded on Earth and awaiting rescue by their mother ship. Evelyn’s family hires professional cult deprogrammer, Jared Allen Tyler, to extract her from the cult and to “un-brainwash” her. But soon everyone in the film questions what they know to be real as the cult’s beliefs all seem to come true. The Lost Children is a fiction film shot as a documentary, using improvisation, hidden cameras, and actors filming the action themselves. The Lost Children is currently playing at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and was recently featured in Filmmaker Magazine.
The Walking Dead: In the land of prime time television series, The Walking Dead continues to break new ground with additional content, hidden messages, audience engagement, games, apps and contests. If you haven’t caught the series yet, I highly recommend it, you can read all about it on the AMC show website. For those interested in the additional content be sure to download the AMC app which contains webisodes, photos, live chat and social games along with clips from the show, The Talking Dead, a follow up program of interviews with cast, crew and celebrity fans of The Walking Dead. I have to hand it to AMC, not only did they strike gold with a well crafted series, but they have really raised the bar on interactive storytelling, I’m really curious to see what they do next.
TryLife: I stumbled upon this amazing project a few months ago while doing some research. A question posed on Twitter lead me to an incredible 2 hour interview with creator/ director, Paul Irwin.
TryLife is the first of eight websites aimed at young people under the Try brand.
It is an interactive, online drama designed by some of the best in UK talent from the Youth, Education, Health, Media and Creative industries. Based on adventure books brought back to life, TryLife is a new type of series, where at key moments the action is paused and you make a decision. Your choice will change the course of the storyline and will have an immediate impact on what happens next.
Though currently only one episode is available, it is worth the watch and with rumors of possible funding in the near future, this is one series worth checking out now.
Story Hackathon: StoryCode produced the first ever Story Hackathon in April of this year. The event overall was a success and created a sense of community and team collaboration inherent in transmedia storytelling. A total of 7 teams competed in the Story Hack which took place over 36 hours at the Film Society at Lincoln Center. The team’s challenge were to each create a cohesive narrative spanning 3 or more technological platforms to be executed on at last one platform at time of presentation. The projects were created by a diverse group of hackers and ranged from animated space journeys led, to interactive social activism experiences. For more on the initial concept and design of the hackathon check out my earlier post here.
StoryWorld 2: For the second year in a row, the StoryWorld Conference and Expo attracted hundreds of creators and collaborators across disciplines to network with and learn from each other during the three day event in Hollywood, California. I unfortunately was MIA this year, but heard through the grapevine it was even better attended and with more hands on activities than the previous year (and that’s saying something). Be sure to check out the website for video clips of this past year’s presentations and keynote speakers.
#NetworkofNetworks: To borrow the phrase (and hashtag) from my friend and fellow transmedia alchemist, Karine Halpern, this is a short list of the growing worldwide transmedia community: Transmedia NYC, Transmedia LA, Transmedia Vancouver, Transmedia 101 (Toronto), EraTransmedia (Brazil), Transmedia London, Transmedia SF, and Transmedia France.
While this is in no way a complete list of the emerging global transmedia communities, transmedia projects currently in production or release, I believe it does provide a fairly accurate prediction of what is to come in 2013 that can be summed up here…
Last week I wrote a post for the Tribeca’s Future of Film blog explaining the rise of the technology revolution here in New York and what it means to the transmedia community. Here it is, re-posted in its entirety for you, my faithful readers.
Could the concept of a hackathon be applied to storytelling? Over a period of 48 hours starting April 28, Jen Begeal and StoryCode will find out the answer.
The New York transmedia community is growing quickly. None of us should be surprised, as New York is well known for its independent film community thanks to numerous festivals, schools and independent theatres.
However, many people may not realize that New York is also fast becoming a mecca for the technology crowd. According to meetup.com, New York is ranked as the second largest technology hub in the US, just being beat out by the (no surprise) San Francisco Bay Area. Trends indicate, however, that New York’s tech community could surpass the West Coast as early as the end of this year, which would be a first ever in the historic battle between Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley.
I receive daily e-mails listing new tech meetup groups forming in New York, and though the official NY Tech Meetup continues to hold the top place (at last count over 22,000 members), these new niche groups provide intimate arenas for like minded technologists to gather and share ideas, concepts, designs and talent. This combination of talent, discussion and ideas is also growing within the transmedia community and it is now providing a new space for creative development.
In its most basic form, transmedia is the place where technology and storytelling meet. As cross-platform storytelling becomes more prevalent in mainstream media, the demand for creators who can straddle both worlds grows as well.
The largest hurdle creators face, however, is bridging the gap between the two worlds. Many storytellers find that they lack the basic concepts of technology (from web design to coding). Likewise technologists have difficulty developing engaging narratives for their projects. Connecting the two groups is the primary focus of the New York transmedia community. This is how it began.
Founded in February 2010 by Mike Knowlton and Aina Abiodun the Transmedia NYC meetup group has quickly become the largest meetup group of its kind in the United States. Starting out with a few enthusiasts meeting at a local bar, the community has quickly grown to over 650 active members, whose event space is currently sponsored by The Film Society at Lincoln Center.
As Transmedia NYC expanded and developed, the need for a more robust and focused hub was foreseen, and in June of 2011 Mike, Aina and two other members, myself and Rachel Fairbanks came together to build a not-for-profit arm focused on the creation aspect of cross-platform storytelling. It is called, StoryCode.
StoryCode is designed to be an incubator, a place where technologists and storytellers come to develop and share creative content across media and technology platforms. It is modeled on Power to the Pixel, a company based in the U.K. that helps international filmmakers create, finance and distribute their projects across the growing cross-media entertainment industry.
StoryCode looks to provide an ongoing place where independent creators can come to learn, network, create and fund their projects. Since its inception, the focus of Transmedia NYC and StoryCode has been to exhibit projects that have had some commercial success. The presenters have come from around the world to showcase their works. These projects have included stories on human rights such as America 2049, the National Parks of Canada and the interactive narrative campaign launched for the premiere of Game Of Thrones on HBO.
This year, StoryCode will push the boundaries of the innovation one step further and launch a new endeavor, the first ever story-hack.
The story-hack concept comes from the traditional technology hackathon. A technology hackathon is an event in which computer programmers collaborate intensively on software-related projects. Hackathons typically last between a day and a week in length. Some hackathons are intended simply for educational or social purposes, while others are designed to create new software or improvements upon existing software. Hackathons tend to have a specific focus which can include the use of an application or a defined subject matter.
The story-hack will go one step farther and will include a narrative component. A few months ago, Mike Knowlton wrote a compelling piece, titled StoryHacks for the Future of Film Blog where he asked if the hackathon concept could be applied to storytelling.
We are about to try and answer that question.
The challenge of the story-hack is very clear. Design a cohesive narrative project spanning three or more technology platforms and execute it over the course of 48 hours.
The weekend long event, begins on the morning of April 28th and concludes the evening of April 29th. It is open to writers, designers, filmmakers, and developers. Current university students, recent grads and working professionals are welcome to participate.
The story-hack is being hosted by StoryCode event partner The Film Society at Lincoln Center, open-source video community Kaltura, social networking tool Social Samba, and SMS technology service Twilio.
The story-hack will be judged by a jury of notable creatives, technologists and sponsors who will evaluate each project and presentation based on creativity, originality as well as the innovation of the idea and presentation. Prizes and the chance to present each project will conclude the weekend’s events on the evening of the 29th with a cash grant being awarded to the winners
We want to provide a collaborative atmosphere, a place where storytellers and technologists come together to build projects showcasing their talent and bridge the gap between the two communities. This is the first of many events to come out of StoryCode that will support creators and better connect storytelling and technology.
For more information or to sign-up for this event please check out our Story Hack webpage.
I was honored on Friday to be a part of a Transmedia panel during the Columbia MBA Media and Entertainment Conference. The panel was designed to be a discussion on defining the term transmedia and how it plays a role in today’s multi-screen entertainment. Other panelists included industry professionals; Alan Seiffert of SyFy Ventures, Jeff Gomez of Starlight Runner Entertainment and Steve Coulson of Campfire. Topics ranged from the use of transmedia as a marketing tool to the ingredients required for a successful project, which prompted plenty of conversation between the four of us, who all come from vastly different career backgrounds.
I choose not to go too in depth into the conversation itself, as fellow transmedia ally, Simon Pulman, wrote a brilliant recap of, not only ours, but a few other panels from the conference, which you should check out here (our panel is at the end). I do however want to thank Rafael Filippe and Leao Carvalho, both from Columbia’s Business School, for reaching out to me and asking me to be on the panel, and to our moderator, Kabir Ahuja for his great questions and control of the conversation. And while I am no novice to public speaking I want to also thank Jeff and Steve for once again making me feel comfortable during our discussion and also to Alan, whom I met for the first time on Friday, for likewise being an engaging and gracious fellow panelist. Here’s to the future of transmedia and the hopes that we converted a few more business majors!