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Monday, August 22, 2011

Nice Post from Frank Rose: Why Transmedia Is like a Walk in Patagonia - Deep Media

An idea is a fragile thing. And at this point, the idea that we're on the cusp of a new form of storytelling seems to have reached that weird place where much of the world still hasn't accepted it but many of those who have are too busy squabbling over the details to actually focus on doing it. As Nick DeMartino, formerly of the American Film Institute, noted in a recent post at Tribeca Film's Future of Film blog, the discussion devolved into an all-out flame war in the wake of the "New Worlds" panel at this year's SXSW Interactive conference. It was against this backdrop that Henry weighed in.

Falling SkiesThe most basic distinction he makes is between adapting a story from one entertainment medium to another—something Hollywood has been doing routinely for decades—and extending a story into other media. Borrowing a line from ngmoco founder Neil Young, he calls the point of this kind of story-extension "additive comprehension." As an example he cites Falling Skies, the summer sci-fi series that Steven Spielberg produced for TNT—an alien-invasion story that echoes the H.G. Wells novel War of the Worlds, which Spielberg adapted for the movies several years ago. Explaining the difference between extending and adapting, Henry notes: 

The Falling Skies graphic novel is a prequel which tells us about the disappearance of the middle brother [during the invasion] and thus helps to provide insights into the motives of the characters on the Turner television series. In this case, additive comprehension takes the form of back story, but the same graphic novel also helps us to better understand the organization of the resistance movement, which we can see as part of a world-building process. Most transmedia content serves one or more of the following functions:

  • Offers backstory
  • Maps the World
  • Offers us other character's perspectives on the action
  • Deepens audience engagement.

Another point Henry makes is that there's nothing all that new about this stuff. Falling Skies and its ilk were prefigured, he notes, by the works of Walt Disney, J.R.R. Tolkien, and L. Frank Baum, who extended his 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz into various other media, including a stage musical (later adapted into the Judy Garland movie by MGM) and a slide show he presented on the lecture circuit. 

Posted via email from Siobhan O'Flynn's 1001 Tales

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