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Transmedia Storytelling My Perspective


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You may already have an inkling of what a transmedia story is. You probably already do if you've been paying any attention to television and the new trends of marketing strategies of late. You're dimly aware that Batman had a physical scavenger hunt wherein they put phones in bowling ball bags and cakes or that Heroes decided to launch a comic weekly to show scenes that they didn't bother filming with characters you've never heard of. That is transmedia. Sort of.

It's telling a story across two or more distinctly different media. A comic and a novel. A movie and a game. A comic, a movie, a novel and a television show. All of which are telling the same damn story. That's really all there is to it, though there are little details of it that come into play.

The core is something that I've hammered into my mind and come up with my own meaning for. The core is the center of the story. This is where everything happens and what everyone needs to know. This is the one fallback point if anyone gets lost to refer back to in order to figure out what the hack is happening in the other media. And this core is split into two distinct aspects.

The core narrative in particular is like a backbone. It's a premise and everything the story is. Kid bitten by a radioactive spider. The world is really a computer simulation. THERE ARE SUPER POWERS! Whatever the basis of the story is becomes the core narrative and the thing that the story cannot live without.

Secondary to that is the core medium. This is often where the core story is originally told, though it means something more than that. The core medium is where the story is often told and where the story is meant to unfold. This is the media appropriate medium that is required to get the essence of the story out.

Outside of this, the other media camp out and take pieces of the narrative to make their own stories. They take aspects, they take whole storylines and they take just about every facet of the story they can to expand upon in order to make something more of the story. It is in these media that transmedia occurs and where the magic happens.

One of the purposes of transmedia in story, aside from the lucrative marketing advantage that most of the large companies have been taking advantage of, is that the story can be expanded. Characters can gain more depth and writers can show off the world better. There is more to it than ever before and there is the opportunity to tell different aspects that might not have worked well in the core media in a media that works better.

And therein likes another purpose behind it. There are certain storylines that sometimes get cut from stories because they don't work well for comics or video. Deep introspection is better for a novel. With transmedia, the meditation can be fully explored where on screen it would have been dull. Specific storylines or aspects can get their rightful treatment in transmedia rather than being cut or heavily altered to fit in with the rest of the story in the selected media.

Transmedia storytelling is new yet and still going through the pains of adolescence trying to define itself. Aspects of it are not yet set in stone and there will be more developments in the coming years. But in the mean time, the growing pains are turning into an upheaval in the way stories are told. Given time, it should blossom into something wonderful.


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