Transmedia.

Transmedia. Basically, any media that works to extend narrative outside the initial text/artefact. It takes the central text and expands it beyond the diegesis. It gives you an insight into the world you oh so love but want to know more about.

Here are some dot points to make that last paragraph a little easier to digest –

Transmedia:

– extends the narrative
– offers more info to enrich the experience
– creates are more detailed and immersive narrative space
– encourages participation

Some key players in transmedia analysis are the likes of Matt Hills, Frank Rose and Henry Jenkins. Each kind of has their own take on it, which I’ve outline below:

Matt Hills
The creation of a vast and detailed narrative space outside the world of the text

Frank Rose
Transmedia encourages more participation in a program or text. For Frank, this can be deemed ‘Deep Media’ which he acknowledges is interchangeable with ‘transmedia’.

Henry Jenkins
Transmedia creates ‘entry points’ through which consumers can become immersed in a story world.

What is interesting here is that each analyst notes the vast narrative world that transmedia denotes that exists outside the world of the initial text. A world that encourages participation and immersion in the whole being of a certain text.

As immersive as this may be, it must also be of commercial origins. Marsha Kinder coined the term ‘transmedia’ in 1991, noting that franchises using this form of storytelling were making use of ‘commercial transmedia super systems’. After all, you’re offering publicity to a text outside of its original medium. Not only publicity, you open it up to consumers playing a vital role in its preservation, all the while disavowing any ‘commercial manipulation’ (Kinder, 2003).

Yet as successful commercially as this model may be, complex transmedia stories are still not quite reaching audiences.. some work, some don’t. Why? It seems a matter of audience. Though this success rate is something that needs further analysis.

If we are to take audience as an integral ingredient to making transmedia successful, how does one deem the success of the upcoming The Avengers TV Series. Worldwide, the film has taken over $615 Million dollars. It has reached a wide and varied audience. Realistically, the TV series should be a hit right? It will be interesting to see if this is the case.

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3 thoughts on “Transmedia.

  1. Hi Blake, I enjoyed reading the post. I agree your argument about how transmedia is not quite reaching the audiences in terms of storytelling – development of character/ expansion of narratives.
    Like “Breaking Bad” webisode that we’ve watched during tutorial class, I found these transmedia are rather focusing on creating more access to the original series, attracting the audiences by being funny, humorous and lighter in narratives.
    In terms of story flow, it has made the viewers to misunderstand the genre/mood of show. The audiences who haven’t watched “Breaking Bad” before (like myself), this webisode indicates people to think that it would be funny and comedic(which is completely different to its serious and heavy storylines) and raises the desire to watch the rest of it.
    As you mentioned, some of these transmedias are successful commercially, but most of them are struggling to find a right direction in developing it to be their storytelling benefits. I think it is not just because of lacking active audiences but it matters more because the gap continues to widen between consumers who expect a quality television show and consumers who expect a quality multiplatform experience, television producers struggle to satisfy both sets of demands.
    Transmedia storytelling is currently playing a crucial role in directing television into the era of convergence and I believe they are going to be more important in television’s future.
    Thus, I think it will be important for the media industries to take the webisodes seriously from now on. Like what Matt mentioned in the class, most of these webisodes are created/produced from a big US companies such as HBO.
    Overall, what I want to say is that there should be more “transmedia” artists who can specifically create high quality, distinctive and valuable stories outside the television box, not just tossing out useless scenes left on the cutting room floor or making “a single photograph with an eye- grabbing frame around it”
    What do you think?

    • I would tend to agree with you in relation to taking transmedia more seriously. However I don’t think webisodes should be carried forward.

      To me, they’re pointless. As much as they may attract an audience who otherwise may not watch the show, the accessibility is a huge issue. The problem seems to be how to successfully earn money off of these webisodes, yet these companies are shooting themselves in the foot internationally by not allowing internationals to access their content. So, why not put it on YouTube? An HBO YouTube. That being said, we are now arguing the platform rather than the content.

      To me, these ‘Quality TV’ shows should keep their focus on maintaining the middle ground between film and broadcast TV and create their own distinct format that sits somewhere between the two aforementioned formats. I think in some part this has already happened, what with HBO ditching adds etc., but I think more can be done to achieve this separation.

      For example, releasing episodes over many formats – online, broadcast, cinematic (maybe pushing it), cable, on demand etc. and working to improve their brand as an all encompassing entity rather than an in between spreading itself thin across webisodes and other transmedia stakes – after all, transmedia can be as damaging as it can be beneficial to a show’s identity and bank-ability.

  2. Pingback: Sum up! « jennybaetv

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