By Haley Moore, April 6th, 2010

Update: There has been a bit of a scuffle over whether the transmedia producer credit includes creators of original IP, but PGA Director of Communications Chris Green assures us that it will (via NewTeeVee).

Also, Andrea Phillips takes the long view on what this will mean for transmedia artists.

Also, an interesting quote from NewTeeVee’s coverage – ” [Steve] Peters hinted at the fact that a new guild might be necessary for the transmedia world, “another organization that would be focused on Transmedia from its inception.”

Nikki Finke of Deadline reported yesterday that the Producers Guild of America voted, for the first time in the guild’s history, to add a new credit – “Transmedia Producer” – allowing artists who create expanded narratives for franchises to be credited alongside other producers on those projects.

Here’s how the new credit will be defined.

A Transmedia Narrative project or franchise must consist of three (or more) narrative storylines existing within the same fictional universe on any of the following platforms:  Film, Television, Short Film, Broadband, Publishing, Comics, Animation, Mobile, Special Venues, DVD/Blu-ray/CD-ROM, Narrative Commercial and Marketing rollouts, and other technologies that may or may not currently exist. These narrative extensions are NOT the same as repurposing material from one platform to be cut or repurposed to different platforms.

A Transmedia Producer credit is given to the person(s) responsible for a significant portion of a project’s long-term planning, development, production, and/or maintenance of narrative continuity across multiple platforms, and creation of original storylines for new platforms. Transmedia producers also create and implement interactive endeavors to unite the audience of the property with the canonical narrative and this element should be considered as valid qualification for credit as long as they are related directly to the narrative presentation of a project.

Transmedia Producers may originate with a project or be brought in at any time during the long-term rollout of a project in order to analyze, create or facilitate the life of that project and may be responsible for all or only part of the content of the project. Transmedia Producers may also be hired by or partner with companies or entities, which develop software and other technologies and who wish to showcase these inventions with compelling, immersive, multi-platform content.

To qualify for this credit, a Transmedia Producer may or may not be publicly credited as part of a larger institution or company, but a titled employee of said institution must be able to confirm that the individual was an integral part of the production team for the project.

In short, game and interaction designers can get Transmedia Producer credit, they can be brought in at any point in development and they can be working as individual artists.  This is definitely in line with the kind of flexibility inherent to working in new forms of storytelling.

Finke said the adoption of the credit was shepherded by Starlight Runner CEO Jeff Gomez, among others.  Reaction to the decision has been overwhelmingly celebratory in transmedia circles, but that hasn’t dissuaded analysts from taking a deeper look at the credit’s definition.

Christy Dena wrote an excellent breakdown of the credit, highlighting the three medium requirement as too limiting.

I know Jeff Gomez has been pushing for the 3 media-platform rule for a few years now. But that was because it was an effective pedagogical device to get new practitioners to understand the need to think expansively. Making this official is a mistake.

Dena said she hopes the three-medium rule won’t be strictly enforced in practice, and the credit will remain open to more forms of transmedia creation while dodging traditional franchise expansions that technically meet the requirements.

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Posted in cross-media movies television transmedia

Haley Moore is a newspaper reporter, artist, and playwright based in north Texas. She has worked on several indie, fan and commercial Alternate Reality Games.

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  • SirNewt

    I find the current indie scene a little disheartening myself. Many of the people in the indie scene are there because unlike in the 90s most of the publishers in the industry are focusing more and more on annualizing franchises. If the indie scene is burgeoning it's not because of some large sudden bubble of aspirations, it's because many people have been pushed there due to disinterest from large publishers.

    If the game timeline is analogous to that of film, game development is somewhere near 1915. Experimentation is widespread but a singular elegance like that of books and films hasn't been developed. Games throw up so many barriers in terms of hardware alone. Not to mention the problem most "non-gamers" experience with the interface.

    Further, if games are going to rise above their current state, game makers have to realize that games are NOT about story. Just as the directors of new wave determined that film is NOT about story but about cinema. What is pivotal to games as a medium is developing the language of interaction as a device for conveying thoughts and emotions. Just as cinema has a visual vocabulary, music has a tonal vocabulary, and books have of course a written vocabulary, games need a vocabulary of interaction. At this point, the game aspect of most games is irrelevant to the story and characters. All thought, ideals, and emotions are delivered in-between play using the language of film, cinematics.

  • Nice article. However if I were you I would jump to the conclusion that gaming is in a high innovative stage. All the titles you mentioned are good-old-copy of an old ideas in a new hardware. the small size indie developers are under huge pressure from main-stream big industry fishes!
    besides the willingness of these same ones to promote indie titles it eventually all bowls down to MEANS of production!
    it is completely different from the indie-movie analogy! technological advance means mostly high cost of production, in case you want to target the market of the big-ones. I see dark ages of gaming due to limited innovation and the limited access of low-budget projects to mainstream.
    i can give you countless examples...

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