By Lance Weiler, June 30th, 2010

Power to the Pixel has just opened calls for it’s annual Pixel Pitch. Now in its second year the Pixel Pitch offers transmedia projects an opportunity to present their work to an international panel of judges consisting of producers, funders, sales agents and distributors. This year’s top project will be award a cash prize thanks to support from ARTE. To find out more read below or visit www.powertothepixel.com

The Pixel Market – How Does It Work?

Power to the Pixel will select up to 20 cross-media projects to be presented to potential international financiers, investors and partners at The Pixel Market, part of Power to the Pixel’s annual Cross-Media Forum held in association with The BFI London Film Festival. Selected participants will also gain free accreditation to Power to the Pixel’s Conference Summit on the first day of the Forum.

The Pixel Pitch, 13 October 2010
Up to half of the selected projects will be presented In Competition at The Pixel Pitch, a public event on the first day of the market on 13 October 2010 at NFT1, BFI Southbank. These project teams will compete for the £6,000 ARTE Pixel Pitch Cash Prize.

Producer-led teams will present to a hand-picked roundtable jury made up of financiers, commissioners, tech companies, online portals and media & entertainment companies.

Each team will have 10 minutes to pitch their project (including visual presentations) with a further 20 minutes for comments and feedback from the roundtable.

The Pixel Meetings, 14 October 2010
Day Two of the market is a by-invitation-only event. The 20 international teams selected for The Pixel Market will attend a day of one-to-one business meetings with potential creative and financial partners from across the tech, online, interactive, film, broadcast, arts, publishing and gaming industries.

This will be followed by an evening networking drinks reception where the Winner of the ARTE Pixel Pitch Prize will be announced.

Submission Guidelines

1. Projects must have a Producer attached and be submitted through a production company
2. Submissions must be made by the Producer
3. Producer(s) must own the rights to develop and produce the project in all required media
4. Applications from producers who are students on the dates of The Pixel Market will not be eligible
5. A maximum of 2 members per team will be allowed to present In Competition at The Pixel Pitch (if selected) one of whom must be the Producer or Director
6. Applications and supplementary materials must be delivered in the English language
7. Power to the Pixel will give preference to projects whose team members have a track record within their sector (eg. broadcast, online, gaming, theatrical, publishing)
8. Projects must be at an advanced stage of development
9. Application forms and all supplementary materials must be delivered online eg. stills, storyboards, moving imagery (10 mins max) by uploading files and providing urls to where materials have been uploaded
10. All application forms and supplementary materials must be received by 18.00 BST on 6 August 2010 at market@powertothepixel.com

Key Dates

16 June 2010 Call open for submissions
6 August 2010 Deadline for submissions (18.00 BST)
3 September 2010 Successful applicants informed
13 October 2010 The Pixel Pitch at NFT1, BFI Southbank in London
14 October 2010 The Pixel Meetings (venue tbc)
ARTE Pixel Pitch Prize Winner announced

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Posted in arg cross-media design events gaming movies storytelling transmedia

Lance Weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects.

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By Haley Moore, June 11th, 2010

Transmedia designer and sometime WBP contributor Chrisy Dena launched a new site last night called You Suck at Transmedia, which plans to catalog transmedia failures and the lessons we can learn from them.

How do you/we/us stop sucking at transmedia? Well, this site is a step in that direction. This site welcomes contributions that really do aim to progress the state of the art. Here we can discuss the consequences of transmedia design, production and execution decisions.

In short, this site will cover transmedia decisions that never, sometimes, and always work.

The site already hosts one lovingly-rendered account of a failure scenario, as well as a great article on event scalability which asks my favorite question: “How can props be delivered in a replicatable manner to screens across continents?”

The blog is written toward encouraging discussion between creators.  Drop by and join the conversation.

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Posted in arg cross-media design 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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By robert pratten, June 7th, 2010

Last year I posted an idea of how to document transmedia projects. I’m now back with an improved version :)

Note that this is another two-part post… kinda… with more downloadable content related to documentation and project bibles over here.

To illustrate my latest documentation, I’ve use the 10 minute ARG created by No Mimes Media LLC called International Mimes Academy.  If you’re not already familiar with this game, you can download an explanation at the Unfiction forum.

This pictorial flowchart is pretty good because it shows the media and links or calls-to-action between the media and there’s an implied sequence of experience (from top to bottom).

Updating my earlier ideas, the diagram below shows how the NoMimes flowcart would be represented if the media were separated onto it’s only timeline.

What’s good about this approach is that it hits a lot of the goals desired by Christy Dena:

* indicate which part of the story is told by which media

* indicate the timing of each element

* indicate how the audience traverses the media (what’s the call to action?)

Separating out the media like this is particularly useful if it’s being created by partners or collaborators: it shows what has to be created and how it relates to other media. The colored vectors represent the different platforms and the thin arrows between them document the calls-to-action or bridges between the platforms. I’m sometimes a little inconsistent with how I use these linking arrows, erring on the side of better explanation than rigid documentation dogma.

One “exception” I made here  is the inclusion of the final phone call. Typically I wouldn’t include the audience in the diagram but as it’s a concluding part of this experience it felt incomplete without it.

Although this is a nice example to start with, it doesn’t illustrate the strengths of my approach. Hence, let’s take a more complicated example.

The transmedia project documented in the following figures is called Colour Bleed created by Rhys Miles Thomas at Glass Shot in Wales, UK.

The first thing you see at a glance is the experience runs for six months in three phases each lasting two months and you can see that there are Offline and Online platforms.

You can also quickly see what platforms are being used and their relative timings. So, for example, you can see that “live performance” plays a significant role in this production – starting the experience and ending it. Indeed, Colour Bleed kicks-off with impromptu live dance performances at shopping malls and other public place – I’ve called them “flash dances” :)   – intended to immediately draw a crowd and attention. But this is the start of a futuristic story in which kids rebel against an authoritarian regime that’s banned color and creative expression.

At the flash dances, members of the project team hand out business cards that contain the call-to-action to go online and check out the History of Colour website. Note that I’ve shown two types of video production – “our video”, that produced by the project, and “UG video, for user-generated video that we hope will be captured by bystanders on their mobile phones.

Both types of video are hosted at the website and shown as “uploaded”. This isn’t a call-to-action but it does link and explain how video features in the live performance and on the web. It identifies media that needs to be produced and can be assigned a responsibility.

Other notable things in Phase 1 and Phase 2 are the use of a “rabbit hole” to gain access to the ARG, graphic novels given as rewards for completing phases of the ARG and a series of barcodes given in newspapers to access the second phase of the ARG.

Note that the ARGs are shown as a single platform in this diagram but might they will have their own additional documentation showing a second layer of complexity that’s hidden here.

Phase 3 has slightly more complicated documentation because merchandise given away at a series of live events (DJ-led music events and dance offs) offers two paths to revealing the date and time of a final performance:

* A URL to an augmented reality app on the community website that requires the AR marker on the merchandise to unlock

* A phone number to a voice message.

The first video in Phase 3 is shown to require two pieces of information to unlock it – the webcam app and the AR marker on the merchandise.

Note that the final cinema screening is partially colored indicating that although the date & time is revealed, the event can’t happen until the location is unlocked.

Conclusion

This is a pretty good method for documenting the flow across platforms in a transmedia project.. unless you think otherwise?

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Posted in arg cross-media storytelling transmedia

robert pratten Robert Pratten is CEO and Founder of Transmedia Storyteller Ltd, an audience engagement company and provider of Conducttr, an pervasive entertainment platform. He has more than 20 years experience as an international marketing consultant and has established himself as a thought-leader in the field of transmedia storytelling. He is author of the first practical book transmedia storytelling: Getting Started in Transmedia Storytelling: A Practical Guide for Beginners. http://twitter.com/robpratten

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By Lance Weiler, April 29th, 2010

I had the opportunity to speak at ARGFest in 2008 and had a wonderful time. It’s a great group of people doing some amazing work in the transmedia space. I was thrilled to hear that ARGFest this year would be getting bigger and better. I had a chance to ask ARGFest Chair Brooke Thompson a few questions about this year’s event which will be traveling to Atlanta, GA.

What is ARGFest?

ARGFest is a four day event (July 15-18 in Atlanta, GA) celebrating the best in alternate reality games & transmedia entertainment. It started back in 2003 when Steve Peters (then of ARGN) and Sean Stacey (of unfiction) wanted to get together over drinks instead of over email (or chat). A dozen or so others decided to join them, named it ARGFest, and an annual event was born! Over the years, it has grown from a small group of us hanging out in Vegas into a full-fledged conference that attracts some of the most innovative and influential minds in the field. But, despite the changes, we’ve never let go of our roots – it is still a community oriented event, created by fans & creators for fans & creators. This helps to keep the conference from ever taking itself too seriously – you don’t come to ARGFest for the sessions, you come to have fun and meet (or make) friends with people who share your passion. What’s great is that actually makes the sessions more interesting and the conference all the better. I love how that works!


Brian Clark at ARGFest 2008

How will the fest be expanding this year?

So many ways! The most noticeable is that we’re going from two days to four. In the process, we’ve expanded the conference to two days and added a weekend long game festival. It’s all quite huge and seems a bit drastic, but it was a very natural move for us to make.

For the last five years, ARGFest has been a weekend event with Saturday devoted to a conference. This has worked well, but we reached the point where we were turning away some fantastic speakers & conference sessions. While we could have just expanded the conference to two days, the thought of spending our entire weekend shut in some conference room made us all a bit crazy. Last year, when we had a few creators talking about and showing off some of their location-based games, we realized that two worlds were converging. There’s always been an interest in urban play (from street games to geocaching to live events, ARGs have used real-world spaces for years), but with the rise in location aware phones, people are really beginning to look at place as a platform for transmedia entertainment. With that, we realized we could manage a two day conference and, if we moved the conference to Thursday & Friday, we could have the entire weekend for urban play, location based games, and explorations into the ways in which transmedia creators can play with space and/or live interactions.

It’s a bit of an experiment, I’ll admit, but we’re really excited about it all. Not only does this allow us to both talk about and showcase the various ways that people are exploring transmedia, it lets us reach out to the general community in ways that we’ve never done before. I like to think of urban play (especially if it has a strong narrative) as one of the gateway drugs to the transmedia world – it’s accessible and just strange enough to make you feel like you’ve experienced something special. Once people get a taste of that, their minds open up to all sorts of possibilities and they want to see & experience more.

What can be done to make ARGs and transmedia experiences more accessible?

Transmedia experiences, especially alternate reality games, can become very complex very quickly. This means that making experiences accessible is incredibly important – even when they are not aimed at a large or mainstream audience. Its no surprise, then, that over the years designers have played with a number of ways to make (and keep!) experiences accessible to their audience (and potential audience). I’m not going to say that time has been wasted – there is definitely much to learn and, even, a few techniques worth using. But I am going to say that there has been an abundance of over-thinking. In my mind, it’s quite simple… an accessible transmedia experience connects with the audience on their terms, where they already are, with tools that they’re already using, and in ways that they already understand. Ok, maybe it’s not that simple – but it’s only four things! How hard can that be? More than that, it’s four things that make sense! Think about it…

After you’ve put all this time and energy into creating your transmedia masterpiece, you want to show it off. That means, you want to make it as easy as possible for an audience to discover you. But you don’t want people to just see the front page, get confused, and walk away – so you need to do things that they already know and understand. And, while it might be interesting, you don’t want to make them angry before they’re committed to the experience – so do things on their terms. All of these things can change the deeper someone falls down the rabbit hole. But, until they get there, don’t force them to jump through too many hoops.

Once you’ve mastered those four things, then you can start exploring other techniques such as narrative guides and tiered experiences designed to immerse the audience at different levels of engagement. But, until then, you’ll only have minimal success with anything else.

For those wishing to design their own games where does one start?

Talk to people who have created and played games. They’re fairly easy to find – unfiction and the IGDA ARG SIG are good places to look if you’re interested in alternate reality games and twitter has become my tool of choice to connect with all sorts of people working in and with transmedia. There’s a strong feeling floating around in the transmedia sphere that we’re at the start of something huge. The thing is… nobody really knows how huge or, even, what that something is. The only way we’re going to figure that out is by encouraging people to create in this space. So, ARG & transmedia folk love to talk… a lot. They like questions. They like to think. They like meeting new people. And they love to share ideas and advice. So don’t be shy, come find us and say hi.

What are some of your favorite ARGs / transmedia experiences of the last year?

It’s so hard to choose – a lot of interesting things have happened in the space in the last year. Personal Effects: Dark Art seems to jump out for me. If you aren’t aware, Personal Effects: Dark Art is a book that comes packaged with a number of artifacts (business cards, ids, notes, etc.). In addition to supporting the text of the book, these items lead to websites and phone numbers that help bring the world to life. Granted, the idea and execution isn’t new – Cathy’s Book did the same thing a few years ago (and both were created by Jordan Weisman who was the ARGFest keynote last year). However, they each reached very different audiences as Cathy’s Book was geared towards girls in their early teens and Personal Effects was an adult thriller. Publishers seem to be more willing to try transmedia experiences with books geared towards younger audiences, so seeing a similarly executed experience succeed for two very different audiences has been great! Hopefully this will help encourage more publishers (and authors!) to explore the potential of transmedia storytelling.

If someone wants to attend, speak or volunteer where can they find out more information?

The ARGFest website (www.argfest.com ) will have all of the information that you will need. For more up to the moment news & announcements, you can follow us on twitter (@argfest). Whether or not you’re familiar with alternate reality games, I want to encourage you to come. ARGs are but one type of transmedia experience and, if you’re at all interested in transmedia entertainment, you’ll find like minds at ARGFest. If you are interested in speaking and/or have a great idea for a session – let us know! There are submissions forms on the website that we review on a regular basis and they really do help guide us as we pull this thing together. With more space to play with than ever before, we really do want (need!) your suggestions to help us fill it. This truly is a community driven event and that makes it your event… What do you want to see? Who do you what to hear? Let us know so that we can try to make it happen! And, of course, we’ll see you in July!

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Posted in arg cross-media event events gaming storytelling transmedia

Lance Weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects.

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By Lance Weiler, November 13th, 2008

Nick Braccia reportsI’m new to the WBP crew and wanted to kick-off my involvement with a brief and practical outline of introductory steps to help you make the transition from mono-media storyteller (in this case, film) to transmedia storyteller. In time, this evolution will help you to grow (and strengthen) your audience.

Like many contemporary transmedia story architects, I was first exposed to this expansive medium back in 2001, when I googled “Jeanine Salla: Sentient Machine Therapist”, a cryptic title strategically added to the poster for Spielberg’s A.I. This clue was one of three entry points to a transmedia experience—in this case, an Alternate Reality Game. Since that day, I haven’t thought about stories in the same way. However, picking up the vernacular, and diving deeper into these experiences (and the culture around their design) took time. I was so used to developing linear narratives, that understanding these experiences—fractured narratives with plot points scattered across media, space and time—proved imposing. What follows are three very basic steps to introduce you to this landscape.

1) Let Go

If you’re on WBP, chances are you’re a filmmaker, and probably strongly identify with that title. You’ve spent years mastering the incredibly involved set of skills filmmaking requires.. But, for the purposes of expanding your audience and taking advantage of the opportunities in the transmedia space (as nicely outlined in David Beard’s last post) let’s forgo such a craft-specific title. Why? Our primary concern is your self-identification as a storyteller—one willing to employ a vast and disparate set of tools,not just those from the filmmaker’s kit, in order to expose the world to the potency of your narrative. As Yoda said, “you must unlearn what you have learned.” But don’t worry, I promise you’ll get to re-learn it later. ?

2) Read Up

There are several books that can help shift your approach to content creation, media culture and the power of audience involvement. Over the last couple years, a few key texts have eschewed pedantic language and theoretical discourse to convey wonderfully clear insights and advice. You’ll identify with these texts rather than feel alienated by them. Trust me, they helped ease me (a slightly techno-phobic copywriter) into the cross media space with more direction and confidence than I, otherwise, would have had.

The books:

Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (Henry Jenkins)

Fans, Blogger and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture (also Henry Jenkins)

This is Not a Game: A Guide to Alternate Reality Gaming (Dave Szulborski)

(more…)

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Posted in arg cross-media gaming

Lance Weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects.

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