By robert pratten, January 8th, 2011

Welcome to Transmedia Talk a new podcast covering all things story. Transmedia Talk is co-hosted by Nick Braccia and Robert Pratten and looks to shed light on the topic of transmedia storytelling with commentary, interviews and tips on how storytelling is moving into the 21st century.

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NB: If you’d like to give  us feedback, recommend yourself as a guest or suggest topics to cover – please email us at talk@workbookproject.com or Tweet away with the hashtag #tmediatalk

Hosts.. and Guests for this week
Nick Braccia from Culture Hacker
Robert Pratten from TransmediaStoryteller.com
Dee Cook from Dog Tale Media
Haley Moore

The panelists discuss their early & current experiences with developing and executing transmedia projects. Good discussion about the thrill of interactivity and designing ARGs.

Running Time

00:00 Introductions

00:40 Getting started in transmedia (Rob’s story)

04:40 The Lowlifes transmedia project : Objectives & narrative design

16:40 Developing the interactive game for Lowlifes

29:00 Haley Moore discusses The Sketchbook Project

41:00 Dee Cook discusses her work with Dog Tale Media

44:45 The market for ARGs in 2011

46:00 Changing nature of ARG and developing for different audience segments

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Posted in Transmedia Talk arg audience-building blogs community cross-media design marketing social media storytelling transmedia video

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 robert pratten, January 4th, 2011

Why do some web producers release their webisodes weekly when they have evergreen content? That is, if their series of web videos are not tied to current events, why not release them all at once?

One answer might be that the release schedule is tied to the production schedule – episodes are being produced one week and released the next. But why not release them two weeks apart or wait until enough episodes have been produced to release all at once or daily? Why not four hours apart or on demand?

My point is only that there should be some reasoning behind the scheduling and not just because TV has scheduled weekly content.

You see, if TV has taught us one thing about audiences, it’s that they don’t like to be kept waiting. They don’t like to wait while the commercial plays, they don’t like to wait while the episode downloads and they don’t like to wait week-to-week. Many people record several episodes of a series before the viewing or they’ll buy the complete series on DVD. But of course audiences come to TV and the web with different expectations so why copy the TV model online if you don’t have to?

Re-thinking your web series

This blog post looks at how you might optimize the release schedule for your webisodes. Core to my approach is understanding how you want the audience to engage with your story and then designing an integrated experience that consequently determines how the video will be released. There is no initial assumption that the schedule should be weekly or any other time period.

There is, I suppose, an assumption that most web series will have more than just the videos: there’s usually a website, a blog, a forum, a mailing list, a Facebook page or some other mechanism that represents an opportunity to inform the audience of a new release and provide them with a backchannel. These additional non-video platforms are what makes your web series “an experience” rather than a series of videos. Even a single YouTube channel with the comments and likes enabled creates a participatory experience. Whatever the implementation, it is the experience that builds, empowers and engages your audience – it multiplies the draw of the video.

Here’s a short list of considerations for determining the time interval between episodes with the key objective being to maintain engagement between episodes (i.e. you want audiences to watch the next episode):

  • production limitations & opportunities
  • distribution limitations & opportunities
  • business model limitations & opportunities
  • strength of story episode to episode (the narrative hook)
  • length of each episode (longer webisodes might benefit from  longer periods between episodes to avoid overload)
  • audience expectations and headroom (giving too much to consume between releases may lead to abandoned subscriptions).

Mind The Gap: Is the Narrative Strong Enough to Bridge the Delay?

Figure 1 illustrates how we’d like audience to move from episode to episode. In this example there’s enough interest or engagement to have them come back for more.

Figure 1: Audience follows episode to episode

Unfortunately there are a number of failure scenarios if the period between each release is wrong. In Figure 2, the audience abandons the web series because the content isn’t strong enough to have them come back – there’s not enough pull to bridge the gap.

In Figure 3, the audience is asked to work too hard to keep up and soon they find they’re overwhelmed with content for the given schedule.

Figure 2: Abandons

Figure 3: Overload

In both these failure scenarios one solution is to adjusted or fine-tune the schedule – if that’s possible. As I mentioned earlier, there may be reasons why you’re stuck with the schedule.

Figure 4: Release schedule adjusted

Using Transmedia Storytelling to Maintain Engagement

Web series can be expensive to produce and the number of episodes is as likely to be determined by budget as anything else. This could mean you don’t have enough webisodes to span the schedule you’d like or you need to maintain engagement between webisodes because the schedule is fixed.

Figure 5 shows how narrative spread to secondary, less expensive, media can be used to stitch together the web series – providing a mid-episode fix of story for those eager for more. The trick here is in the storytelling: to have the webisode and secondary media satisfying in their own right  and hence consuming all media is optional which hence alleviates the chance of overload. Implied in the notion of “secondary media” is that it may indeed not stand alone and should be consumed as additional exploratory content (e.g. another optional layer).

Figure 5: Transmedia Storytelling applied to web video series

Figure 6 in contrast shows two equal media platforms both scheduled for episodic release but appealing to different audience sub-segments or consumption habits: e.g. media 1 is consumed while at work and media 2 consumed on the commute.

Here, each media has its own (intervening?) release schedule with additional narrative hooks and branches to take the audience to the next episode in the same media or to alternative media.

Figure 6: Native Episodic Transmedia Storytelling

Finally of course, additional secondary media might be added to two primary media platforms – as shown in Figure 7

Figure 7: Multi-layered Transmedia Story.

Allow Audience to Go with the  Flow

So far I’ve assumed that all audience members are to be treated equally. But why not reward engaged followers with either additional content or early “pre-release” content? And if you do, does it matter that they might share with others ahead of the “proper” release?

I believe that when you have someone that’s engaged you should allow them to ride the engagement out and see where it takes them. This means allowing them to request additional content on demand ahead of the release schedule which I further believe has the potential to turn engaged audiences to advocates – hence recruiting more audience.

YouTube’s “Unlisted” video option is perfect for this: casual viewers won’t see or find the video before it’s made public but engaged audiences can be sent the link.

Transmedia Example

My Lowlifes project has three primary media: novella, webisodes and blog. I determined that it should be scheduled to be released two days apart over a period of 15 days or so.  I felt that daily would lead to content overload and at three days the whole release would drag on too long.

One approach would have been to alternate the media – novella chapter on day 1, video on day 2, blog on day 3 and so on. But this would have incorrectly implied a sequence or priority to the media platforms that I was keen to avoid.

Consequently, at the same time content is made public, subscribers receive an email with links to the three media episodes plus the ability to request additional content from anywhere within the series. This would allow someone who was really into the videos, for example, to watch them all in one sitting by simply requesting them.

It’s not a problem for me if someone grabs all the videos and posts them all on their own blog because my objective is to get them seen. It’s evergreen content and within 3 weeks it would all be available in any case.

For Lowlifes, the scheduling and on-demand requests for content is made possible by a service called Conducttr -a pervasive entertainment platform from my company TransmediaStoryteller.com and will soon be available for all members of our Community.

Take-away

In summary then, if you assume that the audience always has something better to do with their time and money, it will absolutely focus your mind on maintaining engagement between webisodes and this will:

  • determine the optimum release schedule where you have the flexibility to choose it
  • highlight the need for a transmedia experience around an inflexible release schedule
  • provoke a discussion about whether you should allow content on demand for the most engaged audience members.
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Posted in audience-building cross-media design experience movies social media storytelling transmedia video

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 robert pratten, December 16th, 2010

Welcome to Transmedia Talk a new podcast covering all things story. Transmedia Talk is co-hosted by Nick Braccia and Robert Pratten and looks to shed light on the topic of transmedia storytelling with commentary, interviews and tips on how storytelling is moving into the 21st century.

Download Adobe Flash Player.

download

Or Subscribe iTunes

NB: If you’d like to give  us feedback, recommend yourself as a guest or suggest topics to cover – please email us at talk@workbookproject.com or Tweet away with the hashtag #tmediatalk

Hosts
Nick Braccia from Culture Hacker
Robert Pratten from TransmediaStoryteller.com

Guests
Jeff Gomez of Starlight Runner

Running Time

01:14 Origins and early experiences

12:00 The Storybible

12:45 Working with Clients

16:40 Understanding the value-proposition at the contract stage

20:20 Types of client

21:45 Removing barriers from transmedia narratives

25:50 Conflicts between writer and producer

28:00 Market development for the role of Transmedia Producers

33:40 Organisation and staffing at Starlight Runner

41:50 Does narrative get diluted as it is spread across platforms?

49:50 Growing an audience across platforms

55:00 Implementing transmedia internationally

58:12 Transmedia misperceptions

1:00:00 Growth of transmedia

1:06:00 New transmedia example (LowLifes) and Industry Discussion.

1:18:00 End

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Posted in Transmedia Talk arg audience-building cross-media marketing podcast 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 Zeke Zelker, December 14th, 2010

As an indie filmmaker, to SAG or not to SAG has always been an issue when casting films. The paperwork, the fees, the obstacles that they place in front of you can be daunting. Having to work with them, not they trying to work with you. In the new world of cinema where creators are attempting to engage their audiences over a myriad of portals/devices in many innovative ways, the old actors guard have not embraced this new way of entertaining, in fact it is even more challenging to work with them. I have experienced a new dilemma with the professional actors union, how to explain my upcoming project in their “contract” terms and attempting to not break their rules.

My latest project Billboard an Uncommon Contest for Common People! has many moving parts, we are engaging and entertaining audiences in a plethora of ways. In the first phase of the project we have an opportunity for everyday people to get involved with the project as well as SAG actors. In fact some of the movie cast I need for this phases, happens to be based on around a website. RED FLAG, RED FLAG! What do you mean you want to use SAG actors for a website along with unprofessional actors? In an attempt to work with SAG I need to break the project into two different projects, one for the New Media side of the project and the other for the movie.

Okay, I understand. Got it. I will break the film up into two different projects under a bigger umbrella. Now I want to cast name talent who we will need to be in both projects. RED FLAG! RED FLAG! Try to have your casting director explain this to agents. WTF! I am trying to play by SAG’s rules, now agents think I’m trying to pull a fast one, confusing the process. No I really am trying to work with the old actors guard. Agents aren’t having it. I even offered to present my project to the agencies so they get what I’m trying to do, my casting director doesn’t feel they will be receptive, “do you really think a group of agents, at an agency will take the time to listen to you explain your project so you can hire their actors”. I’m willing to do anything for people to understand what I’m trying to do. CAA, WME, ICM, UTA call me, 610.597.7189, I would love to work with you! Maybe we can package the project with your talent?

This is only half of my challenge. The other half is working within SAG’s rules when it comes to narrowing down what budget contract we fall under. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about; what you pay SAG actors is based on your budget. Each budget limit has a contract with a different set of rules. After reading SAG contract after contract and trying to figure which one worked best for my project I determined the Ultra Low budget would work best for us, it’s the most flexible. You can work with SAG and nonSAG actors, you don’t have to use SAG extras, you only have to pay the actors $100/day (although I have budgeted more than that for my name talent) and the budget cap is $200k, although we will have more money than that. The real reason is the ability to work with anyone I would like to. My daughter is not SAG, do I really need to Taft-Hartley her?

I made this business decision and I am willing to work within SAG’s rules. Now I would really, really like to work with Actor/Actress X. My casting director pitches the project to their agent. Agent’s response, “no way in hell will I let my Actor/Actress work on an ultra low budget project.” They won’t let her explain further. We have our reasons, we have a ground breaking project, we have money to pay more than $100/day, we are only trying to play by the old actors guard’s rules. I cut my hair short so I can’t pull it out.

I have thought about scrapping SAG all together but I really want to work with some particular actors. Working with these actors will also make the project more marketable when we distribute the movie. Thus I need to and am willing to work with SAG, but will they work with me? Will agents take the time to understand what we are doing? We have a way that our key actors will be compensated handsomely for taking the risk with us. Risk reward right?

I can’t wait until we unleash Weiler’s transmedia project at Sundance, maybe the industry will understand what we are trying to do more easily. Sundance has embraced us and this new form of entertainment, Academy Award nominee Guillermo del Toro just announced his new transmedia studio in Marina del Rey, CA and the marketing execs of brands get it. When will SAG? Agents? I guess time will tell, but I’m on a schedule.
Maybe I should reach out and partner with a Hollywood established production company who have embraced technology to help tell their stories. Maybe that will make this casting situation easier. Anyone have any suggestions?

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Posted in INDIE FILM CAPITALSIM biz casting transmedia

Zeke Zelker – an award winning filmmaker, blends art and commerce in all that he does. His latest film InSearchOf is not only creating buzz about the content of the story line but also for his business techniques. Always creating new revenue streams by blending traditional distribution outlets, adapting others to suit his film’s needs, and pioneering some of his own Zeke has been forging a pathway to profitability. He is currently developing on a transmedia project that will begin unraveling 2010.

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By robert pratten, December 8th, 2010

Welcome to Transmedia Talk a new podcast covering all things story. Transmedia Talk is co-hosted by Nick Braccia and Robert Pratten and looks to shed light on the topic of transmedia storytelling with commentary, interviews and tips on how storytelling is moving into the 21st century.

Download Adobe Flash Player.

download

Or Subscribe iTunes

NB: If you’d like to give  us feedback, recommend yourself as a guest or suggest topics to cover – please email us at talk@workbookproject.com or Tweet away with the hashtag #tmediatalk

Hosts
Nick Braccia from Culture Hacker
Robert Pratten from TransmediaStoryteller.com

Guests
Nathan Mayfield, co-founder of transmedia storytellers Hoodlum.

Hoodlum are well know for thier work with such shows as Fast Forward, Spooks (MI5), Emerdale & Lost. At the time of recording they’re in production on a new show called Slide to be release in Australia on pay channel Fox8.tv in 2011

Interview with Nathan Mayfield, co-founder of transmedia storytellers Hoodlum.Hoodlum are well know for thier work with such shows as Fast Forward, Spooks (MI5), Emerdale & Lost. At the time of recording they’re in production on a new show called Slide to be released in Australia on pay channel Fox8.tv in 2011

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Posted in Transmedia Talk audience-building cross-media podcast 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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