By Chloe Stites, October 28th, 2010

Segment II: Why is Collapsus an example of a transmedia project? How is this a useful tool?

The concept of transmedia is grounded in the delivery and curation of specific information across various platforms. As compared with traditional media’s pattern of distribution (the same set of images relayed to viewers repeatedly through the same modes of communication) the innovation of transmedia is grounded in choice: developing successful projects means inspiring viewers to follow subject matter from one media platform to another. Information is provided as a reward, acting as an agent of incentive to produce sustained interest within the viewer. These “messages” act as a resource independent to a greater whole. (Culture Hacker: Transmedia Storytelling Getting Started) Content, therefore, has the capacity to enrich the spread of entertainment across multiple platforms.

Segment II of this blog series will examine what platforms the brand-new, transmedia project, Collapsus utilized. The distribution of factoids within this project highlights the benefits of using alternative methods to expand a project’s reach beyond traditional audiences.

A basic breakdown of existing communication reveals reading, listening, interaction, and watching to be the modern foundation of possible sensory content application. Reading (books, comics, ebooks), listening (radio, mobile, online), interaction (online, mobile, social, console, ARG) and watching (TV, theatre, mobile, live performance, online) are all media sources useful in releasing information and encouraging viewers to seek further analysis. (Henry Jenkins: Transmedia Education)

Inspiring viewers to self-reflect in the context of a project’s subject matter is directly related to the availability of information within a transmedia project. In Collapsus, “visitors to the Collapsus site can cut away from soap-opera-like webisodes to learn about energy issues through an interactive map, view fictional newscasts on the Citizenergy Channel, or watch real interview clips with experts, analysts, activists and journalists.” (Mq2: Collapsus)

Executing platforms that support and encourage choice is imperative in creating and sustaining viewer interactivity. As the sole content provider, producers control exactly what information is released, at what time, and to which audience; they guide the story (or project) as it unfolds. What exactly does this mean? It speaks to the nucleus of the transmedia experience: widened exposure equals more choice, and, more choice equals widened exposure. This implies a need to thoroughly understand one’s projected audience: who would be most interested in this material? What are the best modes of communication for conveying this on multiple media platforms?

Collapsus was produced with the goal of exposing a broader audience to the information found in the traditional documentary, Energy Risk, released by VPRO. See the original doc HERE

With an idea of audience in mind, creators and producers of the project conceptualized a multi-linear experience that blended genres of documentary, animation, fiction, and interactivity. Producer Tommy Pallotta explains, “This hybrid approach allows us to look at a serious documentary subject, but also to shift from the usual talking head approach to something that better reflects our time.”(MQ2: Collapsus)

Citizenergy, the Youtube channel for the original Dutch documentary, compliments the transmedia project, Collapsus: The Energy Risk Conspiracy, and is an example of this approach to media multi-tasking. (See the channel HERE) The CitizEnergyChannel provides several video segments linked to Collapsus’ theme of risk; clips provide expert analysis on the danger of a growing dependency on fossil fuels. Each video on Citizenergy is packaged content, the producer actively chose what was delivered to audiences. Utilizing Youtube and other video sharing sites give a lot of information to viewers, while allowing them to review at their convenience.

In transmedia projects the audience must chose to further his/her knowledge through exploring subject matter, playing games, and chatting with others. The endeavor of exploring a specific topic through various media can inspire a “community” culture of individuals working with a cohesive goal. When players are able to pool their knowledge with others, audience capacity multiplies. For Collapsus, this directly relates to the project’s undertone of social responsibility. As players and viewers interact with the material, they consult each other on personal methods to approach content. This allows for alternative modes of thinking, and the development of a furthered sense of self in a global community. A global community means increased global communication and a wider audience.

In researching the intersection of education and transmedia I came across an example of a school in Texas that utilized multiple media platforms to integrate education and technology. On August 22, 2009 in Rio de Janeiro, NAVE (Ncleo Avanado em Educao – Advanced Education Center ) a Brazilian high school, hosted Heroes and Smallville’s associate producer Mark Warshaw to teach a lesson on Transmedia Storytelling. The event was live streamed and interactive, as the audience, both live and online, participated in an interactive SMS game. The release of the Descolagem App later that day furthered the audiences span. The audience was literally guided through a lesson on transmedia storytelling through an actual transmedia experience. Beto Largman, who curated the event, hopes the format of the lesson displays the process as a resource; a strategy evolved to distribute content personally to a mass audience. (Transmedia Experience Streamed At Highschool )

The choice to pursue more components of a project is the apex of transmedia success. The interactive component of Collapsus’ narrative is directly linked with the information provided by the clips on Youtube. Soap-opera-like webisodes, an interactive map, fictional newscasts, along with the Citizenergy Channel, provide players with a platform of knowledge on the energy crisis, which gives them the ability, and inspiration, to interact within the overall narrative of the game. The goal clearly defined: Reviewing Collapsus for Public Radio Makers Quest 2.0, Julie Drizin states, “Truthfully, this is the kind of media that is better experienced than explained.”
Experience Collapsus HERE.

Director of Collapsus, Tommy Pallotta, will be interactively interviewed in Pt2:
Investigating the Possibilities of Transmedia; Collapsus, a Case Study.

Interview questions will come directly from reader comments to Tommy- the questions and his responses will be included in next weeks feature. Previously, he produced Waking Life, the first independently financed and computer animated feature produced, as well as A Scanner Darkly, and a multitude of other projects. Let’s delve into his animation process of rotoscoping, and understand how imperative it is to develop successful visual reaction in transmedia and cross-media projects.

Email any questions to Tommy: work@workbookproject.com
Please subject with: Tommy Pallotta questions

Source Links
1. http://workbookproject.com/culturehacker/2010/07/07/transmedia-storytelling-getting-started/
2. http://henryjenkins.org/2010/06/transmedia_education_the_7_pri.html
3. http://www.mq2.org/Collapsus
4. http://www.hastac.org/blogs/nancykimberly/transmedia-experience-livestreamed-brazilian-high-school

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Posted in audience-building cross-media design storytelling transmedia

Chloe Stites grew up in the Florida Keys. An avid reader of everything print and digital, she favors lyrical writing and Murakami-esque sentences. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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