By tools, December 15th, 2008

By David Beard – There are interesting parallels between the aspirations which drive innovation in the Transmedia space and those of developers of the Semantic Web.

The Semantic Web is a set of theories and implementations dealing w/ the representation and relations of web resources. It addresses ways that these resources can be structured and described to facilitate their organization, analysis and composition by software algorithms.

For instance, a character in a story might be represented using the following graph. This depicts declarative statements about an 8 year old female character named Red Riding Hood.

Such structures can also describe associations with other entities.

Notice that the description of the character is independent of any stories within which it might be implemented. That is, we’ve described Red Riding Hood without reference to her role in the eponymous fable. This approach lends to the portability of the character’s representation across multiple instances, types, and modes of story delivery.

The characteristics of such entities can be conformed to data structures that describe their significance, and the rules by which they can associate. These rules might be specific to a period of time, a location within the story, or the story world as a whole.

For instance, you could describe a character’s friends and enemies, and then define rules for how the character can interact w/ each of these classes of entities. These rules would be encoded so that they can be interpreted by both humans and computers.

There are several potential benefits to such an approach.


Semantically rich descriptions of stories, and their constituent elements, improve the ’searchability’ of these resources and provide a framework for describing the mutual associations among resources. They also facilitate the integration of story elements to other application contexts such as social networks and indexing services.

Story Path Coordination

Abstracting the definition of story elements facilitates the updating and synchronization of these elements, and their associations, across diverse paths and/or views of the story. For example, it’s easier to update the state of a character ( e.g. from living to dead ) across all instances of the character if these instances all reference a common definition of that character.

Context Sensitivity

Defining story elements independently of a specific implementation facilitates the customization of the presentation of those elements across diverse presentation contexts. For example, let’s say that a given story location must be presented through both a standard web browser and embedded micro-browser. This location may be associated with several media assets but not all of these assets can be presented in the micro-browser context. The presentation to micro-browsers can be defined to present only those media assets suitable to this context. This is possible because the definition of the story location is not dedicated to a specific type of presentation.

Story Element Recombination and Resequencing

Here again, the abstraction of story elements enables a more sophisticated execution and delivery of a story. If each element is defined as an abstract entity and the relationships among elements are described using rules that are valid regardless of a specific story implementation, it’s much easier to change the selection and interactions of these elements within a story. Similarly the sequence in which they are presented can be altered without necessarily breaking the logic of the storyline.

I’ll address these ideas more fully in future posts.

David Beard is the Chief Technical Architect of Seize The Media LLC. Prior to joining STM, David had served in various executive and technical roles with companies in the media and technology sectors. He has also provided firms with technology and business development expertise as an independent consultant. His designs and solutions have been integrated to products and services ranging from electronic cinema transport and exhibition solutions to distributed computing frameworks and media delivery platforms. David has also been published by Wrox Press and participates in a variety of Open Source projects.

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Posted in transmedia


By tools, August 15th, 2008

There are so many exciting things happening in the independent gaming scene. It calls to mind what indie film was like in the mid to late 90’s, when technology became accessible and anyone with a camera and a story could make a film. Something that I find of particular interest is how gaming allows audiences the abitily to role-play and shape the storyworld as it evolves in real-time. This creates an organic two-sided conversation with the audience. Something that can build a strong tie between the people running the game and its players.

But when I discuss gaming with other filmmakers, I’ve found that there is confusion around the term. It tends to evoke images of first person shooters or franchises like Grand Theft Auto. In reality gaming is play and play is at its core a social experience. In fact there has been an exciting shift within the gaming industry as can be seen with experiential games like Rock Band, Guitar Hero, flOw, and Spore.

But that is within the console world. Lurking below the surface is a whole movement of people designing storyworlds. The tools for creating something like an ARG are basic and accessible. Back in 1996 when we launched the site for my first feature film, The Last Broadcast we created a fictional world that was presented as fact, a way for us to extended the world of the film. In a sense that was an ARG. With the release of my latest feature Head Trauma, we created a storyworld that involved an interactive graphic novel, physical comics, alternate soundtracks (that secretly lined up with scenes from the film), phone calls / text messages from characters and even a separate web series with subliminal clues that was related loosely to the film. (see Hope is Missing)

What I’ve learned from the creation of these storyworlds is that they mirror the way many people are consuming their entertainment. The fragmentation of the digital space is a perfect opportunity to tell stories in new ways. And I can honestly say it has presented me an interesting and cost effective way to reach and engage my audience. The gaming that I’ve done around Head Trauma has been experienced by millions of people – far more than it would have reached in traditional outlets.

Unvierse creation 101

Lance Weiler is a filmmaker and a self distribution pioneer. His films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA are distributed in the United States and in over 20 countries around the world. Lance often lectures on filmmaking, technology, media consumption and distribution. He’s spoken at the Sundance, Berlin and Cannes Film Festivals in addition to numerous Universities and film societies. Lance is currently working on a number of new film, tv and cross-media projects. He currently sits on the board of the IFP, is the founder of the Workbook an “open source social project” for content creators and a co-founder of the discovery and distribution festival FROM HERE TO AWESOME. For more on Lance visit

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Posted in transmedia


  • Transmedia Talk #10 – Caitlin Burns, Jay Bushman
    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. [Audio clip: view full post to listen] download Or Subscribe iTunes NB: If you’d like to give  us feedback, recommend yourself… read more
  • Indie Film Capitalism #10
    Since I launched my latest film, “Billboard, an Uncommon Contest for Common People!” along with my Indiegogo fund raising campaign, people have balked at the amount of money that I’m attempting to raise, $300,0000. I scratch my head at this, and wonder why filmmakers do not disclose their true budgets, what their real cost was to take their movie to… read more
  • Elan Lee: The “Rolling Stone” Interview, Part I
    Elan Lee wants you to be a superhero! [More on that later. Part II and Part III] A note of introduction: Through the good graces of Lee Sheldon (a game writer/designer and professor with whom I worked during my graduate program), the Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, and others at Indiana University, we were able to host Elan… read more
By Dee Cook, August 20th, 2017

Welcome to Transmedia Talk, a new podcast covering all things Story. Transmedia Talk is co-hosted by Nick Braccia, Dee Cook, Robert Pratten and Haley Moore 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.


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 or Tweet away with the hashtag #tmediatalk

Robert Pratten from Transmedia Storyteller Ltd @robpratten

Dee Cook from Dog Tale Media @addlepated

Haley Moore @toenolla

Special Guests

Scott Walker from Brain Candy @scott_walker

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Posted in Transmedia Talk podcast

Dee Cook was elated to discover the world of interactive storytelling because, at that moment, she finally discovered what she wanted to do when she grew up. She has written, designed, and consulted on a score of alternate reality games and campaigns, most recently Focus Rally America, True Blood, and World Without Oil. Find out more about her at

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