Prepping for the Future with the Vision Machine iPad App

By Greg Pak I came up through independent film. Then I snagged a meeting with Marvel and spent most of the last eight years writing comic books. Now I've just completed an iPad app version of one of my graphic novels that combines elements of both comics and film. Here are a few thoughts about what inspired me as a filmmaker and comic book writer to plunge into the transmedia world of the "Vision Machine" app project and what I've learned.

Why "Vision Machine"?

A few years ago, Orlando Bagwell of the Ford Foundation approached me with the idea of creating a comic book that would help independent media makers imagine the technological, political, and social changes that will affect us over the next fifty years. As an indie filmmaker, sci fi guy, technology freak, and comic book creator, I was immediately hooked. What resulted was a 80 page sci fi thriller that follows three filmmaker friends as they confront the incredible potential and danger of the iEye, Sprout Computers' latest piece of revolutionary personal technology. The iEye allows users to instantly record anything they can see or imagine, then edit, add special effects, and share it with the world just by thinking about it. Our heroes plunge into a mind-blowing utopia of creativity... and then, of course, the other shoe drops.

With its emphasis on copyright, trademark, privacy, and surveillance, "Vision Machine" let me explore questions that I'm always thinking about as a filmmaker and a citizen of the digital world.

And then ITVS came along and let me take the project to a whole new level.

The Future Is Already Here

New digital technology is already good enough to deliver fantastic storytelling experiences to readers and viewers. I want to be telling stories for decades. So I figure it's a smart move to jump on any chance to create stories that work natively with new technology.

Soon after I completed the "Vision Machine" comic book in early 2011, I began talking with Karim Ahmad and Matthew Meschery at ITVS about the possibility of working together. Our plans eventually focussed on diving into brand new technology by making the interactive iPad app version of the comic book that's now downloadable for free from the Apple iTunes Store.

The iPad allowed us to add a soundtrack, animation, "extras" buttons, and a Twitter feed to the "Vision Machine" comic book. I've seen a few adults unfamiliar with the iPad hesitate when they first open the app. But every kid who opens the app dives right in, swiping, reading, watching, listening. A generation is growing up accustomed to interacting directly with stories on touchscreens. That's an audience I want to win.

A Chance to Tell a Huge Story with a Smaller Budget

"Vision Machine" is a big, fun genre story that would cost millions of dollars to produce as a feature film. The iPad app version cost a tiny fraction of that -- and it allowed me to work with a fantastic composer and brilliant animators, sound designers, and voice actors.

New Creative Opportunities

As a filmmaker, I'm typically putting a movie together with the assumption that my audience is sitting down and watching the whole thing from beginning to end without interruption. But the reality of non-theatrical viewing is that people stop and start programs all the time or have their attention divided by "second screen" activities like live-tweeting. That might be anathema for certain kinds of stories. But it could be a huge opportunities for others.

"Vision Machine" is a story that features a piece of personal technology that creates a cloud of popup windows and augmented reality information streams around its users. So it completely fits the theme and vibe of the story for the app to feature real pop ups that provide additional information and commentary. For example, as you're watching our heroes try out their iEyes for the first time, you can tap on an "IRL" button and see a video of Tribeca student filmmakers talk about what they'd do if they had iEyes. Other extras videos feature internet superstar Jonathan Coulton, tech journalist Andy Ihnatko, and Duke University Center for the Study of the Public Domain director Jennifer Jenkins, all of whom have smart, funny, and sometimes scary things to say about the real world topics raised by the story.

There's No Money in It -- Yet

The "Vision Machine" app was funded by the ITVS as part of its (awesome) sci fi Futurestates program and is being given away for free under a Creative Commons license. So there's not yet a proven business model here for similar independent projects. But a few years ago, I hesitated before "giving away" any of my short films on Youtube. Now a decent number of videomakers have built enough audience to make a living from their Youtube channels. Similarly, someone's going to crack the market for this kind of enhanced entertainment app sooner rather than later.

Using Social to Build an Audience

I've been fooling around on Twitter for a couple of years now partly because it's the comic industry's water cooler and it's just plain fun to trade jokes with fellow creators and fans. But I've also been using Twitter (and Google+) to plug my work and hopefully build readership. Exactly how much of an effect those tweets have on sales is hard to gauge. But in the past year or so, the value of social networking to independent media makers has begun to register in hard dollars. A slew of independent comic book creators have been using Kickstarter and Indiegogo to raise thousands for their dream projects. Kickstarter has become a kind of distribution venue, essentially allowing indies to fund books through presales. And the biggest prizes have gone to those who are savvy users of social networks. In short, building a Twitter following now has a real chance to enable a creator to keep on creating.

So for the "Vision Machine" iPad app, I wanted to experiment with creating a strong social element that could directly enhance the story while readers are reading. The finished app allows users to bring up a live Twitter stream that shows tweets that use the #visionmachine hashtag. So now I can hold a virtual public Q&A or deliver live director's commentary that folks can follow in real time while reading the book.

It's just a first step. But I'm excited about the potential to start a conversation within the work itself that can help build those social networks that may ultimately allow us mediamakers to keep our careers ticking along.

What I'd Do Differently

We designed the "Vision Machine" app as an iPad app, partly because that's the technology I was the most familiar with and partly because the Apple iTunes Store remains the easiest way for non-technologically obsessed consumers to quickly download and try new media like this. But when we debuted the app at the New York Comic-Con, at least two thirds of the people I talked with about the project shrugged regretfully and said they only had Android devices.

If I were to do it all over again, I'd strongly consider building a non-platform-specific web app that anyone could access on any device through a browser. That's a bit less sexy than an iPad app -- and it's a bit tougher to figure out how to make any money from it. But it broadens the potential audience and avoids potential gatekeeper issues with Apple's iTunes Store, which must approve every app it distributes.

My other big piece of advice for anyone considering this kind of project is to separate out art elements from the beginning, if at all possible. "Vision Machine" was created first as a traditional graphic novel, with single layer pencils. But animating requires elements to be separated from the background and the backgrounds to be fully filled in. If you know you're going to undertake this kind of project, separating out elements from the beginning will save you money and increase your creative possibilities later down the line.

Creative Commons

And one more thing... "Vision Machine" is a Creative Commons project, which means that you're free to remix or reuse the art, characters, and story, as long as you credit Pak Man Productions and release the material non-commercially under the same license. I'm still figuring out just how to fit Creative Commons into my work and what projects it makes sense for, so I was thrilled when Orlando suggested we use it for "Vision Machine." If you're interested in playing along, feel free to download the free graphic novel and check out the details at www.visionmachine.net.

Here are links: 
And bio: 
Greg Pak is a filmmaker and comic book writer best known for directing the award-winning feature film "Robot Stories", writing the epic "Planet Hulk" and "World War Hulk" comic book storylines, and co-writing (with Fred Van Lente) the fan favorite "Incredible Hercules" series for Marvel Comics. 

Thoughts On Collaboration...

Ah, the windfall of public speaking.  My two stop tour of Sydney & Auckland generated a lot of material.  I did a handful of interviews with some very knowledgeable journalists/filmmakers.  They have been coming to print and pixel. I spoke to Fiona Milburn from Transmedia NZ for the big idea on several subjects.  You can read the whole article here.  Amongst the questions I was asked about collaboration:

The key to collaboration is: the acknowledgement of what you don't know; respect for the experience and contributions of others; and a general level of openness and discovery.  I don't think that changes.  It is still at the core of everything.  However, what is exciting is the move away from geo-location based collaboration.  You no longer need to gather in the same spot.

Traditional collaboration was certainly very fruitful, but we now have tools that allow for different ways of working.  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was the first time I was aware of work done in a decentralised manner.  Due to differing time zones, the film had teams of people working on VFX 24/7 around the globe.  And, the visual effects coordination involved somebody working with these globally diverse, individual teams of contractors.  Now this form of collaboration is accessible to all of us.

One of the difficulties with these new forms of creating and consuming is that, until they’ve seen it done, many people don't know how to do it.  Thus, when somebody “gets it,” they feel like a pioneer.  And, they’re easy to recognise.  The history of pioneers tells us that they're the ones with arrows and swords in their back.

Currently, the folks who've done well in film are those who’ve lived through the period of capital intensive creation.  It’s a different era now, but our experts, the people who have delivered the current proof of principle, are used to working in that format.  It’s the new creators who will be the new leaders and thinkers.  They are going to be pioneers and, unfortunately, some of them will be sacrificed.

 

There's a lot more in the article on story world building, transmedia, and finding a new way forward. Read it: http://www.thebigidea.co.nz/news/blogs/transit/121245-a-new-way-forward-for-cinema

Will the internet free motion pictures from the old ways of telling stories?

By Randy Finch

In 1958 the most influential film critic of his day, André Bazin, wrote that the 19th century invention of photography had brought with it “a great spiritual and technical crisis” that profoundly affected other arts – in particular painting.

After the invention of the camera, the burden of what Bazin called “duplicating the world outside” was snatched away from painters and handed to photographers.

Here’s how Bazin describes what happened next: Photography “freed Western painting, once and for all, from its obsession with realism.”

In other words, André Bazin argued that modern painting – with its emphasis on abstraction - would not have existed without photography.

While some painters saw opportunity and pursued non- representational art in the late 1800s, many Old World painters were not happy. Similarly, these days many established professionals are not happy that their accustomed role in motion picture storytelling is being usurped by cellphone-wielding “amateurs.”

But (then as now) the Old Guard’s contempt has never stopped tech- savvy entrepreneurs from coming up with better ways to serve fundamental human needs (like storytelling)...

We’ll never know what André Bazin would have made of the spiritual and technical crisis that the internet has caused in the early years of the 21st century. André Bazin died in late 1958, when he was just 40 years old. But undeniably the 20th century’s dominant art forms - including filmmaking - are undergoing a significant disruption: A disruption that mirrors the changes that photography forced on traditional realistic painting 150 years ago.

In the early 1800s, before the invention of photography, painters were the acknowledged masters of accurate representation. For centuries, painters had served a special role in the culture. That role ended abruptly when the photograph and photographers arrived. As Bazin observed (writing 100 years after the fact), the change in the role that

painters served came with fundamental changes to the aesthetic goals of painting. For example, because photography in the 19th century lacked color, pioneering Impressionist painters emphasized the role of color in their art.

Cameras, utilizing “automatic means,” were the disruptive technology of 150 years ago. Today the internet and affordable digital tools are replacing the old systems for producing and distributing motion pictures. As everyone knows, the internet has already disrupted the business models and forced changes to the aesthetics of newspapers and music. And, just as photography created new revenue streams in the 19th century (e.g., photography shops sprang up to serve common people, who could never own a painted portrait), the new digital tools are in the process of creating new revenue streams for motion pictures. (With all the lamentation about motion picture revenue lost to “piracy” – has anyone tallied up how many billions will be spent worldwide in the next few years on devices and mobile plans for viewing online video?) Most importantly, when the human impulse toward a “likeness of the real” became readily available to a mass audience 150 years ago through photographs, the aesthetics of Old World painting changed. Does the advent of the internet hold a similar promise for a new aesthetics of motion pictures?

How will motion pictures change when motion picture narrative is freed from delivering content that the web does better? Are there elements of storytelling (e.g., exposition? back story?) that might be better delivered on a second screen or via hypertext? If traditional movies are not as immersive as some interactive web-experiences, or there are elements of popular storytelling that the web does better, how will traditional movies evolve? Will the hero’s pearl–handled pistols remain unexplained in a New World Hollywood film – with some fans seeking and finding the story of the pistols online? Will Hollywood motion pictures continue to emphasize big-budget spectacle (something that democratized online filmmaking doesn’t currently offer) or will other aesthetic goals emerge that reinvigorate Old World film production?

Traditional portrait painters didn’t give up without a fight and the transition to a new way of motion pictures won’t be easy either. Old World movies will survive; after all, it’s still possible to get a realistic

portrait painted today. But, as Bazin notes, photography narrowed the psychological and cultural reasons for having a portrait painted. The reasons for commissioning and sitting for a painter today (ostentatious show? self-indulgence? vanity?) are not entirely the same as they were before photography. Which begs the question: What kind of filmmakers will continue to make films in the Old World Hollywood model, once democratized filmmaking is the dominant form?

Just as some painters advanced their art after photography, the redefinition of filmmaking in a digitally networked world comes with opportunity. Some pioneering painters seized the moment in the 19th century: Who are the young filmmakers today who will be remembered tomorrow for their innovative contributions to the aesthetics of modern filmmaking?

150 years after photography changed painting forever, we are living through another democratization of representational art. To paraphrase André Bazin, the aesthetics of Hollywood films and TV shows must change as the internet replaces some of their function. The question all filmmakers should be asking: How will the internet free motion pictures from their obsession with the old ways of telling stories?

Randy Finch has produced movies (e.g., OUTSIDE PROVIDENCE and THE SUBSTANCE OF FIRE) and plays (e.g., work at Lincoln Center in NY and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC). Mr. Finch has also contributed to online storytelling experiences (e.g.,plantcitystories.com and miraclemileparadox.com). Mr. Finch’s first film, MILES FROM HOME, premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Mr. Finch currently teaches New World filmmaking at the University of Central Florida.

Building Storyworlds Podcast (Episode 1, Featuring... Me!)

The always stimulating Lance Weiler has launched a new podcast, and this morning I was his first guest.  Check it out here.  We had a lot to talk about.

Topics of discussion 

  • The future of film - Ted shares the thoughts behind a recent post to his blog  Hope for Film.
  • Finding new froms of value
  • The role of scarcity and abundance in storytelling
  • The internet of things - the emergence of a storytelling layer over the real world
  • Generalist vs. Specialist

Lance has named this new venture "the art, craft & biz of storytelling in 21c", and he shares:

Welcome to an experiment in participatory storytelling. As I gear up for a course I'll be teaching at Columbia University, I've decided to open my teaching process. I've established this tumblr and will soon be joined by the class for what I hope will become an ongoing collection of thoughts, projects, tech and ideas as they pertain to storytelling in the 21st Century. 

I'm hard at work on a trilogy of participatory storytelling projects with the first one entitled, Robot Heart Stories launching this fall. I wish to explore the realities of the connected world we live in and what that means for storytelling. I'm especially interested in the changing role of authorship and its impact on the birth of a collective narrative. In this spirit I'm bringing the class in to this tumblr to share all things story. 

Finally this tumblr will also tie into a book I've been working on entitledBuilding Storyworlds: the art, craft & biz of storytelling in 21C. The book is the basis of the course at Columbia and is an experiment in scarcity vs. digital abundance

What Is The Great Hope For The Future Of Cinema?

Or for that matter, what do you think can really change and move things forward in both the near and distant future? If we could ask five key people what they saw on our various horizons, what would they show us? Who should we ask?  One of the great things about being pointed in a direction, is that it is almost a path. Could we have walked down that road when Francis Ford Coppola predicted YouTube in 1991:

It is not easy to just boil down to one specific all the various change that is swarming over us at this point.  I see major shifts coming in so many different aspects of cinema: discovery, consideration, value/return, participation, collaboration, transitioning, immersion, and many others. The fact that this far down the road of a connected culture we have not wed social and content together may speak of the resistance to change, but also of the tidal wave that will one day hit us. That all said, I think that all of us -- creators, appreciators, entrepreneurs, & passive audiences members, are going to truly be best served by another aspect all together.

If you ask me, one of the big next changes and TGHFTFOC (see title) is the end of the dominance of the feature film form. Now don't get me wrong: I love feature films more than any other manufactured entity. I have devoted my labor to the creation, enhancement, and appreciation of the form. I just see many trends leading to feature-length linear-narrative passive-engagement work's decreasing relevance, along with many indications that it won't be a bad thing when all participants in both the film industry and culture look at a far widening realm of creation, participation, and consumption.

Perhaps though it is that the end of dominance of the feature film form is a symptom of something even greater. Or maybe it is just another chicken vs. egg paradox. Regardless, the industry and culture are both waking to and adopting a move from a one-off paradigm where each new creative work requires reinventing the wheel and instead embracing both a business model and community focus on an ongoing conversation between the story world initiators and those that engage with it. This abandonment of requiring each new tale to be able to not just stand but forever sprint on its own two feet is not only logical and practical but offers many new opportunities.

I eventually will go in to far greater detail on this (particularly when I can find the time to do so), but want to get this conversation moving forward. I wonder why it is still only the outliers who are in this discussion.

Still for now, we can surely see the benefit of expanding our scripts to include a series of narrative & character extensions. We recognize that each work represents an opportunity for collaborations that we have yet to dream of. We can empower those without traditional access to work with us on building previously neglected connections and launch pads. Our stories and fantasies do not need to begin or end with our renderings but can foster new works and continual creation. We can combat the challenges of living in an era of super-abundance and non-filters by championing greater value in community focus.

The easy way is a path to irrelevance. Temporally manipulative, crowd-based consumptive,  audio-visually focused content stopped long ago as being both the art form and entertainment outlet most indicative of our time. The new form is all of that and more. It won't only reflect our era, but lead us into a better world. And it starts with saying good bye to the cultural & economic dominance of antiquated concept.  

Video: How The Film Industry Has Changed & Where It Is Going

I gave this interview for the film "PressPausePlay" a couple of years back. It premiered at SxSW earlier this year. I would say it a bit differently today, but the sentiment and bullet points remain the same. I must admit I am a bit surprised, but how much I still say is exactly the same today.

We are still looking for an audience-friendly term for immersive transmedia cross-platform creation. I remain restless to abandon this single product impulse-buy centered entertainment economy.

It's a short clip. I rev up as it goes on, so give it the time to reach the end. I feel it grows quite hopeful. Good work will come out of today's problems.

I look forward to watching all the PressPausePlay clips they have put on YouTube.

Prepare To Have Your Mind Blown: PowerToThePixel Announces Project Line Up

A couple years back I was asked to give the Keynote Address at PowerToThePixel's Annual Cross-Media Forum. It is not an exaggeration to say that the people I met and the knowledge they shared blew my mind. I saw the potential for immersive culture. I witnessed the growth of a community of visionaries. I had my hope restored for the culture, art, and society. If there was one film related event each year that I most want to attend, it is PowerToThePixel. Get ready because it is around the corner, and as today's press release (below) indicates, this year's edition is going to be 1000% pure awesome.

POWER TO THE PIXEL ANNOUNCES LINE-UP FOR ANNUAL CROSS-MEDIA FORUM & PROJECT SELECTION FOR THE PIXEL MARKET

London, 13 September 2011

The fifth edition of The Cross-Media Forum 11-14 October, from leading global cross-media company Power to the Pixel, features a world-class line-up of speakers and industry experts.

His first time speaking in the UK, Jeff Gomez CEO Starlight Runner (Pirates of the Caribbean, Halo, Avatar) will present the keynote for the conference on 11 October. Additional talks come from Digital Emmy award-winning filmmaker Katerina Cizek; Christopher Sandberg, Founder of Emmy-awarded TV and new media production company The company P; Creative Director Digital at Aardman, Dan Efergan; Michel Reilhac, Executive Director of ARTE France Cinéma as well as Tero Kaukomaa, producer of the much-anticipated Finnish project Iron Sky, amongst others. The Cross-Media Forum is held in association with the BFI London Film Festival.

The conference covers the latest trends in audience behaviour and new business models in the cross-media and transmedia space. It is followed by The Pixel Market, a one-of-a-kind marketplace dedicated to financing international cross-media properties.

Chosen from nearly 100 applicants, 25 producer-led teams take part in one-to-one business meetings with potential partners and financiers from across the media industries. Project stories extend across media platforms including film, broadcast, gaming, online, interactive, publishing, live event, mobile/tablet. Selected projects include Cloud Chamber produced by regular Lars von Trier collaborator, Vibeke Windelov; Fort McMoney, a new project from David Dufresne, writer of multi-award-winning web documentary Prison Valley; Swandown, a collaboration from award-winning artist/filmmaker Andrew Kötting and author Iain Sinclair; Unspeak being produced by award-winning cross-media company Submarine, directed by film director, producer and long-time collaborator of Richard Linklater, Tommy Pallotta.

Nine of the teams go forward to The Pixel Pitch Competition on 12 October, backed by French/German broadcaster ARTE to compete for the £6,000 top prize. Projects are presented to a jury of international commissioning executives, decision-makers and financiers in front of an audience of Power to the Pixel delegates. The Pixel Pitch presents a unique opportunity to hear how cross-media projects are financed, and by whom.

The winner of the ARTE Pixel Pitch Prize will be announced at an evening awards ceremony on 13 October.

The Cross-Media Forum receives over 800 international delegates each year and is seen as an essential part of the calendar for anyone interested in exploring creative business and digital change.

“The Cross-Media Forum has built a global reputation to be the place where creators, financiers and entrepreneurs can discuss innovative ideas and business practices in a unique collaborative environment,” said founder Liz Rosenthal.

“World-class experts will share their latest findings on new ways to tell stories, engage audiences and grow successful cross-media story properties.

“The Pixel Market is the only dedicated cross-media market and showcase in the world where you can meet commissioners and financiers from the film, broadcast, games, mobile, interactive, publishing and online worlds who are committed to investing in cross-media properties. We’re very excited about the high quality of projects and talent showcased in this year’s selection and look forward to facilitating new synergies and partnerships across industry silos."

The Pixel Market is supported by the Media Programme of the European Union. Additional support from BFI, Skillset Film Skills Fund, ARTE, Telefilm Canada, TorinoFilmLab

Costas Daskalakis, Head of MEDIA programme unit at EACEA said: "Cross-media projects have attracted a lot of attention over the last few years. MEDIA is happy to support events such as The Pixel Market so that they also attract funding. The MEDIA programme has developed an overall strategy to support cross-media projects including training, financial support for development, markets and distribution."

Dan Simmons, Head of Film (Acting) Skillset said: "The impact of digital and new technology continues to be a funding priority for Skillset under the UK’s film skills strategy ‘A Bigger Future 2’.

We have funded Power to the Pixel since its inception five years ago. Events such as The Pixel Lab and The Pixel Market are powerful opportunities for cross-media professionals - spanning different sectors of the creative industries - to network with leading digital pioneers; developing new business and transmedia opportunities in an international environment.”

Carolle Brabant, Executive Director Telefilm Canada said: “We’re excited to support cutting-edge events like Power to the Pixel. Today, Canadian producers, broadcasters and distributors need to be more innovative to ensure that their content is properly showcased, viewed and distributed around the world. At the same time, opportunities abound with many new cross-media platforms enabling consumers to engage with the work of Canadian creators in new ways.”

Michel Reilhac, Executive Director of ARTE France Cinéma said: "Although the field of transmedia is fairly new and still inventing itself as we speak, the Power to the Pixel event allows all people involved in the art of storytelling to evaluate where we are, who does what. It is the focus event that allows us all to check what our current issues are, what's new that's been accomplished and how our new challenges in the field of participative storytelling evolve. It is the one invaluable occasion in the year where people involved and interested come together and share projects, knowledge and experience."

PIXEL MARKET PROJECTS including PIXEL PITCH FINALISTS & PIXEL PITCH JURY PIXEL PITCH FINALISTS 1. Process: Cause & Affect (CAN) Non-fiction: Online | film | installation | mobile Producer: C J Hervey | Executive Producer: James Milward An interactive documentary and transmedia project that profiles groundbreaking artists who create beautiful works of art using computer code.

2. Cloud Chamber (DEN) Fiction: Online | mobile | TV Producer: Vibeke Windelov | Director: Christian Fonnesbech | Writer: Darin Mailand-Mercado A science drama inspired by space. Players collaborate to uncover the story of a young scientist who has risked her sanity and betrayed her father in order to save humanity from itself.

3. Jezabel (FR) Fiction: TV | online | mobile | radio | print | live event Producer: Eric Pellegrin | Director: Julien Bittner | Writer: Julien Capron A series about a 19-year old student who posts a song on YouTube - the song soon becomes a big hit. After a producer offers her to launch her career, Jezabel will be torn between two worlds: show business in Paris and the decadent student parties in her city, Lille. How will she handle her fame? A story about growing up, falling in love, finding your way.

4. Lost and Sound [working title] (UK) Non-fiction: TV | online | app Producer: Kat Mansoor | Writer/Director: Lindsey Dryden An exhilarating and moving creative experience about the great human love affair with music, through the prism of deafness. It weaves a character-driven narrative – following three people's re- discovery of music after deafness – with an extraordinary adventure through the science of sound, revealing how music reaches us through the ears and brain when neither work ordinarily. 5. Love & Engineering [working title] (FIN) Non-fiction: Film | TV | online | mobile Producer: Kaarle Aho | Writer/Director: Tonislav Hristov Digital geeks looking for analogue love. One claims to have hacked love, can he help lonely engineers find real happiness?

6. My Little Songs (FR) Non-fiction: TV | online | apps | books | games Producer: Deborah Elalouf | Director: Edith Louis Tim, aged 7, has discovered a mysterious magic piano. No sooner does he play, than a variety of characters pop up from the piano to create animated and interactive musical cartoons. Nursery rhymes initiated by Tim will be the starting point of adventures for Tim as well as the viewer/player. An opportunity for young children to discover foreign languages through a fun trip! 7. Tomorrow We Disappear (USA) Non-fiction: Film | Condition ONE | interactive | online | installation Producer/Interactive Director: Jimmy Goldblum Since 1978 Delhi’s magicians, puppeteers and acrobats have called the tinsel slum, the Kathputli Colony, home. Last year the government issued relocation permits to the colony residents; the slum is to be bulldozed, cleared for development. Experience the last remnants of a culture borne out of folk traditions and moulded by poverty. 8. We R Democracy (BEL) Non-fiction: Online | apps | games Producers : Matthieu Lietaert, Jamie Balliu, Nicolas Sauret Co-Directors/Co-Creators: Matthieu Lietaert & Fritz Moser Have you ever wanted to shape tomorrow's globalisation? Here is your chance: Become an online lobbyist in Europe! Get to know the hidden part of democracy, meet key protagonists and build your own lobby network. Play a game-like experience that's also influencing the real world around you!

9. The First Zombie (CAN|UK) Fiction: online | book | film Producer: Jeff Norton A lonely zombie, fresh from the grave, struggles to get back the family life he once took for granted. Sometimes even the living dead deserve a second chance.

ADDITIONAL MARKET PROJECTS 10. "100" (UK) Non-fiction: Feature film | online | apps | TV | live events Producer: Jessica Levick | Director: Sam Blair A hypnotic study of the art of sprinting, this startling documentary – made in partnership with adidas – reveals the hopes and struggles of London's grassroots athletes on the eve of the 2012 Olympics.

11. The Ark Experiment (AUT) Non-fiction: Feature film | online Producer: Michael Seeber | Director: Sepp R. Brudermann The end is near, but don’t worry we will guide you through it!

12. The Awra Amba Story - Utopia in Ethiopia (FIN/UK) Non-fiction: Online | mobile | broadcast | live events Producer/Director: Paulina Tervo | Co-Director: Serdar Ferit A multi-platform, multimedia project about a utopian village in Ethiopia including an interactive 360° web documentary, a feature-length film and an interactive exhibition.

13. The Cat Time Stories (CRO) Fiction: TV series | interactive | app | online Producer: Helena Bulaja | Writer: Nada Horvat The Cat Time Stories relates the everyday adventures and experiences of cats and their friends, through blending the worlds of 33 stories about the adventures and experiences of slightly humanized, but thoroughly feline characters. They hunt for treasure, displease their human “masters”, go shopping, worry about their appearance, avoid dogs, get stuck in the top branches of a tree and do everything which takes up the busy agenda of a cat’s day. One of them even discovers he can fly...

14. Conspicuous (USA) Fiction: FB apps incorporating stills | text | news Producer: Mike Knowlton | Writer/Director: Hal Siegel A suburban mum discovers her husband is having an affair. In the aftermath, she becomes a private detective. It's Weeds meets artist Sophie Calle.

15. Facelessbook (ITA) Non-fiction: Feature film | book | TV | installation | online | print | podcast Producer: Alessandro Borelli | Director: Sergio Basso A cross-media platform conceived as a role-playing game: a serious game to understand what it means being on the run, to identify with a refugee, in the world of today.

16. Fort McMoney (CAN) Non-fiction: Online | gaming | TV | print | mobile Producer: Philippe Lamarre | Director: David Dufresne A web documentary with gaming. A unique social experience. Welcome to Fort McMoney, the biggest power project in the world.

17. LoveTrips (AUT/POL) Non-fiction: Feature film | TV | online | mobile/tablet | print Producer: Filip Antoni Malinowski | Director: Carlo Pisani LoveTrips tells the stories of people that have to travel to keep their love alive.

18. Mirages (BEL) Non-fiction: TV | online | mobile | iPad | live events Producer/Director: Patric Jean | Transmedia Producer: Barbara Levendangeur Science and scepticism require that we look for natural and empirical explanations for all phenomena. Mirages is designed as a transmedia documentary experience which investigates how we often convince ourselves to believe and overlook the facts (of any kind).

19. Pas de Deux (SWE) Fiction: Film | book | live event | online/social networks | radio Producer/Co-Writer: Anna Nevander | Co-Writer: Signe Kjellman A devoted opera singer lives a consuming passion with an inconstant photographer and looks for divine love in her friendship with a young priest, who ends up trying to rape her.

20. The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted (FR) Non-fiction: Live event | online platforms | feature film Producer: Emilie Blezat | Director: David Dusa TRWNBT investigates how far the internet can go to found a new civil society, how the power of social media influences social change. An educational project, a think/do tank, a dialogue platform and a visual representation of the way the internet empowers citizens and articulates a rapidly changing world.

21. Ruby Skye P.I.: The Haunted Library (CAN) Fiction: online/social networks | TV/VoD | mobile/tablet | books | live events Producer/Writer/Showrunner: Jill Golick | Producer: Susan Nation | Director: Kelly Harms A cross-media, live-action, comedy-mystery series designed especially to engage young audiences growing up in the digital generation. Stubborn, smart, determined and a little too quick to jump to conclusions, 15-year old Ruby makes a lot of unfortunate choices in her pursuit of truth, justice and, well... personal curiosity.

22. Seasons Project (FR) Non-fiction: TV | online | games | smartphone app Artistic Producer/Co-Creator: Chloé Jarry Co-Creator: Antoine Bamas Seasons Project launches a large citizen investigation into the evolution of the seasons in Europe.

23. Shankaboot - Unlocking The Power of Social Media (LEB) Fiction: Online | social networks | mobile apps Producer: Katia Saleh | Director: Amin Dora | Lead Writer: Bassem Breish Fresh from dodging disaster on the streets of Beirut, Suleiman causes havoc across the Middle East when he convinces four friends in different Arab countries to launch a bogus political campaign on Facebook. but, when their virtual revolution spills over into the real world, the armchair freedom-fighters are forced to face the consequences.

24. Swandown (UK) Non-fiction: Feature film | installation | live events | TV | online Producer: Lisa Marie Russo | Director: Andrew Kötting Writer: Iain Sinclair Swandown is a documentary, travelogue and odyssey of Olympian ambition. A poetic film diary about encounter and culture. It is also an endurance test and pedal-marathon.

25. Unspeak (NETH) Fiction & non-fiction: online HTML5 cloud & integrated social media | interactive Producer: Femke Wolting | Directors: Tommy Pallotta & Geert van de Wetering Unspeak is a style of political language that smuggles persuasion into description by renaming politically sensitive subjects. A radical and at times poetic collage of found footage, media sound bites and voice over, the series unveils the mechanisms behind Unspeak and encourages the viewer to listen closely, as well as editing and distributing their own Unspeak clips.

Confirmed international jurors (with more to be announced):

JULIE ADAIR Director of Online (Europe, Middle East, Africa), Walt Disney Company (UK) NUNO BERNARDO Producer & CEO, beActive (PORT) GUILLAUME BLANCHOT Head of New Media & Video Games, CNC (FR) ROSA BOSCH Producer & MD, B & W Films (SPA/UK) MORGAN BOUCHET Director Transmedia & Social Media, Orange (FR) PETER CARLTON Head of European Division Warp Films (UK) NICK COHEN Managing Partner & UK Head, MediaCom Beyond Advertising (UK) LOC DAO Head of Digital Content & Strategy, NFB (CAN) REBECCA DENTON Senior Producer, Original Series & Development Turner Broadcasting (EMEA) (UK) LIZZIE FRANCKE Senior Production and Development Executive, BFI Film Fund (UK) JEFF GOMEZ CEO Starlight Runner (USA) BEN GRASS Managing Director Pure Grass Films (UK) DIGBY LEWIS Director of Content & Digital Development, ShineVu (UK) RAY MAGUIRE Former President (UK, Nordic & Ireland) Sony Computer Entertainment (UK) IAN McCLELLAND Senior Vice President of New Media RTL Group (LUX) MICHAEL MORRIS Co-Director Artangel (UK) MICHEL REILHAC Executive Director ARTE France Cinéma (FR) CHRISTOPHER SANDBERG Founder & CCO, The company P (SWE) VIDA TOOMBS Head of Content Europe, VBS.TV | Vice (UK)

About Power to the Pixel:

Power to the Pixel supports the film and media industries in their transition to a digital age. The company specialises in new ways for content creators and businesses to create, finance and distribute stories and engage with audiences across multiple platforms.

Headed by Founder & CEO Liz Rosenthal and COO & Producer Tishna Molla, the company’s London team has a wealth of experience and expertise across film and cross-media development, production and finance, and is linked to a unique network of the leading thinkers, practitioners and innovators who are developing new business and creative opportunities around the world.

Specialising in new ways for content creators and businesses to create and finance stories and engage with audiences across multiple platforms, Power to the Pixel’s core activities are: • Providing consultancy to international media organisations, content creators and companies • Designing innovative in-house company training programmes and bespoke initiatives • Producing international forums, events and labs centred around cross-media, IP and business • Facilitating the exchange of ideas and the building of international partnerships between media professionals and between industries

The company’s understanding of the challenges and opportunities of digital change means Power to the Pixel is an essential bridge between the visionary, the pioneering and the practical.

Power to the Pixel’s clients and partners include: ARTE; BAFTA; BBC, BBH; Berlin Film Festival; BFI; Cannes Film Festival (Marché du Film); EAVE; EU MEDIA Programme; Edinburgh Film Festival; IFP; Nordisk Film & TV Fond; UK Film Council

www.powertothepixel.com

Video: The Art Of Immersion - How The Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood

A little while ago I got to participate in a great discussion at Google, centered around Frank Rose's must-read book The Art Of Immersion. Joining Frank and I were Chris Di Cesare, Director of Creative Programming at Google Creative Lab, i Paul Woolmington, Founding Partner of Naked Communications, and Susan Bonds of 42 Entertainment. If you want to know where it is all headed, I suggest you read Frank's book and listen to our talk, posted below.

"An Amazing Time To Be A Storyteller"

Lance Weiler was the Keynote speaker at the Darklight Festival recently. He shares his journey into transmedia and why he is so optimistic about the world before us. It is nothing short of a state of the union address on Transmedia -- both how we got here and where we are. It includes a pretty solid survey of transmedia projects. Check out his video below if you are one of those types who actually want to know the world you are living in (and not just the one that once was).

Guest Post: Zeke Zelker: DIY Days NYC: You Missed An Incredible Gathering Of Incredible People

Why does it still feel amazing that a whole group of people come together to share knowledge, organize that gathering, and take the resulting inspiration out into the world -- and that they do it for free? That question is worthy of a future post, but for now we are here to celebrate DIY DAYS, the event that we must now ordain as a necessary institution. I was a keynote speaker last year. This year Christine Vachon and I discussed our past and hopes for the future. Earlier I ran a post on Chuck Wendig's presentation he did this year on "Where Storytelling & Gaming Collide" . Today we are happy to offer you Zeke Zelker's overview of the event, which at the very least should make sure you plan on joining us next year. Check it out. I promise you will leave wiser and inspired.

It is always exciting going to DIY Days, It’s like main lining a shot of learn-to-know-how adrenaline straight to the heart. There were many things that I took away from last week’s conference, many of which we will be implementing for WTYT960.com as we push out the site. WTYT960.com is a virtual radio station where bands submit their music to be a part of the playlist, the playlist is created by fan interaction on social media sites and votes.

A couple of highlights from DIY Days that still resonate. Newman’s tell it like it is approach to reclaiming DIY, I just sewed new patches on my britches and am rolling up my sleeves, getting down and dirty with making stuff. Hope and Vachon’s fireside chat on their amazingly prolific careers as the top indie producers, that’s right, each of them have produced 70 films. That’s absolutely amazing. Johnson’s chat about NFC technology that I feel will be another outlet for filmmakers to further expand their storyscape. Weiler’s review of Pandemic 1.0 that we produced at this past year’s Sundance. Chirls introduction of html 5, I’m still wrapping my head around the possibilities of this new programming tool and Clark’s discussion on how he has worked with brands in the past, this opportunity needs to be explored further. There were many others who presented and their insight was worth much more than the price of admission.

The only thing I wish is that more presenters would have been more straight forward on how they do/did things not what they did. I think this would be extremely valuable to those who attend these types of conferences.

When it was my turn with Vlad, who has a really great project, Zenith, it was interesting to see people’s reactions as we discussed our transmedia projects, Vlad’s is wrapping up, mine is just getting started. I take the capitalist money making approach to my filmmaking efforts, where I always encounter push back from the indie film/DIY community. I never understand this. This is show Business people, with a capital B, which is a true balance of art and commerce. Shouldn’t we all take more of a money making approach to our filmmaking? It is truly empowering. Instead of playing the “I hope I can sell my film for big bucks at a festival that I hope I can get into lottery.” Shouldn’t we be more fiscally responsible to our funders? Really. I fund my projects by whatever means possible. Right now I am raising equity, seeking donations, and forging brand partnerships.

I believe that the story telling experience can be augmented for the better with brand interaction. Brands can enable artists to further their storyscape, something that I’m doing with Billboard an Uncommon Contest for Common People! as well as my next three projects. I like giving a big fat hug to responsible corporate brands who can help me further tell my story. We all have those products we love, why not make them a part of, and a device in, the story telling experience? For instance I love my Radius toothbrush, a company with ergonomically correct handles made out of recycled material. Right now I’m brushing my pearly whites with a handle made from recycled U.S. currency. Just living the dream! The company is also from my hometown and these types of things excite me. A great product from my hometown that I’ve partnered with to help tell a story. You can’t get any better than that. How does a toothbrush support a story? Just wait. You’ll see.

Newman http://springboardmedia.blogspot.com/ Johnson www.kineticfin.com/ - Hope now here on IndieWire. Archives at http://hopeforfilm.com Vachon http://www.killerfilms.com/ Weiler http://lanceweiler.com/ Chirls http://chirls.com/ Zenith zeniththefilm.com/ Radius http://www.radiustoothbrush.com/

- Zeke Zelker

Zeke Zelker, filmmaker/entrepreneur, has embarked on his latest transmedia project, Billboard an Uncommon Contest for Common People! a story that transcends various medias as it empowers various artists to be a part of the story telling experience.

PS. If you need a bigger fix, before the DIY DAYS NYC event, way back in 2008, Lance Weiler hosted a DIY DAYS DINNER. I was there and we had the camera running. Check it out here.

Free Money for Your Transmedia Projects!

Well... Tribeca is helping that heaven get a tad closer to your daily existence. The deadline to help shape it is coming up fast, so in case you missed it...

Tribeca has launched a new media fund and they want your input now on how to shape it, guide it, and make it work best for your needs. How sweet is that? As their site informs us:

We are really excited about this new fund at the Tribeca Film Institute. New technologies are allowing filmmakers to tell stories in new ways and to reach audiences in direct and dynamic ways. Submissions will open April 4, 2011 but before that we have decided to solicit feedback on how to shape our submission guidelines. Why?

Because we want to create an open dialog about what is possible in this new field. In this same spirit of collaboration, we will soon be launching an online resource for media producers and seasoned cross-platform practitioners to share best practices, case studies and discoveries in this field.

This Is Transmedia

I am producing Lance Weiler's HOPE IS MISSING (with Anne Carey). It's hard to call it just another feature film when Lance does so much more to expand the story world. In the past, I have encouraged filmmakers to make a short to demonstrate their skills or help clarify the world they want to create. Yes, Lance made a short for HopeIsMissing (aka H.i.M.), and you can watch it at the bottom of this post, but that's just a tip of the iceberg.

When I speak about it to studio execs, most still don't know what I mean when I say it is a transmedia project. Hopefully that will never be the case again once we make the feature. One would think that this would have already changed though by what has been done already.

Perhaps you were at Sundance and encountered the PANDEMIC. It was an installation at New Frontier. It was an online experience. It was location-based ARG. It was story R&D. Lance explains:

How I Learned to Start a Pandemic from Turnstyle Video on Vimeo.

We had Lance on KillerHope and he explains it a bit more:

The press sure picked up on it. I posted some of it here before. Here's Gizmodo.

Oh yes, and here's the short:

Ambition In The Best Sense (aka Lance Weiler)

I've had the pleasure of working with Lance Weiler for maybe two years now.  I love how he thinks.  I love how he takes that thought and transforms it into action.  Process is more key to what he does, than virtually anyone else I have worked with.  The journey is the destination.  He is willing to walk without knowing where it all might be going.  He is collaborative to the Nth the degree.  His vision for cinema truly knows no limits.

Wired Magazine singled him out this summer as one of the fathers of transmedia.  BusinessWeek credited him with changing cinema alongside Thomas Edison, The Warner Bros., and James Cameron.  Between his features, The Workbook Project, & DIY Days, the man is profoundly generative.

If you were in Sundance this past week (and even if you weren't), you probably witnessed how he infected Park City with a Pandemic.  Others certainly did.  Jamie Stuart shot this beautiful video for Filmmaker Magazine on Lance's Pandemic activities. FearNet has acquired his short which was screening at the fest. For those that like to hold their stories in their hand, you can follow it on Twitter here. AND  of course there is a website. Granted, I am producing the feature, but believe me when I tell you it is thrilling, horrifying, beautiful, and groundbreaking; it's a shame you have to wait until I raise the money to see it.

Christine Vachon and I also got to speak to Lance for KillerHope on Hulu.

Lance created this short as a style template for collaborators throughout the world to help capture the outbreak in their local territories.  Check it out and get filming!

Transmedia, Brand Sponsorship, & Crowdfunding: New Methods For A Long Gestating Project

Guest post by Zeke Zelker.

Ted: We are trying to find new ways these days.  New ways to tell our stories.  New ways to build community around our work.  New ways to bring audiences out to support our work.  And new ways to fund our work.  As we take these steps down these bumpy paths, it is our communication with one another that will bring forth the best practices.  Zeke had been speaking about some of these such steps that he was employing, and kindly has chosen to share them with all of us. Below Zeke outlines his new film, and then reveals what has made the process unique for him.

I’ve been working on this project for over ten years. Generally I let ideas percolate in my mind, on paper and screen before I set out to embark on bringing the movie to life, my ten year gestation period, is one hell of a pregnancy. I’ll pitch the project to various people within the industry, observe their reaction then go back to rewrite, rebuild, rethink. This project is different, sure we ALL say that, but this one is on two fronts, how we’re funding the project and how we’re telling the story.

Brief Synopsis: Why would four people give up everything to live in a tent, thirty feet in the air, on a catwalk, eight feet wide by forty-eight feet long? To win a mobile home and “ninety-sixty hundred” dollars? Desperation? Greed? Attention? Escape? No matter what their reasons, Clarence Lindeweiler is trying to capitalize on them to save his struggling alternative rock radio station WTYT 960.

At first a laughing stock of the community, Clarence’s hair brained scheme to drum up listeners garners national attention, pulling his radio station from the ratings basement to number two. As the contest wears on, the novelty wears off and ratings start to dip. Clarence takes the do-anything approach to right his sinking ship however his shenanigans backfire. The community and media turn on him, calls ring out to end the contest but success has gone to Clarence’s head. Who will become the lucky contestants? Who wins the grand prize? Tune into WTYT 960 to find out.

The story for Billboard, an Uncommon Contest for Common People! was inspired by true events from my childhood. I recall driving by a billboard, in the early eighties, on our way to the mall, where three men lived, to win a mobile home. Times were tough then; high unemployment, people couldn’t afford housing, high fuel prices, does this sound familiar? Seeing those men waving at us, as we drove by them, has stayed with me.

Within the framework of the project we’ll be exploring many things about the human condition using the platform of transmedia to help engage the audience and interact with them much like the real contest did close to thirty years ago. This is a challenging project and we need a lot of help in its creation.

Those three men became dependent upon the community and business owners to sustain them, much like how we are launching this project. We’re funding the project through crowd funding and offering the opportunity for companies to sponsor billboard space in the movie. The offering of branding space to help fund the film has always been a part of the project from day one, but it has now metamorphosed into being a part of the story. Can you help us? Will you become part of the story?

[http://www.vimeo.com/15513404]

We’ve made a 10% rule for ourselves, we want to raise 10% of the funds required to make the movie from friends and family and from the area where we plan on shooting the movie. This happens to be my hometown where we have already made a number of features, having had a significant impact to our local economy. Will my own community step up and support us or will this become a hurdle that we will have to overcome?

So far we have only raised $700 since our announcement two weeks ago, we have $29,300 to go. We have had some local press, pushed out emails to over 9,000 people, put it out via facebook, etc. which has resulted in over 130,000 impressions for the project thus far, which businesses could have already been capitalizing on, hmmm I guess we’ll have to take the wait and see approach on this.

We feel by having 10% of our budget in place, will also prove to those people who are on the fence of support, that the project has some legs and carry them over to the other side of support. We are offering some great perks: parties, merchandise, a shout out on the radio in the movie, a seven course meal cooked by me, small billboards that appear in the movie, on the website and possibly in the trailer and commercials, and the large billboard that is the backdrop for most of the movie and will appear in ALL key art promoting the film, posters, letterhead, DVD covers, website, anything and everything that you can think of. Oh and we have fiscal sponsorship through Fractured Atlas where donations and sponsorships are tax deductible. I feel this could be a deciding factor for some, that the close of the tax year is upon us.

Those people and companies who donate will have a leg up on others when we release information about the movie, after all we will have their direct contact information. There will be chances to win prizes, be in the film, play games, listen to a new virtual radio station and many, many other things that we’ll be announcing over the course of the two-year project.

I am not discouraged by our dismal performance thus far. I know it takes time for people to warm up to a new idea and I know once things start to unfold, people will become more inclined to help. I believe that. I also believe as we get the project out there, that companies will have that ah-ha! moment and understand what we’re doing, capitalizing on the idea of transmedia and seeing the plethora of branding opportunities to target to our 13 to 35 year old demographic.

I’m kind of glad that it took me ten years to finalize my plans for this project. Waiting so long enabled certain technologies to be developed and opportunities to present themselves. It gave me time to craft a better script and it to develop a very immersive story telling experience where we’re offering the community to get involved and many artists various opportunities to share their work all within the frame work of the Billboard story experience.

This is all very exciting to me, the convergence of story telling, brand involvement and technology to entertain people. After all, if we’re not creating something that is entertaining do we even have the right to be in this space/medium?

I believe that Billboard is not only an entertaining project but also an important one. Billboard examines the root of humanity, that piece in each one of us who struggles to get ahead, to get noticed or to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. It is the type of project where we look at ourselves and those around us, observing that at our core we need human beings to be human, to propel our existence. Sure these are some lofty ideas for a comedy but that’s what the project is truly about. We may even laugh at ourselves in the process.

Stay tuned… I’ll share what is working and what is not over the course of the project. I look forward to hearing people’s comments, helping me learn and understand the new story telling frontier. And yes, I would love your kind financial support, pledges can be made at http://www.indiegogo.com/billboardmovie

Life may just imitate art!

Zeke Zelker is a Lehigh Valley, PA native whose first exposure to the film industry was in John Waters’ film Hairspray, as a dancer in Corny Collins Council. A critically acclaimed, award winning filmmaker with a number of films to his credit: The 2005 Sundance Film Festival favorite Loggerheads, Affairs, Fading, A.K.A.-It’s A Wiley World!, Getting Off, Southern Belles, Just Like the Son, a documentary on the Dalai Lama, A University Prepares, and his most recent film InSearchOf, the sixth most viewed drama on Hulu all time. Zeke has been an early adaptor in using technology to make, promote and market his films.

Transmedia, me, and Braden King

I became interested in Transmedia as a way to deepen both the narrative experience and the relationship between the experience and the participant.  It frustrates me how feature films often feel disposable and not truly resonant for most viewers; I know we – as both creators and viewers -- don’t have to settle for this.  This situation is partially derived from both the creators’ and the industry’s reliance on a single product as representative of the movie experience; we don’t have much other than repackaging to show for our engagement, and that engagement is too often 100% passive. We have reductive in our expression of narrative.  I generally define the Six Pillars of Narrative as: Discovery, Process, Production, Participation, Promotion, & Presentation.  Creators limit themselves when they draw the line between art and commerce, thinking marketing techniques don’t warrant their creative hand.  We shouldn’t ignore aspects of narrative that deepen the dialogue with those who become the very community we want.

As a film producer, I have a specific (and rather limited) way of thinking about process. As much as I have tried to build serendipity, collaboration, and spontaneity into my productions, there is no denying that there is a much stronger emphasis on the manufacturing, on getting it done.  We have budgets and schedules and responsibilities; it’s hard sometimes to see the art in the process itself.  Luckily, there are individuals out there to help me keep my eyes open to all realities.

I encountered Braden King through his 1998 film DUTCH HARBOR.  I loved how firmly it positioned itself in the world of “Art” and dug how he didn’t allow it to be pigeonholed, touring it with The Boxhead Ensemble, re-creating a live event in the process.  I have been even more impressed by how his new excursions into transmedia have informed his process.  Braden brings us into a more intimate relationship with the subject of his film – all before showing us the finished work.  Industry-ites often remark that transmedia is the sole domain of genre work but Braden shows that is far from the case.

I was asked recently to help curate Transmedia Now! week on  the Media Commons / In Media Res website.  Braden immediately was the artist I reached out to.  Check it out as Braden explains how his exploration into extensions has informed the process and the process itself has changed as a result.

"Transmedia Now" Week On In Media Res

Today's guest post is from Elizabeth Strickler, informing us of what is going over at InMediaRes this week (and a wee bit of cross promotional activity). In Media Res is dedicated to experimenting with collaborative, multi-modal forms of online scholarship. Each weekday, a different participant curates a short (less than 3-minute) video clip accompanied by a 300-350-word impressionistic response. We use the title "curator" because, like a curator in a museum, the participant repurposes a media object that already exists and provides context through their commentary. Theme weeks are designed to generate a networked conversation between curators and the public around a particular topic.

For the week of July 26-30th, the theme is “Transmedia Now”. The curators are: Christy Dena, Marc Ruppel, Robert Pratten, Brian Newman, and Ted Hope.

They will be discussing what is happening right now in the much-debated term, Transmedia. The subjects covered range from Canadian superheroes to the links between storytelling and mapping. Stay tuned and jump in when it starts. If you don’t like what is happening in the independent entertainment industry, this will be your chance to speak up. (You do have to login to comment.)

Thanks again for your participation.

Elizabeth Strickler is the Associate Director of the Digital Arts Entertainment Lab at Georgia State University.

Towards A True Cross-Platform Future

Last fall at PowerToThePixel I had the good fortune to be invited to partake in a ThinkTank on transmedia.  They have recently published their report on the day and I encourage you to read it.  Special thanks for Michael Gubbins for pulling the report together and facilitating the session. Among the observations and recommendations:

• The business models of film and other creative industries are struggling because they are trying to dictate how customers use the media

• Creative industry needs to break free of restrictive single media practices with territorial rights and release windows

• Different media platforms are not always in competition and can cross-fertilise a brand and attract new audiences

• Value is moving away from product sales towards customer engagement with a brand

• Collaborating with audiences is not a restriction on the creative process but a means of informing and supporting it

• The ‘active’ or ‘empowered’ audience works at many levels, from crowd-sourced finance to recommending a work through social media

• Cross-media work, and audience and community relationships, can build true cultural diversity

• By working with audiences, film-makers and other content creators can gain greater control over, and draw greater value from, their work

• Cross-media work involves much greater participation in content creation which will attract new talent, promote the visual arts and potentially open up new creative forms

- Cross-media film-making is about renewing film-making not replacing existing media, such as cinema theatres

• Open standards and net neutrality are central to the development of these new forms

• Content creators are competing for audience time - not with each other in a tiny distribution channel – hence sharing ideas and tools is part of the culture

This paper should be mandatory reading for all storytellers.  It provides a great catch up as to where we are now (or were 6 months ago).

Topics are:

1. THE PANEL  2. THE CONTEXT  3. THE AGENDA (Cross media: evolution or revolution?  Where are audiences driving content?  What are the missing links?  Can we create a cross-media movement?)  4. THE LANGUAGE   5. FROM CONSUMERS TO COLLABORATOR  6. THE ENGAGED AUDIENCE  7. TURNING ENGAGEMENT INTO VALUE   8. EMPOWERING THE STORYTELLER  9. POWER AND RESPONSIBILITY  10. STORYTELLING AND CROSS-MEDIA VALUE  11.CROWDSOURCING AND CREATIVE COMMONS  12.VALUE THROUGH INTERACTION  13.CROSS-MEDIA VALUE  14.LOOKING FORWARD

PGA Approves Transmedia Producer Credit

This is PGA's wording for providing the credit: 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.

How We Solve Problems Today (and a whole lot more...)

Bruce Sterling has a great post in Wired on "Atemporality for the Creative Artist".It speaks accurately of the present, and offers a great prescriptive for what comes next.  What's "Atemporality"?  Look at how problems are dealt with these days.  I know I come fairly close to what Sterling lays out here, and it goes a long way to answering that first question:

‘Step one - write problem in a search engine, see if somebody else has solved it already.

Step two - write problem in my blog; study the commentory cross-linked to other guys.

Step three - write my problem in Twitter in a hundred and forty characters. See if I can get it that small. See if it gets retweeted.

Step four - open source the problem; supply some instructables to get me as far as I’ve been able to get, see if the community takes it any further.

Step five - start a Ning social network about my problem, name the network after my problem, see if anybody accumulates around my problem.

Step six - make a video of my problem. Youtube my video, see if it spreads virally, see if any media convergence accumulates around my problem.

Step seven - create a design fiction that pretends that my problem has already been solved. Create some gadget or application or product that has some relevance to my problem and see if anybody builds it.

Step eight - exacerbate or intensify my problem with a work of interventionist tactical media. And step nine - find some kind of pretty illustrations from the Flickr ‘Looking into the Past’ photo pool.’

Among many other treats, the piece also goes on to explain how today's existence leads narrative to a non-linear, transmedia approach.  Let's face it, our brains have been rewired.

In trying to help find a solution to the indie film problems, I think it is crucial to deal with the real now; Sterling's article describes it well for me.  Many that I speak to, yearn to return things to the old; that's nostolgia and melancholy.  The genie is out of the bottle.  Our world has changed.

Sterling takes it to where it really is: we have a new historical situation ("we have atemporal organized representations of verbal structures").  He also offers up how to approach it, and have fun too.  He offers clear cut recommendations on approaching creative endeavors ("No longer allow yourself to be hypnotized by the sense of technical novelty. Just refuse to go there. Accept that it is already passe’, and create it from that point of view. Try to make it news that stays news.").  It's a great rewarding read.  And it's short too.  So take the 4 minutes.  Don't delay.  Bring us (and yourself) into the now.

Read the whole article, and let's talk. Or blog. Or text. Or tweet.