Storyworld Conference Day Three

by April Arrglington on December 16th, 2011

You all have to excuse me for delaying this post. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I got sick. Why am I surprised? I always get sick this time of year. Regardless, I have prevailed. I have also noticed that I forgot to include the Lance Weiler presentation from Day One. So, I'm including it here. Enjoy.

From Day 1: Lance Weiler – Disrupt: Stories as R&D
Lance opened by going through the Pandemic case study. He explained how greatly he benefited by having gone through several different renditions of the experience. In each one the universe expanded through the use of innovative technology and smart product design. However, the true lesson he learned from this process was in audience engagement.

Lance found that when building experiences across multiple platforms one must take into consideration that the story must be build in a way that is spread out like a bullet hole glass. The ever growing expanding cracks acting as a metaphor for the audience, waiting to break the glass and blast the story to the mainstream.

After experimenting heavily with geo location, Lance realized that it is important to acquire all data voluntarily and with proper permission for true quality engagement. In this matter, all information collected through GPS, app downloads, and social media had a better prospect for personalize content, which in turn equated to stronger audience engagement.

Lance was also happy to discover that the pyramid of audience engagement is already shifting, and that the open source movement is finally getting the recognition that truly deserves. New audiences are becoming less and less afraid of immersion play and discovery. By the same token, testing extreme users has become very valuable for R&D, so never neglect any part of your public.

For video of the full talk click here.
For more on R&D and creative Transmedia financing click here.

Day 3, Panel 1: Story Architecture - Crafting Transmedia Design
The 4 Principles for Crafting Transmedia Design:

  • Non-linear spatial storytelling: where all media from all points of entry is as equally important as the driving platform. There needs to be a cohesive purpose between all elements, a shared structure, and connectivity when it comes to the craft.
  • Breaking the 4th wall: explore opportunities for audiences that go beyond points and badges when it comes to rewards. Pull audiences in an immersive fashion that ties to smart experience design. Augmented Reality is clearly at the forefront.
  • Needs to be social: audience relationship needs to be sustainable. Think beyond social media marketing and more in terms of collaborative and participatory opportunities for the consumer.
  • Participatory and/or User Generated Content: audiences are moving beyond sharing content socially, they are showing interest in game play and participating in rich storyworld experiences.

Things to remember when it comes to Spatial Design:

  • Non-linear narratives open new narratives spaces, where fans move between multiple platforms.
  • There are multiple points of entry into the story universe, and characters and story arcs extend in time and platforms.
  • Innovative interface design is essential for a better user experience. But take into consideration the technological comfort zone of audiences, and the possibility of platforms going obsolete.
  • Fans are also directly affected by interactivity. Integrated design allows for value co-creation and story remixes. By the same token understand that linear content is the main asset for passive audiences.

On Story Architecture - Differentiating between Story and Experience:

Because story is linear in nature, it’s deficient in its ability to integrate a more open design. In order for Transmedia Storytelling to work we need to take the story and see it as an experience that can only exists if accessing content in more that one platform. By integrating game design in the architecture, then the quality of the experience translates to value. The key is to define the nature of the experience. Is it one of thrill, competition? Once all these factors come together the story is posed to equate the experience.

The 5 E’s of Experience Design and lessons for optimal interactivity:

  • Entice: Action or design cue that invites attention. Be mindful that when you invite people to do something they become your medium. To take advantage of this, take time to understand their motivations.
  • Enter: Guide audience on what to do next, and develop indicators of the outcome. Leverage familiar story arcs, genres and familiar characters.
  • Engage: Is where the doing ties in with the engagement in the play space. Where cues are released about different elements having further interaction elsewhere.
  • E-motion: Delay the exit of an experience by focusing on emotion, a new enticement to follow up on. And remember, giving closure to a storyline is different from ending the experience all together.
  • Extend: Stories have been tools to communicate information, experience, knowledge and emotion. Extend the experience elsewhere, and allow for sharing through community.

For the slideshare presentation of this panel click here.
For the Transmedia Ready card game on best practices develop by Karine click here.

Day 3, Panel2: Character Centric Storytelling
The Betty Drapper Case Study

Helen Klein Ross gained a fascinating notoriety on Twitter when she decided to start tweeting on her own as the Betty Drapper character from the Mad Men TV series. Her tweets were so attuned to the original character that many people thought that she was a writer for the show.

Helen explains that the reason that @bettydrapper became so successful is because Mad Men is a period piece show in which there is less expository dialogue. The property itself lives in the holes of the drama and what is not being said in the show. Thus voiceover tweets from a character like Betty not only become appropriate, but quite fitting.

In addition, the Mad Men storyworld is full of visual details set in the world of advertising. This leaves a lot of room for improvisation. Which then brings up the question, are actors suitable to tweet as characters, instead of writers? Helen explains that neither are fitting. Writers lack the sense of improvisation actors have. And actors, while knowledgeable on background and motivation, lack storytelling skills.

Helen proposes a solution to this dilemma by introducing the new title of ‘Social Writer’ into the writer’s room. Someone knowledgeable in regards to story, and character motivation and behavior. In addition, the Social Writer should we well-informed on the nuances of social platforms, and have a sense of how a character would behave in different scenarios, different platforms, and different forms of live events. In short, someone who can not only navigate but write for the social sphere.

Lessons learned from the Betty Drapper case study:

  • When developing a property make sure to get Twitter handles ahead of time.
  • Utilize supporting platforms for supporting characters and spinoffs. Leave the driving platform for the main character.
  • Play in the negative space of a plot and don’t interrupt the continuity of the plot of the main show. Supporting platforms should be extensions of the storyworld, otherwise consistency will falter and it all will get confusing really quick.
  • When playing with extensions look into untold opportunities at different points in the timeline of the story. It helps giving further dimension.

Lessons on crafting characters:

  • Don’t worry about platforms or formats when you are creating a character. Just approach the story and then pull scenes from it that would speak to what you are trying to do.
  • When it comes to developing non-linear content think in a broader scale: about themes, character motivations, values, short comings, strong opinions, etc. Test and experiment on interesting avenues.
  • On story bibles: they are helpful when you already have funding and a business plan in place. But if you are at a place where you are just pitching a project, then it is probably counterproductive to build something that big. Just build the universe as you go, you don’t need to have all the extensions in place from the get go. Move forward towards production in smaller scale, and keep build from there.

Day 3, Panel 3: Narrative Design Discussion
The Basics:

  • Be consistent about characters and their story when you move them across multiple platforms.
  • Create the frame work of a superstory that allows for spinoffs of transmedia franchises. Take cues from epic narratives.
  • Anthology projects don’t work, having an over-arching narrative is important.
  • Keep the pattern, rhythms and cadences of the narrative within the meta-timeline of the story.
  • Create a ‘negative capability’ for the tech and creative team to fill the negative spaces of the narrative with sharp extensions of the story.
  • Create unique aesthetics and user experience.
  • Last but not least: know how to articulate ideas clearly.

Other aspects:

  • On Identity Design: find visual elements that allow for the story extensions to bring an added value to the narrative. Compose the experience design thematically.
  • On Architecture Design: architecture design is different than storytelling, and there are many ways to go about it and many interpretations of how to structure a narrative design. The thing to remember is that the super-structure and infrastructure of the experience need to organically flow with the story, like a symphony.
  • On Product Licensing: be surreptitious about narrative design to be potentially inclusive of licensing products. The first approach might be hard, so partnerships are recommended. Most importantly, be assertive about the relationship connectivity between the narrative and proposed licensed products.

Recommended read for this panel: The Visual Story by Bruce Block.

Posted in not categorized    Tagged with #swc11, Lance Weiler, Pandemic, Scott Walker, Siobhan O'Flynn, CFC Media Lab, Karine Halpern, Transmedia Ready, Alison Norrington, Miles Maker, Helen Klein Ross, storycentralDIGITAL, Brain Candy Llc, Brand Fiction Factory, Nuno Bernardo, Mad Men, Christy Dena, Universe Creation 101, Geoffrey Long, Microsoft Studios, Jeff Gomez, Starlight Runner Entertainment, Stephen Dinehart, Narrware, Bruce Block


KH - December 16th, 2011 at 6:15 PM
April, you did such a good job and it is so useful for a lot of people in the community, thank you very much. I will share for students and I know there are a lot of people around the world who want to know what we are doing and what happened in 2011 needs to continue in 2012. I hope we can help each other #LearnFromEachOther #NetworkOfNetworks #21century #Transmedia #ChangeMakers
April Arrglington - December 16th, 2011 at 7:55 PM
Absolutly Karine! And thanks so much for reading! :)

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