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What is transmedia?

Transmedia consists in content that flows accross different platforms
Transmedia is a– it’s a way of describing a number of transformations that I think have come around, particularly in the last two decades, although I think we can certainly trace what we mean by transmedia much earlier. So scholars such as Marsha Kinder, Henry Jenkins, Carlos Scolari, were really interested in thinking about how can we make sense of the fact that we are living in a more digital, more connected, more immersive media landscape. And particularly, with different media industries and sectors working more closely together, with audiences more naturally flowing across different types of media platforms, transmedia really became a way of labelling a lot of those– a lot of those transformations.
So definitions started to be talked about as a way of thinking about content that moves across different platforms, or flows across different platforms in a way that invites audiences to flow along with it. A lot of the conversation has focused on storytelling. So thinking about entertainment or fiction as something that– as moves, and expands, and elaborates, across films, to television, to games, to web, to social, and so on. For a number of years– so that was around 2003, 2006. I think more recently the field has moved on actually, from thinking particularly around entertainment, and started to think about other ways that transmedia as a term starts to become useful.
So I’m thinking here of things like transmedia journalism, or transmedia branding, or transmedia marketing. There’s even been shifts towards things like transmedia heritage, or transmedia activism, for example. And I think a lot of that conversation’s been very productive in thinking about actually what– what can interconnected media platforms do to a variety of different aims, and ambitions, and researches, and projects? And a lot of those ambitions have been very, very different.
But I think fundamentally, the idea of extending content, or communication, or messages across platforms in a strategic way, but also a creative way, an integrated way, has, for me, actually been very, very consistent across all of those fields, whether it’s journalism, or entertainment, whether it’s Star Wars, or whether it’s heritage. And really, that’s been about the idea of bringing different people together in a common core. So different audiences, different producers, different artists, all kind of being immersed together through a variety of different platforms, and being engaged in a really integrated and creative way across a range of different platforms. Some of those instances have been incredibly commercial.
So I think there’s an entire marketing industry that would say transmedia is a way of promotion. It’s a way of making money. It’s a way of attracting different audiences across a range of different platforms, to more easily market something, a product, for example. But I think equally on a cultural scale, the same idea persists. The idea of actually you can reach more and more people. You can engage more and more people for whatever that objective might be.
And most recently, myself and a scholar called Renira Rampazzo Gambarato have– have really tried to sort of make sense of this very broad, and I think quite productive, a very diverse transmedia landscape by looking across whether it’s marketing, or heritage, or journalism, or film, to try and really make sense in a very simple sense, actually what transmedia means in terms of– in terms of a new definition. And I think what we came to was the idea of transmedia really being about experiences. So thinking about the idea of actually a message, a product, an entertainment can somehow become more than the sum of its parts.
It can take the best of film, and the best of games, and the best of web, and the best of analogue, and bring them all together in a way that creates an experience for the audience by immersing audiences around all of these platforms. So this idea of an experience via technology that kind of operates between, or across, or in the middle of a range of different media platforms.
That through making the best of all of these platforms, not only engages more people and is an immersive and investive to more and more people, can actually become more than the sum of its parts, whether that aim is, as I said, for entertainment, whether it’s to tell a story, whether it’s to promote, whether it’s the brand, or whether it’s something more cultural, such as– such as an art-based project. This idea, multiple platforms working together, gathering more people to become more than the sum of its parts, I think is a very useful and productive starting point.

Watch this video, where Matthew Freeman, from the University of Bath Spa, answers the question: “What is transmedia?”

Share your opinion!

Matthew freeman explains that the mobilisation of transmedia, which consists in content that flows accross different platforms, inviting different audiences to flow with it, has been initially viewed as a key opportunity in the entertainment industry to increase profits. Do you think that the mobilisation of different media is mainly an economic instrument, for marketing and to diversify profit-generating channels? Do you think there is more to it?

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Culture in the Digital Age

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