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THE FEATURES OF TRANSMEDIA STORYTELLING
The features of transmedia storytelling.
Let me summarize the characteristics of transmedia storytelling. The first is a concept we call multi-platforming. This means that a story created in one media can eventually be developed across multiple platforms, one of Henry Jenkins’ key propositions regarding transmedia storytelling. Multi-platforming leads to the development of individual story suited for each platform. A contrast to transmedia content is cross-media content of an elementary form, which occurs when a pre-existing story is simply transferred over to another medium. In other words, it’s when a story goes is presented in a literary form and that same story is adapted to a film form. This kind of crossing has a long history.
A comedy genre, for example, could be altered and become opera, or a novel might become a film or a TV series. This is where transmedia first began. As this process moved forward, the storytelling aspect of the original content was preserved as much as possible, similar to that of the OSMU model. In the early stages the phrase “cross-media content” was used to describe this. This is not largely different from transmedia content, but the biggest difference would be how much of the original story is preserved. Cross-media storytelling is about preserving the original story when transferring it to another medium, while transmedia storytelling is based on multi-platforming from the start.
In one core story, both a character and a world-view exist, but the story was designed from the beginning to be developed into something independent and to be specialized for an independent platform. The second trait of transmedia storytelling is the complexity of the narrative world. Narratives are developed in each platform separately; stories of equal significance are developed simultaneously. This process creates a worldview, influencing all the stories that happen in that world. The individual stories in question are created through different platforms, producing a giant worldview, leading to a narrative that can sometimes be dramatized, or made into a parody. The subplots themselves can expand and become the main plot, all happening simultaneously in the narrative world.
The third is the experience where active consumer engagement takes place. In the past, the notion of “make” would be categorized alongside creation, completion, consumption, and appreciation, but now transmedia storytelling is about completing work and then moving on to the stage of experience, breaking away from a set boundary. The right way to explain this would be that transmedia media content is delivered, and then it is experienced through audience participation and interaction, leading to completion. Transmedia content are not delivered in a complete form, but in a form that leads to completion. When consuming transmedia contents, consumers interpret and add to them through an interaction to contribute to the completion of the content.
They even have an impact, which means consumers also play the role of creator. This is what sets transmedia storytelling apart. Last but not least, is creating a commercial fandom. We have seen in the past that characters from a single narrative or a certain incident or setting will sometimes become commercial, giving birth to celebrities and fandom. This process is seen more often in characters. When a character becomes a commercial and essential part of a narrative, they are often able to remain hugely popular even when the content changes. That actor has an impact on the content that follows, which was the focus of fandom culture in the past. But the notion of commercial fandom is quite different in the present?
The story or the storytelling itself takes up an essential part of fandom. Fandom is created based on the story, the community, and the worldview within that world, assembled when people bond with these concepts and then expand and develop them further. The characters come next, and it can then focus on a celebrity, a story or the setting. This leads to the simultaneous creation of various brands, meaning that what certain content produced using transmedia storytelling inspires fandom, the result becomes more commercially powerful than any other content. This is the primary reason for growing interest in transmedia storytelling. The difference of the creator is that the story is told from the narrative world or their experience.
In terms of marketing and business, the traits associated with transmedia storytelling are attractive for their potential for eventual commercialization and fandom creation. Infinite products can be derive from transmedia content, and instead of ending as a short-term trend it can expand on its own as part of the larger transmedia brand. In the previous lecture we talked about building a worldview and creating a core story from there; which are two incredibly important aspects of transmedia storytelling. Mark Wolf, who came up with the notion of “world building,” proposes that to systemize space, time, the backbone of an incident, and character, which all play an important role, it is worthwhile to make a map.
What he means by this is imagining the land like one would on a map. Another proposal is to create a historical timeline. What happened in the past and what will happen in the future are drawn in a timeline. He also suggests establishing a genealogy for each character, much like one might make a family tree. Knowing how the characters are related can help us achieve diversity when the tree branches slowly spread out or the leaves, flowers, and fruits come to life. This understanding can also aid in creating a setting for these components to move as a unified worldview and a unified family tree.
The details of the story play out in a comprehensive narrative universe spanning multiple platforms, multiple human relationships, and its own organic timeline. In short, transmedia storytelling encompasses a single story spread across a very free and flexible array of mediums transmedia storytelling. Each platform creates another setting in which the individual story unravels. Let’s say the character builds a relationship based on the family tree. The personalities of the individual characters are presented slightly differently from how they were imagined in the analog period. We wonder what the most important aspect of a character is? their looks, their personality, or their goals in life. In the past, their personality and life goals were the biggest priority.
In the era of script storytelling, how the character behaved in order to achieve their goal was of the utmost importance. Next came what kind of person he or she was, exemplified in Hamlet’s in-deci-siveness and the now famous line? “To be, or not to be?” Compare this character to ones you encounter in games you play. What do you see? Characters in digital contents hardly touch upon psychology. Avatars in computer games do not talk about what’s going on in each other’s minds; they don’t talk about how they feel today. Instead, appearance became heavily important, as did their performance. Their qualifications, level of performance, how these abilities are used to achieve their goals these are what became important.
This is what is required of characters in transmedia storytelling. It may sound like a whole new concept, but it is related to what was mentioned briefly in our class
on the history of media: Media are what define them. In the era of images, appearance mattered most, so an iconized character was crucial, but in the era of script, the art of written expression was valued more. For example, a French realist novel would devote 16 pages just to the description of a room, as seen in the work of authors such as Balzac. That was the power of expression given by the era of script. Now, such details could be replaced with a single photograph? wallpaper, a window, what’s behind the window, a fireplace, a woman sitting with a specific facial expression and outfit. All of these can be described in a single snapshot, through film language.
To express this degree of accuracy in words, however, requires 16 pages of text. This is one of the reasons for abandoning a large portion of external description and putting a greater emphasis on the psychological part. But a new concept became available that could not have existed in the era of the image, thus allowing them to focus more on the mental description. Such internal description? namely, the character’s personality and their rationale for doing something? became critical in building a character. With the return of photography, the film and digital era was ushered in, and the language of the image era regained authority. This allowed descriptions to shift from a character’s internal traits to their appearances and psychological state expressed through external behaviors.
Avatars in games are not typically identified by how they feel, but they are evaluated based on their qualifications, performance, and behavior. As such, the key characters in transmedia content are known to reveal their personalities through action. When understanding a character’s personality, 50 percent of our perception relies on their more visual features, while the other half on his or her actions, qualifications, and performance. This shows that the portion based on his or her personal description is diminishing, being replaced by his or her actions and appearance, suggesting the reason why the key characters in transmedia content are profoundly related to the plot.
Since the old times, one strategy used to track a character’s personality was to use every moment in accordance with the timeline. In a way, it seems quite simple. This simplicity helps consumers, who are creators at the same time, to identify with the character more easily. For this reason, a lot of people successfully identify themselves with avatars in games. In a similar way, even though the character is not an independent entity with complex psychological description, users can identify with them as they do their own avatars. It’s like hanging a uniform on a hanger today and putting it on again tomorrow. Consumers who are also creators enter and exit the character.
This is a characteristic of the modern transmedia content and their characters.
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In this video I talk about the features of transmedia storytelling: multi-platforming, complexity of narrative, participation of consumers and commercial fandom.
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