Posted on February 23, 2016
It’s all about telling the story
What is transmedia exactly? It’s considered to be the technique of telling a story, or a story experience, over several platforms and formats using current digital technologies. It’s not the same story told on the different platforms – that would be a mistake. People don’t want repetition; they want an enriching, satisfying, tapestry of experiences. To know what happens before, after, and from a secondary character’s perspective. Exclusive content. The ability to say, “Yes, I know what happens in the TV show, but do you know the whole story?”
A story is inspired by one particular platform – the locomotive that drives all the side-stories forward. Generally, this is a television show, a movie, or even a book, graphic novel or video-game. Additional platforms enhance the original story. Each piece can be appreciated independently of the rest, but all together, they add up to more than the sum of their parts.
Should every TV show be a transmedia experience?
Some stories cry out for transmedia treatment. They have such potential to be explored in numerous ways that they can hardly be contained to a single platform. The Quebec cop series 19-2 is one such example, in which LVL was pleased to play a pivotal role.
For the first season of 19-2, LVL produced three components: web-based interactive games, online graphic novels and an augmented reality app. Each platform told a different story, from a different perspective, all set in the same world as the popular TV show, which attracted 1.3 viewers per week. In the second season, we followed up with a special graphic-novel styled web episode to the outstanding and critically acclaimed first episode of the season that focused on a school shooting. We imagined the lives of the characters before and after the shooting and involved Facebook fans in the process by having them vote on certain aspects of the story.
But other stories are not cut out for transmedia solutions and should not be made to fit in a mould that does not suit them. Nadine Dufour, Director of digital media and Producer at Productions Pixcom, notes that the first question to ask when deciding if a show merits transmedia treatment is whether or not the author or creator of the content is actually interested. She points out that transmedia involves relinquishing control of the work to a certain extent and delivering it into the hands of the public. Not all creators are comfortable with that. It requires an investment in time and resources. So it’s not for everyone. However, Nadine specifies, for those who are willing to take the leap, transmedia turns spectators into fans and ambassadors. It can ensure the longevity of a show or brand more than any promotion ever could.
How to be successful in transmedia in 5 steps
1) Plan ahead.
Alexandre Gravel, Producer and Associate at Toast Studio, recommends that transmedia be planned in advance, to ensure a synchronized roll-out of content. It’s not to say that transmedia cannot be successfully accomplished after the launch of the driving content, but it’s much easier to have the big picture if it’s planned in advance.
2) Reach your target audience where they are, not where you’d like them to be.
Nadine Dufour and Alexandre Gravel agree, you need to know your audience and reach out to them in the places where they spend their time.
3) Be nimble and reactive.
Yesterday, your target audience was on Facebook but today they’ve gravitated towards Instagram? Adjust accordingly to reach them on Instagram, even if it means changing your plan at the last minute.
4) Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Transmedia can be an excellent opportunity to reach a wider audience than you might have had you focused on only a single platform. By diversifying strategically, you’ll build a wider fan base.
5) You’ll learn on the job.
There is no magic formula. As Caroline Gaudette, producer and President of Productions Version 10, says, you’ll only know at the end of the day if what you tried was a success. But if your team is open to transmedia, and you build a coherent experience, respecting the nature of each project, your success could just be greater than you’d ever hoped.
When asked whether transmedia was the way of the future, Nadine Dufour of Pixcom closed the discussion by reminding us that millennials’ lives ARE transmedia experiences. With their whole lives being told as one long story across several platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Pinterest, and so, so much more – how could they not expect the same in the content they consume?
Transmedia may not be right for every project, but it is here to stay.