Sunday, 19 February 2012

Transmedia Storytelling – some thoughts

Transmedia storytelling is a  term  now in common use to describe the combination of media forms which create and enrich a narrative thread across a range of media. It is in common commercial use to create a fan base prepared to buy merchandise relating to a large scale media production - often films. The narrative thread is expanded by offering backstories and games etc. which feed the hunger fans have for the original text. For example: below is a sound file generated by the Parseltongue Translator (don’t ask) on the site for the yet-to-be-released final Harry Potter film.

(In  English “Hi, this is a transmedia message”)

Seeking to find an equivalent experience from my youth (now rather a long time ago), I remember vividly the enthusiasm with which I studied the maps and appendices for “The Lord of the Rings” which both whetted and fed the appetite to be part of the story. 
On my About page I explain  how, whilst freelancing,the title of this blog came to me:
“It soon became clear to me, that film was more than just a desirable extra, but was in fact a powerful means of integrating knowledge and skills across the whole National Curriculum as well as being a tool for supporting individualised learning and collaboration.”
Since I stopped freelancing I have been hard at work back at the chalkface (IWBface these days) and witnessed over and over again  how passionate learners can be about communicating their ideas in a range of ways beyond written text – through: pictures, graphics, cartoons, animation, video, games creation etc. I have been re-minded too on occasion how powerful the human thirst is for narrative in some of those “pin-drop” moments that can come while you are telling a story
Next year I shall be teaching creative media at Newmarket College and one of my briefs is to engage teaching staff in the process. Now this is a deal tougher in a tightly timetabled high school than in primary schools, even with cross-curricular days or units within which to work. It is no surprise to me that some of our most innovative teaching happens in  primary schools.  A primary teacher can pursue their enthusiasms across the week and the curriculum in ways that it is really difficult to replicate in secondary education. 
Reading posts about transmedia for my! site it began to dawn on me that not only is  transmedia storytelling one of the most striking features of internet communication but that it would be possible to integrate all these media forms with the available tools we have been using in a semi-isolated way already.  Furthermore I realised that with careful planning it would be also be possible for the separate media components to be created in different departments, with narrative - Hardy’s “primary act of mind” – as the integrating factor.
Now there’s loads more stuff spinning round my head about all this but expect further explorations in later posts.
Meanwhile, watch Henry Jenkins (Mr. Participatory Culture) in this rather slick medium-is-the-massage video…