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Lessons on Producing a Transmedia Experience

Posted By StartupWeekend Transmedia Blog, Friday, January 4, 2013

Transmedia is fundamentally about leveraging multiple platforms and mediums to tell a story or build an interactive experience. In most cases, projects require the collaboration of people with very different skill sets and specific expertise. Sometimes, those people also don’t come from the same background and are not necessarily used to collaborating with each other. As a result, the producer of such projects is left with the task of having to orchestrate very complex projects and hybrid teams – more than any other kind of media project. This is why in 2010, the Producer’s Guild of America decided to add: "Transmedia Producer.” to the Guild’s producers code of credits. This decision had a major impact in that it heavily contributed to the establishment of the term as an industry standard. More and more companies are now laying claim to expertise in producing transmedia content.

On Tuesday November 27th, TransmediaSF held a meetup at WESTERNIZED dedicated to the role of the transmedia producer. Four producers where invited to share best practices and build a "Transmedia Producer’s Guide” moderated by Maya Zuckerman, TransmediaSF co-founder. The PGA Northwest was very proud to co-host the all female panel featuring three PGA Northwest members: Esther Lim, Susan Bell, and Lin Tam. It is not an easy thing to describe a role that is constantly remodeled and challenged by new technologies, practices and tools. One of the night’s hot topics was building multi-disciplinary teams.

Multiple platforms need multiple experts in the making. "You’re not building a story. You’re building a universe” says Susan Bell to describe the numerous branches and interactions that need to be put together when producing a transmedia experience. Transmedia producers are responsible for building the team that will create the magic, mixing complementary skills and finding the right balance between extraordinary creativity (storytellers, game designers, story architects) and top notch execution (developers, community managers, planners, filmmakers, copywriters, etc.). How do you get them to work together and understand each other? How do you transfer the vision when the project goes from hands to hands? Good luck with that.

Esther Lim discussed the importance of educating the client. Over the past few years, transmedia storytelling has become a hot buzzword – "the next big thing” or "the last big thing” depending on whom you ask. A lot of brands get excited by the opportunity to deliver the brand image in a newer fashion, providing entertainment on multiple platforms and reaching their audience in an authentic, yet sticky way. But they also easily get lost in the intricacy of transmedia and its lack of tangibility. One of the main missions of a transmedia producer is therefore to educate its clients: helping them identify the business objectives, to know their audience, to measure the risk, to prepare for uncertainty and to understand new interactions with the brand. "Don’t underestimate the time you spend convincing, explaining and re-assuring your client. It’s huge."

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