Capilano University in Vancouver, B.C. has opened up a new $31-million Nat and Flora Bosa Centre for Film and Animation. The facility is 69,000-square-foot facility and comes with $7 million in new equipment. The new facility is designed to align with the university’s new degree program in motion picture production, as well a new two-year visual effects program and the existing animation program.
The new curriculum is going to include marketing and transmedia. Bosa Centre instructor and filmmaker David Hauka said for members of the “transmedia generation,” keeping ahead of the curve in a changing industry means acquiring a variety of skills beyond making movies.
It looks like Kairos Transmedia and its partner Spillwall, have inked a new deal with Film Alberta Studio in Edmonton, Alberta. The new partnership will create content aimed at the youth market and combine traditional production with evolving social media technologies. The deal is probably a sign of how most production companies are going to need to evolve and grow. The partnership combines content production, marketing and distribution in a single company. It is a great idea as a lot of the independent producers I work with on the film side do the content production side very well but haven’t got a clue about the marketing and distribution. It ends with a lot of great content sitting around, looking for a home. The government funding structure for a lot of creative content just perpetuates the model so that trend is likely to continue. The Kairos/ Spillwall deal is an intelligent solution to the problem, it remains to be seen if it is the right solution but it is definitely one to watch. Check out the news release.
A nice summary of transmedia as a strategy for getting narrative noticed by consumers that was done by BBC’s program “Click”. It looks at how digital has opened up a whole new audience for a lot of creative industries. It also addresses the challenges. A lot of creators need to know their storyworld in far more detail than ever before and be able to pick the right media channel to broadcast stories and characters to a potential audience. Click here.
The upcoming film, Chronicle, hired thinkmodo to come up with a viral video campaign that would capture some of the public’s attention. Thinkmodo has made a business out of creating viral videos, one of their most recent successes was iPad Head Girl, which got over a million hits on YouTube. This time, thinkmodo took one of the elements from the film, the main characters gain the ability to fly, and turned it into something real that people could actually witness. The video “Flying People in New York” is going to get a reaction, not only from the video but the people who witnessed the event and might share and upload their own version of the experience.
The video is also paired with a film hub based in Facebook that allows the various photos and videos to be brought together in a social space. Although the Facebook page provides a number of obvious clues about the nature of the film, the viral video on YouTube doesn’t provide a lot of context about why the Flying Peope event happened.
I went through the comments and there were a number of people commenting about how much they liked the video but they didn’t know what “Chronicle” was actually about. The same problem is going to be faced anybody who decided to take videos or photos of the event themselves and share it with their own network. There are going to be a lot of people who would have enjoyed the experience without ever knowing that it was tied to a creative property. It is a great example of one of the challenges faced by transmedia design. When you are creating an experience you don’t necessarily want to have to explain it. A lot of ARGs (Alternate Reality Games) use rabbit holes that come with very little explanation, they are designed to spark your curiousity and it is up to you to follow it down the hole.
Flying people over New York has definitely sparked a lot of curiousity but it is obvious that a lot of people don’t know how to take that curiousity down into the rabbit hole that will lead them to a more complete story (preferably to the point where they buy a ticket and see the film). Marketing companies are going to continue to face this challenge when they are trying to engage an audience with transmedia, they want to create an experience that weaves into the narrative of everyone experiencing that event. They also want that person to take the next step and get involved with the creative property that marketing company has been paid to promote. A lot of people don’t have the literacy needed to “read” a transmedia experience and know that there is something more to follow afterwards.
It means we’re in a really interesting place where there is a lot of tension between blantant advertising and what I would call a piece of art. Advertising is trying to persuade you to make a purchase decision. Art is something different, in this case it seems to be about creating a shared experience with an individual. Although I recognize that the execution of that experience was original and innovative, I think the next step is lowering the barrier to the next obvious question being posed by people “But what does it mean?”. I doubt there is an easy answer for that, the last thing I would have wanted to see was a flying person trailing a banner with a QRcode, it would have ruined the entire experience. The great thing about this space is that the solution to the problem is going to be pretty creative as well.
The Ontario government has a Entertainment and Creative Cluster funding program that is now supporting transmedia development. There are a number of areas that are being supported, including 3D film, media portal and Transmedia.
Ryerson University is developing a Transmedia Production Acceleration Program that will help develop the digital media skills necessary to produce Transmedia in the province. Probably not a bad idea if they want Toronto to stay relevant in the evolving creative media space.
You can read more in the press release.
The Transmedia Debate
One of the things that struck me from a recent trip to L.A. was the dominance of marketing conversations when discussing social media. As we have seen in the past year in many Arab countries, social media can be a core element in massive social upheaval. It is a powerful tool that can be used for many purposes, not just selling products. The same argument is ongoing in Transmedia. Many people are just coming to consider Transmedia as another marketing tool but there are counter arguments that this narrow view is limiting and there are many different ways to consider the design and implementation of Transmedia creative properties. Andrea Phillips has one of those wider perspectives:
Late last week, I was involved in a Twitter conversation in which a gentleman dismissed the “transmedia bandwagon” as having been invented by marketers.
The Lean Finance Model Of Venture Capital | TechCrunch.
via The Lean Finance Model Of Venture Capital | TechCrunch.
I was watching an interview on “The Lean Finance Model” and tech start-ups. It is an idea that “We are in the era of cheap” and that financing needs to create low-cost approaches to getting tech start-ups off the ground. This means there need to be a low-level of initial financing, until the company validates itself in the market. This initial investment would be low, around $800k-$1M. Once the company proves that there is a demand for its product there is usually a large dump of money that follows in what is called a Series A/ B round of financing. Basically the idea is that you start to shovel money into the company in the hopes that you can grow it quickly. Usually this next round of financing is around $10-12M.
The lean approach is different. It has a second round of financing that is much smaller, perhaps as little as $2M. The company has proven itself after its first round of financing but it still needs to show it can continue to provide value. If the company continues to show traction it will have proven itself and can get ready for a large influx of capital. This is the big burst of funding that is often in the $20-25M range.
Transmedia could easily adopt the same model. If a creative property looks promising a small amount of seed capital could be introduced to build a transmedia experience that exposes the creative property to a larger audience. The goal of this seed round would be proving the property has affinity with an audience and has the potential grow into a larger property such as a television series or film. At this point some more money can be brought into the project to expand the transmedia project and explore what kinds of media seem to work best for the audience. The feedback will help to grow the brand of the creative property and correctly assess the next step in the evolution of the creative property.
This is a little different from most funding where you start with a concept, perhaps a graphic novel or a script, and then you decide to move it into another form of media such as a video game or film. The amount of money starts piling in quickly and once you’ve committed all that money you hope that your choices were correct.
A lean approach for transmedia focuses on keeping initial production costs down and lowering the risk of spending a lot of money before a creative property proves itself with an audience. It will also help you determine the appetite for an audience to spend money on your property. It requires you to keep production costs low during the initial stages but it can also give you an indication of what the audience expects from the next phase of your transmedia, and, perhaps most importantly, what they are willing to pay for it.