Monday, April 27, 2015

Thoughts on Transmedia Storytelling/Marketing ~ Transmedia Project Proposal

Transmedia Storytelling is quite an interesting new way of connecting with audience across multiple platforms tying everything back to one central story. In recent years, as social media and the internet have become more and more crucial to the marketing and promotional side of entertainment, they've also become more important to the creative side of the process. Audience members are constantly wanting more. When a TV show not only has the show, but also tons of websites, social media profiles, and other elements that enhance the overall story, the audience members eat it all up.

In relation to the audience/creator connection, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries spinoff Welcome to Sanditon allowed for audience members to add to the "world" of the show, ultimately leading to audience-created elements being entered into the show's "canon." Another example would be the incredible Pottermore website. This website allows for audience members to feel involved in the world and even gives fans updates, new stories, add-ons to the world, etc. Transmedia gives creators the chance to either explain certain parts of their world, expand on it, and/or allow audience members to get involved in the world.


I am personally most drawn to the marketing end of transmedia storytelling. I really dug what HBO did for their online promotional elements for the first season of their hit show True Blood. They totally immersed potential viewers in the overall world with fake news reports, articles, vlogs, interviews, etc. This was super fascinating and interesting. A film that had a similar marketing strategy was The Blair Witch Project. Back in the 90's, before most films even thought to use it to their advantage, Blair Witch created a fake world surrounding the film. It had news articles, other footage, pictures, etc. that made potential movie-goers totally engaged in the idea that three student filmmakers got lost in the woods while making a doc about an urban legend. The idea of "found footage" was totally real here and explored to its fullest in the film's marketing.

A piece of marketing that has come up related is the "viral video strategy." Some could classify this as transmedia marketing but I don't think it is in certain cases, particularly the viral prank videos that are usually tied to horror films. For example, the 2013 remake of Carrie, had a viral video where a girl uses telekinesis to make things go haywire in a coffee shop to promote the film. The video showed real people walking into a staged coffee shop and witnessing a girl with Carrie-esque powers freak out. The reactions were priceless and at the end of the video, a 2-3 second tag with a picture of Chloe Grace Moretz as Carrie and the film's release date clued viewers in to what the video actually was. While this is quite the cleaver marketing strategy, it doesn't add to the story of the film and shouldn't be classified as transmedia storytelling.

Overall, I think the idea of using multiple platforms to enhance something creatively is genius. If you look back before the internet became popular, you'd see comics tied in with movie franchises, books that tied in with their movie counterparts, etc. This idea of transmedia storytelling has been around, it's just been really enhanced by the internet. I hope that in the future, more stories use multiple platforms to draw in their audiences.

For my transmedia creative project, I'm going to make a YikYak for a city from Game of Thrones, probably King's Landing. It'll be over the course of one episode, or multiple, or even an entire season. I'm not sure yet. I'm basically gonna explore how the public opinion of certain events in a city changes over the course of time.

Monday, April 6, 2015

An Analysis on the New Way We Experience TV

Back in the 80's and 90's, my Dad was really into Twin Peaks. He used to tell me how after episodes would air the buzz about what had happened the night before would spread all throughout work, school, the town, etc. The question of "who killed Laura Palmer?" was on everyone's mind and after every episode. The "water cooler talk" we kids have always heard about, that actually happened.

Now, 20 years later, the questions are more along the lines of "Are they gonna kill Tyrion?" or "Who's 'A?'" or "Who's gonna win The Voice this season?" or whatever else is on the minds of TV consuming 18-34 year olds. And now the "water cooler" is Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. The same conversations are still happening, just through a different medium. This phenomenon has completely changed the way TV creators and exec's shape their content and how we as audience members experience it.

After reading through the articles, it's pretty evident how much the TV landscape as changed in the past 10 years. Back in the mid 2000's, we were in a pretty drastic technological transition period that TV was trying to keep up with. Sometime around 07-09, Twitter and Facebook hit the mainstream and networks began to get a sense of how to use those social media websites, among others, as resources rather than confusing hinderances. 

Originally, to judge the reception of a TV show, all TV networks had to go off of was Nielsen ratings while the show was airing. Now, they can measure tons of different things: traction on social media, different types and amounts of hashtags, how many people watched the show on-demand/online/reruns, etc. This has opened up the possibility for shows with low ratings yet strong cult followings to be recognized. It has also given the networks more opportunity for improvement and examination regarding many different facts and stats about each of their shows.

Before all of this, each of the networks had pretty similar approaches to the creation and distribution of their content. Now, each network has their own strategy regarding social media and how they choose to integrate it into their content. Some networks create 2-10 hashtags per episodes, some promote the show's hosts/judges/stars using Twitter or Facebook, some just let the fans do all the work. If you look back 10 years, networks showed significantly less interest in how the internet could enhance their process. Now, every network has their own social media division.

Most of all, what this new surge of technology and its new integration into mainstream entertainment, specifically TV, has done, is provide an interactive element to the viewing of our favorite shows. Before, I'd have to wait to talk about the latest Game of Thrones plot twist until I see a friend of mine who is also caught up with the show. Now, I can hop on Twitter right as the action has happening and experience new reactions by the second. This kind of social interaction regarding content has never been possible before and now that the networks have fully embraced Twitter, Facebook, etc., the way we experience entertainment has been changed forever.

However, while this new form of interaction has been great, it does come with some issues... Now that audience members can react to content literally as it's happening. We are the running the risk of ruining the experience for ourselves and/or spoiling it for others. While watching a show, we used to only focus on the content. Now, we have to focus on the content and what our reactions are going to be to that content. Rather than getting sucked into the story or the characters, we are getting sucked into reacting in the smartest, funniest ways at the exact right time. Some say this is ruining the way we are experiencing the content, others say it only adds to the experience.

Another way all of this tweeting and posting could be harmful, is if someone who is also a fan of one of your favorite shows, sees a spoiler you posted in real time as you were reacting to the show. Now that the "Spoiler Alert" epidemic has been made aware of, there's less of it going on, but it definitely makes things more difficult for an audience members who wishes to rant about a new plot point or a viewer who'd like to see reviews of the most recent episode rather than spoiler-filled reactions.

With any great thing, there are issues, but these can be solved. We choose who we follow, we can filter the tweets we see, we can avoid social media all together. Overall, this new technological development is revolutionizing the way networks handle their content and the way we as audience members choose to view it.

Monday, March 2, 2015


I wanted to take the power/corruption/evil/control related themes of House of Cards and mix them with Interlochen. So, I basically parodied the intro to House of Cards by using Interlochen promotional footage from youtube and the HOC intro song, as well as some funny words, fonts and an upside down logo at the end. I believe I am entitled to Fair Use because it's a new idea, it's a parody idea, the footage of Interlochen comes from Youtube as well as the HOC intro song, it's for "educational" purposes, it's not too long and I'm not trying to make any money off of it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Borrowing vs Stealing - Comment

I'd say that all artists draw from created content in one way or another, whether it be watching, listening, experiencing some form of art and taking that as inspiration, or literally using that created art in the art that you're trying to make. Artists are constantly looking for inspiration because otherwise, where would their creativity come from? For example, in the documentary, Girl Talk walks us through his creative process which involves borrowing already created creative content. He describes it as a new genre of music rather than an attempt to sabotage the labels. The majority of these creators are simply trying to create their own creative content by borrowing from previously creative content. Almost as though the process they're using is the creative part, not the content itself. I believe that when it comes to mixing, borrowing, etc., artists should have the freedom to do so.

I believe that when borrowing is transformative rather than derivative, it should be okay, as long as the person gives credit to the creator. However, when someone is simply being derivative, I believe that it becomes a grey area. The artist should make a solid judgment call on what they're doing. I wouldn't say that it's totally wrong to be derivative but it's certainly not totally right. Neither is being transformative. I think determining the right/wrong means looking at each situation separately. In terms of who's looking at each situation and then determining whether it's right/wrong, I'm not sure. It might need to be based on what the users are saying.

In terms of music that uses sample, I've listened to many Hip-Hop songs that have sampled things. One artist I enjoy who samples other songs would be Kanye West. I'd say the vast majority of his songs have sample at least one other song. In terms of movies, sampling would more so be used in "found-footage" esque, indepdent online videos, rather than feature length films. However, if a film needs news footage, old-timey footage, etc. then they would obviously need to credit the source in the film. Both of these examples have their grey areas but for the most part are safe.

If, for example, another artist used my own created content in one of their pieces. At first, I'd probably be flattered. Then, I'd investigate the content and make sure that I'm getting credited. If I am credited and my content is being used in a "creative" way in order to enhance the content that the artist is creating, then I'd be content with that artist using my stuff. However, if I'm not credited and/or my content isn't being used properly, then there'd be a problem. So, based on that, I'd say that if an artist's work has been used by another artist in some fashion, it should be the artist's call on whether or not their art is being represented and distributed properly.

On the flip side, I've had to use already created content before, in a way that uses that content creatively for my own purpose rather than trying to simply distribute the artist's work unjustifiably. I'd say that as long as you give the artist credit and are doing your own thing rather than there's, it should be okay.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Royal vs. Business in The Queen

In Stephen Frears' The Queen, we primarily focus on the death of Princess Diana and the subsequent week in which the newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair must keep the peace while the Royal Family, headed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, attempts to seclude themselves from the public. The family's plan doesn't go so well, as the public demands a response regarding the death of the "People's Princess." It's a story of the traditional vs. the modern and how even the most powerful woman doesn't always get her way.

The film's aesthetics are fascinating and certainly highlight the traditional aspects of the Queen and the rest of the Royal Family, as well as the modern aspects of the Prime Minister, his staff and his own family. One of the elements that really enhances these aspects aesthetically is the costumes.

For the traditional side, the costumes are very elegant and anciently glamorous. For the women, washed out colors are the name of the game. They wear all sorts of well styled attire that screams a sense of fashion but also a sense of class. For the men, things are quite similar. Their suits are slightly colorful. They certainly want to seem professional but without losing the signature "Royal Family" style, which could probably be defined as showcasing clothes stolen from the 1800's JCPenney Catalog.

This clothing style for both men and women tends to stay the same throughout the film except for the final scene in which the Queen dons a black dress while "mourning" over Diana. The choice to keep all of their clothing fairly similar and traditional not only brings out their since of period piece fashion, but also their morals and beliefs. There are many instances in the film where the Royal Family go with their traditional instinct over adapting to the new modern approaches suggested by Tony Blair. Like their costumes, they want to stick to tradition and do things the way their ancestors did and continue to do things that way.

Team Blair on the other hand thinks otherwise. Their attire at least echoes the 20th Century and seems much more accurate with the 1997 setting. While most of the central modernist characters are always wearing business clothes, the point still gets across that these guys are forward thinking. Every suit looks like it was just taken off the rack at your local mall and the colors looks pretty basic. While it ain't as elegant as the Royal Family's wardrobe, it's sweet and simple.

This kind of clothing tells us that these guys are trying to think in the now as opposed to the past. They want to understand the public and connect with them not only on a political level but also a personal level. The scene where Blair wears a Football jersey is a perfect example of the "average every-day dad" persona Blair wants to get across to the British citizens. This approach starkly contrasts the traditional mask worn by the Royal Family and explains why the public has a much easier time siding with Team Blair as opposed to Team Elizabeth. Without the brilliant decisions made in costuming for The Queen, much of the subtle character development for both the Royal Family characters and the Blair-related characters would have been lost.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

STRIKING: a short look at the lighting of Lars Von Trier's Dogville

After the excruciating yet brilliant credits finished rolling, many thoughts were swirling through my head regarding Lars Von Trier's genius depiction of small-town depression-era American culture, otherwise known as Dogville.

After Grace, a rich, city-girl runaway, comes across a town with a population of around 20 men, women, and children, she attempts to settle in, make friends and prove her worth. Things seem to be going swell at first as she finds work, acquires a home and begins to become one of the "citizens of Dogville." However, Dogville bares its teeth and Grace attempts to flee, only to be returned and punished. Her punishment? Calling up the mobsters who she ran away from in the first place and letting them know where she ended up. In return, the town is punished, but not as gracefully as Grace. With the help of her powerful father, she decides to burn down the town and kill all the citizens. The end.

Outside of the film's fantastic story, it also boasts many interesting choices regarding the film's aesthetics. It was tough to choose one element to focus on but out of everything, the film's bold, powerful lighting stuck out to me. Through lighting, Trier is able to convey both physical light sources as well as emotional aspects for certain characters, sets and moments.
First, the sources. Throughout the film, Trier puts his soundstage setting to fantastic use by using lights to establish setting. Walls of white light trap the town to simulate daytime. Blueish-gray lights stream down from the sky to act as moonlight. The only physical lights we get are street lamps or candles, but they aren't used too often.
One of the most interesting light sources is used in the scene where Grace opens Mr. McKay's blocked-off window. It is one of the only instances where we get a light source that doesn't feel artificial or part of the cookie-cutter world Trier has created. This is used to create a feeling of remembrance for Mr. McKay in which times were better and he could actually see what lies in front of him. There are many instances in the film where light is used to enhance or bring out some sort of emotion. Leading right into my next point...

The emotions. By far one of the best examples of the use of emotions through lighting has gotta be the final scene in which "some light is shed on Dogville." This is an incredible moment where the lighting is used to bring out the harshness and cruelness that Dogville was to Grace. There are many other moments throughout the film where lighting is used to highlight a character's feeling.

Both the sources and the emotions are brought out in the film. They are both used as tools to further enhance the space as well as the characters. In terms of an aesthetic, the film certainly couldn't do without the lighting. Especially for a film like Dogville, which needs abstract elements such as lights not only to enhance emotions, but also to dictate where we are and give us a stronger sense of space. To put it simply, the lighting in this movie is awesome.