Category Archives: Big picture

Last five things that brought me closer to transmedia guru Jeff Gomez


The shortest distance between two people is a story

This is part two of a two-part post written by Mitesh Solanki – Click here to read part one. In part one, we looked at the first five things that brought me closer to transmedia guru Jeff Gomez. They are:

  1. Threshold assessment
  2. Story telling with campfires and firewalls
  3. Transmedia is not (common stereotypes)
  4. Transmedia is
  5. The audience

This post explores the ‘last 5 things’:

  1. Success criteria
  2. The grand narrative
  3. A character’s aspirational drivers
  4. Distant mountains
  5. The story canon

(Please note, this post contains excerpts from my notes taken when I attended X Media Labs’ Jeff Gomez Transmedia Masterclass 2011)

6.0 – Success criteria

Take Out: What may seem an obvious list of things to ‘tick off ‘ to ensure a successful transmedia activity, is by no means child’s play to ensure all the elements hum beautifully simultaneously – and therein lies the craft of a genius.

The criteria, or the main 10 attributes to a successful transmedia activity, include:

i. Break or remove the frame

– to exist beyond the screen frame and create the sense that a rich story is constantly continuing beyond the frame

ii. Story arc development

– a story arc will help to effect change by moving a character from one situation to another. There are many ways to develop an arc, for instance an 8-point arc, a 3-arc animation, or a traditional 3-act structure. The point is to have one that starts and ends, unlike stories such as ‘Lost’ that didn’t really have an end point (because the writers were probably paid one episode at a time).

iii. A convincing presentation that takes ‘the world’ and the viewer seriously

– reads as authentic and can stand up to scrutiny of a serious viewer, which means a lot of things including logic across the story (things need to make logical sense). The logic doesn’t have to make sense in the real world of the audience, however if there is new logic that would only exists in the ‘story world’ then it needs a convincing presentation.

iv. Extensions that maintain quality and brand integrity

v. Timeless themes that are simple and artfully presented

– often when there is so much to say, to address every aspect can end up making the overall effort useless

vi. Interwoven-ness

– this is where the content needs to call out to other media areas by using interwoven story-lines that are continually revolving across platforms and product lines

vii. Theme

– the cultivation, validation and celebration of the fan base, and satisfying their needs (as outlined in part 1 of this two part post, under Audience Needs)

viii. Relevance and careful segmentation

– there are cases of transmedia extensions that do not fit with the audience segmentation, like for example if a character is extended out of the frame, then that character extension would need to communicate with the fan base of that specific character, which isn’t always the same fan base as the entire story – think the fan base of Spock versus the fan base of Star Trek, or the fan base of Lenod Nemoy versus the fan base of Spock, or the fan base of one Pokémon character versus the fan base of them all.

ix. Detail matters

– best practise is detail. don’t underestimate the power of evidence (demanding detail), for example some 5 year olds can name all 750 Pokémon.

x. Creative visionary and I.P. stewards


7.0 – The grand narrative

Take Out: The grand narrative should give a sense of what the story universe is all about – it’s not always about the character or actor, but should be about something that is long lasting.

Other tips on grand narrative:

  • Bad forms try to take all the elements and give it to you raw (almost expecting the audience to figure everything out for themselves), where as the good forms will give it to your audience with some connection to the ‘tree-like-base’.
  • It is not always about characters, but it is always about you (audience).
  • If a brand is trying to connect to the grand narrative of a story, then the brand will need to search for its soul and make it recognisable to the audience.
  • The grand narrative is very ‘Joseph Campbell’.

.

8.0 – A character’s aspirational drivers

Take Out: A characters aspirational drivers are themes – usually 1 to 2 primary drivers, and 1 to 2 secondary drivers – that connect with the heart of a character (and these drivers must exist in public culture).

I do not feel comfortable to list the entire list of a character’s aspirational drivers – that I was so grateful to learn during Jeff’s masterclass – as these things are one of the more truly unique aspects of his class (you’ll just have to ask Jeff to give you a class). However, to get the point across, I will share just one two examples of a character’s aspirational drivers, they include:

  • Inner Pride (outside average but inside you, is a skill)
  • Silly Outrageous (like a cartoon character)
  • Belonging (like Lady Gaga and unlike Madonna)

.

9.0 – Distant mountains

Take Out: A distant mountain is a reference to a thing that you don’t know too much about in the context of the known surrounds. It creates mystery about what is beyond, and it makes the known world feel more real to the audience. You know it’s a crappy story when you can see fake-ness in the surrounds.

Examples of distant mountains include things like the ‘ring’ in ‘Lord of the Rings’, or when you first hear Obi-Wan Kenobi make reference to Luke’s father in Star Wars.

.

10.0 – The story canon

Take Out: The canon is the essence – the grand blueprint – of the story’s mythology. The challenge is not to have one, rather how to maintain it with all the other stuff going on. You need to combine all the elements of the story canon so that it is transferable and organically woven in to the iteration of a property (no matter how minor).

Good examples of a story canon are character playing cards that often contain all the stuff that’s needed to summate the canon, like for example: Log Line, Overview of story world, Hero profile, Supporting cast, Bestiary, Locations, Special items, Magic and super science, Archetypes (messages and themes), Chronology and Distant Mountains.

.

There you go. 10 amazing attributes that brought me closer to the transmedia guru Jeff Gomez. I look forward to see him when he tours in 2012 (fingers crossed!).

The low down on Jeff’s transmedia credits include: Avatar, Tron, Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Hotwheels and Coca Cola’s The Happiness Factory. Links to: XML Masterclass XML Jeff Gomez Transmedia Master Class 2011, and Jeff’s profile Jeff Gomez CEO Starlight Runner Entertainment.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Big picture, Culture, Storytelling, Transmedia, Uncategorized

First 5 things that brought me closer to transmedia guru Jeff Gomez


The shortest distance between two people is a story

This is a two-part post written by Mitesh Solanki – the last five things (that brought me closer to Jeff Gomez) will feature in part two.

(Image courtesy of Brad Trent, NY)

Not so recently, in August of 2011, I attended X Media Labs’ Jeff Gomez Transmedia Masterclass. Megan Elliot was kind enough to invite me as a guest (thank you Megan!). I think he should tour again next year and I hope this post will help to make that happen.

The low down on Jeff’s transmedia credits include: Avatar, Tron, Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Hotwheels and Coca Cola’s The Happiness Factory. Links to: XML Masterclass XML Jeff Gomez Transmedia Master Class 2011, and Jeff’s profile Jeff Gomez CEO Starlight Runner Entertainment.

I was fortunate to learn from the number one transmedia guru, who begun his class with an ancient proverb – The shortest distance between two people is a story. Key take-outs from the day were underpinned by this notion, and the truth of this proverb rang loud and clear by the day’s end.

The first of its kind in the world, this one-day masterclass promised to deliver practical, how-to, hands-on training to help ramp up your income with transmedia storytelling. The session promised you would learn how to:

  1. Take titles/stories/films/media/brands across multiple platforms
  2. Evolve them into high quality persistent narratives
  3. Which in turn generate multiple revenue streams for you

This promise attracted a few dozen transmedia consultants in Sydney, who were all keen to learn how to crack the IP and revenue issues. The masterclass delivered on this promise (plus more) and I want to share the headlines with you as I am intent to spread the word and help secure a 2012 tour with a larger and wider audience.

However, it is tricky to write this post as I am treading a fine-line: I do not want to give too much away and risk compromising Jeff and XML, yet I think I need to share some of it to give you a taste. So, without giving too much away, I hope Jeff and X Media Labs don’t mind if I share with you, some of the ‘headlines’ from my key take-outs.

The first 5 things that brought me closer to Jeff Gomez, are:

1.0 – Threshold assessment

  • Take Out: Learn how close you are to someone and map out the threshold outline. Then learn how to cross the threshold (with good intentions).
  • Why: Not only can it help to win over a bully (as it did for Jeff), but this assessment can help a brand to get closer to its audience.


2.0 – Story telling with campfires and firewalls

  • Take Out: We all want to be heard. And we all like it when we know that something or someone can hear us. Naturally, when this happens, our mentality says “Let’s all join in”. This then creates a longer lifespan for stories and drives loyalty and engagement.
  • Why: As humans, when we became self aware, we drew on cave walls to express ourselves and tell our story. Then we sat around campfires to tell stories, however in the beginning we were appalling at it (as ‘speaking’ was a relatively new skill). To help us out, the shaman would pull stories from tribe leaders, or from the audience voice, and they would tell our story to us. Nowadays, technology allows us to create our own feedback loop, just like the shaman did in the campfire days when we were learning how to talk.


3.0 – Transmedia is not (common stereotypes)

  • Cross dressing
  • Scavenger hunting
  • Rocket science
  • TV on the internet
  • A game or alternate reality (with points, winners and leader boards)

 

4.0 – Transmedia is

  • Unfolding a narrative
  • Extending the narrative
  • Placing the narrative IP in the middle of all touchpoints
  • Three or more narrative storylines existing within the same fictional universe on any of the given transmedia platforms
  • Appealing to and validating the torchbearers
  • Allowing for co-creation and co-ownership
  • Allowing the audience to make a small phsysic leap between each layer (so the experience feels more like reality than a contrived and fake experience)

 

5.0 – The audience

  • Needs to be cultivated, validated and celebrated
  • Will always have something to say
  • (especially youth) are used to being acknowledged
  • Take everything as fact (especially if growing up with technology)
  • Needs a dialogue
  • Needs a theme


The last 5 things that brought me closer to Jeff Gomez will feature in part two and will include: success criteria, the grand narrative, a character’s aspirational drivers, distant mountains, and the story canon.

1 Comment

Filed under Big picture, Culture, Entertainment, Transmedia, Uncategorized

X Media Lab – Global Media Ideas @ Vivid (Opera House)


Why should you attend this event?

The ‘Global Media Ideas‘ event is an annual international summit at the Sydney Opera House that ‘caps off’ Vivid Sydney – a festival of light, music and ideas.

I don’t claim to know what the ‘X’ in X Media Lab stands for, however if I had to guess then I would say it stands for a ‘high quality experience’. Personally, I think the ‘X’ is all about ‘crossing’ everything possible – crossing skills, crossing the T’s, crossing your comfort zones, crossing people and mediums, crossing your learnings potential, crossing ideas and global locations, crossing time and challenges etc. Some people describe it as an ‘X’ factor!

The Lab is what this is all about. At all times the focus is on you and your ideas. You may be challenged and steered into new ways of thinking – but the sole aim is to actively help you define and achieve your goals to accelerate your commercial success. You can nominate your project for the lab here: http://www.xmedialab.com/project-application
There is a good chance that I will put myself out of business by saying this, however if you are unable to afford the services of a strategy type person (like myself) to help you with your business, then you must participate.

..Being part of X|Media|Lab is like winning the startup lottery. Having one to one sessions with some of the biggest minds in the industry gave us invaluable strategic insights that have helped shape our business thinking both now and in the future. Since X|Media|Lab our online creative community, The Loop has grown beyond our wildest expectations..
– Pip Jamieson (@theloopoz), Director at The Loop, Sydney

..The XMedia crew always source an incredible array of speakers from all around the world – diverse, inspiring and, even better, surprising.  The format of the event – very short speeches – culls any dross, so the speakers are always ‘too the point’ and impactful.  Its a great way to meet and source talented folks you want to work with in the future (from a range of disciplines) and we’ve certainly made use of the opportunity on several occasions“.
– Marshall Heald (@marshallheald), Head of Online & Content Distribution at SBS, Sydney

The emphasis of this upcoming event is on practical world-class solutions: what works, what doesn’t, and what you should be planning for this year and beyond. It is not a one-way flow of information – the program is designed to enable you to connect personally with thought leaders, mentors and potential business partners, handpicked from around the world – including Silicon Valley, Shanghai, London, Hollywood, New York, Tokyo, Seoul, and Singapore.

It is an intense information download and relationship building event for communicators in the digital age. There is no filler, no pitching and no panel – just solid, actionable content that you can take away and apply to your business or organisation immediately.

If you go, you will learn how to take your business to international markets. You will learn how to apply learning from cutting-edge case studies of what’s happening now in creative ideas and innovation in media and technologies – including: mobile, social, gamication, location based services, branding and immersive environments, augmented and virtual realities.

If your role is any of the following, you should place it on your to do list muy rapido: Games Designers and Developers, Mobile Services, Web and Social Media Professionals, Creatives, Brand Specialists, Marketers, Technology Wizards, Investors, Media Analysts and Strategists.

View an Executive Summary video of last year’s ‘Global Media Ideas’ event here: http://vimeo.com/14931406

Leave a comment

Filed under Big picture, Clear thinking, Connections, Conversations, Innovation, Technology, Trends, Uncategorized

‘Worlds Best Countries’ Verses ‘Vision Of Humanity’


These are two sets of interactive info-graphic maps that measure each country against each other using loads of indexes.

It is interesting how almost all of the indexes are mutually exclusive. It’s funny to imagine what would need to be different in our world for the the content to be reversed (a world where Newsweek media posts ‘Vision of Humanity’ and an Independent NGO posts something similar to the World’s Best Countries’).

1. The World’s Best Countries (According to Newsweek)

Newsweek recently unveiled a fascinating interactive info-graphic that enables users to click through a thorough study that ranks nations by health, education, economy, and politics across the globe. Finland came in first place, and Switzerland and Sweden trailed closely behind.

www.newsweek.com/the-worlds-best-countries

2. Vision Of Humanity

This interactive website focuses on the major issues facing us in the 21st century and tries to bring a balanced approach with factual information that is positive and solution based. They hope to help you make better choices to create the kind of future in which you wish to live.

This year 149 nations of the world have been ranked by their peacefulness and the results have stimulated some very interesting analysis.
www.visionofhumanity.org

Leave a comment

Filed under Big picture, Clear thinking, Connections, Infographic, Insight, Social Responsibility, Uncategorized

Facebook Privacy and Bucks for Bytes – The Under 13’s Guide


Nephews, nieces and cousins under 13 years of age who want to be your facebook friend!

ATT: Everyone

The above image is courtesy of Matt McKeon. If you visit the blog you can see Matt’s cool visual interactive interpretation of the evolution of privacy on facebook (2005 to 2010).

THE PROBLEMPrivate or public information?

This is a hot topic at the moment. It reaches a vast array of common social and business issues. And it also carries a heavy undercurrent of personal and universal themes.

The content on my facebook page is populated by hundreds of facebook friends which means I cannot monitor everything that is posted (unless I sit there and monitor it 24/7).

What do you do when a 13-year-old nephew sends a facebook friend request? It can be anyone you classify as under-age in your selective world (a relative under 13, a colleague’s child) whom sends you a facebook friend request.

There are good reasons be exclusive and say no – or ignore the friend request. And there are as many reasons to be inclusive and say yes – accept the friend request. The problem is both options do not offer a satisfying solution.

Have a think about it for a second. Imagine saying no and then imagine how you would deal with it down the line. Then imagine saying yes and dealing with it down the line.

At the crux of this issue are several things for example: internet censorship and taking responsibility for the content, taking responsibility for the audience and taking responsibility for the messages in your personal digital space.

Digital Content. Audience. Messages.

THE SOLUTIONChange the settings

I confronted this problem a few years ago and decided to say yes to the friend request from my 13 year old nephew. And then very quickly interrogated my facebook privacy settings and figured out how to select who can and can’t access areas of my facebook profile.

Once the new settings were activated I tested it out.

First, I advised my nephew’s mother that I had accepted her son’s friend request and granted very limited access to the content on my facebook page. She was relieved and thanked me profusely.

From there it has been much easier to understand where my digital borders start and end. It has also been possible to move them as and when needed. From this point I decided to play and tweak every facebook privacy  – on, off, up, down. I followed this up with testing the result with different friends and associates.

THE LEARNINGControl your space

Before this happened I had an ignorant viewpoint on internet censorship, and now I firmly believe parents are responsible for what their kids do on computers in their own home. And uncles and aunts (or adult relatives) also share this responsibility to a degree.

This article is not about internet censorship, or family values, nor is it an instruction booklet on how you should raise your kids. And I am not going to engage in any conversation about these things online.

This article is about giving consideration toward facebook as a the common denominator amongst the majority of people online. And acknowledging facebook has opened its ‘walled garden’ and made almost everything that was once private, public. Whether this is good or bad is not the issue. What you can do about it is the point.

Take control of your digital space.

Analogically imagine your photo album and personal items available on your front lawn for everyone to see. Conceptually, fifteen minutes of fame will soon be ‘fifteen minutes of privacy’.

You don’t have to take notice of this if you don’t want, however most people will need to learn how to manage their own personal digital space. You will need to start thinking about how to manage your unprotected data, how to lock and unlock things online. And you will need to figure out where are your digital borders and how much does it cost to manage your bytes.

THE BUSINESS – “Bucks for bytes” – IDC Analyze the Future

Courtesy of IDC (via Sean Kelly) you can take a look into the future of the digital universe.

“..In 2009 the world spent nearly $4 trillion on stuff to manage our digital universe. As this spending grows from now to 2020, the cost of managing each byte will drop steadily too, which is an incentive to create more information…”.

Here are a couple of graphs to help visualise all this stuff – Figure 8 and 9.

According to IDC, some tools we will see more of include:

  • Migration to cloud services
  • End user self service
  • Sophisticated data centres
  • Bottle necks in real time processing
  • Manage-more-with-less stress

Manage this stress better than competitors and you will have the advantage.

Written by Mitesh Solanki

11 Comments

Filed under Big picture, Clear thinking, Culture, Innovation, Observation, Point Of View, Privacy, Social Media, Uncategorized

Snow Crash Launch at Power House


Snow Crash by HARRIET BIRKS (Video Animation)

‘Snow Crash’ is a virtual landscape that draws on the aesthetics of early flight simulators and low-fi computer graphics. It embraces a finite world of reduced planes akin to sci-fi concepts of the ‘metaverse’ in Neal Stephenson’s ‘Snow Crash’ or the ‘Autoverse’ in Greg Egan’s ‘Permutation City’.

WEB_snowcrash

The world we live in is becoming more networked through technology with the likes of Google Earth, online games and social networks (to name a few). However this world [created by Harriet Birks] exists in a beautiful emptiness that is outside the mainstream networks. This space can also be described as the relics of civilisation situated it in the distant future.

Not a tricky concept to wrap your head around, however if you can get your head around the last sentence then you should be experiencing a paradox. And if you are lucky to have a sense of humour then you may also be swimming in a parody. If you get both then you should call your mum and tell her you’re going on a date with me.

Snow Crash by HARRIET BIRKS (Video Animation)

WHAT: Launch Event, Saturday 10 October, 3 – 5 pm
WHEN: 10 October – 6 November, 2009
WHERE: beta_space, Cyberworlds Gallery, Level 1, Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris Street, Ultimo
MORE: http://betaspace.net.au
CURATOR: Julia Burns
RSVP: cultureclub@miteshsolanki.com.au

The audio track crackles with static interference suggesting possible radio transmissions from unseen origins. Pulsing black spheres and clusters of quartz crystals float eerily in the sky.

In a simultaneous glance back at the past and its post-apocalyptic narratives of the future, it provokes questions about our current direction and our changing technological landscape.

Harriet Birks is an Audio Visual artist and a lecturer of animation at COFA, UNSW.

1 Comment

Filed under Big picture, Clear thinking, Exhibition, Harriet Birks, Insight, Point Of View, Virtual Reality

Back from Vacation? Don’t Waste a Precious Clear Mind


clear thinking

If you are back from vacation, in between jobs, or hammering away at the responsibility of four roles at once, then you probably need validation to turn off your mobile, email and social media tools from time-to-time.

“Seeing the big picture, the connections between information, is also more likely to activate the right hemisphere, which appears important for insight.

This research points to the idea of valuing a fresh mind more than we tend to, as this is the time we are more likely to be able to solve tough problems. Instead of valuing a quiet mind, we tend to automatically fill it up with emails or every day challenges, and waste a precious commodity.”

If you have no time to read this article then here is a ten second summary: 1) A rested mind isn’t stuck in the wrong answers. 2) A quiet mind notices subtle signals. 3) A happy mind is an open mind.

Source-train: My Facebook Home/Find Your Yang/99Percent/”Your Brain at Work” by David Rock.

[Click here to continue]

1 Comment

Filed under Big picture, Clear thinking, Connections, Insight, Point Of View, Social Media, Social Responsibility