Category Archives: Culture

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.

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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.

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Levi’s Innovation Intercepts Cycle Culture

How to cycle in your favourite denim?

G’damn it I’m so impressed with Levi’s that I would consider breaking up with the trashy Swede (Dr Denin) or at the very least have an affair with Levi’s.

The weird thing about this is not that I consider my relationships with brands as though I am dating them (or having an affair), it is more weird that I am not in the Levi’s bulls eye target (a cycle-freak) for this type of innovation and yet I am compelled to want Levi’s new commuter range.

Dating analogy aside, I confess I am attracted to Levi’s now because they recognised their problem and dug deep to find and work with experts who helped with this innovation. Moreover (and overall) I truly love how this innovation promotes the sustainable-and-culturally-rich-lifestyle of cycling, which I believe should be adopted en masse globally.

Levi’s developed a proprietary nanopsphere treatment for their denim in the Commuter Line. This keeps them stain-free and you’ll have to work extra hard to make them smell. What this means is more wears and less washes. They also chose a lighter-weight fabric with a special weave to give it a little stretch.

A Prolly roundtable discussion with Levi’s on their cycling line: “The jeans also include a zipper stash pocket, an integrated U-lock holster, 3M lining on the cuff, a gusseted crotch and a higher-cut back. The jacket has back vents, 3 jersey pockets, a scooped tail, and reinforced accordion sleeves. Let’s just say they covered all the bases and while denim might not be a traditional material for cycling-related apparel, these jackets are a huge improvement over riding in the standard jackets.”

My SourceTrain: My Twitter Stream via @HighSnobiety and images and content ProllyIsNotProbably.

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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


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

It’ll make you stand straight. It’s gonna make your hand shake.

“Art doesn’t actually overthrow anything except itself.” – Michael Kimmelman



Fortunately this article D.I.Y Culture, by Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, caught my attention this morning amongst hundreds of impressions that I had already been exposed to before 7am. The cool image is courtesy of Béatrice de Géa for The New York Times.

I was lucky this article caught my attention when it did otherwise it would have disappeared into a bunch of haphazard morning activities (ordering coffee, texting, recalling ethereal thoughts as I woke up, checking email, reading news, checking voicemail, rescheduling meetings, organising a date for the weekend, deciding what to get my niece for her 2nd birthday, following up on a conversation about a deal I need to close this week) before actually looking at my official ‘to do list’ for the day.

Kimmelman is on point with his story and I like it (a lot). His story demonstrates clear insight and understanding into what culture truly is and highlights the “…forces of globalism that were expected to erode local cultures are helping to preserve them.”

FAVOURITE QUOTES (from the article)

“A generation or more ago, aside from what people did in their home or from what’s roughly called folk or outsider art, culture was generally thought of as something handed down from on high, which the public received.”

“ restore civilization in West Germany by supporting a kind of ecosystem of small publishers and small bookstores to which, in certain small towns, trucks that delivered books to the bookstores overnight also delivered drugs to the drugstores: drugs for the body, books for the mind, a metaphor of recovery.”

“The myth of an avant-garde serves the same market forces avant-gardism pretends to overthrow..”, and “Art doesn’t actually overthrow anything except itself..”

“..culture identifies crucial ruptures, rifts, gaps and shifts in society”, and “ helps reveal who we are to ourselves, often in ways we didn’t  realize in places we didn’t necessarily think to look.”

“..Gazans, like that Swedish Ikea designer, made their own culture from the bricolage of global choices.”

“Hollywood and Broadway, the major museums and art fairs and biennials and galleries, buildings designed by celebrity architects and the music business are all the traditional focus of big media, and they tell us a lot about ourselves. They constitute our cultural firmament [sky]..” and indicates that “Most culture is dark matter.” not the stars (as ‘big media’ would suggest).

The image is courtesy of Béatrice de Géa for The New York Times.


When I read this article I thought it would be fun to see how long it would take to publish something from the moment I experienced it (while simultaneously waking up and preparing for a day of work). Basically, I read it on my iPhone (via Twitter feed) at around 6:30am and then published with a point of view by 9am (via Posterous).


The “hand shake” mention in the heading relates to the wide variety of hand shakes that occur and how they differ from place to place. The hand shake is often the first formal exchange when two people meet (for the first time or each time) and it is interesting how formal exchanges like the hand shake are now shared with a ‘tweet and greet’.

Posted via email from MITESH SOLANKI

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