‘Transmedia’ explored by experts

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Two new media experts presented a world of transmedia storytelling — a multiplatform way of storytelling with each individual media telling a different part of the story but creating a cohesive narrative when combined.

Documentary photographer Daniel Lorenzetti and new media producer Juan Garcia spoke at the Austin Forum, a monthly speaker series aimed at educating the community in science, technology and society. They previously spoke about the subject at the 2010 South By Southwest Interactive.

“Transmedia really incorporates and defines the process of multilevel storytelling,” Garcia said. “The world is reaching the level of engagement in interactivity that we’ve never seen before, thanks to mobile technology, smart TVs, things of that nature.”

Both explained how different platforms create or expand on the story, either in fiction or nonfiction.

“Now that people can actually engage with the story, they’re no longer engaging with themselves,” Garcia said. “They can actually dive into and be part of the story world.”

Garcia said everyone is a born storyteller because we speak and interact with each other. Through Facebook and Twitter, people bring transmedia to reality, he said.

“We are all engaging with each other and sort of peering into other people’s lives,” Garcia said. “We are able to comment and examine and further the story through this social media platform.”

Lorezentti explained how transmedia works in fiction such as video games, publishing, films and on television using Discovery Channel’s Shark Week 2009 campaign as an example. The campaign allowed viewers to realize the horror of being attacked by creating their own shark attacks scenarios through interactive features online.

Lorenzetti said he was in Los Angeles talking to 70 entertainment attorneys concerned with intellectual property issues within transmedia. Issues about whether the storyteller or the person who created the character actually owns the character are on the minds of agents, writers and producers in the transmedia world.

“Once you let the fan base in and let them play in your story sandbox and they create stuff, who owns that stuff?” Lorenzetti said. “You have to maintain some creative control.”

He said writers, producers and directors are scared because they are losing control of their pieces. Lorezentti said it has the opposite effect on him and is excited about his fans’ involvement. He said he hopes to create an ending together.

Patricia Guy, who formerly worked with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, saw community problem solving in action after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. She said the Austin community came together through media by using their cell phones and laptop.

“I’m wondering, ‘Why not take all these technologies and apply it to the real world,’” Guy said. “I think it’s more than a marketing tool. I think it’s a great problem solving tool.”