Thursday, 22 January 2009

Transmedia Movies and things that Facebook could do on telly

Right this is inspired by Scott Brown's post on Wired, about the death of the linear story in movies. Ok there's a lot of backstory as well: I'm not going to do Faris Yakob the disservice of trying to condense Transmedia Planning into a few sentences, so if you haven't read about it, go there now. Anyway, the ideas that Brown talks about are based around the movie as a combination of multiple experiences and points of view, which deliver a far more deep and engaging experience than traditional storylines and special FX. So this is how a classic action movie linear narrative such as Die Hard might look in a post-convergence era:

John McClane, NYC cop, arrives in LA to reconcile with his estranged wife—but we already know all about their failing marriage from the ARG we've been obsessed with for the six months leading up to the movie's release. (McClane's potemkin Tumblr blog was especially illuminating.) With exposition rendered obsolete, we open instead on a Sprite commercial, which transitions seamlessly into furious gunplay. We don't even see McClane in the flesh, but our handsets are buzzing with his real-time thumb-tweets: "in the air duct. smelz like dead trrist in here lol." The film then rewinds to McClane Googling "terrorists" to read up on his adversaries. We then flash-cut to the baddies' POV, which we're familiar with (and sympathetic to) thanks to the addictive Xbox hit Die Hard: Hard Out There for a Terrorist.
and so on.....

The idea of an ARG offering a rich backstory to bring fans of a genre into the world of a new movie isn't a new one - Cloverfield is my favourite case study (which I think I annoyed everyone else in the cinema by explaining during the movie. But then the marketing IS much better than the movie). Neither is an Xbox spin-off (although a $0.99 phone app might be quicker to build and reach more people). What caught my attention was the idea of live updates from other characters points of view - not neccessarily tweets, but something that engages all handsets in the cinema (RFID?) to deliver a richer experience.

And that got me thinking about how this then might translate into smaller screens, of the kind in our living rooms. Broadcasters love stuff that has to be viewed live, like football and evictions. If some of the TV experience relied on live multimedia
action then they might be able to hang on a bit longer to those linear schedules that they love so much. If you know you'll enjoy something more live, you are more likely to watch it live. Doesn't matter if the enjoyment comes from not knowing the result or from a richer experience. And then they can sell more ads around it.

Personally I think that that is all a case of decline management in the long term, but it did make me think some more about the CNN/Facebook Connect linkup. If you could friend characters from a TV show and get live updates on your phone's Facebook app, giving you more insight into what a character is thinking..... we could do that now, and it doesn't need an internet enabled TV (although of course if we had one of those then the internet is our oyster....).

Of course, for those programme marketers who actually want to increase engagement with their shows rather than simply sell more advertising (reputation vs ratings anyone?) there is also the prospect of doing this more openly on other platforms. I'm trying not to use the 'Tw' word, but this deck from Aki Spicer from Fallon is worth a look


eaon pritchard said...

great post and linkage, going to check all that out, thanks.
one small point - when you say re: richer tv experience that 'And then they can sell more ads around it.' is where its slightly flawed for me.
ad funded is not a viable model (the en mass collapse of web2.0 tools testifies)
i think we need to be smarter than that. don't have a solution unless theres some sort of evolved product placement model or something, but there you go. thanks again. E

Graeme Wood said...

Thanks Eaon, and totally agree - I don't think that adfunded or any of the other 'gradual evolution' models are the way forward, but I also can't see any broadcasters adopting a Year Zero approach to their business model. The 30" spot isn't going to vanish overnight, it will exist in a 'management of decline' state for a long time yet. I just like suggesting to broadcasters how they might start evolving. Which to be honest is largely futile, as I'm sure none are reading..

faris said...

nice one brother - totally - socialise solidarity goods ;)


Graeme Wood said...

Cheers Faris - hadn't come across Solidarity Goods concept before. More explanation in this post

So on the basis that something has to earn attention to become a solidarity good, a social element increases the possibility as viewers can co-create value around the original item (TV show for the purposes of this post) - as in Mad Men/Twitter (oops - that was the Tw word again)

Anonymous said...

Hi Graeme -- found you via a Futurescape post -- I think your comment about football is interesting, the best reality TV shows engage their audience by replicating (in part) sports ability to engage audience at a very deep level. Live events, characters you care about, the competition/challenge/battle, stats, profiles, rich media, competitions etc etc - if big media script entertainment can adopt this sort of engagement and audience participation then the future is bright for all of us.

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