Transmedia and the Art of Storytelling, Part I: How Johnny Cash and Angry Birds Involve Fans in the Story

By Shea Lord | Tags: ,
November 16th, 2011

Transmedia and the Art of Storytelling, Part I: How Johnny Cash and Angry Birds Involve Fans in the Story

By Shea Lord | Tags: ,
November 16th, 2011

When I Transmedia Panelistsbrowse the shelves of books stores, certain titles and/or covers sometimes call to me— or that’s how it seems to happen in my head. One such book was Frank Rose’s The Art Of Immersion, which caught my attention with its illusionistic cover (let’s face it, that’s how we judge books). I had not intended to, but I read the entire thing right there, on the floor in front of the shelf. Since then I’ve been caught up in the amazing and curious world of transmedia. Thus, when I saw this panel listed at the box office or the Savannah Film Festival, I immediately signed up (ahh, the perks of being a film student at SCAD).

The panel did not disappoint. Speakers included (top to bottom on left) Greg Brunkalla (T Mobile: Angry Birds live), Evan Schectman (@radical.media CTO), Adam Neuhaus (Radical Media), and Zach Lieberman (Filmmaker Magazine’s 5 New Faces of Independent Film). Schectman acted as a moderator of sorts, leading the conversation from project to project starting with The Johnny Cash Project: the first ever entirely crowd sourced music video, and the only one I know about. Check it out and paint a frame!

Next, SCAD alumni Greg Brunkalla commented on the viral Angry Birds Live event he directed in Barcelona. Greg attributed its success in large part to the fact that he was working based on the idea that he could take “something people already love, and show it to them in a new way.” This idea is what came first- then the platform. In other words, technology is used as a narrator. Platforms by themselves to not create stories- they tell them. What is particularly interesting about the Angry Birds live event is the fact that it is an event. It’s a prime example of how stories are infiltrating not only new platforms, but the lives of fans.

Not only is this way cool (oh hey, 90’s inner-child) but it creates an environment for the stories to expand right before people’s eyes and through their actions. This comes from the simple fact that, in coordinating a live event, even if all the logistical issues are accounted for, there is still one vary peculiar and vital uncontrollable variable: the human variable. Similar to the amazing potential of open-source software, this allows for massive growth and collaboration without coordination. In other words, Greg acted like a clock-maker, if you will. He built the mechanism, wound it up, and let it go. The result that followed (which happened to be a huge success in the case of Angry Birds Live) is therefore directly correlated to how good of a clock-maker he is.

To an extent, however, there is room for improvisation in these situations. For instance, the candid shots of participants. If you watch the ad, there is also one shot from the point of view of an Angry Bird (via a GoPro Hero 2- awesome little cameras). According to Greg, this was just though of on-the-spot, without any pre-planning or assurance that it would turn out well or even if the camera would survive. Luckily, both results were positive. Therefore it is extremely important, obviously, to be on your feet and poised for action if the idea is to capture the event that is created.

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