Transmedia Storytelling

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Transmedia Storytelling 101
By Henry Jenkins
I designed this handout on transmedia storytelling to distribute to my students. More recently, I passed it out at a teaching workshop at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. I thought it might be of value to more of you out there in the community. Much of it builds on the discussion of that concept in Convergence Culture, though I have updated it to reflect some more recent developments in that space. For those who want to dig deeper still into this concept, check out the webcast version of the Transmedia Entertainment panel from the Futures of Entertainment Conference. Transmedia Storytelling 101

1. Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes it own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story. So, for example, in The Matrix franchise, key bits of information are conveyed through three live action films, a series of animated shorts, two collections of comic book stories, and several video games. There is no one single source or ur-text where one can turn to gain all of the information needed to comprehend the Matrix universe. 2. Transmedia storytelling reflects the economics of media consolidation or what industry observers call “synergy.” Modern media companies are horizontally integrated – that is, they hold interests across a range of what were once distinct media industries. A media conglomerate has an incentive to spread its brand or expand its franchises across as many different media platforms as possible. Consider, for example, the comic books published in advance of the release of such films as Batman Begins and Superman Returns by DC ( owned by Warner Brothers, the studio that released these films). These comics provided back-story which enhanced the viewer’s experience of the film even as...
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