Monday, January 24, 2011

Doing it the transmedia way

Working with transmedia is one thing. Working transmedially, that’s something else, at least in my book. The two thing do go hand in hand, in a way – if you ARE working with transmedia, starting to think in a transmedia fashion about the way you work opens up possibilites.

In his book ”The rules of work” Richard Templar talks about roles in a working environment. He statest that:

Basically your Role is how you fit into the team – and yes, we are all team players. We have to be, in this day and age.

Looking at how many transmedia producers approach their work, this is very true. You need a transmedia producer to work with the other producers and the creator(s) of a certain property, especially if you are looking at developing and producing something a bit bigger. It goes without saying that defining the roles of these different team members is a crucial part of any project; who is responsible for what, who has clout when it comes to the development of a certain content and who needs to know what and when.

Working ”transmedially”

Transmedia, however much a buzzword it has become in the past few months, is a very powerful instrument when you get it right. So why not use it to make your teamwork better? If you build the storyworld, the mythology, of your project with the same careful and precise devotion as you build the storyworld that will be the content of your project, you will – according to my/our experience – receive a number of benefits:

- Everyone involved in the project will know their role intimately, and can naturally interact to change their role to fit themselves as persons even better – as long as it does not break the transmedia principles of theme and tone
- Integrating new co-workers or external partners in the project is easier when you have a story to connect to. This is not saying that you should start explaining transmedia principles or dive deep into storyworlds when talking to potential partners, but it will give you the means to explain the gist of the project in a coherent, logical and always similar way.
- Pitching your project suddenly becomes much easier. Not only do you know your content, you know your project and everyone’s role in it, and you know your own role as well.
- Defining a transmedia setting for your project also gives ideas on how to implement the project on different platforms, and how to use different platforms to the greatest advantage
- By defining the transmedia setting, the storyworld, for your project, you will by default also (at least partly) define the role of your company (and affiliated companies) in that setting. This can lead to new aspects on your company and possible future projects and cooperations.
- If you want to make additional material available, which in a transmedia project is almost a given, approaching the way you work transmedially will help you no end when it comes to amassing "behind-the-scenes"-material, making-of-documentaries etc

The roles

As for how to define different roles, it might not be the most productive way to go down the drama route, as there is less call on archetypes like ”Hero”, ”Sage” or ”Villain” when you sit around a table brainstorming stuff. I think the best way is to define roles according to the people connected to a certain project, but there are places to start looking if inspiration is needed.

For instance, Dr Meredith Belbin, who has been researching into team work roles for over 40 years, is one place to start with the definitions of nine distinct team roles at the core; the Plant, the Resource Investigator, the Co-ordinator, the Shaper, the Monitor Evaluator, the Team Worker, the Implementer, the Completer and the Specialist. Have a read at the Team Role Theory site for more information.


Taking the opportunity to apply transmedia principles not only to the content you are working on but also to the work processes themselves, has the potential to add a surprising amount of value to not only your work, but to the way you work as well. Try it – you might just like it.


Zen Films said...

There's some food for thought here Simon... it might take a while to digest the implications and possibilities.

I can say that regards character archetypes, on every project I've worked on there have been far too many "Talkers" and too few "Doers". Also prevalent in large organizations are the "Pointers" - 'go do that, go do this' - who mask the fact that they're actually a Talker with unhelpful instructions to do the obvious.


Simon said...

I know, I feel I'm digesting it while I'm writing it (and working on it :).

I'll be able to show you our take on it as soon as we've got this project of ours up and running 100%.