By Eric Wise
Video Editors at the Eye of the Storm.
I still remember the look of horror on my boss’s face when I told him I watched Terrence Malik‘s classic, Days of Heaven on my laptop while simultaneously surfing the web on my desktop. So much for my annual 2% increase. It was then that I realized, somewhere along the way, I had unconsciously developed a viewing meritocracy policy. A film would have to fight for my attention like a 6yr old has to fight to remain special compared to their newborn sibling. And I knew I had a problem when I would try to watch a subtitled foreign film and say, work on a spreadsheet. My eyes would ping pong back and forth between both screens for 2-hours.
Death by a thousand glances
Most people aren’t this bad but let’s face it, nowadays we have an increasing number of screens vying for our time and attention. So instead of trying to fight the inevitable maybe it’s time to think of novel ways to embrace it. Robert Pratten of Transmedia Storyteller calls this approach, well…Transmedia Storytelling. He says we need to create unique “story-experiences” that leverage the reach of TV and the personalization & interactivity of mobile. The idea of the multi-platform story is not new. It’s been used to build “media franchises” with varying degrees of success for decades with everything from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Star Wars as standout examples. The difference now is the degree to which everyday people are connected. Wired Magazine’s Brian Chen’s new book title says it best – we’re – Always On. Pratten goes on to say that content creators need to write multi-layered stories with additional sub-plots and parallel plots intended specifically for mobile and to be enjoyed socially either at air time or later on demand.
Bjork needs no convincing. She is a force of nature that humbles even Madame Gaga. And she also challenges the outer limits of technology as much as she does the music critics.
Not since Peter Greenaway’s sprawling, multi-platform The Tulse Luper Suitcases has one artist so granularized their muse. Bjork says Biophilia is not an album, no siree - it’s a “multimedia collection “encompassing music, apps, internet, installations, and live shows. As a recovering Bjork addict (5 years sober) I can say that after playing around with the Biophilia iPhone and iPad apps I may be hooked again.
This isn’t your parent’s scavenger hunt.
Of course, this is all banking on this generation’s over-sharing, geo-locating, mash-up loving tendencies. We’ll also have to figure out how people will feel about keeping up with all the story’s permutations. Will they seek them out? Will they be adamant? ambivelant? exhausted? This graphic of the Story Universe on the blog Running With My Eyes Closed shows you the extensive possibilities for storytelling.
So what does this mean for video editors?
It means that now more than ever we must be masters of asset management – specifically compression, distribution, and archiving. We may or may not be involved in the planning of programs for media delivery but we will definitely be at the center of how they are distributed. And we will find ourselves increasingly working with non-traditional collaborators. Start getting used to teaming up with interactive producres, app developers and user-experience designers. And don’t be surprised if at some point down the road you are expected to try on some of those hats.
In future articles I will look beyond the technical and organizational hoop-jumping and look at examples of how transmedia storytelling has effected our craft. I’ll look at specific campaigns and even interview some of the people at the forefront of the next evolution in storytelling.
In the meantime, you may want to get acquainted with content discovery trends like augmented reality, gamficaion, geocaching and in your remaining spare time check out How to Write a Transmedia Production Bible.
Let’s just hope in this atomized splintered storyscape, we don’t spread our selves and our sanity too thin.