When someone writes a book or produces a movie few creators think about the audience experience - a book is a book, we all know what that is. We know what going to the cinema is or watching TV. Consequently we have the situation illustrated in Figure 1 in which the audience seems to be in direct contact with the story.
Figure 1 With tradition non-interactive media experience is largely ignored
In transmedia storytelling and with Conducttr in particular we are telling stories across multiple platforms and doing so in an interactive way. This means that we - as Authors and Producers - must think more carefully about the experience. In fact, some might argue that if you're creating, say, a location-based game that the experience is more important than the story.
Figure 2 With transmedia storytelling, experience is a major consideration
To rethink storytelling in the age of transmedia storytelling, we need to take the scenes of our story and consider how the audience will access those scenes. In a book or video all the scenes are inseparable from the same unified experience. In transmedia storytelling that need not be true and we can spread those scenes across platforms which potentially means a different experience for different scenes.
Figure 3 Scenes in mono-media have a unified experience
Figure 4 Distributed scenes in transmedia storytelling
If we expand this model further, we can add the Audience and aspects of the story that the Audience will interact with - its Characters, the locations, objects and content such as blog posts, emails, text messages, eBooks, mobile apps and so.
If we consider storytelling to be the revealing and withholding of information, then each scene is a treasure chest that can be opened by the author (e.g. published in a blog post) or opened by the Audience (e.g. through a conversation with a Character). You - the Author - decides how each scene will be experienced and how the information will be published.
Figure 5 Anatomy of a Scene
1.1 Stories and Storyworlds
In a storyworld there may be many stories. The James Bond storyworld is made up of M, Q, Miss Moneypenny, Martins, cool gadgets, evil villains and so on. Inside this storyworld are the stories - Dr. No, Live and Let Die, Skyfall and so on.
Conducttr can help you create interactive transmedia stories and tie these back into the storyworld - allowing you to pull everything together into a single point of reference.
When you first get started, use the Whiteboard to plan your storyworld or your story.
Figure 6 Stories and Storyworlds
1.2 interactivity - a basic orientation
"Stuff happens" in Conducttr when your Characters hear the events you've told them to listen for. So, to make "stuff happen" you need to:
- create a Character
- tell it what event to listen for
- tell it what to do when that event is heard.
Characters hear events through several mechanisms:
- social media accounts that you attach to them (note that you'll need to create the social media account outside of Conducttr first before you can "authenticate" your Character to it)
- text messaging (SMS) - we have several providers depending on where you are in the world
- widgets - this is HTML code generated by Conducttr for you to copy and paste into a website
- API - this stands for "application programming interface" and is how Conducttr connects to mobile apps, Flash games, Facebook apps and any other applications
- date and time events which can be set to any timezone.
In Conducttr these events are called TRIGGERS because they're like a starting gun. When the trigger is pulled, Conducttr reacts.
Having heard an event, Conducttr can do several things:
- publish content - such as a blog post, a YouTube video or Facebook post
- reply to the message , if it's an email, SMS, Tweet or Facebook comment
- do something else (e.g. take an Action) like make a calculation, put the audience into different groups or teams.
1.3 the Audience
The people that interact with Conducttr are your Audience.
Your Characters maintain their own contact lists and will only interact with someone if they're on that contact list and are "subscribed" meaning they've allowed the Character to contact them.
Any person emailing, tweeting, texting or commenting on Facebook is automatically subscribed to the Character that you've instructed to listen for that interaction. The same is true for anyone signing up via a website widget or via the API.
You can segment your Audience not only by Character but by Group and by Team. Above we explained that when a Character hears an event it can take an Action rather than (or as well as) publish content. Well that Action could be to add people to a Group.
For example, you might have a Facebook Character in a love triangle. She asks the Audience which boyfriend she should stick with - is it Simon or David? As the Audience adds comments, each person is added into a particular Group - the Simon Group or the David Group. Now Conducttr knows which way people voted and this can be used to personalize replies in future.
1.4 Basic terms
We use the term Author to describe anyone that uses Conducttr. This is much simpler that using multiple titles or fancy names like narrative designer, story architect and so on.
We use the term Audience to describe anyone that interacts with or is the intended recipient of your work. Again this avoids using multiple terms like reader, viewer, player and so on.