4 cups of aged tea, 1 turkey sandwich, & 10 hours of reading and mapping

It’s the third week of my last year here at Carnegie Mellon, and I’ve been so caught up in projects and tinkering that I haven’t had much time to read. So I brewed up some tea, took the growing stacks of books from my workdesk, and got comfortable in my big old chair.

10 hours later, I’m finding some interesting connections between the changes in film that were brought on by the increasing use of digital visual effects, and the implications for future digital storytelling. Shilo McClean has an excellent book on the subject, called “Digital Storytelling.”  It really gets at the tension between DVFx that enhance a story vs. those that simply attempt to smooth over the obvious cracks in a crap entertainment property to make a last ditch attempt at audience engagement.

A related article that comes to mind is Roger Warren Beebe’s “After Arnold: Narratives of the Posthuman Cinema.” Beebe’s article focuses on the liquidity concepts of effects and the implications that type of effect has on our viewing experience.

As McClean points out though, at the end of the day what matters most is the story–the DVFx can enhance the viewing experience, improve the ability of the story to “live” with us long after we’ve left the theater, but if all we remember is a series of explosions and improbable car chases strung together upon which somebody tried to hang a narrative…well…it’s not likely to stick with us. So there’s a tension between the effects that we can believe in and the ones that pull us out of the storyworld that we’ve come to believe in.

The question I’m looking at tonight is what role DVFx will have in future storytelling.  I’ve been flirting with this transmedia word, and while I know that it’s a word with many different definitions, I’m starting to feel like the opportunity for this interaction designer is to look at the interactions and engagements that will delight story consumers for the next 15 years.  Call it transmedia storytelling. Call it transmedia design.  For now, I’ll call it research.

Here’s two pictures of my research to date–the first one shows the full map I’m working on of the space. Who’s doing what, what’s the history of transmedia, and the second shows how I’m beginning to pull apart the different definitions that I’ve been finding in order to figure out what interaction design has to contribute to this whole process.


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