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Transmedia: The Birth of a New Art Form

Evolution of Cinema_Tom PerlmutterIn a quick, yet thought-provoking video for the Future of Storytelling Summit, Government Film Commissioner and Chairperson of the National Film Board of Canada Tom Perlmutter shares his thoughts on the future of storytelling. He explains the basic human need behind the act of telling a story, how that act has evolved over time, and where its evolution is heading: transmedia. To find out more on what Perlmutter says about interactive filmmaking, check out the video after the jump.

We’ve known for quite some time that films are going to begin to get more interactive and become transmediatic experiences — Spielberg and Lucas mentioned this when they spoke at the USC panel in June. We’ve seen examples of this, like in non-theatricals (educational films and others,) but there have been some for narratives as well, especially web-series, which use social media, websites, and live events to create a world inside the world of their film.

So, why is film evolving? Tom Perlmutter sums it up perfectly when he says, “Innovation, to me, is something that emerges out of a deep necessity of finding a way of saying something that existing means don’t allow you to.” What I take from this is that the language of film is growing. Filmmakers are widening their vocabulary, and the newest area that has begun to be embraced and used is interactivity. Perlmutter says:

 A movie is a finite work. It begins. It ends. It’s complete in and of itself. It’s recreated every time  an audience sits and watches it. That’s when that magic happens. But, in and of itself, it’s finished. An interactive work may never be finished.

Check out the video below:

Though I do love to watch a film in the traditional manner — a 1 1/2 – 3 hour 2D experience, I’m interested to see how filmmakers will continue to innovate our medium by writing new words into our exclusive cinematic vernacular.

What do you think about Tom Perlmutter’s thoughts on transmedia? Do you like to watch films the traditional way, a single beginning, middle, and end viewing, or would you enjoy an interactive experience?

[via Filmmaker IQ]


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Description image 34 COMMENTS

  • Awesome looking interview!

  • Sebastian Roland on 09.9.13 @ 3:45PM

    cool but that music was annoying

  • Ghost of Chistmas Future on 09.9.13 @ 4:11PM

    I beg of you please continue the simple 2D art form or else it will be gone forever!

  • I’m all for innovation, but I think I’m still confused by this video. Pretty though. But from what I understand so far, creating an interactive story sounds intriguing but I’m the type that likes an ending. I enjoy stories for the rides they take me. If I were a part of that decision,… Dammit I don’t know. I’ve had my fill yelling at my TV when they decide to kill off a character I enjoy but I don’t know if emotionally I’d enjoy it more if I were a part of that decision.

    Or maybe I have this all wrong. Final word: TORN.

  • Agni Ortiz on 09.9.13 @ 4:57PM

    Canadians have a desire for interaction with entertainment for a while. I remember one of the first Live interactive shows, came from Mandala, a small Canadian group, back in 1990. People will be dancing while playing, via a projection of themselves, these giant music instruments filling a whole Imax screen. I think even Imax is a Canadian invention. According to The Web Index , by the World Wide Web foundation, Canada is the only Country that socially has been affected 100% by Internet access and usage. So naturally coming from a Canadian perspective, it makes sense to incorporate society into the new wave of media and entertainment, instead of just see it as a group of passive spectators.

    • Likely the long distances and relatively low population density in Canada has created the need from way back to connect with others. That and of course the usual northern country interdependence on others that is also found in Scandinavia. You can’t be too much of a loner when you might need your neighbour to save you in a blizzard.

      Canadians are also expert story tellers and as talented as anyone else in the world which of course was recognized by Hollywood a long time ago resulting in both a brain drain of attracting them to Hollywood and the now famous “Canadian Cooperative Project” which was intended to prevent Canada from stimulating feature film production. It stunted the Canadian industry for decades. We are still an “occupied country” when it comes to distribution.

    • well, you know, it’s cold up there, not much to do in the winter….

  • I storngly believe that most transmedia experiments tolerate weaker stories and characters just for the sake of interactivity. Right now I’m too much invested in creating strong fiction to silute the effor with sideways distractions.

  • he’s talking about computergames.

  • Ray Bradbury already predicted this (among a slew of other things, like iPods!) in his book “Fahrenheit 451″.

    In there, they have wall-sized TVs (the main character’s wife is hoping to get a “fourth wall” installed so she can be completely immersed), and people receive scripts to read and interact with the shows they watch.

    No doubt with the innovations we’re seeing with Kinnect, Emotiv Insight, and the like, we’re moving in that direction of complete interaction with stories.

    Does that mean we have to film/create an unlimited number of options for someone to go this way or that in a story, or do we force their hand slightly and have paths meet up? We’ll probably see something very interesting along the same lines people went when arguing “Cinéma vérité” vs the more scripted/arranged forms of documentaries.

  • I just did this via Chrome browser (won’t work with anything else):

    I have to say that “interactive” and “cinema” don’t go together well for me. There’s something about breaking the fourth wall, as well as having to move around (in this case, your mouse, phone, or tablet) to make effects occur, that really takes me out of the artform.

    Anyone else try that yet?

    • I didn’t care for Just A Reflektor. It’s just a passive and cheesy visual effect overlay. And the lame song doesn’t help either.

  • Um… By the end of this I found myself wondering if he had never heard of a video game. I make video games for a living. What I heard described in that clip was essentially a video game. Subscription based games may be never ending by design, but in order to ship a disc, you better believe interactive stories have a finite ending, it may take you 60+ hours to get there, and some endings are better than others, but they have endings. I remember growing up reading choose your own adventure books where you’re reading along and you get to certain pages that said for this to happen go to page ## and for that to happen go to page ##. That’s about as interactive as I’d want a movie to be. I don’t have hours on end to watch (play?) a movie. Hell, if it wasn’t because of my job, I wouldn’t have hours on end to play video games either.

  • I recently was working in something as a “choose your own adventure type horror film” but realizing there is no media outlet for it except via computer I put it away for later. Until Netflix has chapters like a DVD this wouldn’t work in the public.

  • The irony of this video is that the editing and split-screening distract from what he’s saying which means the author’s content is being undermined by its chaotic presentation.

  • An interesting voice on this whole thing is Steven Spielberg. His success with Medal of Honor (and other) video games as well as films leads one to wonder why he hasn’t tried merging the two mediums more directly. He’s clearly capable of original thinking and has given great contributions to both art forms…

  • ExCanadian NewBerliner on 09.10.13 @ 3:39AM

    Transmedia ok, but Tom Perlmutter and his bureaucratic cronies exemplify all that is wrong with the NFB.
    Stand-in for Larry David? Yes.

  • This video is a good example of bad transmedia: A filmed sequence of Permutter addressing someone way off screen, a meta reflective layer of showing the lighting set up, a computer generated lens flare effect, cut in images that ad zero information and a score that sounds like a 1990s video game. This video presents transmedia as a mix of sluggishly executed single media. If this is the future of storytelling then it’s looking pretty bleak.

    • It is clearly a presentation of a viewpoint given in an interview format, not a Transmedia Demo project presentation, so yes it looks like bits from a flat interview.

  • Wikipedia spends most of it’s transmedia article talking about education, which sounds great.

    But for the purposes of filmmakers, Transmedia seems to make the most sense when you add Cinema to internet media, rather than adding interactivity to Cinema. In other words, cinema plays a role in an educational multimedia collection, as opposed to game-ifying Raising Arizona.

  • Documentaries are a significant portion of Films made and Interactivity will allow society to tell its side of a developing story or could shift the focus of a particular film in quite a dramatic way, beyond what we presently can imagine. That in itself is unprecedented, and I do not think it has no correlation with the interactive fantasy of gaming.

    • I meant that I do not think we can trivialize the focus of a documentary or game-ifying it by adding Interactivity,

  • if you wanna know about transmedia, get into Henry Jenkins. He talked about this for years. I wrote my thesis on this subject 3 years ago. interesting how the big guys are slowly getting into it ;) also interesting: how many of them confuse transmedia with crossmedia …

  • The music in this interview is excruciating. But thank for the posting . Great topic!

  • Transmedia is video games…that’s all it is…interactive, social gaming…cinema is not going there…though there will be interesting video games, sorry…”transmedia”…developed around movies forever…but cinema is a shared experience of the same story so that people can act out the same scenes in the break room at work…lol

  • There’s definitely scope to go there, but it’s about ideas I guess. There’s an old Brian Eno quote about finished versus unfinished – which is to say interactivity is always in the hands of the audience – cinema is in the hand of the artist. When you leave the experience up to the audeience – well, it’s not always the most direct way to get an idea across… I think if it serves the idea, if it serves the story. But there has to be more than just options, moving a mouse, clicking. I think Skylanders (its a kids video game) is an amazing example of transmedia because it unifies kids toys with video games, and not only that it’s proving a real successful business model. While the Skylanders model use RFID chips to populate themselves inside the digital space – I think there’s a lot of scope for things like this – with modern technologies – smart phones, wifi, kinect, 3d printing – there’s loads of ways participants could be led down a certain rabbitholes so to speak.