AoDL: Distributed Storytelling

Posted on July 21, 2012

I went to Art of Digital London’s get-together at The Photographers’ Gallery last night, with a bunch of speakers presenting their work and thoughts on the topic of  multi/trans/cross-media productions (the rule is you can call it what you like as long as you immediately apologise and earnestly emphasise it’s about storytelling).

It was, by some considerable way, one of the best discussions of the topic I’ve heard, with all of the speakers not only being very good and knowledgeable, but also coming from a variety of perspectives. So Thembisa Cochrane set things up with a gentle introduction to the subject and a show and tell of some of the projects she’s involved with. Liz Rosenthal from Power to the Pixel then brought a higher-level, industry-wide perspective and referred to some of the thinking of some of the leading practitioners in the area.

One of the people she referred to was Robert Pratten who was responsible for the diagram above. It’s worth checking out his book Getting Started in Transmedia Storytelling for more.

Kim Plowright brought the producer’s viewpoint (“a Doozer to the creative Fraggles”) and had some of the best slides, with:

  • Honor Blackman’s Book of Self Defence to illustrate the fact that brands and characters have been spreading from one medium to another for a while
  • Tits (not this exact one, but you get the idea), making the point that, online, storytellers are competing for attention with literally everything else that exists on the internet
  • big spreadsheets to illustrate the complexity of some of the projects

Annette Mees and Tom Bowtell, co-directors of Coney, told things from their creative (mainly theatrical) perspective. Everyone loved their A Cat Escapes project. I was also quite fond of their analogy for the difference between writer-led and audience-led storytelling being the difference between driving a car and clinging on to a runaway horse.

In amongst all of that there were case studies galore, free beer and a good audience. Who could ask for more?