We wake up and read a story on our phone. On the bus to University a new character will be added to the story and we will learn about him on an eReader or tablet. During the lecture, when we should be focusing, we’ll catch up with the characters newest adventure on our laptop through Twitter. After the lecture the story has a twist and we’ll learn about this on a digital billboard. When we get home, we’ll finish the story on our television. This is transmedia storytelling.
“Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes its own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story.” Henry Jenkins, 2007.
In order to understand transmedia, we need to be able to differentiate between transmedia and multimedia. Multimedia is the process of telling a single story in multiple mediums. Transmedia is telling multiple stories over multiple mediums that fit together to tell one extensive, pervasive story. (One 3 Productions). The aim of transmedia storytelling is to create more entry points of the story, therefore increasing the points of engagement with the audience.
I recently watched a film called Trainspotting, oblivious to the fact that it was in fact an example of how local content can mutate into another local context. Written by Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting follows the lives of a handful of Scottish misfits as they delve into the darkest recesses of heroin addiction in order to escape their monotonous lives. Sparrow Hall describes his experience with Trainspotting, how it is an example of transmedia storytelling, how its success as a transmedia experience was most likely a mistake and also how within the story laid the groundwork for his first novel, Two Blue Wolves. Through the book, film, soundtrack and posters, a story was being told across several channels, each contributing equally to the plot and providing opportunities for audience engagement.
Trainspotting shows that transmedia is not just about blockbusters, but also the sharing of local and global content across several channels. Transmedia storytelling allows the complex web of a narrative to be delivered to the audience in a beautifully tangible way, rewarding the audience with each interaction.