Conception of a transmedia tv serial
We live in an era which reminds us of the beginning of the last century. Driven by new technologies there was a huge shift not only in science, but in society as well. In 2013 it felt like a new app or services was launched in every minute. Security and privacy did not matter as long as the next big thing was a cool thing to use. But with Edward Snowden the whole thing changed. Til’ the next trendy app hit the app store and everything was just like it was before.
Take a look inside the iPad magazine first
#We are digital natives
Why did you do an iPad magazine, one could ask. The answer would be the topic of this chapter. Because “We are digital natives”. In 2013 there was not one week in which we did not see any ski masks wearing basement hacker in the news channels. A cliché visualisation we got tired of. Tired like the rest of the whole security and privacy debate. Instead i asked myself, as a cinematographer, what would a snappy thriller look like? Would it even be a motion picture? Or should it rather be a digital piece? Something utilising tools and topics of digital natives. But like in every story told before, we need a hero. So i looked around the web.
There are hackers who stole unpublished music and distributed it via filesharing. Others cracked credit cards and yet someone did hack the school computer to upgrade his own grades. One juvenile hacker hacked the US government and Interpol. The police caught him after a two year long chase. He stated “Capitalism is opportunity and opportunity is freedom.” As intentions might differ. Wether they are WhiteHat, GreyHat oder BlackHat hackers, most of them are very young. All they need they get for free on the web: tools and knowledge. Like one hundred years before, things a changing vastly, who is going to write history? So, the stage was set. The next task was to find the right tools to tell this story.
#THE FUTURE OF STORYTELLING
Prequels. Sequels. Remakes. A 150$ million dollar blockbuster is not meant to be innovative, it’s meant to make profit out of a big franchise. Truly innovative story telling could be found, where nobody was looking for in quite a long time: on television. US Broadcaster like HBO and AMC redefined storytelling with their TV serials like “The Wire” and “Breaking Bad”. In contrast to procedurals (one episode, one case, case solved, episode over), serials follow their main character and their plot line throught episodes and seasons. Storytelling becomes epic like a book of russian writer tolstoi. The thought of holding something epic in your hand, like a book, led to the iPad. A handy device every digital native grows up with. Even little children can swipe before they can turn a page. It looked like the perfect tool of telling this story.
What if i could combine a “dumb” TV with an iPad? “SecondScreen” was the term and “AirPlay” the solution. By combining a linear story, like a tv serial, with the features of an iPad or similar Tablet, there were endless possibilities to enrich the story experience. For Example: you could show the perspective of two different character at the same time. One on the TV, the other on the iPad. The viewer decides where to look at. Or imagine your smartphone becoming a prop by ringing on your sofa table. (watch the walkthrough video on top)
But something didn’t feel right. There’s a long theoretical part to this in my thesis. And there’s a short for you: we are lazy. When we watch tv, it’s called “lean backwards”. When we play video games, which kind of is quite similar to my interactive storytelling approach, it’s called “lean forward”. The combination of that is simply a bad experience. Linear vs. Non-Linear Storytelling.
Tablets and smartphone are that successfully, because they connect us to other people. With every tweet and photo upload they create a reality on a small screen. To tell a story for and about digital natives, social media services like twitter are a key method to do so. In opposite to franchise transmedia, where a story is told multiple times in different channels, like most of the Comic-Franchise, the “portmanteau transmedia” establishes one plot across multiple channels. The story of #matryoshka begins with faked video tweets of multiple faked user-accounts. A fictional reality is created. At a sudden point in the plot, the weekly tv serial steps in and is followed by real-time social media activity in between. TV and smart devices merging into one big plot. Creating a fake reality that reminds one of radio drama “The War of the Worls” (1938) by H.G. Wells.
The goal of this ipad magazine was to give the reader a vague impression what a transmedia story and this one in particular would feel like. For example by adding a soundtrack which subtle sets the mood on the following pages. With an interactive page to discover the relationship between the characters and many other little features.
The first tv series about movie pirates.
You’re worth nothing without money and relationships. Especially in moscow. The young russians Alexej and Boris earn some Rubel with movie piracy. They call it “import-export-business”. But the big money is somewhere else. They accompanied with other hackers and call themselves “MKV” in order to hack big companies. They live and work in suburban apartment blocks when the whole country unites against the government in the “march of the millions”. It’s time to participate and become political, they decide. But is code a weapon? And how strong is it in the streets?
Illustration by Tristan Wilder
Five characters tell the story of matryoshka. There is Sergej, police officer and former sergeant. And his father Rogoshin, a retired general. Besides Alexej and Boris, there is Jelena who once published an article about the “Dedowschtschina”, linking all the characters and their destiny.
All events will be merged into one hashtag: #mkv14. The fictional hacker crew will have his own social media accounts for announcements. If they take actions that could possibly been photographed in the real world, there will be several fake accounts distributing faked footage. The more fake accounts post, the more real the fake will appear. It’s just like the faked set in “Truman Show”. But in this transmedia storytelling, the web is the stage.
Pictures were taken at “Werkschau 2014” at Fachhochschule Düsseldorf.
This is a non-commercial project. All facts and figures are fictional. It was created as part of my bachelor thesis in 2014 at Fachhochschule Düsseldorf.