I choose to think of the Story World Conference as a bellwether for the health of the transmedia community.
What did #SWC12 tell us? Here are my thoughts a couple of weeks after the conference, held over three days in mid-October in Los Angeles.
- Big media brands are aligning themselves with the transmedia community.
- The transmedia tribe, still not quite a movement, seems to have subdued its fractious factional spats, even if there remain quite opposite ways of approaching the work.
- Independent producers are struggling to find business models, but are succeeding at building networks and new models for collaboration and experimentation.
- Non-commercial funders are providing vision, as well as money, to stimulate new work.
- The market for multiplatform story management is attracting new tools.
Here Come the Big Boys
When we talk about transmedia, we talk about Star Wars, the most influential model for the building and construction of story worlds. And we talk about Disney, the studio most responsible for building content brands across multiple platforms and venues.
Both were present at Story World, though their pending merger was still secret at the time. Suffice it to say, those who knew weren’t talking. (When I asked Ivan Askwith of LucasFilm to name a trend during the conference’s final panel, he mentioned the company’s venture with Angry Birds creator Rovio, but slyly added that in a few weeks “my answer will be quite different.” Indeed!)
Disney kicked off the whole conference with a talk by Scott Trowbridge, Vice President of Creative/R&D at Walt Disney Imagineering, who shared the group’s testing of a new breed of social media-enabled live action adventures, as well as a new real time “Story Engine” platform that’s in development. (Ball State’s Brad King covers the talk in detail here.)