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October 8, 2006

Lost as a Transmedia Storytelling Property

Lorne Manley's examination of Lost, Inc. in last Sunday's New York Times provides a fascinating understanding of the realities of a transmedia property, focusing particularly on the ABC phenomenon Lost and its subsequent branching into alternate reality games, video games, mobisodes, and various other storytelling forms and comparing that with various other current transmedia expiereinces, such as the use of Web comics to supplement the new series Heroes.

Manley writes, "Podcasts, blogs, cellphone episodes, Web-only content, DVD extras: they all mean more work for already harried show runners. But many of them wouldn't have it any other way." And many actors and writers are calling foul when they are expected to do more work for the same amount of pay or only a limited amount of extra money. Manley attempts to use various examples to break down the troubles that the two sides are having at this point, particularly because the value of new media experiences are not completely understood at this point, so that producrs are reluctant to give actors and writers significant extra funding for a project that might be a flop, as shows are still balancing how to create significant transmedia content.

Manely looks at The Office Webisodes, Battlestar GallacticaWebisodes, an an alternate plot on the DVD of My Name is Earl. She writes that "exploring the storytelling possibilities in these nontraditional forms is an intellectual and creative challenge," but it's increasingly becoming a legal one as well.

The Times piece gives a stronger overall picture of the complications currently plaguing the industry, as people want to move forward despite the fact that the system is structured in ways to hold innovation back. The promise of transmedia storytelling is demonstrated powerfully by this piece, in other words, even as the legal realities seem daunting.

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