Ivan Askwith

April 7, 2009

Wrapping up SXSW: Jenkins, De Kosnik, and Askwith on Fans

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend South by Southwest Interactive in Austin. Between panels, parties, and the constant stream of Tweets, I'm still processing everything I took in at the conference.

For those of you who couldn't make it to Austin last month--and even for those of you who could--I wanted to share the slides from one of the best panels I attended: "Engagement 1.0: Understanding the History of Fan Interactivity," featuring Ivan Askwith, Henry Jenkins and Abigail De Kosnik. Since these three are affiliated with C3, I may be a little biased, but I am sincere when I say that this panel was the most useful discussion fan practices saw at SXSW. I left the presentation with a basic but broad understanding of how fan communities create value and worth. The slides:

As these slides suggest, Askwith began with definition of "fans" that served to frame the discussion.

Continue reading "Wrapping up SXSW: Jenkins, De Kosnik, and Askwith on Fans" »

November 23, 2008

FOE3 Liveblog: Session 5 - Franchising, Extensions and Worldbuilding

Moderating is C3 alum Ivan Askwith. The panel includes Lance Weiler ( (Director Head Trauma and The Last Broadcast), Tom Casiello, Tom Boland (Daytime Emmy Award-Winning former writer of As the World Turns, One Life to Live, Days of Our Lives, The Young and the Restless), Sharon Ross (Columbia College Chicago), and Gregg Hale (from Campfire and producer of the Blair Witch Project).

Liveblogging provided by CMS grad student Flourish Klink.

IA: How many people would classify themselves as soap fans? [a few] Wrestling fans? [fewer] So it may be valuable to sketch out some of the stuff they're working on in more detail which may provide a richer foundation for us to talk.

GH: So this is the latest thing we've finished at Campfire for True Blood.

[Descriptive video about transmedia storytelling ad campaign for True Blood]

LW: Head Trauma and what we did with the actual film - the movie is about the fragmentation of memory, a guy who comes back home after 20 years to settle his grandmother's estate and finds it inhabited by squatters; he hits his head and starts having recurring nightmares that start to turn into reality. So we started to play with what's real and what isn't. We started with interactive comics and there were all kinds of easter eggs and rabbit holes as you moved through it. And that was a gateway to some of the other experiences. It was a way that we were able to build the world out. We interjected mobile experiences so when the movie had a world premiere we handed out these Jack Chick-style comics and there were ciphers and clues within them. On the back it asks "do you want to play the game?" and when you called the number that's there you'd get the nemesis of the movie; they'd hang up and then we'd call or text them back. This continued back and forth. Even when you went to the website, we could figure out that you were on there and call you during your visit to it. Throughout the premiere there was a whole give and take with phones - about 86% of the audience was engaged mobilely. And we had an online series with all these subliminal things in it, and there was a remix area, where people could remix their own fragments. At one point when people showed up somewhere based on the clues in the game for a secret movie showing I ended up calling the LAPD and they came by with the helicopter and I executed all these SMS and phone calls saying things like "We're watching you!"

TB: Before we dive in I want to explain the marketing machine behind the WWE. Trust me when I say this is very big business.

Continue reading "FOE3 Liveblog: Session 5 - Franchising, Extensions and Worldbuilding" »

November 16, 2007

FoE2: Mobile Media

The first panel at FoE2 is focused on mobile media.

Participating in the panel are:

  • Marc Davis (Yahoo)
  • Bob Schukai (Turner Broadcasting)
  • Alice Kim (MTV Networks)
  • Anmol Madan: Madan (MIT Media Lab)

And, joining the live-blogging effort are current C3 researchers Xiaochang Li and Lauren Silberman.

Continue reading "FoE2: Mobile Media" »

Liveblogging from the Future (of Entertainment)

Strange to be writing in the C3 blog again, now that I'm no longer a researcher-in-residence, but the Futures of Entertainment conference -- now in its second year -- is beginning to serve a secondary function as a sort of C3 homecoming. And, since most of the C3 team are working in overdrive just to keep the conference moving at an even keel, I'll be helping out with the live-blogging duties, in case any of you at home want to keep up with what's happening here.

Helping out in this task are Derek Johnson, a doctoral student and kindred soul from U. Wisconsin-Madison, and Lan Le, a first year grad student in CMS -- both of whom, at the moment, are too busy taking notes to introduce themselves.

So, keep checking back. We'll try to refresh and update the posts several times during each panel, in case those of you following along here want to pass along questions or comments as part of the proceedings. (Think of it as a transmedia conference.)

Up next: opening remarks from Henry Jenkins, director of the Program in Comparative Media Studies, and Joshua Green, research manager for C3.

May 15, 2007

FanLib Provides Another Home For FanFic Writers

Not much time to write at length on this, but I wanted to make sure it made it onto everyone's radar. From last week's Cynopsis:

FanLib.com launched as hub for "fan fiction" writers. The idea is to provide a home for creators of one of the first "user generated" genres, fan stories written using popular movie and TV characters and storylines. Members can upload stories, embed promos and build communities around their favorite shows. FanLib, founded by Titanic producer Jon Landau, Jon Moonves and former Yahoo! CMO Anil Singh, is also currently sponsoring the Ghost Whisperer Fan Finale Challenge on the site asking fans to write their own conclusion to the show's two-part finale.

Particularly interesting, since fan fiction seems to be one of the last traditional forms of fan creativity that hasn't been widely coopted and encouraged (within specific, copyright-friendly parameters) by the entertainment industry. I haven't given this as much thought as I should, but my offhand guess would be that fan fiction, unlike mashup videos, tribute songs, and so on, are harder to 'control,' and leave a lot more room for individual fans to take characters, or narratives, in directions that producers and executives aren't comfortable with.

That said, it's not surprising that FanLib exists; what intrigues me is the second part of the announcement, regarding the collaboration with CBS drama The Ghost Whisperer, asking fans to write their own endings to the season finale. The contest just ended, and the results are online... but I can't find any specific rules or directions anymore. Does anyone happen to know what restrictions, if any, the producers put in place when issuing the challenge?

(The prolific Sam Ford has written about other instances of commercially solicited fan fiction here, and probably in several other posts I can't find just now.)

NBC: Putting Engagement Upfront

Just a quick post to highlight a few announcements NBC made during yesterday's upfront presentation to advertisers in NYC. Of particular interest from an audience engagement perspective:

1. Rather than introducing a slate of new shows, NBC is opting for the "more of a good thing" approach. Heroes will get its own six-episode spin-off, Heroes: Origins, with each episode being used to introduce a new character who has not yet appeared on the series. Viewers will get to vote on their favorite, and the character with the most support will then be written into the show as a regular. (Art imitates life: there's an eery resemblance here to Stan Lee's recent reality venture, Who Wants To Be A Superhero? Only in this case, it seems the stakes are a lot higher -- this time, the winner joins the ensemble of one of NBC's biggest hits.)

2. Encouraged by the success of Heroes 360, an expansive transmedia campaign to enable viewer interaction with Heroes (via an "interactive" graphic novel, an ARGesque campaign, and so on), NBC is expanding their 360-approach to television to another of their biggest hits... The Office. There aren't too many details on the specifics yet, but I like what I've heard so far:

In addition to making extra content available on digital platforms, "The Office 360" will allow online users of NBC's Web site to create their own branches of the comedy's fictional Dunder-Mifflin paper company with different challenges to complete. The branches could be integrated into a network episode of the show.

I'll be curious to see how this plays out. I have to admit, I was in the middle of writing yesterday when I got a phone call from Heroes' would-be Senator, Nathan Petrelli, asking me to visit his campaign website... and even though the phone-calls-from-fictional-characters thing will get old soon, it made me smile.

And, while it's not related to NBC, I'll throw in an ABC-related announcement for good measure: starting this summer, ABC has announced, several of their most popular shows will be available for online streaming in full HD resolution (1280x720).

There's always a lot to discuss during the upfronts, so I expect I'll be back several times over the next week with more points of interest. Feel free to post in comments if you catch something interesting, though -- there's a lot to keep up with!

May 7, 2007

Lost Reveals Another Important Number: 119

Well, I guess this depends on how you do your math, but if you count each hour-long installment of Lost as an episode, 119 will be the final episode of Lost when it goes off the air in May 2010, after six seasons.

To the best of my knowledge, the decision to end a show three years in advance, regardless of its ratings, is unprecedented in network history. Sci-fi saga Babylon 5 was theoretically structured for a 5-year narrative arc, a plan which went to hell near the end of the fourth season when the remaining plot points were wrapped up in anticipation of the show's cancellation... leaving the show in need of a new plot when it returned for a fifth season after all. Of course, ABC's announcement doesn't indicate what would happen if the show were to tank, ratings-wise, before the anticipated end-date -- but since Lost, even at its worst moments, has never dropped far below the Top 25 shows on television, it seems like a reasonable bet that the show will make it until the end of its run.

As one friend pointed out to me this morning, Lost will not be the first show to leave television while it still has a strong audience; when Seinfeld wrapped up, the series was doing well enough to have guaranteed it at least another season. The difference, of course, is that as one of the pioneers in television's current wave of complex serialized drams, Lost is attempting a structural feat that is almost impossible under the normal confines of network television.

(The prolific Sam Ford has discussed the challenges and difficulties that serial narratives face on network television in several past entries: see here, here, and here for a more detailed discussion of the topic. )

Lost's co-EPs, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, announced several months ago that they had approached ABC about setting an end-date for the show, an unorthodox request that would allow them to plan a specific timeline for addressing the various mysteries and puzzles that lie at the heart of the show. In particular, a firm end-date would allow Lost to address the rising concern among viewers -- common to all heavily serialized mysteries -- that the show was "making things up" as it went along, and posing questions for which it had no answers.

According to this morning's Variety, however, this was not a casual request: in their recent contract negotiations, Lindelof and Cuse demanded an end date as one of their unnegotiable terms.

It will be interesting to see whether this decision results in a noticeable upturn in the show's ratings, as exasperated viewers return to the fold, or a further decline, as more fans opt to wait until the show's 2010 conclusion to decide whether to invest another 48 hours of their time on DVD.

February 13, 2007

A Soap Spins Off Into Primetime

Dear readers, I've been forced to accept that I will never be as prolific a blogger as my colleague, Sam Ford. And, if I keep waiting to post interesting items to this blog until I am prepared to write on them at length, I'll be holding back on a lot of items that some of you might find interesting.

So to inaugurate my return to the C3 blog, I'm making a symbolic gesture, and presenting a soap-related item that crossed my desk this morning:

The morning briefing from Cynopsis reports:

Based on the ABC daytime soap General Hospital, SOAPnet has ordered 13 one-hour episodes of its first exclusive, serialized drama called General Hospital: Night Shift (wt). The weekly drama will center on the soap's current characters and give viewers an extension of what happens during the nighttime hours at the hospital. The series is expected to premiere this summer and will be cross-promoted during the daytime version of General Hospital on ABC.

Not transmedia in the traditional sense -- no platforms being crossed just yet -- but it's an interesting experiment in creating television spin-offs that remain tightly linked to the narratives of their parent show.

Smart of SOAPnet; if they're going to branch into producing their own series, it's wise to start by capitalizing on an existing audience.

Verdict, Sam?

October 27, 2006

FX Introduces "Fancasting"

First noticed this a week ago, and re-noticed it last night while watching this week's episode of Nip/Tuck:

During one of the ad breaks, FX ran a spot to promote what they're referring to as a "fancast," where fans are encouraged to record audio clips of themselves discussing their thoughts about the show and send them in for possible inclusion in (what I assume is a cleverly renamed) Nip/Tuck podcast. Viewers are also encouraged to send in questions for a selected member of the cast, who will (presumably) answer either the questions that are most commonly asked, or that the fancast producers find most interesting.

This strikes me as interesting for a few reasons.

For one, it sets up the content of the podcast (fan discussion and dialogue) as more important than the medium of the communication (an iPod).

More importantly, though, it establishes a clear relationship between audience participants and cultural producers from the outset: we want to hear what you have to say as fans of the show, so long as we're all clear on the fact that you *are* fans of the show.

It's an interesting and subtle clarification to make upfront, given the problems that some creative teams have faced in the past due to the ambiguous and unarticulated boundaries that exist in their online interactions with fans.  In some ways, the "fancast" is similar to the use of "intermediary channels" like Ask Ausiello and Watch With Kristin; audience questions and input are still moderated, but in this case, by someone working either inside the show or inside the network... no need to form polite give-and-take relationships with outside writers, and it (potentially) makes the audience feel that much closer to the stars of the show.

I'd actually be quite curious to know how FX is structured, in terms of the division of responsibility on these projects, between the show team and the network's marketing division. I'd also be curious to know whether fancasts are specific to Nip/Tuck, or being produced for several of the network's more popular dramas.

Either way, given the attention that Nip/Tuck got for using a MySpace profile to deepen viewer engagement with last season's narrative arc about the Carver, I'm interested in keeping tabs on whatever they're doing now.

April 17, 2006

McDonald's Breakfast Fanfic

Burger King may be entering the game space, but as reported via BoingBoing, McDonald's breakfast sandwiches now have their own fan fiction community:

This is a LiveJournal community for writers of McGriddle Fan Fiction, Breakfast Fan Fiction, and McGriddle Creative Writing. While our primary focus is on Fan Fic involving the McDonald's McGriddle, we extend membership to writers of any sort of breakfast food creative writing (i.e. McMuffins, Bagel Sandwiches, Pancakes, etc).

38 members so far, though -- as BB suggests -- I suspect this community is at least partly satirical. That said: would McGriddle/Croissanwich stories constitute breakfast slash fiction?

April 13, 2006

Play It Your Way? (The King Goes 360)

Two appearances for the XBOX on the C3 blog in as many days: Water Cooler Games reports that the King will be a playable character in several new promotional games:

Market research company Greenfield Online is preparing a plan for Burger King to sell promotional Xbox 360 games in their stores. The games would apparently riff off 'the most popular game types,' adding the super-creepy Burger King character to an action, fighting, and racing game; customers would have the option of purchasing one for $4 with any Value Meal.

Now, given that the only thing that has intrigued me about the XBOX 360 thus far is the presence of the Burger King in the photo-realistic Fight Night: Round 3, this is an interesting tactic.

On top of which, given the price of XBOX 360 games, who's really going to pass up games -- even ones that are almost pure advertising -- at $4 a pop?

Update: Apparently there was some concern that this was an unsubstantiated rumor, but the cease-and-desist that Kotaku received seems to confirm it.

March 10, 2006

Product Placement Backlash!

A handful of events seem to reveal a growing objection to product placement as a survival strategy in the entertainment industry.

Via TV Squad, a report that actors and writers are protesting product placement:

"Both groups are pushing for regulations, or a 'code of conduct' on product placement in television and movies. At the very least, they want more money for not only being storytellers but also advertising copywriters.

While Pepsi cans and Fed Ex trucks in the background are all strategically placed, the writers and actors have a problem when the powers-that-be require them to work products into a story or even write an entire story around a product."

Add to that an NYT article which C3 Advisor William Uricchio just passed us ("In Parody Video, Writers Ridicule Placing Products"):

A Hollywood union is stepping up its campaign against the embedding of brands and products in entertainment and, as they say in the movies, this time it's personal.

The Writers Guild of America, West, is making fun of the interweaving of sponsors' wares into films and TV shows with a so-called viral video that is scheduled to appear this week on a union-sponsored Web site (productinvasion.com). The video mocks Tyra Banks, the host of the popular reality series America's Next Top Model, which features in its episodes the Cover Girl brand of cosmetics sold by the Procter & Gamble Company.

Tough times for the advertising industry?

December 24, 2005

Happy Holidays from C3!

cokemas.jpgAs the year comes to a close, and families gather with relatives and friends for their holidays of choice, we here at the Convergence Culture Consortium would like to take a moment to extend our warmest wishes to you and yours.

It has been a long, fascinating startup year for us, and we're looking forward to ushering in 2006 as your brand culture/fan culture/transmedia/advertising commentators of choice.

In the spirit of the season, it seems appropriate to honor the Coca-Cola Company for their effective work in colonizing Christmas: from their enduring depiction of Santa Claus to their furry friends in the Arctic, Coke has (for better or worse, depending on your stance) played a vital role in developing the modern Yuletide iconography.

If posts are a bit more sparse than usual over the next week or two, it's because we're taking a breather from our brand-monitoring posts to spend time with our respective families and friends. We hope you're doing the same!

Warmest Holiday Greetings, from all of us to all of you!

Apple Touts Its Brand Culture

macminibot.jpgJust in time for Christmas, Apple offers a new round of fan-created innovations: the Apple website for the Mac Mini has been updated to include a section entitled "Mac Mini - Big Ideas", where Apple profiles some of the more innovative hacks that diehard brand-fans have undertaken with the Mini.

The first round of projects include an in-car entertainment center, a digital art gallery installation, an entry in the annual "Self Driving Car" competition, an autonomous robot, and the Millennium Falcon Mini, a "a fully functioning Mac mini inside a model of Han Solo’s venerable spaceship."

(Via MacSlash.)

December 18, 2005

The Boston Globe covers transmedia... twice in one day!

Two interesting transmedia-related articles in The Boston Globe today...

In "The plot thickens" (Subtitle: "Now it's not enough to watch your favorite TV show -- you may soon have to pay to get the full story"), Matt Gilbert offers a good survey of the current experiments in transmedia extensions for television properties:

In the coming months, you and your TV addiction are going to be reeled into an expanded ''environment" of your favorite network show, one that may require a cover charge for entry into certain exclusive zones.

You'll be invited to visit characters' blogs at MySpace.com, or pay for mobile phone episodes (known as mobisodes), or buy DVD packages and video games containing new and additional plot information. Your once-simple affair with your TV ''story" could have as much to do with your PC, your cellphone, and your DVD player as it does with your TV set.

In other words, your relationship is starting to get complicated. Network TV is becoming only the first step in what is known as a "TV series." It's becoming an entry point to show-o-spheres, where you not only watch "24" on Mondays on Fox but you purchase a "24" DVD set that contains clues to the season's big mysteries.

It's a good article which includes most of the new examples that have been surfacing here and in other blogs over the last month or two, and which illustrates the tension between creative and economic motives I've been tracking since the Year of the Matrix.

In "Make way, mainstream TV: mobile video is on the move", Scott Kirsner reviews the now-familiar questions surrounding the rise of mobile video players and content:

"As holiday shoppers evaluate Apple's new $299 video-capable iPod, the question hanging over the entertainment industry is whether the iPod can do for motion pictures what it did for music. Does its arrival signal a transition from the era of scheduled TV, DVDs, and videotapes to the age of Internet downloads?

Nice to see the mainstream press giving this trend some well-due consideration.

December 17, 2005

Analysis: Newly born Viacom is ready to deliver

An excellent article from The Hollywood Reporter covers Viacom's rapid adaptation to the transmedia mentality. Viacom CEO and President Tom Freston has had a lot of forward-thinking soundbites lately, a few of which are worth repeating here:

"'It's really so fantastic. The audience has been leading this life we have been baiting them with for 25 years with more fragmented media,' Freston says. 'They are into multicasting, and now they are having more and more control over what they want to do. So they are driving the process. Simultaneously, the advertisers, because of the technology, are able to be much more creative and efficient about what they can do. We can be much more accountable to advertisers and can sell to them on that basis.'

The cable networks that wrote the rule book on targeting niche markets are setting a new pace for exploiting the power of the MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures brands in new places -- from ringtones and cell phone features to integrating video clips in e-mails and compiling electronic scrapbooks.

'Content providers are like arms dealers today,' Freston says. 'We can sell pieces of what we do to a lot of places. We don't want to impinge on the integrity of the 24-hour cable service where it all starts.'"

Read the full article: Newly born Viacom is ready to deliver

Letting Your Fan (Culture) Do The Work!

Been meaning to post this for more than a week now, and I kept losing the link, so I'll do it now before it disappears again.

ComingSoon.net reports that the forthcoming Silent Hill film (based on a video game franchise, as per the trend) is letting its fans compete to design the official poster.

Fans can enter the contest via the film's website WelcomeToSilentHill.com where they will be able to download creative elements from the film (photography stills, title treatment and billing block) to create their own Silent Hill poster design. Deadline for entries is January 3, 2006 and all valid entries will be posted to WelcomeToSilentHill.com on January 4th for online and WAP site voting to begin.

On January 17th, 2006, TriStar Pictures will review the 50 posters with the most votes for a selection of five finalists. The finalists will be posted on January 20th and fans will cast their votes for the winner. TriStar will unveil the winning poster on February 22, which will then be displayed in theaters across the country prior to the release of the film.

It'll be interesting to see what kind of results they get out of this, both in terms of the poster and generating pre-release anticipation for the film.

December 10, 2005

"Transmedia: Branding's Next New Thing?"

Grant McCracken, one of C3's distinguished advisors, has posted a detailed and thought-provoking three-part analysis exploring the possibilities for applying transmedia strategies to corporate branding. Take a look, and you'll see why we're all so proud to be working with him!

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Whenever he can spare some time from working on his own blog, we look forward to having Grant throwing into the ongoing discussions here on the C3 Weblog.

Nielsen to measure Massive ads

Further proof that Nielsen's report is set to increase efforts in the VG advertising space:

Nielsen will begin measuring Massive ads.

Nielsen Entertainment and Massive Inc. announced a partnership Wednesday under which Nielsen Interactive Entertainment will provide third-party accountability and measurement for in-game advertising on the Massive Network...

Massive operates the Massive Video Game Advertising Network, a system that enables advertisers to fine-tune customizable placement according to consumer demography, game genre, behavioral data, daypart and other factors, and all aspects of the campaign can be changed across the network instantly as well as being accurately trackable (HR 10/18).

(Via Inside Video Games.)

December 9, 2005

Machinima Comes Of Age

This one is especially for our partners, who were asking about the state of machinima while visiting campus a few weeks ago.

While I had already mentioned the recent buzz around a new political piece called The French Democracy, there was a great summation in the Inside Video Games Blog yesterday, talking about new developments and the state of the machinima movement.

Worth a look for anyone who wants to keep tabs on how machinima is working its way into mainstream culture.

(And kudos to our partner, MTV, for their active contributions in the machinima space!)

UPDATE: BusinessWeek has another excellent feature article on the machinima movement. Worth a look.

Film-VG Convergence On The Horizon... Again.

From the same article as the previous entry: for those following the convergence of films and video games -- it seems that we can look forward to more Year-of-the-Matrix style transmedia experiments, as the industries begin to comprehend the logic of games that are complements, rather than adaptations, of their cinematic counterparts:

Said Bruce Friend, executive vp and managing director of OTX Research: "The boxoffice has been weak, so studios will look to get more creative in their advertising."

Stocks said he also expects another form of creativity to become more important in the Hollywood-gaming relationship. Over time, video game developers will likely start working more closely with film studios when it comes to creating games tied to movies, a move that would benefit both sides, he said.

Said Stocks: "If there is more interaction between the film and the game, and the game offers expanded stories and more character development," gamers will be happier and enjoy both products more.

Zen and the Art of Video Game Product Placement

Hot on the heels of the recent reports about the efficacy of in-game advertising, Massive Inc. has announced that they will start integrating "dynamic 10-second ads" into video games in more fluid and logical contexts:

Longano said a traditional 30-second spot would interrupt game play too much, but he is optimistic that gamers readily will watch the shorter commercials. "Advertising makes the gaming experience more realistic ... people accept it and actually like it" as long as it doesn't interfere or distract too much from the game itself, he said.

He explained that players would get to see the short animated videos in "natural" situations, such as when moving their game characters by a TV set that is turned on.

Massive will start using the spots in about two weeks and will charge higher rates than for its static ad displays within games, according to Longano.

Will you look at that? The industry can learn!

December 7, 2005

The McDownload Strategy

The New Scientist reports that McDonald's has filed a patent for a new business model that seems likely to become part of the future of Happy Meals: providing media content that can only be partially downloaded on each visit.

Patents filed by Disney reveal plans to drip-feed entertainment into a portable player while the owner eats in a restaurant. You only get the full programme by coming back to the restaurant a number of times to collect all the instalments. McDonalds could use the system instead of giving out toys with Happy Meals, suggests Disney's patent.

When the owner buys a meal they get an electronic code that authorises a partial download. If the file is in five parts there is a strong incentive to come back for four more meals.

(Thanks to SmartMobs for this one.)

Starbucks: Pitching to Unsuspecting Good Samaritans

Thomas Hawk recounts an interesting experience where Starbucks tried to get his attention by making him express concern for a fellow citizen. He thinks it's clever -- I think it's an uncomfortable trick to pull on your potential customers.

November 29, 2005

Mobisodes = DVD Extras

A couple weeks ago, when the producers of Lost announced a deal to offer exclusive mobisodes through Verizon, I guessed that I wouldn't get a chance to see them until they surfaced (inevitably) as extras on the next set of DVDs.

If 24: The Conspiracy is anything to go by, it looks like that will indeed be the trend; the 24 1-minute mobisodes will be included as part of the Season 4 boxed set when it hits shelves next Tuesday.

Variety.com - '24' offers it all

Fortune on "Profitmon"

Fortune.com has a fantastic write-up detailing how the anime industry has thrived by treating file-sharing and P2P piracy as free advertising, rather than theft and isolence.

"The hard-core fan base is very rabid," says Ledford. "They will get behind you as a company. You don't have to spend a dollar in marketing; you just have to be friends with them." (With the understanding that any true friendship needs limits--and visiting hours.)

There must be a few studio heads out there who would accept 2 a.m. chats with customers in exchange for a rosier state of business.

Definitely worth the read.


Not that it comes as a surprise to anyone, but now that there's a video iPod, there's an obvious market for free video content... and what better freebies than promotional clips and entertainment advertising?

Red Herring: RED HERRING | Disney Uses iPods for Ads.

Prison Break Goes Interactive

Variety article reports that the producers of Fox's hit Prison Break are experimenting with some transmedia tactics similar to those that were used in the failed Majestic... but with a TV show, it seems like a reasonable way to keep fans engaged and emotionally invested.

In recent weeks, as the show worked up to Monday night's fall finale, viewers might have noticed that a cell-phone number used by character Nika Volek (Holly Valance) wasn't of the typical "555" variety. Instead, it was a working phone number, (312) 909-3529. When called by viewers, it leads to a cryptic voicemail message from Luca.

Earlier in the season, producers also dropped an actual email address used by another character, LJ Burrows (Marshall Allman). Send an email to the address -- LJ@ign.com -- and you'll get a coded response back.

Apparently they've had a good deal of response from fans, some of whom even leave "in character" voice mail messages which the the creative team listen to at work. Now what would be fascinating is if a new character got introduced to the show on the basis of an idea that a fan developed through these interaction channels.

November 17, 2005

Extended Previews Hit iTunes Tomorrow

Cinematical reports that IFC Films is collaborating with the iTunes Music Store to make the first 10 minutes of Lars Von Trier's upcoming film Mandalay available for free download. I'd expect to see a lot more of this in the near future, but I'm glad that IFC was the first one to make this move.

Lost Explores The Outer Reaches of Transmedia

Lost, for better and for worse, is doing its best to push the boundaries of transmedia experimentation: a few weeks ago they announced plans to publish a book, which would figure into the show's plot(s) later this season. Now, according to the Hollywood Reporter, they plan to launch Lost Video Diaries, a series of 20 cell-phone exclusive episodes:

"Titled 'Lost Video Diaries,' the series will introduce two characters said to be stranded alongside the cast featured on the primetime version. As fans of the series know, not all of the dozens of survivors of the fictional plane crash depicted on the series get screen time. While the story lines of the pair will be new to 'Lost' viewers, the events depicted in the primetime version will inform their story lines... A tie-in connecting broadcast and mobile versions also is being considered."

I'd be excited, except that (a) I'm still not convinced that people are chomping at the bit to watch television on screens the size of post-it notes, and (b) none of the cast or crew from the network program seem to be "directly involved." (Cuse and Lindelof "have oversight," which I find less-than-reassuring.)

As the New York Times reported a few weeks ago in relation to the mobile episodes of 24, I suspect that most viewers aren't going to get excited about watching no-name actors stand in for the stars they've grown attached to... unless they're clever enough to occasionally emphasize crossover, with plots from one series emerging in the other.

At the very least, I look forward to watching these when they surface as extras on future sets of Lost DVDs.

November 16, 2005

Strained Partnerships: "Medium" & "Geisha"

The Hollywood Reporter suggests that a recent promotional deal between NBC and Sony Pictures predicts the future of product placement.

Since I don't know anyone who watches NBC's Medium, I hadn't noticed that the November 14th episode featured a plot point revolving around Sony's upcoming theatrical release Memoirs of a Geisha:

"In the episode, Arquette's character, Allison, finally got a much-needed night on the town with her husband, and the two decided to attend a special advance screening of "Geisha." When they arrived at the theater, not only was the film's title bannered on the marquee, but the couple also ran into two friends who had just seen the movie and loved it. And just to reinforce the film's title, throughout the episode Allison's daughter Bridgette kept asking for the definition of a geisha."

The logic behind the deal, which will surprise absolutely no one, stands in stark contrast to the multi-network press conference earlier today insisting that DVRs and TiVos are not eroding commercial audiences. Apparently Geoff Ammer, Sony's President of Worldwide marketing, disagrees.

(Credit to SciFiWire for the heads-up.)

November 15, 2005


Just dropping a first post to inaugurate the new official blog for the Convergence Culture Consortium at MIT. More to follow...

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