Transmedia Storytelling: Place & Pace, Rivers & Bridges


Thoughts on the different types of stories told in New York City versus Los Angeles and the television as a story bridge.

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 24 may 2011

A few weeks ago in Los Angeles at Soho House West Hollywood, we held a PSFK SALON on the subject of Transmedia Storytelling. It was an interesting subject to choose because, even though we had heard a lot about the theme, we didn’t know too much. We had four great speakers talk (J.C. Christofilis from DILEMMA, Kristen Olson of Cimarron Group, producer Ben Rock, Gunther Sonnenfeld of RAPP) and Scott Walker moderated a great Q&A session with the speakers and audience at the end. I learned a lot but I came away with an observation and a prediction that might help us understand how stories told across mediums will evolve. This thinking is done without a thorough read of existing transmedia theory – it’s based more on tech and content trends that we monitor everyday:

Observation: Los Angeles And New York Tell Different Types Of Stories Set At Different Paces

My takeaway from the event was the different approach to Transmedia Storytelling between the coasts.

In New York, I think we tend to see the storytelling over a limited time length. This could possibly be due to the fact that New York’s content production has been led by the publishing and advertising industries. Traditionally, stories in those mediums often have to be told in 30 seconds, or by the end of an article. Transmedia Storytelling that comes from New York seems to be about shorter stories and because of the nature of the skills base here – it is more copy and photography intensive and therefore it is more suited for print and static digital and mobile mediums.

In Los Angeles, the film industry has provided a traditional concentration on long form narrative. Stories run for more than 120 minutes and that naturally influences the way the producers are contemplating Transmedia Storytelling. What seems to be more common is intensive back-story, character development and because of the nature of skills in Los Angeles – the output tends to use moving image.

Prediction: Television Will Offer A Bridge For Stories By Providing A Flow Of “Dumb Content”

Of course the bi-coastal observation above ignores television production – which both cities do very well – but instead of working out how it influences the type of narrative created across mediums, it might be more productive to consider the role it may end up playing in Transmedia Storytelling.

If behavioral trends continue in entertainment consumption, people will be sitting in front of their TVs with another screen on such as a tablet, ebook, laptop or phone. Often, that other screen will be a source of focus for them and will definitely be the way the audience interacts with content.

One could argue that the television is still one of the most arresting formats around. My feeling is that TVs can leverage that to provide bridges for stories that run across media. TVs will be “on in the background” and rivers of “dumb content” will flow through them that would glue the various chapters of a story together. Because TVs will be ‘always on’ (or could be) these bridges allow storytellers and the audience to take a moment’s break from the multi-dimensional and involved content that digital media enables and the bridges allow everyone to relax with simple one-directional audio-visual content which compared to smart media will be seen as rather dumb. Video won’t be the only dumb content – audio will remain pretty one-dimensional for a while too.

You see this in the work of experiments in book publishing already. At the end of chapters in Anthony Zuicker’s books there’s a link to video content that takes the reader to the next chapter (Zuiker actually calls these cyber-bridges). Right now when viewers access the video, they have to go through to YouTube or a special website. In the future, when you click on that link on an ebook or phone, maybe your high definition (dumb) TV changes the channel and plays the well produced and costly (dumb) content instead?

TV ownership is declining but the ‘box’ could become important again because it will be the bridge that takes you from one place or another in a story – a kind of glue that holds the story together.

image by Gary Hayes


Machine Printer Uses Coffee Drips To Create Intricate Portraits

Arts & Culture
Technology december 2, 2016

Why Nest Doesn't Get The Holidays

PSFK founder reacts to the damaging effects of poor email marketing

Children december 2, 2016

Robots Could Be Joining Dubai’s Police Force In 2017

The real-life RoboCops can salute, shake hands and collect traffic fines


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Travel december 2, 2016

Parka Hides And Charges Portable Devices

Bolt is a jacket that lets people carry and charge their various electronics without the need for an outlet

Food december 2, 2016

Yelp's New 'Yelfie' Feature Lets Diners Take Selfies

The update is designed to encourage people to attach a selfie when they share their experiences

Design & Architecture december 2, 2016

Build Your Own Savory Cheese Advent Calendar

A British food blogger has created a guide to building a different kind of holiday surprise

Fitness & Sport december 2, 2016

Floating Gym Concept In Paris Is Powered By Your Workout

The proposed design from Carlo Ratti Associati lets passengers ride a stationary bike as they travel through Paris along the Seine River


Future Of Retail 2017
Transformation Strategies For Customer-First Business

PSFK Op-Ed november 22, 2016

Digital Strategist: Why “Big Sensing” Is Key To Retail’s Future

Bud Caddell, Founder of NOBL, shares why the most capable and useful asset in any retail environment is the workforce

PSFK Labs december 1, 2016

Retail Spotlight: Home Depot Reimagines How Employees Conduct Tasks

The home improvement retailer puts the customer first by initiating local fulfillment centers and simplifying freight-to-shelf inventory management

Syndicated december 2, 2016

What Does The Future Of Android Look Like In A World With The Pixel?

Google’s decision to make its own phone might have looked like a blow to the likes of Samsung but the reality is much more interesting

Retail december 2, 2016

Customer Service Expert: Why Offline Retail Has Better Data Than Online Retail

Healey Cypher, Founder and CEO of Oak Labs, shares why we should be thinking about the physical store as an e-commerce site

Fashion december 2, 2016

Alexander McQueen Designs A 3D-Printed Umbrella

3D-printed fashion arrives in time for the winter season

Work december 2, 2016

Why Training Associates To Be Advocates Is Key To Retail Success

In our Future of Retail 2017 report, PSFK Labs discusses strategies to prioritize customer service, which begins with associate advocates

Media & Publishing december 2, 2016

Netflix Creates Binge Candle To Celebrate A New Season Of Gilmore Girls

The streaming service developed a special layered candle that creates candle with episode-specific smells


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

Arts & Culture december 2, 2016

Interactive Film Tells A Story About Living With Cancer

A moving song written by a father of a cancer patient comes alive in a 3D environment

Automotive december 2, 2016

Audi And LEGO Exhibit Autonomous Vehicle Installation

The installation at Design Miami explores the 25th hour, which represents bonus productive work or play time

No search results found.