This month I feel as if I had a head start. I picked up Andrea Phillip’s book, A Creator’s Guide to Transmedia Storytelling, at my local library and began reading it before starting this course. Some of the first terms she defines are West Coast Transmedia and East Coast Transmedia. On pages 13-14 she quickly describes their differences.
West Coast Transmedia is described as having, “multiple big pieces of media, feature films, video games. It is grounded in big-business commercial storytelling”. In the interview she did with Henry Jenkins, she expressed regret about coining these terms based on location. Although West Coast-style Transmedia often occurs in Los Angeles, she meant for it to mean a general approach to transmedia. West Coast Transmedia is corporation or franchise based. The projects can extend forever if they are successfully marketing for their anchor medium.
Andrea says that East Coast Transmedia is more interactive. These transmedia projects use social media. They are web centric and generally run over a set period of time. The do not extend forever. They are project-based.
Great examples of West Coast Transmedia are from television shows. Last week, I gave an example from The Office. The wedding website for Halpert and Bessly optimizes transmedia storytelling. The Office also has a Pinterest account which focuses on scenarios from the show. The Shrute Wedding has some great photos with descriptions that pretend that the event was real. The web page for The Office has social media buttons that leads you to transmedia stories which highlight events from the show. The best example that I can give is the website for the show’s fictitious paper company. The Dunder Mifflin site is written realistically and is almost fully functional. There are tabs for Media, Career, and even their Intranet. I did experienced a little difficulty accessing some of the tabs.
Andrea Phillips sites the World Wrestling Entertainment as “phenomenal” east-coast style transmedia. The WWE lends itself well to transmedia because the characters already “pretend” to be real people. Their Youtube channel has over 640 transmedia videos. There are interviews with the characters, and other real celebrities, about upcoming fights. The interviewees talk about the fictitious characters personal lives as if they are real.
Transmedia can also be categorized by stories created for marketing or art. Transmedia that is made for marketing attempts to funnel the audience towards making a purchase. SmokeBomb Entertainment is a company that makes transmedia stories specifically for television. Transmedia that is created for marketing has a very specific goal of enhancing the audiences experience and encouraging to buy or watch something.
Transmedia that is created for art is commonly a marketing tool for the artist. Usually the artist is not trying to get the audience to buy something specific. Sometimes their story is not connected to a bigger picture. Universe Creation 101 is a site that shares interactive stories through various mediums. The projects do not generally cost anything to engage with. There is no revenue stream at the end of the tunnel.
Each category of transmedia wants the readers to follow a trail that leads to a “headquarters”. They want readers to either watch their television show or, in art-focused transmedia, visit the artist’s website or portfolio. The biggest difference between the two is that marketing centered transmedia has a very large and potentially profitable anchor medium whereas art-focused transmedia wants the viewer to get lost in the story without a revenue generating ending.