Johanna Blakley

Media | Entertainment | Fashion

My Transmedia Summer

A video that captures the creative possibilities of multi-platform storytelling

It’s been an incredibly busy summer, what with the launch of the Media Impact Project, and a particularly rewarding one, as well. A good chunk of my time this summer was devoted to teaching my class on transmedia storytelling in the Master in Professional Writing Program at USC. I’d taught a mini version of this course once before but this time I scaled it up to a full three-credit course, and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

My goal was to create a course that would help prepare professional writers for the challenges and opportunities that new media offers. We reviewed a wide variety of experiments in transmedia narrative and examined some of the more popular tools that writers can use to extend their work across platforms, including blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Spotify and Instagram. By the end of the course, students forged a “story bible,” a detailed plan to turn one of their existing writing projects into an interactive transmedia narrative.

This time around I had time to invite some amazing guest speakers. Geoff Long, an MIT alum and an early mover in the still budding field of transmedia studies, came armed with the many lessons he’s learned from working in the  trenches at Microsoft. Tom Keegan, one of the foremost motion capture directors in the world, shared insights about how he translated his long career in the arts and TV development into a stellar career in the game industry. And multi-talented technologist Amit Shalev wowed students with her insights into the evolution of game play, from early text-based adventure games to the immersive multimedia theme park experiences she designs now.

Also this summer, I was thrilled to serve as a thesis advisor to Mira Zimet, a student from my 2012 course, who decided to build the project that she spec’d out in class. While dreaming up plans for complex multi-platform projects is incredibly fun, it’s even more rewarding to see one brought to fruition. It should be available on iBooks soon . . . I promise to keep you posted!

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