This is a final excerpt from the latest bookhitch.com newsletter. Transmedia seems a bit out there at the moment, but then so did e-books five years ago. What seems most relevant to today's readers and writers is set in bold below.
If the transmedia possibility takes hold, writing and publishing will no doubt seem as complex and collaborative as movies are today.
Interview: David Marlett
Transmedia and the Changing Face of Storytelling
This month, we had the opportunity to interview one of the pioneers in transmedia, David Marlett. The founder of enkHouse, a transmedia production company based out of Dallas and Los Angeles, Marlett focuses on enhanced eBooks and interactive apps for the publishing, film and other entertainment industries. He has combined his background of law, film and writing to create a company that is a forerunner of transmedia production. Marlett believes that when the general population thinks about mash-up media at this point in time, people usually think about gaming. He wants to change that mind set into thinking about any and all combinations of media, whether it's enhanced eBooks, enhanced movies, enhanced music videos or a combination of all three.
When asked what he liked about transmedia, he said he enjoyed the fact that there is no formula. "Transmedia is a land for creative exploration," Marlett said, noting that in many arenas such as film and publishing, people often think everything that can be done, has been done already. With transmedia, old and new stories can be imagined in a completely new way. Transmedia is still in definition and therefore "the sky's the limit". Because a project is not bound by only one media, the story can be told in whatever form makes sense for that specific project. Projects can be tailored very specifically to meet that individual project's needs.
Marlett believes that the newness of transmedia means that "everyone is in it together". People are so excited for new ideas and new projects that the amount of creative ideas and energy is incredible. EnkHouse is partnered with KiwiTech programming, the company that created Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth enhanced eBook for STARZ and Penguin Publishing. Marlett said that enkHouse is just going to keep throwing crazy ideas at them until they find something they can't do (which hasn't happened yet, and Marlett believes it probably won't happen).
When asked about copyright issues, Marlett says that he is not worried. As far as copyright goes, enkHouse works project by project. The majority of artists want to show their work, so they're not going to fight over rights. If all parties want a project, then whoever has the rights brings them to the table. It's more the publisher's issue if there is a problem with rights, such as a case with a previous contractual limitation, and enkHouse hasn't had much problem with that yet.
When asked about working on educational platforms, Marlett said that enkHouse is already working on taking web based educational programs to the next level. He knows teachers and students can already interact with other students around the world via the Internet, but that transmedia on touch devices will take it to true social 'learning' in the classroom.
We then asked Mr. Marlett about the future of touch screen devices relating to transmedia. Right now, the Apple iPad is really the only mass-market touch screen device and we wondered if that would limit transmedia. Marlett said that within the next few months, at least two more brands of touch screen device will appear on the market. He thinks that having many competing brands of touch screen devices will only help transmedia. Right now, Apple doesn't allow open source content. Having a competing brand that does will increase the availability of content and further promote transmedia. Marlett believes that this is the future. A year ago, apps and eBooks were something new but now if you're releasing a movie without an app or a book without an electronic version, you're behind the times. "This is a fast market," he says and he thinks that within the next five years, even the laptop will die out in favor of touch screen devices.
When asked about the rapidity of the market and other companies emerging to compete with enkHouse, Marlett didn't seem worried at all. "The more competitors we have, the better" he said, "Right now we're like a fox in a field full of rabbits: it's not a matter of whether or not we're going to catch some, it's a matter of choosing which ones. There are plenty of projects to pick from". He says that right now enkHouse is definitely one of the first movers in the field, as they are partnered with the only company with a truly enhanced eBook with a movie tie in. The demand from consumers is going to skyrocket and the more transmedia projects out there, the better. "The rapidity of the market is amazing," he says, "With every new project, the minimum is set higher. For example: at first it was great that PDF versions of catalogues were online, and now that's boring. People want something interactive, something better."
We then asked Mr. Marlett about the future of print books. He believes that in five years, eBooks will be 75% of the book market. He imagines a new generation of children who will pick up a print book and try to push buttons. Why would they need to use something like a dictionary when they can just press the word to find out what it means? He thinks print books will become more of the coffee table style, there for show but not everyday use.
We asked Mr. Marlett if he thought that enhanced storytelling would change the creative process for authors. He believes that it could, but it doesn't have to. Authors could think about different enhancements (such as backstory, telling the story from different points of view or adding such things as character diaries, embedded videos, documents, photos or journals) during the creative process or they could put together the whole story traditionally and then go back and think about enhancements. However, he thinks that all authors needs to think in a multidimensional manner now. Authors have to start thinking about such things as "what if this event could also be read from another character's POV?" or "what other ways can I reveal this backstory?" all the time. He imagines a world where almost every reader experiences the story in a slightly different way. It makes the story more complex. He compares it to a puzzle maker who is used to making a 1000 piece puzzle having to make a 1000 piece puzzle that is now 3D.
It also makes the creative process more of a collaborative effort. It's not just an author sitting in her cabin writing by herself throughout the whole process. It's a whole team of designers and writers and producers trying to tell the story in the best way possible. Marlett also envisions a world where the "was the book better or was the movie better" conversation has a third part that ties the two together. This third part will not just rely on the film team or the writing team, but a collaborative effort between the two to create something totally different. Coming from Marlett's dual filmmaker/writer point of view, he thinks this third part just "makes sense".
Finally, we asked Mr. Marlett what his favorite part of his job was. Like anyone who truly enjoys what they do, he says he had a hard time narrowing it down. He really likes any part of his job that is entertainment or story oriented. He likes working with designers and writers and getting them to collaborate their ideas into something greater. He said that he is happiest when he is "surrounded by designers spitting out ideas" at the very core of the creative process.
Causes Bob Mustin Supports
Native American culture. Education. Creative writing.