Transmedia, you might have heard about it but what does it entail?
In layman’s terms: A Trans media property is a property which develops in different media types. You might start with a book which explains the core of your story, create a side story of this property in a game and explore the world in a tv series. The best example I can think of to convey the scale of such a property is Batman. Batman has started off as a comic book created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. This remained strictly printed until a tv show was created in 1966 (lovingly known in the Batman community as Batman 1966). While the comics started out as a serious and slightly gritty story, the 1966 show gave us a funny (and even campy at times) Batman with silliness extending to having shark repellent in his utility belt.
While this series was discontinued the comic books kept being created, and in 1992 we got the widely loved Batman: The Animated Series. This show gave us a part of trans media storytelling in the shape of Harleen Quinzel, more commonly known as Harley Quinn. Harley was the therapist of the Joker while he was confined in Arkham Asylum but she fell in love with him because of his wits and manipulation. She was created solely for this show by Bruce Time & Paul Dini but after a while she began appearing in the comics as well (and subsequently in the films). This addition can be seen as a Transmedia quirk and made Harley Quinn completely cannon within the Detective Comics Universe (DC Universe).
Transmedia should not be confused with Crossmedia. In Transmedia parts should add to the story instead of translate to other mediums. We have to say that the original Lord of the Rings trilogy is Crossmedia instead of Transmedia because it is a translation of the story from medium to medium without adding new cannon parts to expand on the existing body of work.
While creating a trans media property you commonly start with world building. You shouldn’t see the world as a plane or a canvas, no it should be as vibrant as a character. It should live and breathe the vibe that you are trying to convey. We can look at Star Wars for examples. The sandy planes of Tatooine are completely different than the frozen tundras of Hoth, and for good reason. These vastly different planets both give you a sense of despair and hopelessness while vastly civilised planets like Coruscant and Naboo give you a feeling of wealth and culture. Even though these planets may seem completely different they are all still part of the Star Wars universe and have to be fleshed out to give you the greater picture.
Another great example of Transmedia is the Watchmen universe. Started as a graphic novel by Alan Moore it described a history like ours but slightly altered. America has won the Vietnam war, Richard Nixon is still president in 1985 and vigilantes reign supreme. It first became a Crossmedia when being translated to film in 2009. This spawned a few extra comic books in 2012 called Before Watchmen, but it didn’t stop there. In 2019 the tv series Watchmen where they expanded a the history of a side character (Hooded Justice) from the comics and how people cope with the events of 1985 in 2019.
Of course you should always mould the story to your own image, these are just some things to take in account. But whatever you do, just make it compelling and you’ll have your story in now time.
Let’s talk again soon,