Production Roles

As it is an emerging area, when thinking about the roles within a transmedia production there are a lot of different approaches people take to making a team that works for them. A lot of it depends on the type of project that it is - budget, genre, whether it is an established franchise or not, a crossmedia work [link to terminology] - and a lot of it also depends on simply the choices the producers make with that work. It is important, however, to note that fictional story told using convergence media incorporates both traditional media makers as well as new media makers. There are filmmakers, game developers, musicians, artists, illustrators, animators, designers and writers that are all called upon to create their parts of the overall franchise or transmedia creation.

One of Lance Weiler’s key points when it comes to transmedia production and roles, which he mentions in his blog post regarding Collapsus, is that “diversity of experience [is] key to designing an engaging transmedia project” and that “you want to have a diverse team”. And the very nature of transmedia is that there is a diversity of platforms, which in turn brings a diversity of people and teams. But to create a transmedia project, have a big separation of the various teams and platforms will not lead to a successfully integrated and holistic transmedial experience.
In order to achieve this unification of the various media works, a new production role has emerged: the transmedia designer or interaction designer. There is a particularly unique aspect of transmedia storytelling and that is the connections that exist between the multiple media.
The transmedia designer understands the various design principles of creating storyworlds through multimedia. For instance, the balance between a work being self-contained, but also connected to the overall story arc or the primary text (if there is one), is essential. This is because it must cater for an audience that may or may not have experienced other media works within the same storyworld. But, of course, the more different aspects and media artifacts one experiences, the more engaged one would become with the narrative, the characters and the universe of the story. This is why it is so important that this role is considered and given the proper attention it deserves. Also, a transmedia designer would consider the functionalities and affordances of each media platform in order to express particular narrative aspects in the “best” way possible.

While the transmedia or experience designer is crucial in transmedia storytelling, one of the major arguments that Steve Peters makes in his speech at Transmedia Victoria 2011 is that when it comes to transmedia fictional storytelling, the story is still key, and the writer or author is still the central, most important role in the production. In many cases, depending on the kind of project it is, the primary author can also act as the transmedia or experience designer, as they understand exactly what they want to achieve and express, and understand the different platforms and technologies that exist and how they appeal to audiences.