Immersive Storytelling, Transmedia Experiences and Storyscapes

The past week I have had chance to experience a few transmedia experiences.  What they are called or billed as is as fluid as their content, use of technology and, alas, quality of all of the above.The Lincoln Film Society has a program called, Convergence: Immersive Media  at Lincoln Center.  Currently the program features Futuremate a hybrid live performance, film and interactive game experience.

Billed as a wickedly funny satire about life, love and the modern surveillance state, I had a hard time immersing myself.  Partially to blame for that was of course the fact that any “mating” game in NYC will have to deal with the skewed 2:1 female male ratio. Parts of the experience felt forced, video elements where poorly produced and although the script had its moments it was all a bit too over the top for my taste. I felt like an outsider watching with (more or less) interest a not so great theatrical performance with many gimmicks and I was certainly not immersed.   I think a much better experience could have been had with better actors and certainly a better balanced audience.   It’s the age old issue, and I’ve been there myself, where people with great ideas and a great script are not necessarily great directors or actors.  This just a hunch…

The Tribeca Film Festival had two floors of Storyscapes as part of their Innovation Week. The projects in Storyscapes incorporated virtual reality, live performance, 3D graphics, music and gesture-based gaming and they were all participatory.  In addition to the five finalist featured there were quite a few other immersive or transmedia experiences. All of this, by the way, fueled by massive amounts of Sapphire Bombay Gin to which I fell prey the first visit and no popcorn in the world could keep up with the gin.

The five 2014 Storyscape are listed here with their links, and Clouds won the competition.  I will talk a bit more about Choose Your Own Documentary as I had a chance to talk to three of the four filmmakers at length and it also was from a technical POV the most accessible and the closest to what I would set out to do as a doc filmmaker.

–          Clouds (winner)

–          Choose Your Own Documentary

–          Circa 1948,

–          On A Human Scale

–          Use of Force

For a visual (Sic!) look:

My favorite two interactions were not part of the competition.  First there was RiseRise was a single still of a short film set in virtual reality which you could explore via Oculus googles. I went back for more several times – the experience only lasted a few minutes, but the immediacy of being seemingly physically in a science fiction scene and having all of your bodies senses react to a perceived threat as if it were real was amazing.  Rise was designed by Scott Metzger of Nurulize.  I spoke with Philip Lunn, CEO of Nurulize who talked about how the room you experience is being captured with lasers and still photography and how you can then enter the room and shoot in it! Some future applications sounded intriguing and there will be more about that here.

The other experience was cute and I mention it because I had such a good time with two new found friends (one, a criminal lawyer I picked up in the freight elevator, the other my new elevator-friend and I met at the screening itself).

The premise was three lines of script and the task to create a film of five minutes length with the three lines of script repeated once in a three minute interval.  The five winning shorts of the competition where shown back to back and with each film they served a different cocktail (with, you guessed it, Bombay Sapphire Gin, and flavored popcorn: think truffle oil with cacao, or pepper and raspberries).  And yes, you guessed right again, that was the start of the downfall of the first visit.  Watch the trailer and the five winning films:

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