Transmedia is a type of storytelling that involves more than just one platform. Instead of just sitting down and watching a television show or a film, you can go online and learn more about the stories told and some of the characters you saw. This is a smart way of marketing products and increasing the excitement surrounding those products. Some of the top examples include films, shows, albums and even video games.
The Blair Witch Project
The Blair Witch Project had one of the most successful marketing campaigns of all time. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it is one of the 10 highest grossing independent films of all time and made more than $240 million on a budget of less than $30,000. The Blair Witch Project is also an example of a transmedia project because of how the studio marketed the film. The studio billed it as a true story and released documentary shows on television that told the “true” story of the witch. It took months before viewers learned it was a fictional story.
Trent Reznor, the lead singer of the band Nine Inch Nails, wanted to make a concept album unlike anything listeners head before. Year Zero started as an alternate reality game that the band released in February 2007, several months before the release of the album. Fans quickly started playing the game to learn more about the album, which Reznor claimed was a reaction to the government administration of the time. Year Zero became so popular that the band announced plans for a film and television series to go along with it.
Assassin’s Creed is one of the more popular video game franchises of all time. These games allow you to play as the descendant of a secret group of assassins as you go back in time to save the world. The series consists of 17 different games that let you play during the renaissance, colonial times and other eras. To help players become even more involved in those stories, the makers of the game also released three short films, a full-length action flick, multiple books and graphic novels. Netflix even plans to build a TV show around the series.
FOX created the television show FreakyLinks to capitalize on the popularity of The X-Files and aired the show in 2000. Ethan Embry played Derek, a young man tasked with running a website of the same name. Originally owned and operated by his brother, Derek took over the site after his brother’s death. The show featured unique and unusual stories based on urban legends and supernatural creatures like ghosts and witches. Fans could actually visit the same website on their own computers to find hidden clues relating to the brother’s disappearance. That site was an early example of transmedia on the web.
Director J.J. Abrams burst on the scene with his film Cloverfield, but he used transmedia as a way to excite fans and make them want to see the film long before its release date. Cloverfield told the story of multiple groups of young people trying to survive as a giant monster attacked the city. Abrams released several short films that he shot on ordinary cameras to make people think it was real footage. He also offered products featured in the film for sale that came with additional clues to help viewers uncover the mystery of the monster.
Transmedia projects combine different media elements to tell a story and to help you go deeper inside a seemingly short story. Some of the top examples of transmedia projects include games, albums, shows and films.