Cross-Media Entertainment

This Blog shares Christy Denas research into cross-media entertainment. It is about storyworlds that are experienced over more than one medium and arts type. (Previously crossmediastorytelling)

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February 12, 2006

First Mobile Phone Feature Film

by @ 5:53 pm. Filed under Industry, Repurposing, Mobisode, Mobile Arts

SMS SugarmanApparently, according to all the hype, the first feature film, shot entirely on mobile phones, has been created. SMS Sugarman (the site is down) is by Aryan Kaganof of Virus Films. It is a film that follows one night of a pimp (played by Kaganof) and his two prostitutes, in Johannesburg. Kaganof shot 60 hours of footage on a Sony Erikson W900i over 12 days. But it wasnt just one mobile with a single POV,  one scene used 8 mobiles (can I say cameras?). He is now editing the film to be released at cinemas, DVD, TV, the Net and mobile phones.

[source: The Age, 4th Feb, 2006]

Industry blog on Narrative Technology

by @ 12:01 pm. Filed under Industry, Interactive Narrative, Technology

The Media Centres blog, Morph, has morphed. It has grown into a multi-threaded blog called Morph-the media Center conversation. The threads, or tracks, have a large collection of official contributors and are themed as:

We Influence
Public Relations Marketing    

We Imagine
Technology Narrative


We Lead
Public Policy Politics    

We Live
Behaviors, Trends, Culture


Ill be following the Narrative stream, called: We Imagine!

 Here are some edited highlights of the intro post of We Imagine:

Welcome to We Imagine!    

Storytelling and communication always relied on technology, and for the last several thousand years, we were pretty good at developing technologies to tell stories - the mask and cothurn of the Greek theater; the amazing African costumes that often combine visual and acoustic elements; the ancient temples and gothic cathedrals; the laterna magica of Athanasius Kircher, Lumiere and Edison; and computer-based virtual-reality systems; the string phone, VOIP, plumes and punch cards. We continuously imagine and invent new storytelling technologies. The communication and presentation media obviously impact the story being told and at the same time tell a story of their own.


We develop a new type of narrative as we talk about the narrative, which is of course also about our identity and our memories. 

Are there true paradigm shifts in the technology we use today or are we just infatuated with the now, discounting the old stuff, and more interesting, what will be the next way to tell stories?

How will we tell stories in 2006?


 Contributors to this blog are:

  • Editor Florian Brody, Director of Marketing,
  • Kevin Anderson, Reporter/Producer, BBC World Service
  • Gilles Babinet, Founder, OSLight
  • Laurence Bricker, Chief Creative Officer, Popular Front Interactive
  • Di-Ann Eisnor, CEO, Platial
  • Rob Enderle, Principal Analyst, Enderle Group
  • Katie Lips, Creative Technologist, Kisky Netmedia
  • Shoba Purushothaman, CEO Co-Founder, The News Market
  • Mitch Ratcliffe, Chief Scientist, Buzzlogic
  • Ken Sands, Online Publisher, The
  • Irina Slutsky, Reporter,
  • Andrea Spiegel, Vice President, AOL
  • Bob Stein, Director, Institute for the Future of the Book


The posts seem a bit new-media-centric (Im for using all media and arts types), but nevertheless a very informed and up-to-date discussion. They emailed me to let me know Im officially invited to contribute, which is very nice. I cannot tell, however, with the really slick emails with a personal tone, if I am REALLY being addressed as an individual. Either way, Im interested.

Also, I forgot to post about their Digital Think publication which came out last year. Here is the blurb:

As Andrew says in the introduction, Digital Think is about the art of the possible, and a nod to thinkers around the globe who see in those possibilities a variety of pathways to more enriching forms of communication. It is an anthology of short essays by an eclectic array of digital media designers, editors, artists and producers from the fields of journalism, art, activism, games and design, who share their ideas on conceptualizing digital content.

This publication, and the sagas_net reader on Developing Interactive Content are 2 good, interesting, industry publications on the subject.

February 10, 2006

Top Eleven ARGs

by @ 5:06 pm. Filed under Industry, Stats, ARG, Alternate Reality

One thing industry likes is Top Tens. They like to see at a glance what are the top services, etc. No wasting time figuring out which ones are more successful, just a list of the top ten according to usage and/or ROI. Well, for my work at LAMP I do a few Top Tens. I did a list of Top Ten Mobisodes late last year, though that was not based on revenues or usage since I didnt have data on either. Just a listing of seemingly popular mobisodes worldwide. The following are ARGs (alternate reality games) that are listed according to the amount of players. Some have a much bigger initial signup and then have alot less that actually play. Ive listed them, initially, according to the ongoing players. Also, Ive listed 11, as Im not quite sure of the order of the last few.

  1. I Love Bees (aka Haunted Apiary), 42 Entertainment for Microsoft, 2004 (3 mill+ players worldwide);
  2. The Beast, Sean Stewart et al for Microsoft Dreamworks, 2001 (3 mill players worldwide) [Cloudmakers];
  3. Last Call Poker, 42 Entertainment for Activision, 2005;
  4. MetaCortechs, independent [Project Mu credits] (1.3 mill, 113 countries);
  5. Majestic, Electronic Arts, 2001 (800,000 initially registered, 70,000 ongoing players);
  6. Jamie Kane, BBCi, 2005/.. (20,000+ players)
  7. ReGenesis Extended Reality Game, Xenophile Media for The Movie Network and Movie One, 2004;
  8. Art of the Heist, various for Audi, 2005 (500,000 website visitors, on-going players ?);
  9. Lockjaw, independent, 2002 [Jawbreakers];
  10. Urban Hunt, independent, 2004 [unfiction forum];
  11. Perplex City, Mind Candy, 2005/.. (?00,000s website visits, 14,000+ players worldwide).

The stats are according to data I have found on websites, in papers, books and so on. I have not cited them here as that would be giving away too much! For the ARGs that are listed without stats, they are included because they are approximations according to anecdotal evidence. Ive also had to weighup the market spin with the actual usage. Thankyou to Steve Peters of ARGN Network, for your help with this list (note: the order of ARGs mine however, dont blame him if you disagree!). If anyone has any stats they can add or point out any blistering omissions, please email me.

I find this list interesting as I (and others) can use it to reverse engineer the effective design elements. The success of games that are recent shows that the genre is maturing, but also that there are more players. It makes the older games that have made it to this list all the more important too.

Added 11th Feb 2006:
Some notes on the stats and ordering. Unlike other genres with a retail figure or subscription model, ARGs dont necessarily have fixed figures to measure by. The stats on usage can be derived from signups for games, sales of cards, registered users, forum members, blog users and website visits. But these change too, some have huge initial uptakes and then much lesser ongoing players. Also, what about the lurkers? There are many different types of players, including ones that maybe registered in a forum but do not participate in a manner that can be tracked. Im sure there is a good healthy number of these as the work required to participate in ARGs is often quite large. [Though many are working on making ARGs playable on many levels, according to different player types etc.]. It would be good to have a system where lurkers could be captured at some point, with a quick tally other than unique website visits. I think the following are interesting and helpful values to measure ARGs by:

Website visits;
Media coverage;
Registered players;
Initial players ongoing players;
ROI/brand-impact for client (if applicable);

Oh, and I should say. This list is current up to late last year, early this year. So, the list needs to be updated of course, in time

February 1, 2006

The Next Broadcast Network

by @ 7:57 pm. Filed under Cross-Media Design, Industry, ARG, Lost, Immersive Design

After my slow uptake on The Secret I will now blog AS SOON AS I HEAR SOMETHING. So, here is the news about some new distributed story/games that were announced in the last couple of days. [Okay, I still didnt know about them before the public, but this is better than 3 months after the general public.] This fresh info is thanks to Daniel Taylor, my fellow team-member from the ABC LAMP.

AOL and Mark Burnett Productions have teamed to create an online reality show called Gold Rush! [cue long echo]. The reality show will have real people searching for US$1.6 million in prizes (gold?) that has been delivered by armoured trucks to 13 hidden locations around the US. Players are to try to find the money by searching through clues left on AOL sites, MapQuest, Moviefone and AIM. They will also be providing short 5 minutes clips on AOL, bits for mobile phones and leaving clues in other network programming. They will use real-world tie-ins, such as referring to a peice that has already been created for something else, but gathering a clue from it. This is a good technique that the Lost producers have used [see my post: Seek Find Art]. They will be publising the production through TV, broadband, print mobile platforms. Here is a nice quote for us CME fiends: Burnett said the cross-platform approach was just as important as the programs premise. [Yahoo News, Jan 31]

Their motivation is based on their experience with previous reality shows where viewers spent alot of time online searching for more content about the show, and Mark was perhaps familiar with the idea from his time spent with Yahoo. It seems some more key TV people have figured out what many of us have been saying for a while:

The world is changing and the Internet is about to become the next broadcast network, Burnett said. With the volume of people able to watch content on their computers between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., it could very well become the new primetime. [Yahoo News, 31st Jan]

Yahoo have apparently employed Steven Spielberg to develop Treasure Hunt. But Burnett is also developing a spy-hunt game for Yahoo: The Runner. [CBC Arts, Jan 31]

These are very similiar to the style of game that has been developing over the years, that I have spoken about a few hundred times: ARGs. But is this genre of search fiction, search art, of pull entertainment, of search operas as 42 Entertainment call them that is a big part of the entertainment experience these days. What is hard about these events is that we have two contradictory elements at play: 1) the global access stage of the Net; 2) the need for actual live events for players to interact with each other and receive tangible rewards. So many of these events are made for players in the US and UK. :( There needs to be some way to give tangibility to everyone. Oh, I know, books! Geez, how many times do I have to say that fixed media isnt dead? Anyway, the performance element is important too, but doing with worldwide takes money, or at least organisation.

Yahoo News, Jan 30

Yahoo News, Jan 31

Yahoo News, Jan 31

CBC Arts, Jan 31

New York Times, Jan 31

New Media Arts Design Tiddly

Announcing my first TiddlyWiki. It is a single webpage that just keeps going. Youll see. It houses alot of info, like a wiki, but it not editable by anyone else except me. (Though the interface leads you to believe you can, Ill have to tweak that element.) Otherwise, the page is a handy collection of artist essays, articles and papers about the design of particular new media arts types. I have some areas that need beefing up, and am slowly transferring info I have on wikis etc into it. I also have not put info about cross-media design in it. This I may soon. I am actually working on a cross-media database for that. I may also add academic papers in there too. But, I think those of you who teach, or are just interested in experimenting may find the page a good resource. Ive put a link to it in my Resources section. Enjoy.


by @ 10:24 am. Filed under Blog Admin

Just a quick admin update. I was offline twice over the past month because I switched website hosts, twice. Another story. I have also upgraded to Word Press 2.0 but for some reason my categories are not showing. Ill figure them out sometime soon. That is all, just explaining the faulty plumbing.

January 30, 2006

Spreading The Secret

by @ 2:34 pm. Filed under Cross-Media Navigation, Repurposing, ARG, Immersive Design

The Secret logoI am very much behind the times, because I was unaware of a viral campaign that has been out for a few months. I do recall a secret but who knows what teaser or ARG I could be thinking of?? This viral campaign is designed to gather interest in two things: The upcoming worldwide broadcast of a movie called The Secret and what the secret is. There is a main website, and a blog. There are two short films, which each provide more information: clue 1 and clue 2.

In its launch week, (the third week of October) the website was ranked 12,627 of all sites on the web by Alexa [source: blog]. They have worked to facilitate its viral status by :

It is basically, a dummies guide to using the Net. You can also receive email updates and for those with bad internet connections, you can watch a slideshow version. There are people who claim to know what the secret is, and the weirdest thing is theyve left what appears to be the solution in the comments on the blog. Ill let you search that, if you want to. There is also a blog post by one of the people who are in the movie. There is also a forum that discusses the project, along with stats supplied by those involved. Ill let you find that too. But what is weirder, for me, is that the production company, Prime Time Productions, is actually in Australia, in Melbourne.

The movie is to be aired on Feb 15th then a Tv series meant to be following, along with a DVD. It is apparently in the ilk of What the Bleep, but more accessible. You can see, here, how subscribers to site has grown.

January 20, 2006

Cross-Media Researchers 2: Andrew McKenzie

by @ 12:01 pm. Filed under Research, Theories, Academia, Researcher

This is the second post in a series of posts about new cross-media researchers. Introducing

Andrew McKenzie, PhD candidate, Creative Media, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

Here is his description, from a listserv conversation:

My research is into areas of narrative structure and content creation. For my PHD Im going to be devising theories surrounding the way that narrative and content must adapt for 3g Mobile Video technology. Im using my thesis screenplay from my MA in Creative Writing as a foundation and template to producing content for Mobile Video.

As a case study I intend to examine Douglas Adams Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series in various forms including radio plays, novel, computer games, stage play, television series, and feature film and devise theories surrounding the relationship of character to narrative and exposition.

Andrew will be changing his website to be a blog soon. I look forward to catching up with him when hes in Melbourne, and discussing narrative cross-media. Yay!

Cross-Media Researchers 1: Anja Bechmann Petersen

by @ 11:50 am. Filed under Research, Theories, Academia, Researcher

Many blogs have posts about predictions for this year (including me!), and some have round-ups of the previous year. This post is the beginning of a round-up of last year. Not a round-up of cross-media projects, cross-media in the news or the cross-media industry; instead, over the next few posts Ill be doing a round-up of academics Ive discovered are researching cross-media (in no particular order).

Anja Bechmann Petersen, PhD candidate, Dep. of Information and Media Studies, University of Aarhus, Denmark

Anja is investigating flermedialitet, which Ive just found out is cross-media in Danish! Her PhD is titled Cross-media – interplay between media and is described as follows:

The aim of my project is to make a theoretical conceptualisation of cross-media through different theories of media and production analyses at Nordjyske Medier in Aalborg and DR in Oerestaden. []

Methodically and theoretically the project uses theories of singular media to describe the media characteristics of newspaper, radio, TV, internet and mobile phones (the media types present at Nordjyske and DR) and the satellite terms (discourses) of convergence, divergence, resonance, transmediality, remediation and intermediality to coin a theory of cross-media and the possibilities of interplay between media types.

To supplement this conceptualisation the project will make empirical studies at Nordjyske Medier and DR to see how cross-media are understood (what are their understandings of possibilities as to interplay) and executed both organizationally and physically.

Lucky for me, Anja is coming over to Sydney, Australia for a few months to do some study here. I look forward to chatting more then.

January 18, 2006

Cross-Media, UGC, Emerging Media, there isnt enough room for the hot words to describe this

News from MocoNews: Channel 4 is running a website called FourDocs. FourDocs is the place to upload, watch and learn about documentary. It is addressing the desire for audiences to create their own shows, learn about filmmaking, share their view of the world, and their stories. Audiences have been jumping on uploading video clips, viral videos, vlogs, machinima and now Movies for a while. Some traditional media antecendants include TV shows like Funniest Home Videos, in which audiences send in video tapes of their friends and relatives making fools of themselves or narrowly missing a violent death. So this site is fitting in nicely with an audience desire. But it is doing something else too, docs created by the audiences are available for viewing online and also for download on the street

FourDocs are being bluecast in from underground train stations and cinemasa cross the UK. Through specially created posters advertising the show people can download through their mobile phone using bluetooth 8 different FourDocs. The online show started 2 weeks before the Viacom Outdoors Bluetooth campaign. The campaign was planned by OMD UK and Michaelides Bednash. [Brand Republic] Channel 4 is the first to sign up for the bluetooth poster sites using bluetooth technology.

Another has jumped on the bluetooth service already though: Trans World Entertainment Partners (a music store franchise) WideRay are creating Download Go mobile entertainment stations. Upon entering the store, people with a bluetooth or infrared-enabled phone will be sent an offer to download: music, video, games, ringtones and wallpapers from EMI Music, Twentieth Century Fox, Digital Chocolate for free or as try-and-buy applications. Also on offer will be full-length games that can be paid for in-store. [WideRay press release]

This is great for mobile phones, but also for users and content creators. It also opens the door for wireless advertising. I really like the idea of getting good content, good stories from an advertisement in a bus shelter. The breaking down of the boundaries between advertising and storytelling, between story space and real-life space, between story technology and real life technology will have an interesting effect on people me thinks


What Is The Secret


Cross-Media Paradigms: aggregated narrative, alternate reality branding, alternate reality game, ARG, assemblage, a-cross media, branding, buzz marketing, CME, convergence, convergent journalism, cross-media, cross-media communication, cross-media entertainment, cross-media game, cross-media storytelling, cross-sited narratives, digitextuality, distributed narrative, emergent narrative, episodic gaming, enhanced tv, franchises, games, integrated performance media, inter-media world franchises, intertextuality, locative-arts, mixed-reality game, multi-channel, multi-platform, multi-modal, multivariant narrative, neo-baroque aesthetics, networked narrative environments, new intertextual commodity, new marketing, participatory culture, participatory design, polymorphic narrative, second-shift aesthetics, superfictions, transfictionality, transmedia intertextual commodity, transmedia storytelling, transmedial narrative, transmedial worlds, viral marketing, worlds, X-media, XME...


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A cross-media creator is a conductor of an orchestra of media channels & arts types; an imagineer, constructing fictional worlds that cover the planet; a programmer, interpreting conversations between technology and nature; a sorcerer conjuring awesome events even they are surprised by; an audience member that wanted more, and so made a pact with The Creator to change the world.
— Christy Dena, 2005

Recent Comments:

  • me: I'd also add Chasing the Wish and it's connected stories.
  • Christy: I need to add Flatland (Timothy Shey, Ruddy Morgan Organization production, 2005/...) to this list of...
  • Randy: Great list of mobisodes -- this is very useful.
  • Christy: Corvus' response to my response to his here.
  • Christy: I really like the idea of acknowledging the emergence of a story over a "thread", a topic can be...
  • Monique de Haas: the mini-thread is the first "tries" of a thread by users co-creating content. Threads that are...
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