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I think of a lot folks see BitTorrent as the original social TV company because it formed affinity groups around videos that members of a group want access to. The sharing of bits between that group made the video more available, and that’s a very fundamental Social TV application.

- Bit-Torrent cofounder Ashwin Navin

(Source: lostremote.com)

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What’s inside “The Bxx”?

Surveillance cameras, skeptics and spirits — Inside The Bxx’s production of “Haunted,” a group of characters investigate a creepy house for paranormal activity. It’s a very linear story with a non-linear interface, with multiple feeds to keep an eye on the characters in the house. It’s very “Big Brother,” and while at first you may find it difficult to sink it to, after about an hour’s worth of watching, you’ll be hooked.

The interface for watching video is an overhead layout of the map, with a timeline slider on top. You can select a segment within a hour within the total 48 hours. When the slider shifts to a segment, the characters are placed in new locations on the map, and video feeds can be tuned into to see what happened in that room during that segment. 

"Carnivàle" Daniel Knauf headed up this project, and in this interview with MediaShift, provides an in-depth explanation of why he took this on in the name of "Transmedia" storytelling, and more about the story. 

As per his suggestion, if you’re looking for a taste of what the experience is like, go to Saturday, Hour 5, Segment 6, and check out Camera 1. Then, go look at the cameras in the bedroom to see what she saw. There’s also piles of other documents within the site to check out to get a full look at the story, their logs, and more.

Overall, a very, very exciting project, and makes me very hopeful that Hollywood may get inspired to start telling stories in very new and very challenging ways.

(Source: bxxweb.com)

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One of the interesting questions in the medium term, is what is the role of the broadcaster any more in a world where you can set up an on-demand, pay-per-view channel as a very small operation?

-  Gary Hayes, “ABC Executive Producer of Multiplatform TV” at the Media 140 conference in Perth

(Source: Yahoo!)

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The first wave of second screen can be defined as enriching TV shows with a second-screen experience. TV leads, online follows. TV the first screen, online the second – the companion app. And in quite a few cases (more than I would deem healthy) ‘gamification’ is sprinkled on these second-screen experiences – points, badges, levelling up. It may jazz up the mundane act of checking in on a show or recognising an ad, but it doesn’t a game make.

- Jeroen Elfferich, “TVification of gaming”

(Source: c21media.net)

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Vintage “Dawson’s Creek” desktops

I recently came across these “Dawson’s Creek” “Desktops” after looking over some of “The Arrglington Jump" recaps of "Transmedia Hollywood 3," and one of the property mentions I came across was the "Dawson’s Creek" desktop.

I followed the link, and wow, this is an amazing vintage piece of online storytelling. Everyone knows “Dawson’s Creek,” and when you take a look at his “Desktops,” you’ll be in awe of how good and complete the online world is for this series. Sure, the design is dated, but all the things that make extensions like this good is there. There’s a cookbook, there’s journals, there’s homepages (from the days when we had those), there’s fictional sites. 

Kudos to you “Dawson’s Creek” desktop team. 

(Source: dawsonscreek.com)

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Swedish “participation” drama “The Truth About Marika”

Looking over the press release for Shaftesbury’s new co-production with Stockhom’s “The Company P” (more about that later!), I came across a mention of their award-winning program, “The Truth About Marika.”

The show combined elements of web video that emerged online before an episode, an episode, a “live debate” with experts afterwards that were actually pre-taped, and clues hidden in the episodes themselves, which were inserted near-subliminally, and could be found using online software. The clues took audiences into a virtual gaming network that involved location-based assignments, and an archive of online video. The project won an international Emmy in 2008.

Take a look at the video above for more details. “The Company P” was also involved in Endgame’s interactive feature.

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Doing transmedia television right: “Castle” and Richard Castle’s official home page

Maybe it’s the strength of Nathan Fillion’s performance of “Richard Castle,” or maybe it’s the scope and skill from the writers of “Castle,” but the writer at the centre of prime-time procedural “Castle” has such a distinct character voice, with such a richly detailed backstory, that it almost seems effortless to create a believable website for this character.

RichardCastle.net is the official homepage for Richard Castle, a long-time author who has found inspirado shadowing a foxy NYPD cop. His site contains a blog which sees the writer reflecting on each week’s case, from lessons he’s learned, to sharing easter eggs such as wedding programs and other photos. The rest of the site includes a self-written bio, a Q&A, and a complete listing of his books, including the “out of print” editions that may not have covers (yet), but live on in proper “Castle” chronology. 

I love that the site also links out to Richard Castle’s Hyperion books author page (which to their credit, doesn’t break the conceit) as well as his Twitter and Facebook profile. But the best part of the whole thing is that they keep Castle’s voice consistent and active through every page, so you really feel like this is his site, and that he would say/write all of these things. 

And now, after reading Frank Rose’s “Art of Illusion,” I also appreciate one aspect of “Castle” that has made the show such a true transmedia hit; The world of “Castle” is richly detailed with a very specific mythology and well thought out, which makes world-extension natural and satisfying from a fan perspective. On the surface, “Castle” is another buddy-cop police procedural with a will-they-or-won’t-they storyline at the heart of it. The NYPD cops themselves don’t have too rich of a world of their own (besides New York city itself), they function just as players in solving weekly mysteries, but Castle… Castle is the perfect vessel for multi-platform storytelling. 

It comes down to details… and with TV, we can get those details episodically, morsel by morsel, because it’s not constrained by running time like films. And as those details come out, mythology is built… and it’s up to the creators of these shows to have at least some idea of what these details mean, or else it just adds up to one big shaggy dog story, ala “Lost” or “Prison Break.”

But Castle, as a man with many passions, experiences, friends in low places, high places, memories, talents, and a career, becomes a larger-than-life foil that can’t be contained through the episodic broadcast alone! And because he has all these things, he can name drop something without having to explain it in a big way, and that allows fans to imagine what that thing he named could be. A good example are the old book titles… he doesn’t go into what each old book was about, but fans can imagine. Then, a site like RichardCastle.net takes it that much further by creating a chronology and synopsis for all these Castle titles, allowing fans to go beyond “What’s it about,” to “What could happen”? In my opinion, this is when TV sites work best, and I love “Castle” and all the platforms they branch out to in order to bring one of the best characters on TV today to life. 

(Source: richardcastle.net)

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Exploring “The River”

To promote their new series, “The River,” ABC launched “Exploretheriver.com,” an interactive experience when pointing-and-clicking on various objects revealed videos, photos, “scares” and tweets related to “The River.” It also connects with your Facebook, and will give you a mission to look for your friends around the boat, as well as pull in a few of your photos. 

While it looks really awesome, and includes lots of interesting videos, the only problem I have with it, is that the “Find your friends” element just seems really shoe-horned in there, and in finding out more about the show, the “FB Connect” element seemed unnecessary. But despite that, it does a great job at introducing sets from the series, as well as some of the bigger mysteries about “the source,” as well as being true to the show’s aesthetic.

(Source: exploretheriver.com)

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The “Undiscovered Country” up “The River”

While “The River” wasn’t my favourite new series when it came out a few months ago — the “found footage” genre just isn’t for me, however, I do like the unique site it built for “The Undiscovered Country,” the show within the show. 

The unique site has all the elements of a proper TV site, with episode recaps, video, galleries, and “news” that lines up with the fictional storylines within “The River.” This is a great extension that shows how tranmedia-ish elements can pad out the world of a series. As a non-fan, I haven’t really dug into the blog posts to see if there are any clues about the big mystery within the show, but if I was, I would be all over it.  For most sites, this kind of thing would be a “nice to have,” but considering “The River” is meant to be considered “real,” then a site like this would be a must. It’s a great way to build out the story-world, and provide a little bit of an interactive easter egg for audiences.

I should also mention that “The Undiscovered Country” looks really great, as it should. For the “30 Rock” one-offs, I can get behind making them look lacklustre if it’s just related to a gag… but when a feature is much more essential to the mythology, it should be really thought out, planned and deftly designed as this one has.

(Source: beta.abc.go.com)

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Opening a medical case file for “Grey’s Anatomy”

I’ve been a long-time fan of “Grey’s Anatomy,” though my interest has waned this season… primarily because the show forgot how to be fun, and I don’t really need to watch cliches like Teddy laughing through a grief counselling session or Cristina and Owen fighting… again. 

So when it comes to the “Medical Case File,” I’m kind of torn looking at it… on one hand, it’s a very thorough blog that details the medical cases on the series via a viewpoint from a medical professional — which is a great feature if you’re a wannabe doctor yourself… however, I feel like it doesn’t entice me to want to watch the show any more. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s only those really odd and extreme medical cases that I’d want to read about (ie being encased in concrete), versus “Necrotizing Enterocolitis.” Overall you could say this is a very educational extension, but is that entertaining enough for a prime-time drama?

(Source: abc.go.com)

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James Van Der Beek’s “Apartment” portfolio

For ABC’s new series, “Don’t Trust the B—— in Apartment 23,” someone working on the site is having a lot of fun with the show. One example of this is the gallery of memorabilia collected by the fictional James Van Der Beek during the series. 

Offerings are a little light right now, considering that only two episodes have aired, but what they do have is perfect for something like “Apartment 23,” as it gives an expanded look at the world of the series, while also being funny! (It is a comedy after all).

For example, the two selections up right now tie directly into the first two episodes, and are fun little things that build on elements from the series. The first is a what a listing for JVDB’s curriculum would have looked like, the second is an illustration of his costume for a strange commercial.

The reason I ultimately think it “works,” is that I’m intrigued enough by what they pick out, that I’m definitely coming back to the show’s site to see what they post next. Heck, maybe I’ll even “like” it on Facebook!   

(Source: beta.abc.go.com)

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What would Judy do for “Scandal”?

ABC’s new series developed by “Grey’s Anatomy” creator, Shonda Rhimes, called “Scandal,” is a show about a Washington insider named Olivia Pope who works as a “fixer,” preventing beltway scandals. 

The series is partially based on Judy Smith, a former Bush administration press aide, who leads her own crisis communications firm, and serves as a co-executive producer on “Scandal.”

In order to give a unique real-world look at how she would solve problems that Olivia Pope is faced with on “Scandal,” ABC has provided a “What Would Judy Do?” blog, where executive producer provides a deeper looking into issues of crisis management. The blogs are pretty exhaustive, and serve to add a bit of credibility to the prime-time drama.

While not necessarily a narrative addition to the site’s offerings, this kind of content is great to build out the world that Olivia Pope works in. It would have been fun to have this kind of blog written in-character as Olivia Pope, to give her a detailed staff briefing on her decision making over the course of an episode… but then that would have been a little too out-of-character for somebody who’s job is keeping secrets, instead of sharing them on a blog.

(Source: beta.abc.go.com)

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Modern Family’s “Memory Book”

With so much going on with all the families on “Modern Family,” a photo album of highlights from the past season works as a great walk through highlight’s of the series, and makes audiences feel like distant relatives themselves by thumbing through.

While something like this could have been executed as a simple photo gallery with simple captions, ABC utilized a sponsorship to make a rich and detailed experience, highly designed with “photo album” elements. With almost every page, there’s also exclusive, never-before-seen clips from the respective episodes. 

I really like the editorial choices that went into putting the book together, as it really presents a cohesive, loving picture of the families and each character’s latest ups and downs. It’s kind of funny too, in that as the series has a faux-documentary style with no context (ie who is shooting this documentary?), the same applies to this memory book… I could see Cam putting it together, but it’s as if the same faux-documentarians built this book as well! 

In addition to the memory book, the extension also has a “Make your own family portrait” for people to send as an e-card and spread the word about the album, and a big contest involving family stories. However, this is also a great looking app on the show’s Facebook page!

(As a “Social TV” aside, interesting that while the “Modern Family” Facebook page has 6 million likes, each post has about 1,000 likes or so… I wonder why that isn’t higher?)

(Source: beta.abc.go.com)