Henry Jenkins once indicated,
“when sacred texts were only readable by a privileged few, religions employed every means available to spread their message before the age of public literacy” (Jenkins, 2013).
In this sense, transmedia storytelling is an old technique from ancient times.
However, contemporary transmedia storytelling is distinct from time immemorial mainly thanks to the development of technology, to some extent, fragmentation of media state contribute to transmedia storytelling as well.
Transmedia storytelling systematically distributed stories in different media platforms, which seems independent each other but as a whole in fact. Each medium has its own strengths, such as comics to provide background stories, games allow you to explore this fantasy world, and television dramas expand plots in layers. It allows talented narrators to have a bigger stage and loyal fans to share their ideas better (Moloney, 2013).
Henry Jenkins was the first person formally put forward the concept of transmedia storytelling in 2003 (Gallarino, 2017), whereas, before that, there were already some typical cases, such as Star Wars, Pokemon, The Matrix, The Beast, et cetera.
One of the classic examples is Batman, first appeared in a detective comic in 1939, earned its own comic series next year and turned into TV adaptations in 1966. With the popularity of the Batman, there were various related products in the market, whereas, the movie adaptations about Batman made this character knew by a majority of audiences. Throughout the history of Batman, the character overstepped the boundaries of fiction to reality by transmedia storytelling (Reibenbacher, 2013).
Like the Batman, plenty of film characters were widely known through transmedia storytelling, in which, the characters gradually deep into audiences’ lives and people familiar with them ultimately, regarding them were part of reality in the subconscious. In other words, directors created various characters according to audiences’ requirements. Therefore, many film characters and plots are reflections of viewers’ inner thoughts.
Transmedia strategies arise because the media environment encourages the audience to follow anytime, anywhere, giving fans the opportunity to go deeper into their favourite stories.
Written by Zifei Xu
Gallarino, A. (2017). Henry Jenkins explains his vision of transmedia and audience engagement. [online] Transmedialab.org. Available at: http://www.transmedialab.org/en/events/henry-jenkins-explains-his-vision-of-transmedia-and-audience-engagement/ [Accessed 29 Mar. 2017].
Jenkins, H.(2013).Transmedia Storytelling and Entertainment: A New Syllabus. Available from http://henryjenkins.org/2013/08/transmedia-storytelling-and-entertainment-a-new-syllabus.html[Accessed 13 February 2017]
Moloney, K.(2013).What is Transmedia Storytelling? Available from https://transmediajournalism.org/contexts/what-is-transmedia-storytelling/%5BAccessed 13 February 2017]
Reibenbacher, S. (2013) Transmedia Storytelling On The Example Of Nanananana Batman. Available from http://www.fuchsmichael.net/courses/graphicnovelfall2012/index.php/blog/post/transmedia-storytelling-on-the-example-of-nanananana-batman [Accessed 21 February 2017]