FOE: Transmedia Design and Conceptualization – The Making of Purefold

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Case Study: Transmedia Design and Conceptualization – The Making of Purefold

A collaboration between Free Scott (Ridley and Tony Scott’s newly launched entertainment division) and Ag8 (an independent studio based in the United Kingdom), Purefold is an upcoming transmedia narrative extension of the Ridley Scott classic Blade Runner. Set in the near future, the project explores what it means to be human. This case study discussion will examine how Purefold’s creators have guided the project through its early concept and design phase.

Drawing together members of Ag8, creative collaborators, and representatives from a major brand sponsor, this panel will examine the project from a variety of perspectives. Exploring the motivations for building a transmedia project around Blade Runner, the panel looks at the potential transmedia might offer for revitalizing older properties. It explores the roles different stakeholders play in the conception and design of a project, as well as the challenges of meeting varying desires and ambitions. The panel considers whether some genres are better suited for transmedia properties than others, and looks at how to extend existing properties with substantial fan bases, considering questions of co-creation and fan/audience production.

Moderator: Geoffrey Long – Gambit-MIT; Panelists include: David Bausola – Co-founder of Ag8; Tom Himpe – Co-founder of Ag8; Mauricio Mota – Chief Storytelling Officer, co-founder The Alchemists; C3 Consulting Practitioner; Leo Sa – Petrobras

  • GL: The origami unicorn has become the blue canary…when I first heard of Purefold I was fascinated. It is an experiment in a transmedia storytelling,
  • DB: We’ve being working on this for about 15months. Asking lots of questions whether this was the right thing. So we will take your through the project, plus one of the sponsors is here today as well.   Looking at design mechanics, insights, mistakes.
  • DB:  Some background….The Joneses. In 2007 Did a project for Ford (via Imagination). Ford asked for some kind of facebook, we suggested it would not work, Suggested an interactive comedy instead.   Where are the Joneses was a sitcom played out through the YouTube, Blog, wiki etc. You could chip into the scripts etc. Dawn Jones was  the daughter of a sperm donor who traveled around Europe looking for siblings.    It was not about product placement, but about a brand experience.
  • DB: we ended up with 92 episodes, published daily, over 3 months. It was multiple platforms, spread around. It did not do huge numbers. Ford evaluated it whether the people liked it or not. Ford wanted to be seen in context and play with their product.
  • DB: another input was a win with TBWA for adidas; setting up a digital agency for the brand, so they could create content immediately, respond and keep content going.
  • DB: these projects caught the eye of Ridley Scott. and his RSA company – they make adverts. But there are fewer adverts. His business requirement was to get these directors some work, so his brief was to write a treatment to get brands to get content. 
  • DB: to do this we wanted somewhere that is good. Bladerunner was looked at – it is all about what it means to be human.  It is set in 2019 – a world that we are close to. 
  • DB: we have bene playing around with social media – and that is about empathy and human. from the business case, this was about RSA owning a property for them to play it. But Ridley does not own Bladerunner. But there is a space to play and design something, about what does it mean to be human/
  • DB: Creative Commons was also important. especially when working with an audience that is adding value, allow them to make new things – which we can also use.
  • DB: AG8 focused on the architecture of the processes, the tools, licensing.  We did the marketing. RSA did the narrtives, (with baby Cow), production, casting, locations.  the Alchemist – developing transmedia extensions for Brazillian Brands.  We had to convince the hollywood lawyers, but with help of Lawrence Lessig we did this to use CC
  • DB: so Purefold is an Open Media Franchise.  It is open as in free to interpret; you can do media collaborations etc
  • TH: the 2019 space allowed us to look at what is just round the corner. Brands we are working with are looking at just round the corner. The near future aspects are a rolling timeline, with all stories set in 2-3 years.   Audiences, brands and filmmakers can share visions about what the future could look like.  With PUrefold we want to open up the vision of the future.
  • TH: But Bladerunner is a dystopian future, not what brands necessarily want. the interesting thing is the bit in the middle.
  • TH: it is all funded by brands. Can we let the films talk about brand prototype. Enables audiences to look for things they want from brands. It is not product placement…it is about product invention.
  • DB: about collaboration to get brands to collaborate with audience to make better products.
  • TH: we are listening to what audiences are saying, to determine what happens next
  • TH: the power law – 1:9:90.
  • TH: So first of all we harvest. We listen into the conversations all over the web. then the 9 % can indicate to us about what they want to see.  then once it is done, we send it out, the 9% comment and the rest is passive.
  • TH: the process.  We get people involved before we go into script writing. We listen to what is relevant on the web. Instead of pushing out for a response, we want them to get involved before production. We use Friendfeed as a platform, we use that as an inspiration for writing. then it goes to production and then out to video platforms.  There is equal use rights for audiences and brands.
  • TH: we listen, write and film. It is about finding out what is relevant/ the advertisers gives us a framework for what they want to explore. Eg cars and electric cars. there is so much conversation happening already, it is trying to find out what is relevant.
  • TH: we have an over arching narrative, we define propositions and synopses. We break it down into keywords and tags. We aggegate conversations across the web, we get audience involvement through comments and likes, which then becomes the inspiration for the writers.
  • TH: it is scaleable, we can set up as many groups around niche interests.  Each of the groups attract a different kind of audience
  • DB: Friendfeed helps us dream, looking about the memories of what a episode should be.  The best rises to the top, which lets the writers focus on the things. The writers can chose what they want. It does make it a little difficult to game the system – you can push stuff our way.
  • TH: using this way of getting audiences involved lowers the threshold. asking them to write ideas and scripts is too high. This is just about indication of what is interesting.  There’s so much info, we have to filter.
  • DB: we are building narratives on top of reality
  • DB:  the amount of content that is being pushed out now is huge…lots of data. But there are land masses and APIs you could build on.  But with all the data, how does a brand cut through?  Clay Shirky says it is not abut Data overload but about Filter failure.  Our challenge is to build filter clouds to bring the story.
  • TH: with advertisers, we go through the agencies to find which brands/clients would work well with the property.
  • LS: Petrobas is an energy company, in 28 coutries.   One key things is advertising, digital presence, product placement, sponsorships.  We are partners also with MIT. We are looking at transmedia with a lot of products. Brand must change their approach.    We need to develop new skills in compnay and agency to do this. Transmedia are a new challenge for us, we must dialog with all the stakeholders
  • MM: when we get a cool IP like Purefold, we think about cars etc, things that may be a lot cooler to gowith Purefold. the challenge was to get the concept of Purefold and mix with how they are thinking about the future of energy. We looked at mapping which stories Petrobas had that could be mapped to episodes,. it is like R&D storytelling. We are developing the idea of what people can bring to the table. through tags and through provocations.
  • DB: we are walking through the pilot season at the moment, 6 global brands doing 4-6 minute pieces. We are testing the process at the moment.
  • MM: one of the challenges with Brazillian countries to Purefold. RSA is amazing, but at the same tome there is a risk issue involved. It is a good risk, but still a risk , So how do you deliver the content in an uncontrolled manner. for hte brands the big challenge. So how does the proposition get dealt with by the audience. are they ready to deal with the consequences, do the objectives get met. So after that what is the role of transmedia around it. We get the episode and then build around it,
  • AUD Q: do brands involve risk giving up their prototypes  and give up advantage?
  • TH: it is not about one particular product. It is more about an areas, ie a mobile operator and Locations based services. Putting an area out there and finding out what people want.
  • DB: it is not just tangible goods, but how they should be acting. It is also about things they can’t change with advertising.  No-one has all the answers, but we can play the system
  • GL: how do you define success?
  • TH: success is in the eye of the beholder which fits this project. Each of the partners want ot get something out of it, have their own goals.   We are transparent as possible. For us it is about an ongoing franchise and continued story.
  • MM: the success is on the whole chain. the end product is a 5min episode.  There are 6 companies involved..but it is all done ‘freely’, with the CC licence, so we can use an asset created by RSA which we can use in our comfort zone. Each stakeholder uses the best of the chain/expectation
  • AUDQ: if harvesting are you violating copyright?
  • DB: no. Copyright is expression, not an idea.  It’s about aggregation, not taking words and using them.  All the data we use is public. If you don;t want to share it hten don’t. Once you share, magic happens. It is the gift economy.
  • AudQ: can we see it?
  • DB: it is all in planning, nothing done yet.
  • AudQ: if you are harvesting across web? how does the audience that is most active, see that there input is being reflected?
  • TH: we see the web as one big connective tissue.   If something gets attention on FF, then that writer will find out, as they get attention.  There are 2 types – as a writer that gets picked up as a source, and as someone involved who comments/likes etc
  • AUDQ: it sounds like your approach is a way for your writers to come up with relevant stories.scripts are reflective of the time. It about creating something that is relevant…so at the same time that people are talking about it the new content arrives.
  • MM: we see following the conversations about getting an empathy fabirc. you get different points of view, the chances of having more empathy because they are talking about the subject.
  • AudQ: how do you recruit commenters etc? Do you hand over the content to agencies?
  • DB: Ridley brings some weight…in FF, we are using widgets etc. We can aggregate on hub, for this.   Yes, we will hand over. Once the content is out there, they can do what they want.
  • MM: we think about extensions during the process.
  • AudQ: if you get it right, it could be a model…so getting the balance between the two futures, how do you manage the balance?
  • DB:it is about making it interesting.
  • TH: we have conversations about what a plausible future is, makes it mor fact based and less bleak
  • AudQ: Gift Economy? How transparent is the brand involvement? will it be clear to the people participating that a brand involved?
  •  DB: you give one line to the Jones, you get 30min comedy.   In this case the brands are giving more than the audience.
  • TH: It is very transparent on the hub, that we have brands sponsored. 
  • MM: it is not every brand that will do this; we remove a lot of the invasive elements, it filters the brands.
  • LS: it is not just hte 5 minutes, it is the whole delivery that is the challenge.
  • DB:

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