The Pixel Lab – reflections pt 1

I, as 33 others, attended The Pixel Lab in Cardiff last week; a lab focussing solely on transmedia, from every possible angle. Engaged in the lab were also twenty-odd tutors and experts, each with their own take on the matter (but, and which was slightly amazing to me, not contradicting each other, but rather building on each others presentations and views. This wasn’t about agreeing on everything said, not at all, but rather about knowing that everyone had their own experiences and their own cases to bring to the table, and respecting that fact. Felt good, I’ll happily admit.)

The format of the lab felt a bit odd prior to the event, as 17 producers WITH a project were paired with 17 producers WITHOUT a project, for sparring and workshop purposes. As a producer attending without a project, I was slightly sceptic – what would I get out of it in the end? This turned out to be a non-issue in the end. I actually think I benefitted more from not having an actual project at the lab, seeing as I could then absorb everything I learned and realized during the week with regards to everything we’re working on, not just one specific project. On the other hand, looking at the projects that were participating – from the highly experimental “Mechanical Figures Inspired by Tesla” (which was the project of Helena Bulaja, the Croatian producer I acted as sparring partner for), to more straight-forward stuff like the follow-up project from the makers of “Outpost” (Zombies! Gotta love’em!)

All in all, it was a packed week. 10-hour days, absorbing, reacting, discussing, developing and most of all THINKING all the while, I’ve simply had to take some days off now afterwards to clear my head. So, what were the impressions and reflections for my part? There were some key points to take from this, I gather:

– Transmedia might be a buzzword of 2010. This does not, however, mean that it’s a trend that will die away in the next couple of years. Transmedia is a revolution in storytelling; the audience is not only participating; the audience is now the story, and what used to be the story is the setting.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised! So said Gil Scott-Heron back in 1971. Today, this rings true for transmedia as well. There are a few producers who realize the possibilites (and to some degree, the limitations). There are some brands and perhaps even some channels that understand the hidden power that lies in making your audience invest in the story you are telling. But for the most part, traditional media remains traditional media, even if you hit it over the head with a transmedia axe. The week was filled with anecdotes about financiers, power houses in the media industry, colleagues, independent producers etc, just not being interested in transmedia at all (or IF interested, completely misunderstanding the topic). This fact made the Pixel Lab such an extraordinary event – there were fifty-odd creative people gathered to talk about transmedia for a week, and if we perhaps weren’t really agreed on where the goal posts were located and what the best route to that goal should be, at least we were on the same playing field, playing towards the same goal. That felt good!

– Context is King, Data is the new oil, said Brian Newman during his (excellent) presentation at the Lab. In a way I agree, especially regarding data. But for Context vs Content, I still have to go for the latter. As was evident during the week, at least to me , was that as soon as a great story arch was raised or a great turn to a story was invented, everything else seemed to fall in place quite naturally. Well, perhaps it took some time, but it was somehow already there in the story, as soon as the story fell in place. What made this week so great was that it gave us a number of tools to help facilitate that “falling in place” process much easier, without banging our heads on a brick wall for months during the development process (as we did with The Space Trainees, for instance). So, for me Content is still King. But Context is dais the King is stood on, so everyone can see him, hear him and touch him.

– We need more venues like The Pixel Lab. There are already a number of interesting projects spawning from the contacts made during that one Lab week, and the contacts everyone made with other like-minded people from around the world were just impossible to calculate a value on. So – EU Media Fund, Film Councils all over the world, philantrophists and just about anyone who got a dime to spare – help finance more of these things. We need them, and the world does too! 🙂

Here are links to some of the presentations during the week:

Steve Peters presentation “Shattering the 4th Wall w Social Media-How the Future Will Tell Stories”
Mel Exon’s slides on the social web, storytellers and brands
Brian Newman’s thoughts on the Pixel Transmedia Lab
Wendy Bernfeld’s (Rights Stuff) list of case studies of legal disputes, new media vs old media
Dan Lawsons reflections on the week

Thank you all again for a great week, hope to meet each and everyone of you at some point in the future!


2 thoughts on “The Pixel Lab – reflections pt 1

  1. Thanks for the links Simon, and the write-up. I particularly liked this: "But for the most part, traditional media remains traditional media, even if you hit it over the head with a transmedia axe."Keep it native. 🙂 Although the money for doing that is scarce…Gonna enjoy going through those slides. Hope you enjoyed Caerdydd too. HwylRh

  2. Yes, Caerdydd was great – although I saw just a little bit of the city this town; we were stuck at the hotel most of the time… Take care, talk to you later!hwylSimon

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