Digital Media Terms & Examples

When you say Digital Media, what exactly do you mean?

We are using the term Digital Media to refer to any content-based electronic media that is created, distributed and displayed using communication technology for the purposes of entertainment.

As the Digital Media Initiative seeks to support producers in increasing the amount of digital content to compliment film and television projects that is being created within Saskatchewan's borders,  we are generally focused on projects that meet the requirements of the major cross-media/transmedia funders such as the CMF and the Bell Fund.  These funds typically look for rich and substantial interactive digital media components that are available on more than one platform.

Some examples of Digital Media content are:

Interactive Art
Sask Example!

Interactive Documentary

Interactive Literature

Interactive Filmmaking

Alternate Reality Gaming

Mobile Application
Sask example!

Transmedia & Digital Storytelling
Sask Example! 
Sask Example!

Web Series

Video Games
Sask example!
Sask example!

Cross-Media vs Transmedia

Cross-media/Transmedia is Media that tells a story across multiple forms of media with each element making distinctive contributions to the audience's understanding of the world in which the story takes place.

A Transmedia narrative bridges multiple platforms and multiple years and roll outs of content.  According to the Producers Guild of America, a Transmedia Narrative project or franchise must consist of three (or more) narrative storylines existing within the same fictional universe on any of the following platforms: Film, Television, Short Film, Broadband, Publishing, Comics, Animation, Mobile, Special Venues, DVD/Blu-ray/CD-ROM, Narrative Commercial and Marketing rollouts, and other technologies that may or may not currently exist.  Transmedia also often involves fan fiction, where the audience begins to create stories within the rules of the storyworld.  Perhaps the most well-known example of Transmedia may be Star Wars.

Cross-media can involve less than 3 platforms and be factual.  Waterlife is an excellent example.  The website, available here, serves as a resource on the traditional documentary's subject matter that lives beyond the film's premiere. 

Cross-media/Transmedia is not:

- distributing or repurposing media created for one platform across multiple platforms

Cross-media/Transmedia is:

- creating unique media for several individual platforms that share a common story, theme and set of characters

Transmedia Producer

Transmedia Producer was recently added as an official credit by the Producer's Guild of America  A Transmedia Producer is cited as being responsible for a significant portion of a project’s long-term planning, development, production, and/or maintenance of narrative continuity across multiple platforms, and creation of original storylines for new platforms. Transmedia producers also create and implement interactive endeavors to unite the audience of the property with the canonical narrative . 

In short, a Transmedia Producer's role is to be the shepherd of the story world.  The Transmedia Producer helps to bridge gaps and authenticate properties and versions between mediums.  The Transmedia Producer must be a champion for all mediums, ensuring that no piece of content is repurposed or recycled on a different platform and that on every platform, new content for the Transmedia property is working for itself while at the same time, effectively weaving itself with other elements of the Transmedia story.  

More Transmedia info:

The slides from Siobhan O'Flynn's presentation "Telling Stories in Digital Spaces" provide a good sense of Transmedia Storytelling and are available here.

A great roadmap for creating Transmedia is available here.

A nice simple outline of how to fund your Transmedia project courtesy of MipWorld is available here.

Platform vs Format

A Platform is a pre-existing construct for the dissemination of content and interactions.  The iPhone is a platform.

A Format is a particular type of content on a platform.  A game is a format.


Interactive media has the ability to engage audiences in ways that traditional media does not.

Interactivity is:

- placing the audience in the director's chair and allowing them to create their own experience with the media

Interactivity is not:

- distributing a finished product for the user to consume as is

A great example of a truly interactive experience with a character is available here. 

Fixed media like Film or Television can become interactive when it utilizes Digital Media to engage with its audience and allows them to input or affect the outcome.  A good example is Total Drama Island.  Total Drama Island is a children's program where characters compete in challenges.  After the program, viewers can go online and create an avatar of themselves that can then compete with other viewers in the same challenges.  At the end of the season, the avator of the viewer with the highest online game score appears in the season finale of the TV program.

For more digital media terms, courtesy of Nihilonaut's Ryan Fitzgerald, click here.

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