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Transmedia lets the viewers tell the stories

Published on Friday, 16 May 2014
Leslie Lu
Anita Ondine

While global brands are already adept at emotionally connecting, engaging and inspiring audiences across multiple channels, the marketing world is now embarking on a new form of storytelling – “transmedia”.

In March, the Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI) joined forces with Transmedia Next, a team of media experts and trainers, to conduct a seminar and workshops for professionals in Hong Kong’s creative industries.

Transmedia is the practice of spreading entertainment properties across multiple media platforms and markets – such as films, mobile and social gaming – in a bid to engage users across various networks. Transmedia storytelling projects show that, even when attention spans are short and media consumption is fragmented, fans are willing to immerse themselves in non-linear, multi-layered story worlds, and even extend them further through their contributions.

“Although the concept of transmedia as a discipline in its own right is still very new to Hong Kong, locals have been finding innovative ways to tell stories for centuries,” said Anita Ondine, creative director and lead trainer at Transmedia Next, who was also the speaker at the seminar.

Ondine explained that the company’s strategy for engaging audiences involved reinforcing users’ personal participation and desire to share their brand experiences.

Leslie Lu, principal of HKDI, said that he was delighted to promote this new form of cross-platform narrative. “We see the potential that transmedia has in its embryonic stage in Hong Kong, and hence the opportunity we have to promote it to our new generation and to working professionals or design practitioners,” he said.

The transmedia seminar was offered as one of the training courses provided by the HKDI Professional Education and Engagement Centre (PEEC). The centre is HKDI’s in-service training unit and collaborates with international brands and trainers to provide professional courses, seminars and workshops for design professionals, students, and members of the general public interested in design.

“We invite visiting fellows from overseas, as long as we consider that such an arrangement will offer new insights to our students, teachers and local creative industries,” Lu said. “Certain disciplines may need specific experts from overseas to lead a series of seminars or workshops, especially when these experts have special knowledge or skills which are not commonly found in Hong Kong.”

Such visits range from one or two weeks to a whole semester or more, depending on the visitors’ schedules. Apart from Ondine, the centre has so far collaborated with a number of other professionals from overseas. Vladan Nikolic, of The New School in New York, was invited to explain the latest developments in film and digital media production. Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, from Yale University, came to work with HKDI students on a cross-disciplinary design project. Other notable names include contemporary jewellery designer Franz Bette, fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto and prosthetic make-up artist Mark Coulier.

Several internationally renowned fashion designers and trainers from Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design in London have also been invited to take part in the school’s “London Fashionistas Fortnight”, which will be held in August.

According to Lu, interacting with overseas visiting fellows can inspire students and teachers alike by helping them enhance their global perspectives. “It provides an eyeopening experience for our students and teachers,” he said.

“On some occasions, after linking up with these overseas experts, our students got the chance to present their works at overseas exhibitions organised by institutions these visiting fellows are affiliated with. We hope that the visits by overseas fellows will also benefit local creative industries in terms of promoting international collaborations between local and overseas designers and creative talents.”

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