Sessions at SXSW Interactive 2011 about Storytelling

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Friday 11th March 2011

Saturday 12th March 2011

  • AVAdventure: Digital, Handheld, User-defined Storytelling in Action

    by Adam Stackhouse

    In its purest form, the AVAdventure would utilize no room, no moderator, no panelists, and hundreds of participants.

    Originating from the "Audio Adventure" series of 1693 Productions in Williamsburg, VA, this unique, one-time storytelling experience - specially designed for the participants of SXSW 2011 - will use mobile video devices to take attendees on an interactive journey wherein they define their own narrative. The day of the event, users are sent a link to a hosted video file, instructed to download, and at a predetermined time, press play. As the story begins, users are given instructions, choices, and are introduced to characters creating a experience that is part movie, part concert, and part interactive fiction. The resulting sensation - caught within personal headphones - is compellingly solo and communal simultaneously, and in its miss-it-and-it's-gone temporary existence, distinctly uniting for the participants.

    Here we propose to bring the series - in the Audio/Video format - to SXSW 2011 as a custom-designed experience for attendees unfamiliar with this unique storytelling format. Ideally participants would begin in a starting location of their choice - inside or within brief walking distance of the main event venue. The use of facilities - rooms, projectors, unique areas - could be incorporated as allowed, and if possible, musicians participating in SXSW would be contacted to integrate their work in the custom narrative as well.

    LEVEL: Beginner

    At 12:30pm to 1:30pm, Saturday 12th March

    In Ballroom C, Austin Convention Center

  • Storytelling through Advertising: Engaging Players in Online Games

    by Mike Sego and Manny Anekal

    What do Gillette’s Venus, Disney’s Alice in Wonderland and Skittles have in common? They have all successfully used virtual worlds and game play mechanics to engage players online. Social games, in particular, continue to be a growing form of entertainment, reaching nearly one out of every two Internet users and offering a unique platform for marketers to reach a specific target audience. However, social games always face the challenge of engaging players in a meaningful way without annoying them or detracting from the online experience. This session shares case studies from leading companies and discusses practical ways that brands have turned to social gaming to develop immersive campaigns that actually engage users and keep within a game’s narrative – and the serious risks of doing it wrong.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 3:30pm to 4:30pm, Saturday 12th March

    In Ballroom F, Austin Convention Center

Sunday 13th March 2011

  • Decision Trees: YouTube's New Breed of Interactive Storytellers

    by Tony E. Valenzuela, Marc Hustvedt and Rafi Fine

    YouTube's annotations tool opened up a whole new way telling stories, with the rise of interactive videos that let viewers "choose-their-own-adventure" as they navigate through the story. This panel bring together the best and most creative of YouTube's new breed of interactive storytellers to share their secrets of how they pull off these complex creations—including a walkthrough of actual viewer decision trees from their projects.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 9:30am to 10:30am, Sunday 13th March

    In Room 18ABCD, Austin Convention Center

  • Transmedia Storytelling: Constructing Compelling Characters and Narrative Threads

    by Barbara Vance

    Transmedia storytelling is increasingly being seen as the future of entertainment. A film is no longer just a film; its narrative extends to games, books, online documents, Internet videos, mobile applications, and beyond.

    But at the foundation of these new storytelling methods are certain narrative traditions that have held up over the centuries. Without a clear understanding of these structures and methods of character development, a narrative will struggle to survive. We must, therefore, look beyond the Matrix, going back instead to the Greeks, whose myths provide some of the first examples of genuine transmedia. These ancient tales crisscrossed through a complex web of drama, poetry, ritual, role playing, and oral recitation, utilizing archetypes that are still the foundation of stories today.

    In this panel, I will address key archetypes and plot formations found repeatedly in both historical narratives as well as recent successful transmedia franchises. I will discuss how to asses an audience, then strategically choose specific plot lines and characters for specific mediums based on those audience segments.

    We will look at:

    1. Making sure your narrative has a solid premise on which to build – without a foundation you cannot lay bricks.
    2. Key characteristics of appeal characters – how to have bad heroes and good villains
    3. How to structure the story in an appropriate narrative thread
    4. Choosing mediums and messages

    Spoken of here, transmedia narratives are not adaptations; they are extensions, networks composed not as afterthoughts to an “original” creative work, but conceived instead in conjunction with them, with thought given to the story, the medium, the audience, and how these elements relate to a cohesive fictional world.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 11:00am to 12:00pm, Sunday 13th March

    In Room 18ABCD, Austin Convention Center

  • The Death of the Death of Longform Journalism

    by Evan Ratliff and Max Linsky

    The web was supposed to kill longform journalism, relegate it to a slow demise in the pasture of print. The stories were just too long, conventional wisdom held. The web was about the efficient delivery of information—who had time to read 5,000 words on a browser, let alone pay for the privilege?

    Longform journalism was going to die. And it almost did.

    But the combination of elegant mobile devices and innovative apps has proven that the audience for longform journalism still exists—and has the potential to grow. Turns out, the problem wasn’t that the stories were too long. People love stories! The problem was that nobody had spent much time thinking about how best, for readers, to present and distribute them digitally.

    At the same moment that many publishers were being forced to give up on the feasibility of longform work, readers were finally given the tools to read pieces when, how, and where they wanted to.

    This panel will discuss: what those tools are, how they’re being used, how some publishers are taking advantage of them, how other publishers are failing to take advantage of them, how the digital reading experience will continue to evolve, why journalists will always be the core audience for longform journalism, the iPad and the Kindle, Instapaper and Readability, and whether or not anyone is making any money from this stuff.

    This panel will not discuss: the upside of paginating long stories.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 12:30pm to 1:30pm, Sunday 13th March

    In N. Capitol View, Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol

Monday 14th March 2011

  • The Future of Storytelling: DEXTER Fans Play Killer

    by Marcelo Guerra, Howard Goldkrand and Jonathan Verk

    When Showtime’s smash TV hit DEXTER made its 5th season premiere on September 26, 2010, the date also marked the finale of a nine-week ARG (alternate reality game) that whipped fans into a frenzy just before the season’s launch. The game development team (which called the ARG an "actual reality game" because it so infiltrated their real lives) built the world of the Infinity Killer, a serial murderer obsessed with fate and social control, and the Serial Huntress, an ex-FBI agent who caught serial killers through crowdsourcing. This SXSW Interactive presentation brings together the Dexter ARG team – Showtime and Modernista!, with Promax/BDA President Jonathan Block-Verk moderating, to take attendees through the thought process, story development arc, execution challenges -- and exciting possibilities -- of the ARG format.

    At 11:00am to 12:00pm, Monday 14th March

    In Grand Ballroom, AT&T Conference Center


  • Magnetic Storytelling: Engaging Consumers in Brand Dialogue [Cancelled?]

    by Anthony Wolch

    While storytelling has always been a way to create connections between brands and audiences, the digital era has elevated storytelling to a new level – one in which consumers have the ability to call a brand’s bluff the moment they detect a lack of authenticity. Today’s consumer also expects to be entertained or enlightened by brands – and then rewarded for spending time with the brand – challenging marketers to project a genuine, grounded message and simultaneously leave room for consumers to engage. With a good story, brands can create a lasting emotional connection among consumers; after all, the best-told stories never leave our minds and become part of history.

    This presentation will show how digital marketers are responding to the consumers’ plea for genuine, authentic information about a brand by showing real-life examples in which brands successfully engaged in dialogue with consumers. For example, Kimberly-Clark recently set out to “Break the Cycle” and addressed feminine care topics head on with women around the world; in online forums, thousands of young women engaged with each other and experts, voicing personal questions and opinions. Rather than fear the power of consumer voices in the social world today, marketers should be seizing the opportunity to turn customers into their biggest brand advocates. This presentation will encourage marketers to let consumers be a part of the story and have a say in history.

    LEVEL: Intermediate