Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Visionaries

8 Defining Principles of Trans-Media Production
Part I: The Visionaries

By Jeff Gomez

If you really give some thought to the great artists throughout history, you push beyond their iconic images and sculptures, concertos and films and you start to consider their messages, their obsessions…their visions.

Often they gravitated to a specific medium and flourished there, but if that platform were to be blocked off or somehow no longer satisfying, the artist would make a jump. Sometimes, if the vision was powerful enough, the medium no longer mattered.

Today, thanks to technology, most professional story telling tools and methodologies are also available to any kid who can access a computer. And it seems that experienced creators can learn a thing or two from the young ones.

At colleges across the country, students are turning in term paper “kits” consisting of hard copy overviews, DVDs containing narrated motion videos illustrating their research, video blogs, animated charts, specially created web sites, even digital bibliographies. Some of their professors don’t even know how to read these things!

What’s vital for every film, television and new media producer to understand is that these students aren’t even aware of the fact that what they are doing is extraordinary! This is how they live, how they experience life, and this is how it’s going to be. We are going to have to catch up with them and give them what they want, or someone else is going to.

When I was a kid, I was fascinated with Japanese pop culture. I always admired the manga-ka. These were the artists, whose visions were realized in phonebook-thick volumes of black and white comic book art. If the books proved popular (like Gundam or Space Cruiser Yamato), they would be adapted as television series, sequelized as direct to video featurettes, then immortalized as theatrical films.

But those artists don’t act alone. They call upon trusted producers to help them develop and extend their central vision across multiple media platforms while ensuring consistent quality and integrity. As producers we can take a cue from the Japanese and do the same in tandem with our own visionaries.

To do this, we’ll need to sharpen our skills and embrace new approaches and newer perspectives. Some of us have already started to do just that, and the results are some of the most exciting and dynamic projects coming out of the entertainment industry today.

In my upcoming entries, I’ll move through each of the 8 Defining Principals of Trans-Media Production to briefly examine what it takes to conceive, develop, produce and distribute this kind of content, whether we’re talking about a tent pole franchise or a modest indie film.

Next Up: Jeff gets specific with the vision thing when he takes on Halo and…Madonna?

Jeff Gomez (, is the CEO of Starlight Runner Entertainment, Inc., a developer and producer of highly successful trans-media projects whose clients include The Walt Disney Company, 20th Century Fox, the Coca-Cola Company, Mattel and Hasbro. Over the next few weeks he’ll be sharing his expertise on the white hot trans-media industry – exploring its fascinating history and expanding upon the 8 Defining Principles of Trans-Media Production

previous Jeff Gomez trans-media post
next Jeff Gomez trans-media post


Greg Weinstein said...

Jeff’s example of students utilizing multiple mediums for their projects exemplifies trans-media.

These students understand that, sometimes, to make great “music,” you need an orchestra. Each individual instrument is important, but collectively they can create a richer and more dynamic experience. This relates directly to principle #3 of the 8 Defining Principles of Trans-Media Production – “Content is distributed to three or more media platforms.”

With a skilled conductor holding the baton, the interplay across multiple media platforms –- call and response, harmonies, melodies and countermelodies –- can create a truly transformative experience.