mercredi 12 décembre 2012

The Spiral - European Transmedia Coproduction

I'd like to present to you one of the biggest European transmedia projects: "The Spiral".  This participative drama series was coproduced by 7 broadcasters, and a five-episode participative TV series was broadcast in September 2012 across Europe reaching more than 2,5M viewers. 

"The Spiral"  started with a burglary where six major works of art  from six different countries were stolen. Arturo, an enigmatic artist who heads an art community called The Warehouse was behind it.  The thieves invited everyone to search for the paintings, hidden deep in You could simply enjoy the thriller series on TV or experience the story through the game, the online community and the physical events.

Peter De Maegd, producer and story architect of "The Spiral", reveals how this gigantic project was born and the challenges he faced.

Interview with Peter De Maegd, story architect and producer of The Spiral

Peter de Maegd
Peter De Maegd is an independent film producer who focuses on the new opportunities of converging media. Over the last decade, Peter was involved in the production and marketing of over a dozen feature films. With his company Potemkino he focused on innovative projects and formats like "Where is Gary?", "Miss Homeless" and "Jean Wordt Vlaming". He also collaborated for a few years with Caviar Films. Peter gives lectures on storytelling for Converged media.

How was the idea of "The Spiral" born?       

4 years ago, SVT (public broadcaster in Sweden) and VRT (public broadcaster in Belgium) teamed with the ambition to build an innovative participative story project and to work on a pana-European level. 

They brainstormed with other broadcasters and focused on two questions:
-What story theme pleased viewers across Europe? The response was crime.
-What setting brings together characters from different countries in a harmonious way ? The response was an artistic setting within Europe. 
That's how the concept was born: 6 artists from 6 countries living in the artistic community and stealing art.  

Concerning the participative part of the project, an audience was invited to recover the paintings by hunting for them. Additionally, some of the artists were killed during the process, so the series became a crime series.
The answers to these 2 simple questions enabled us to create the core of this project.
And I joined the project at this stage of development.

Thus the idea of coproduction was present  from the beginning of the project. How did you find other broadcasters? 

SVT and VRT brought three additional partners to the table. We needed a sixth broadcaster to make it work. And after a lot of legwork and lobbying, we got two more broadcasters who teamed up: TV3 in Denmark and ARTE for France & Germany. 

You were the story architect for "The Spiral". How did you develop the transmedia experience?

We already had a strong idea from the start which was to introduce Larping ("Live Action Role-Playing", a form of role-playing games where the participants physically act out their characters' actions). Then we started to analyze the project with the participation parameters. We decided to open the participation to a higher level of involvement, knowing that fewer users would be involved at the beginning. The Larping  was done by Martin Ericsson who also did “The truth of America" produced by SVT.
We asked ourselves : What would happen if the story on TV were real? How would that play out online and in reality? We went through the script noting a long list of things and after that we defined which elements we could develop, adding in the participation parameters in a way that would build a coherent storyworld in relation to the TV series. 

What other platforms did you use? was our main platform. It was a point of entry into our story world and we had 140 000 visitors there. Another point of entry was the Warehouse community, which was only active online. Then we had a Twitter channel, Facebook groups such as TheSpiral EU and The Warehouse, games and the physical events. 

What was the audience participation? Could you give us some statistics?

We had 4 phases of our community growth. The first one involved building the online Warehouse community as it was a real community. That was done with about 40 selected and experienced LARP’ers. This stage wasn’t public.

In the second phase we started We announced this platform and encouraged our audience to consult the Warehouse community if they wanted to know more about it. At the same time we tested the challenges and games in the Warehouse community.  It generated 7000 participations.

In the third phase we launched a game on the 21st of August 2012 and we stole the painting.  We actually removed 6 paintings from 6 different museums and we organized press conferences.
In the game people could find additional information about "The Spiral" such as why there are 6 missing paintings, etc.

During the last phase we broadcast the series on TV. The TV series helped the online players to understand the plots in the game so they could be one step ahead.
Moreover, we followed the logic of reality so if a painting  was found by internet users in Gotland, it really appeared in this place.

One hard question that many producers face: What was your business model?

The game and multiplatform approach accounted  for almost 10% of the total funding  and was separated from the funding  for the TV production.

Business model of "The Spiral"
Concerning the investment per source, one third of the investments came from the broadcasters. However, since it was a coproduction, this participation could be higher and reach as much as 50%.

Another third came from partners such as the Dutch Film Fund, and the European Media Program (Interactive Works and Media Broadcast support).
The Media Interactive Works Fund was extremely important for us because it gave us necessary investments for the long phase of development for this project which lasted 2 years. Once Media Broadcast support came in, the broadcasters were convinced that this complex project was going into production because they knew how difficult it is to obtain this kind of support. The combination of these two funds permitted us to build a new financial model.
 A quarter of our funds came from the Belgium tax shelter and the remaining 8% came from our own investments and presales.
What did you learn from this experience?

The main lesson we learned from this project  was that we integrated the social networks too late in our communication strategy (starting in May 2012). We therefore missed out on many opportunities to communicate about the story.
From the beginning we wanted to build a story as it was real, with paintings that disappeared from the museums. So we thought that if we wanted to create a suspension of disbelief across multiple platforms, we should not communicate about the story and simply leave people free to explore it. In fact, as people want to believe, the only thing that can damage their suspension of disbelief is bad storytelling, bad acting and inconsistencies. 

If you could change something in this project, what it would be? 

First of all I would have started communicating about the project already during the development phase and use this opportunity to build momentum for the fiction story. 
Secondly, I believe we should have one person on board who represents the 7 broadcasters. Since we didn't have this person, each time we had a major discussion, I had to contact each broadcaster. This was a major weakness in our very complex organization. Now I know that when you have a coproduction you should have one team member from the broadcasters who represents all of the broadcasters. In this way you can communicate efficiently. Moreover, I was the only person who knew exactly all of the details regarding the project and that created a bottleneck effect at some points.

Where can we find "The Spiral" today? 

In France you can find it on Arte. And it will be released on DVD soon.  We will also upload the behind the scenes on our website.
We recently posted a 5 minutes case study video on  And we plan to upload the video of the presentation that I gave at Power to the Pixel (in October 2012) . 

What can I hope for you now ? What is your next challenge? 

The next challenge is pretty simple: to use the network and the know-how that I have acquired and to work towards new projects. Innovative projects such as Jean Saves Europa which is a participative documentary series based on Jean Becomes Flemish and of course we’re looking into a second season for The Spiral.

 I'm also working on a horror movie and we plan to do something very specific with it: to do a crowdfunding by selling some traps around which the story is built. You can follow the project on Facebook:  WELP project

vendredi 5 octobre 2012

Transmedia Project

In October I'd like to present you two French Transmedia Projects: Alt-Minds and

  • Interview with Morgan Bouchet, VP Transmedia and Social Media at Orange "Transmedialab"
ALT-Minds - new French Transmedia project 

  • Interview with Alexandre Pierrin, Co-founder of "Le Vent Tourne"
Transmedia Project how to learn about global issues in a funny and interactive way

Transmedia Project how to learn about global issues in a funny and interactive way

Today I present you another French Transmedia project: that will start in November 2012.
Its goal: to teach young people global issues (ecology, sustainable development, food waisting, etc.)
How:  by using comedy, interaction and gaming
With participation of : the French Ministry of Education, the French Ministry of Agriculture, ADEME (Agency for Clean Energy), Region Ile de France, Paris City Hall and GEMA Prévention.

Interview with Alexandre Pierrin, co-founder of "Le Vent Tourne"

Projet Transmedia "La-Kolok"

1. Could you quickly tell us what is? is a web series and transmedia program that raises awareness about global issues like ecology, food wasting, etc. with three originalities: comedy, interaction, and experts’ opinions.  

The idea is to target young people and to create special programs that enable them to understand these topics using media that they are already familiar with and that they like to use such as web series, board games, twitter and Facebook. The concept of the interactive webserie was originally imagined by Lucie Poirot in 2008 and I joined the project in 2009. We quickly turned it into a transmedia program without even knowing the word “transmedia”!

2. What differentiates from other web series?

There are a lot of differences.

Firstly, we want to entertain youth in an intelligent way by giving a special message on specific issues such as ecology, sustainable development, food wasting and saving energy.

Secondly, it's an interactive web series. There is a pause in the movie where you can choose what option to take next. For instance, we can choose to listen to the character we prefer, a sentence we like or choose the next move of a given character. Sometimes for fun, sometimes for information or just to check if we are really following what has been said. So interaction is the second originality.

Thirdly, we will add pedagogical content to the entertaining; in such a way to have a funny aspect about these subjects. But at the same time we show videos of experts talking seriously about these subjects.
La-Kolok is a program for young people but also a tool for teachers or other people who want to work with them on these kinds of subjects.  You can find these expert opinions at the end of each video under the name "Parole d'Expert".

If we look at the program globally, we use the game as a tool on all platforms. In the first season every episode has a goal that one must achieve. For example one character (boy) must meet a girl and you have to help them.  So the game is something that we integrated into the web series but also by creating a board game called "Popote Minute".

We have an ARG game that is scheduled to come out in April 2013 and different events or contests linked to their Facebook profiles. So the idea is to always use games to convey information on ecological and sustainable subjects.
Humor and gaming are the two elements that we use in order to be more appealing.

3. What platforms do you use?

We use Internet, ARG, Facebook, Twitter and iPad. We also plan to edit DVDs with pedagogical frameworks dedicated to teachers, so that they can use in classrooms by the end of 2013.  We have a coproduction with the Ministry of National Education (Ministre d'Education National) on the expertise side. Thanks to it we hope to reach a wide audience of teachers and professionals in France.

4. How does the storytelling change according to the platform?

The main platform we use for storytelling is the web series because that is where we can see all of the characters who interact together in their flat.
Every episode is independent because each is financed separately.
In this way each episode can be seen and understood without having to watch previous episodes.
Moreover, if you want to have more one-to-one content on a character, you can go on it’s Facebook and Twitter profiles. There, you will see short videos that will give a more humoristic or intimate insight.

5. What is your business model?

Our business model has been quite complicated so far because we have different ways of financing our programs.
Our project is based on two structures: on one hand we have a production company "Le Vent Tourne" working  all the transmedia subjects and the web. The second partner is the association "Le Temps Presse" that develops the pedagogical tools and part of the webserie.
So we have two partners working on the same project. Each of these partners is in a position to look for different funding. For instance, the association is able to obtain public funding from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Agriculture, ADEME (Agency for Clean Energy), Region Ile de France and Paris City Hall. The production company enables us to contact the Ministry of Education and insurance companies through GEMA Prévention.
In doing so, we will be able to offer our audience 6 to 8 months of content, free of charge.

The second way is that we want to sell the different tools outside the web series, such as a board game, ARG. The ARG will be launched during the Sustainable Development Week in April 2013. The organizers needed an animation for this event, so we proposed our ARG. In the future, we would like to sell more tools like these.

Finally, as I previously mentioned, by the end of 2013 we want to sell educational DVDs.

6. How many episodes have you produced so far?

There are already 2 pilot episodes on the web today and we are going to produce 4 or 5 episodes for the first season. We don't know if they will become a part of the first season yet or not because we want to have much more interaction off the screen. And, as mentioned before, each episode will be independent of the previous one.
The format is 15 to 20 minutes long, knowing that if you do only one track you can finish it in10 minutes.

7. It's too early to ask you for statistics...

We don’t have statistics because we haven't communicated so far, but we have already 10,000 viewers. These pilot episodes have been on Internet for one year. We presented them in different festivals. For example two years ago and last year we were selected for a festival in La Rochelle, so many people viewed them. We also have been selected for the Transmedia Immersive University's event “I love Transmedia”

8. How will you communicate about

We have different plans about our communication. Our strength is that we have a lot of partners and each of these partners has different platforms, different media, Facebook pages, etc.  At each episode we will be able to launch a new communication based on the media that our partners have.
Moreover, we can use events that our partners organize and their social networks by inserting teasers and videos before the episode starts in order to already establish a "base of fans".

9. What is the next challenge for you?

The next challenge for us is to launch this project, to finish the episodes and to maintain the activity for at least 6 months because the program will start from November 2012 to April 2013 starting with the web series and ending with ARG.

jeudi 4 octobre 2012

ALT-Minds - new French Transmedia project

The collaboration of Lexis Numérique (creator of In Memoriam) and the European telecommunications giant Orange has given birth to an exciting new Transmedia project, Alt-Minds. The project is scheduled to launch on November 5th simultaneously on the Internet tablets, social networks, as well as in the real world.  Baptised a total fiction by Eric Viennot (Co-founder of Lexis Numérique) , Alt-Minds is a paranormal thriller that combines the world of web fiction with investigative gameplay.

Wanting to know more about this long-awaited project I interviewed Morgan Bouchet, VP Transmedia & Social Media at Orange "Transmedialab"
l'interview concernant Alt-Minds


Interview with Morgan Bouchet, Orange

 1. What differentiates Alt-Minds from other Transmedia projects?

Most of the Transmedia projects which exist in France and in Europe are series, web documentaries, but rarely games. Alt Minds is a game that gets closer to the world of web series (4 hours of videos and web series) and  this is why Alt Minds is different. We know that the playful aspect has an important role to play in a multiplatform project as we have seen in previous projects (Fanfan 2, Detective Avenue and The Prodigies). Today we wish to complete the  cycle with a new kind of  Game.

2. What platforms do you use? 
Alt-Minds uses many supports.  It goes from smartmobiles,  tablets, to PC and Mac. Depending on various moments of the game the tablet, the PC or the mobile will be more or less used . However, the tablet is at the heart of Alt-Minds.
Regarding the video content, we use a platform which is close to that of Orange: Dailymotion. It  allows us on the one hand  to address various countries who are involved in the project (all of Europe) and on the other hand to lean on its technical structure.

3. What is your business model?
We use mainly the game economics and advertising. 
The first economic strategy: game economics.
The game lasts 10 weeks. The complete season costs  less than 20 euros. The first chapter which lasts 15 days is free and then the access to the next ones is charged between 2 and 3 euros by chapter. The cost is therefore affordable.
 Moreover, players can access additional paying premiums.
The second economic strategy is advertising on the Webseries videos that accompany the game on Dailymotion with the same weekly frequency of 10 weeks. It is free for the audience.

4. You have produced this project with Lexis Numérique. How did you share the responsibilities ? 
We went into coproduction with Lexis Numérique whose main activity is the game’s creation. Lexis is in charge of the executive coproduction (scenario, game design, production of content).
And Orange is more  of a technological partner. We brought in technology and our expertise in transmedia, the topic that we‘ve been considering since 2009.

5. Orange sponsors  The Transmédia Lab and makes a commitment to the creation of the transmedia projects. You manage the Transmedia and SocialMedia team. What is the ambition of Orange in the field of transmedia and precisely: what is your commitment to the creation of multiplatform projects? 
Our short-term goal is to test, to learn and to understand through experiments with Orange technology and solutions through our project tests (API of Player, Geolocalisation, SMS, solutions for Social TV), longer down the line we will study the possibility of industrializing these tools bound for the creators, TV networks, media...
Concerning our commitment to the multiplatform projects, the Orange Content Management also accompanies the creation of innovative formats through two funds: the SACD and the Beaumarchais organization which allows to reward about ten projects a year.

6. Let's now talk about the user’s point of view. Could you describe in a few words the different stages of this search which began at The University of Belgrade during the mysterious disappearance of scientists?
As a user, starting in mid October I saw some very weird but funny  videos air in my network of friends. These allowed me to obtain information about the missing researchers and to recruit players (it is an Alt-Minds project which begins at the interactive level).
At the beginning of November, I discovered another level of information: find 5 missing researchers. The Foundation which finances their research on paranormal subjects decided to hire a team of  investigators to track them down. The Internet users were brought in  to help the foundation.
I could also be brought to ask my close friends to accompany me in this adventure. The investigation will have a week to week frequency. I will get the clues which will allow me to advance to the next step at the end of the week.

7. Today there are 2 active protagonists on Facebook: a photographer named Peter Edgarson, who is in Paris at the moment and Laurence Spencer who announced the search for her friend Sofia Milleva. Where can I find other information about the investigation? Is there a dedicated blog or other profiles on Facebook? 
I do not want to give away everything, but there are various entrances that have already been set up in order to enter the Alt-Minds universe. Forums are being created. There are communities which have already seized the game. All the information on the characters and the various elements of the investigation will be revealed during the course of the game. But already today, we can begin to find some of the clues by tracking Alt-Minds play on our PC  as well as certain people’s Facebook pages.

8. If I imagine myself as a casual gamer, much of a web series fan; how can I participate in the Alt-Minds adventures ?
If I am a casual gamer, as I am,  I can track a game either with the same frequency as the other players, or recorded, every week, by using the application on the tablet. This application is developed like new fluids on Facebook and allows me to track the news of the week in a fast way, by unwinding days. 
Since I’m a bit lazy and I don't  have that much time to search for the clues daily, some options will help me to accelerate certain missions and thanks to this to follow and to move forward with the same frequency as the others but spending less time.
Additionally, I have the video dimension, which is much more casual and which, this way, can allow me to understand the progress of the game weekly without forcing to play 1 hour per day.
There will also be casual games on mobiles and on Facebook that have easy access for entering the Alt-Minds universe. 

9. If I am an avid fan, what do you have in store for me ? 
Eric Viennot, the author of the game, attached a lot of importance to giving meaning to the game and going all the way for avid players. He has embellished the Alt-Minds universe in such a way in order to satisfy the most dedicated players.

10. The web fiction is available in four languages (French, English, German and Spanish). How can the players living abroad participate in Alt-Minds?
Each task was thought out in a way to be accessible from any one of the European countries, as much in terms language and in terms of enigmas. However, Alt-Minds is available only in Europe.

11. Are you planning on launching Alt-Minds in America? 
We hope to do so in 2013. We’re waiting to see the outcome in Europe, and if it is a success, we can export it to  the rest of the world.

12. Can players from abroad access your site www. 
Completely. There will be a localized site of in various European countries. We have also planned some enigma abroad which will require geo-localization.

13. How do you feel just one month before the launch of the  project ?
I’m feeling very good about it.  We are at the final stages of finishing the project. We are in contact with media and bloggers who are very interested in this kind of game.
It's interesting to see a real craze for the project because it is a new kind of the game inspired by In Memoriam. In terms of creativity, we flirt with the playground of people who create editorial content and individual series in video. It is interesting to see that the transmedia is a combination of game and technology with the world of fiction.

Realised by Urszula Gleisner     Translated by Rebecca Levin