Mastering Immersive Entertainment at the Banff TV Festival

Creating an entertainment property doesn’t just mean putting together a TV show anymore. Increasingly, it’s necessary to craft a complete immersive universe your audience can sink into.

Alberta entrepreneur Ken Bautista  of Hotrocket moderated a panel consisting of David Gale, the executive vice president of New Media at MTV Films, Jeff Gomex, the CEO of Starlight Runner Entertainment, and Dante Anderson, VP of Product Development for Kuma Reality Games.

Bautista introduced the term “transmedia”, which is a quick way to explain the phenomenon of storytelling spread across various platforms, often with a social aspect baked in. Essentially, the narrative is influenced by both the audience and the creators.

Anderson explained that his company, which does episodic video games, approached television stations because his game company goes on the same model. Traditionally the video game production cycle is too long to mesh with TV, but Anderson said his studio works in the same fast cycle as television, and so they can produce concurrently with a tv show.

Gale demoed “Five Dollar Cover,” a web series about struggling bands in Memphis. Since all the cast members are real musicians, MTV connected with the local Memphis paper and collaborated to create mini-documentaries about the Memphis music scene. They then made a similar arrangement with Memphis Tourism authorities so that users could further explore this little-known side of the city. AT&T also gave the band members phones from Nokia so they could videostream live as they arrived at SXSW.

Jeff Gomez said that what the attendees should undersand is that young people watch 15 things at once, and that TV is no longer the sole centre of attention. So it’s necessary not to be worried about TV’s future but realize it’s position has changed. His company takes television and film properties that normally would exist in a silo and expands them to all the possible mediums it can be spread to. People are seeing things from a multi-tasking perspective, he said, and producers need to look at their properties in the same way.

Linear alone will face more and more obstacles, Gale said, so in future media companies will HAVE to think of how to spread their brands, across platforms that they don’t necessarily own or control.