Transmedia Storytelling: Business, Aesthetics and Production at the Jim Henson Company

Geoffrey Long

Geoffrey Long

Transmedia narratives use a combination of Barthesian hermeneutic codes, negative capability and migratory cues to guide audiences across multiple media platforms. This thesis examines complex narratives from comics, novels, films and video games, but draws upon the transmedia franchises built around Jim Henson’s Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal to provide two primary case studies in how these techniques can be deployed with varying results. By paying close attention to staying in canon, building an open world, maintaining a consistent tone across extensions, carefully deciding when to begin building a transmedia franchise, addressing open questions while posing new ones, and looking for ways to help audiences keep track of how each extension relates to each other, transmedia storytellers can weave complex narratives that will prove rewarding to audiences, academics and producers alike.

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Geoffrey Long

About Geoffrey Long

Geoffrey Long (www.geoffreylong.com) is a storyteller, scholar, designer, and the Creative Director for the University of Southern California's World Building Media Lab and World Building Institute. Previously he was Creative Director and a Research Fellow for USC's Annenberg Innovation Lab; Lead Narrative Producer for Microsoft Studios and cofounder of its Narrative Design Team (where his projects included the HoloLens, the Xbox One, SmartGlass, Quantum Break, Adera, Ryse and Halo); in a think tank under Microsoft's Chief Experience Officer and Chief Software Architect; a researcher and Communications Director for the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab and MIT's Comparative Media Studies Program; a magazine editor and an award-winning short film producer. Geoffrey's writing has appeared in the extended edition of Spreadable Media by Henry Jenkins, Joshua Green and Sam Ford; The Rise of Transtexts: Challenges and Opportunities, co-edited by Benjamin W.L. Derhy Kurtz and Melanie Bourdaa; Revisiting Imaginary Worlds, edited by Mark J.P. Wolf; The Comics Journal's Guttergeek; and the Journal of Transformative Works and Cultures, and he co-edits MIT Press' Playful Thinking series with William Uricchio and Jesper Juul. His worldbuilding work was included in an exhibition at the 2016 Venice Biennale, and his work on reimagining preproduction processes informed the film-and-VR transmedia project Wonder Buffalo, which was showcased at both the Sundance Film Festival and South by Southwest in 2017. Geoffrey holds bachelor's degrees in English and Philosophy from Kenyon College and a master's degree in Comparative Media Studies from MIT, and he is currently finishing his doctorate in Media Arts & Practice at USC. In his various lives he has worked with BET, Cisco, the City of Los Angeles, DirecTV, FOX, Havas, HBO, IBM, Intel, the Los Angeles Times, MTV, Turner Broadcasting, Walt Disney Imagineering and Warner Bros. Thesis: Transmedia Storytelling: Business, Aesthetics and Production at the Jim Henson Company