Interview by Melanie Picard

Transmedia entered swissnex San Francisco’s life through a happy collaboration with Transmedia SF. Together, we looked at how to win the story wars, we followed the path from the medium to the message, and discussed the future of games and entertainment.

Maya Zuckerman, transmedia producer, strategist, and co-founder of Transmedia SF, is part of our international jury. She shares some insights:

STORY2023: What is your vision of the year 2023?

MZ: As a futurist and perpetual optimist, I would like to think that we will evolve towards progress for all. I hope to see more electric cars ruling the roads, more alternative transportation such as bullet trains, more green roofs along with solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources. Ideally, people will act as if we are all part of a global village, accountable to each other.
Amazing lightweight technologies will make our lives easier—sleek, smart, and adaptive. And storytelling will break the fourth wall. Stories will be beautifully immersive and, hopefully, positive.

STORY2023: How did transmedia enter your life?

MZ: For a long time I thought transmedia came into my life with the Matrix, a great transmedia storyworld that was constructed as such from the get go. But then, I remembered my favorite storyworld of all times: The land of Fantasia, the land of human fantasy depicted in Michael Ende’s Neverending Story. Back then, as a child, I wished I could enter the storyworld in different ways and participate. I wanted to finish all the unfinished stories that the book presented. Every episode ended with telling the beginning of the story of one of the characters and then finishing with the inviting sentence: “But that is another story and shall be told in another time…”

STORY2023: Your advice to the participants?

MZ: Keep it simple, keep it focused! You could use endless platforms to tell your story but the challenge is to make it simple for your audience to engage with. Always think about us—the audience—as we are the most important part of your storyworld.


More about Maya
Maya_ZuckermanMaya Zuckerman is the co-Founder of Transmedia SF, a network of SF Bay Area media and startup creatives who come together to develop projects and to promote and educate the world about transmedia storytelling. The goal: make San Francisco a center for transmedia production and education. She has years of experience in media of all forms. She started her career in film and animation working with MTV and Yahoo! on cross-platform brand expansion of games and music. She also worked on feature films—both Hollywood and Indies, before transitioning to the gaming world. She worked for such titles as “Prince of Persia”, “GhostBusters – game” and “Star-Trek online.”  In her career she also worked in product development for software and interactive products for expert brands such as the Chopra center. Her most recent work in development is on the transmedia strategy for the Fifth Sacred Thing storyworld and for The Salt Water movie.

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Elements of Great Storytelling

Now that you have in mind the perfect ingredients to successfully create a transmedia story, it’s time to focus on the story itself! The benefits of well-crafted stories are immense: increased engagement, increased visibility, increased exposure, connection to causes, and more.

Felicia Pride
, multimedia storyteller, content strategist, and chief content officer at Pride Collaborative is the author of this post. She shares the key characteristics of great stories.

There is a moral or underlying message.
What message are you trying to convey? Once that’s decided, this message helps to provide a focus for your story.

There are characters and these characters are compelling.
The best stories are powered by characters that we care about. That’s not to say that we like these characters, but we do become invested in what happens to them. Think about the characters in your overall story—the various stakeholders and beyond—that are involved in your work. How can you bring them into your story?

Something happens.
We often like to explain something versus show action. My high school writing teacher always reminded me, “show, not tell.” You show action through a plot that moves forwards and prompts audiences to continuously wonder, what happens next?

This something involves conflict.
What is the problem? Something that your characters have to solve, overcome, change? It’s conflict that drives action.

It evokes emotion.
You can decide the types of emotions you hope to elicit – be it anger, compassion, or empathy. As a result, audiences often tap into their own personal experiences and feel more connected to your story.

Bottom line: great stories keep our attention. The message, compelling characters, forward-moving action, and conflict, work together to craft a story that is memorable and helps to connect audiences.

More about Pride Collaborative
Pride Collaborative focuses on using strategic storytelling to help organizations deepen their relationships with communities and audiences. By using strategic storytelling as a foundation, they are able to create campaigns and media projects that focus on genuine relationship building, achieve specific goals, and utilize a range of activities including narrative development, content creation, digital media making, and live experiences.

This article originally appeared as part of NAMAC’s ArtsEngage Blog Series.

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Our Jury Rocks: Please Meet Michel Vust

An international jury of acclaimed professionals will select the best stories. Michel Vust, Project Leader at the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, is part of it.  He kindly answered our questions.


STORY2023: 2023, what is your vision?

Michel Vust: Powershifts, eco-disasters, unknown pleasures, creative enlightenment, ideological obscurantism, better haircuts, nanotechnology, data overdose, and immortality. Same same but different.

STORY2023: How did transmedia enter your life?

Michel Vust: I ran a film festival back then and festival managers tend to be obsessive about business diversification. So, when “cross-trans-media” began to buzz, even if we didn’t really know what it was all about we thought “there might well be something for us here” and then we dug it.

STORY2023: Your advice to the participants?

Michel Vust: Nothing too far-fetched: story architecture, experience, interactivity, and engagement are key. Don’t be afraid of narrative experiments, neither of using basic but effective plot lines (check A.J. Greimas and James Hall).

More about him

Michel_VustMichel Vust currently manages the Swiss federal program funding and promoting video games, interactive design, and transmedia projects at the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia. After receiving a Master’s degree in Anthropology and Film Studies, he worked for several film festivals in Switzerland. He directed the Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival from 2005 to 2011. During those years, he also curated several exhibitions and issued numerous papers on Swiss cinema, video games, and visual effects aesthetics. He also directed Imaging the Future, a symposium linking arts and technologies.


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How to Get Started: a Transmedia Story Recipe

Maya Zuckerman, transmedia producer and strategist, and co-founder of Transmedia SF, shares her recipe for successfully creating a transmedia story.


1) Team

Who is part of your team?

A great team is key! The essence of transmedia is interdisciplinary and multiple skills can only improve the overall result.

The perfect team should include people with skills or interests in business challenges, user experience, and content creation. If you don’t have those skills, remember, your best friend is Google. Need to edit a video, create a graphic, or write a plan? Someone else has already done that for you.

2) Story

What do you want to tell?

More than just a story, you want to create a storyworld—a universe that different stories inhabit, yet still belong to the same core narrative. Your core story can be told in a non-linear way creating different touch points for your audience.

Build your story in a way that the whole story is more than the sum of its parts.
parts3) Platforms/Tools

What are you going to use to produce your storyworld?

Remember to plan out your story before you pick the platforms.

There are many tools out there; here are a few ideas to help you choose wisely.


  • Google+ has photo editing capabilities
  • Gimp: photo editing
  • website creator
  • Vine: video capturing
  • Smart phones: capturing and editing images, audio, and video
  • Google Drive: collaboration tool
  • Splice: iPhone editing
  • Popcorn Maker: video editing
  • AppMakr: iPhone app maker
  • Storify: real-time curation service
  • Prezi: interactive cloud-based presentation software

Slightly more complex:

  • Social Samba: tell interactive stories on Facebook
  • Conducttr: create cross-platform interactive experiences (get a beta for students)
  • X2 TV: create an interactive video
  • coverpage: create an interactive magazine
  • Twilio: embed voice, VoIP, and SMS applications into web, desktop, and mobile software
  • Tropo: add voice and SMS support to the programming languages you already know

4) Content

What are people consuming?
It can be sound, text, video, and/or imagery.

Content can be as diverse as blog posts, Twitter feeds, videos, games, text messages, and much more. Keep in mind that transmedia is also about how people interact with your content and maybe even co-create some with you (see ingredient 6).

5) Channels

How do you distribute your story?
Think about the different touch points for your audience.

Make is easy! Use channels already known channels:
• Social media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, and more
• Objects or spaces people can interact with
• Phone

6) Audience

Who are you telling this story to?

The answer to this question will influence the other ingredients in this recipe. Keep in mind that there are different audience types:

Some people just consume your content, other want to play an active role. Make sure you answer these different needs.

For example:
1. Ask your user to choose an ending—that is interaction.
2. Ask your user to take a photo of themselves and post it to your story’s website—that is participation.


Start with a good team, knowing that everyone probably wears more than one hat. Add an amazing story and keep in mind who your audience is. Transmedia stories are usually not linear, so think about your user’s journey through the entire experience. Map the content and the channels, then define the platforms. Always remember that simpler is better.

Add some love and don’t forget to take it out of the oven before August 31st 2013 (midnight CET).

Serving Size: Infinite

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