Isn’t it fun talking about “the future”? Well this past spring Intel Labs, the Portland Incubator Experiment, Weiden + Kennedy and the Governor’s Office of Film and Television decided to spend a weekend in May looking into the future of narrative storytelling. We reached out to 16 different creative professionals with their own unique expertise from both Oregon and around the country to spend a Saturday in W+K’s offices and literally dream up a new form of storytelling. The group was broken into four teams and were told to use one of two existing properties – SyFy Channel’s “Haven”, and Daniel Wilson’s novel “Robopocalypse”. By the end of the day we had new ideas using laser sound technology to provide unique “inner monologue” stories, augmented reality location based storytelling, and even a videogame that uses only voice recognition for an interface. All four presentations were different and all four created a lot of food for thought after the day.
We’ve all heard the buzzwords surrounding this pursuit – transmedia, multi-plaform storytelling, and experiential narrative, but has anyone truly defined this new form of storytelling? Probably not, but there are efforts all over the country looking to crack this nut. Recently New York City announced the creation of their “The Made in NY StoryLab” and our friends to the north announced the Filmworks Innovation Lab which is due to be open by January 2013. Universities such as USC, Clemson, and Georgia Tech are creating some pretty big research departments looking to become the defining center of the future of storytelling.
So where will Oregon fit in? Will California and Washington take the lead, and leave Oregon to become a flyover state for this new effort? I think not! Schools like Southern Oregon University are taking the lead and creating their own Emerging Media Department. Local companies like Instrument, Second Story, Fashion Buddha, and ADi (I know I’m leaving out a lot more) are on the cutting edge of digital media. And most importantly thanks to Intel Labs devoting a lot of time researching the future of media and Weiden + Kennedy implementing smart digital technologies with their world class campaigns, Oregon has an opportunity to lead the way in the coming years. The question is how do we become industry leaders? There are likely lots of answers to this question, but most importantly we need to be fostering more collaboration, creating innovative creativity incubators, and focusing on training our workforce for the media industry 10 years down the road. We have all the tools and talent, now it just comes down to execution. Are we up for the challenge?