So he sent me an audio story, and, after coming up with a cover image based around it, I set to work with John Kuramoto to somehow animate it. Usually, when listening to a story, one’s mind not only sees but also feels in images; you imagine and constantly revise and update entire tableaux, much the way you imagine things while reading a book. I hoped that our pictures wouldn’t interfere with that ineffable mental dance but would somehow, like my usual medium of graphic novels, complement it.
Another interesting collaborative product that has emerged this week is The Message podcast.
Everything looks normal, but look closely. Next to the words ‘podcast theater’, there’s a GE logo. This podcast, which has hit no 1 on the Itunes podcast chart is actually branded content, a collaboration between General Electric and Slate’s podcast wing, Panoply. It’s basically an ad that sounds like nothing like an ad, as Nieman Lab puts it,
“It’s like GE creating a TV show,” said Andy Goldberg, chief creative officer at GE. “I don’t consider it advertising. It’s a podcast show that just happens to be produced by a brand instead of a network. I’m not saying, ‘Hey, go out and buy a jet engine.’ It’s a science fiction story to connect listeners with what the GE brand is about, without selling the GE brand.”
Listeners might not even realise that GE has a role in the podcast, though the sound of the alien menace might be a clue, according to its writer, playwright Mac Rogers,
With The Message, I quickly realized that the alien menace had to be a sound. Badly written radio drama is absolutely rife with people shrieking “Dear God, it’s 10 feet tall and ringed with tentacles!” because listeners can’t see the ring of tentacles. But I recalled the marvelous Doctor Who audio play Scherzo, in which the doctor and his companion are stalked on a zero-visibility planet by a creature made of sound. This stroke of genius by author Robert Shearman ensured that the doctor and the listeners would have the exact same experiences of the monster. In an early meeting for The Message, I learned that our sponsor, GE, was one of several companies doing pioneering work in sound-based medical treatments. My mind immediately jumped to: If a sound can cure a person, maybe it can also make them sick? And just like that I knew I had my monster.
Branded podcasts are an interesting step further into the morass, and I just happened to listen to a podcast about a podcasting company (yes, very meta) wrestling with these very issues.
For next class, the reading is:
If you haven’t sent me your proposals for your final projects, do so. They will be due on Wednesday 9th December when you will give a short 5 minute presentation about your project to the class.