You may have heard some rumblings that Createasphere and StoryCode are holding a Story Hackathon this August. When you hear the term hacking, or a hackathon, the first image that probably comes to mind is a bunch of programmers staying up all night long, fueled by Red Bull, hacking away on laptops at arcane code.
Hackathons have become a big deal. TechCrunch Disrupt is one of the most well known examples. It attracts talented developers, press, ventures capitalists, and new tech companies who open their tech up to these gifted programmers.
The format is simple: the idea of a hackathon is to set a fixed period of time for a group of developers to create innovative applications using a certain technology. The mindset is DIY and open-source. It’s all about the concept of “minimal viable product”.
Done right, a hackathon is win-win for everyone involved. Tech companies see what new applications can be created out of their platform. Programmers get to show off their talents and work on something that interests them. And the investors get in at the ground floor when an idea is just a proof of concept. Many new business have started out of hackathons.
We’ve all seen the same 5 case studies presented at the various Transmedia conferences. At StoryCode we are interested populating the world with more immersive media projects. We believe that more projects will lead to better projects and this will push the immersive media art form forward. We believe hackathons will play a vital role in this.
Hacking: No Longer Just For Programmers
So what does hacking have to do with storytelling and entertainment? Quite a lot, actually. A number of us talk about the idea of “Story as Software”. Software is complicated to create. So is telling a good story. But they each can be broken down into component parts: wireframes, prototypes, story treatments, a character matrix, etc. By focusing on the components parts creators can follow a hackathon approach—and the results can be amazing.
Now let’s apply this Hackathon approach to immersive media creation: put teams of filmmakers, programmers, designers, producers and writers together, give them access to new technologies and give them a deadline to create something … and you have a Story Hackathon. StoryCode held the first ever Story Hackathon in April of 2012 in New York City and we are excited to be partnering with Createsphere and the Transmedia LA and San Francisco Meetups to hold our next one in Los Angeles on August 7th and 8th, 2013.
Story Hackathons are taking off. Adnaan Wasey of POV Digital and Ingrid Kopp of Tribeca Film Institute have both produced their own series of non-fiction hackathons over the past year. Transmedia SF held a Transmedia Jam in July of 2012 and Lance Weiler recently led a Story Hackathon at Ryerson University.
StoryCode’s Story Hackathon Model:
- Design a cohesive narrative spanning three or more technological platforms.
- Execute at least one of the platforms over the course of the event. Use mobile, social, live performance, web-based and/or gaming (console or live) to tell your story.
- All teams are given one common theme from which to develop their story.
- Integrate at least one of the technology sponsors’ tech platform into your immersive story.
- Incorporporate one common prop.
- The time period is fixed typically between 24 and 36 hours.
- Present your immersive story at a closing event. A panel of leading immersive media and entertainment professionals will judge your work at the presentation, and select a winner.
- Winner get a check (yes, cash money).
Our first Story Hackathon was an awesome experience for everyone involved. Judges included execs from VH1, PGA, NYC Mayor’s Office of MEdia and Entertainment, Free People and Disney. Sponsors included Social Samba, Kaltura, Twilio, and Free People.
Seven teams of 4 people-each participated and each team completed and presented their “hacks” at a closing event. A video of the Demo Day event can be viewed here. Participants were allowed to apply as an existing team OR as individuals and we matched them up with other complementary team members
Quotes from past Story Hackathon participants:
“It was a tough decision – many of the creative offerings has superior elements and gave us a lot to consider. What they pulled together in such a short period of time showed imagination and demonstrated that this is an art form that is alive and well and here to stay.”
Craig Singer / Director at Disney – Judge
“I feel like I learned more this weekend than in the past year.”
Victor Pineiro – Team Synergized
“I’ve written sample bibles and transmedia proposals before … but I’ve never finished an actual project. So this Story Hack is my first chance to develop something cross-platform beyond the page and it’s already been really educational…”
Randy Astle – US Maple
“StoryCode's Story Hack Beta was a phenomenal experience like no other. I recommend anyone working in this space to apply to participate. The atmosphere of the hackathon was supportive, warm, and felt like family. I came all the way from Toronto, Canada for this experience because I knew StoryCode's hackathon was going to not only be special, but an important moment in the history of Transmedia as an art form.”
Select Press Coverage from Story Hack: Beta:
PBS/Media Shift, Amanda Lin Costa
Forbes, Michael Humphrey
Washington Post, Amanda Lin Costa
Filmmaker Magazine, Randy Astle
STORY HACK: BETA, PARTs 1 – 4
Apply to Participate in the next Story Hackathon
As digital technology continues to transform the worlds of Film, TV, Theater, Publishing, and Entertainment in general, we believe this type of hackathon approach for creation will become the norm. Storytellers can accelerate the creation process by following this model and the open environment and DIY approach sparks creativity and sharing. Following this approach will result in better stories, that are told across various media platforms, that continue to evolve and improve.
StoryCode and Createsphere’s Story Hackathon will occur during Createasphere’s TransVergence Summit on August 7-8, 2013 at the W Hotel in Hollywood, CA. Space is extremely limited so apply here. Applicants will be notified via email after the participant list is finalized.
Time to buy some Red Bull.