This time deep Germany's Black Forrest working with participants as they develop their projects. As their website says "Designed to give participants the skills and knowledge needed to create, finance and distribute stories across multiple platforms, The Pixel Lab is the ultimate cross-media workshop for European media professionals wanting to capitalise on the value of their intellectual property."
Working with several repeat clients in one: Film i Skåne, BoostHbg, Film Stockholm on the beautiful, far away island of Fårö, sitting pretty off the north coast of Gotland; Sweden.
Sitting pretty out in the open, a first for Handling Ideas as we set up 'shop' in the corner of a media market. Sunny Side of the Doc invited HI down to work with a six documentaries to help them map out their interactive offerings.
Second time around for Handling Ideas to be asked to work with the talented Cecilia Valsted and Lars Brask Frederiksen from Magic Hour Films, Copenhagen. Last time we unfolded the outreach plans for a documentarty around events in Hungary, c.1989, this time it was Sirrea Leone. The session was recorded with the intention to use parts of the morning's work within a kickstarter campaign.
Got to work with the talented and visionary Bjarke Myrthu and his team on their latest project 'Blindspot', here in Copenhagen. Fascinating project that's targeting the needs and expectations of users currently let down by what’s possible around content authoring, curation and sharing on the web.
Not a bad place to be working. Invited down to the beautiful Andalusian town of Rhonda to work with the prestigious Media Business School on their Mega Plus programme.
"mega plus is a nine month, project-based master’s programme that provides specialised training in audiovisual company management and content production. It’s geared to young producers, recent film school or university graduates who wish to accelerate their careers, and to film executives who want to update their skills to face the radical changes that are taking place in the audiovisual business."
The set-up to a three hour session involving fourteen representatives of the Swedish Film Institute (SFI). The objective was to map out the activites and stakeholders of the SFI in order to explore ways to support new forms of content through the Film agreement. Those present, included:
Anders Wilhelmsson, Andra Lasmanis, Andreas Fock, Annelie Juliusson, Antonio Russo Merenda, Baker Karim, Hjalmar Palmgren, Josefina Mothander, Magdalena Jangard, Pia Lundberg, Ramon Reismüller, Susanne Tiger & Theo Tsappos.
The plane from Copenhagen doesn't turn when it flies the straight line out across the Baltic. Invited over by Ruta Boguzaite, MEDIA Desk Lithuania to speak at the 4th annual Cross Media Zen, "an interactive conference and workshop dedicated to cross-platform storytelling", with a "special attention will be given to audience engagement and interactive storytelling, illustrated with leading case studies from across the world as well as Lithuania." Day 2, and the LEGO was out as we worked through five projects that had been selected for development.
Photos by Kristina Sereikaite, commisisoned by CROSS MEDIA ZEN 2014
Projects and their owners were:
Two days up at Filmstaden Råsunda, Stockholm, working across seven projects to help map out their stories and in some instances, their outreach through cross media. Both fiction and documentary, we dealt with themes and topis from conflicts of love, trolls, detention centers, Swedish trailer parks, Iraqi refugees and what happens when we want to find work.
Photos by Claudia Fried
Ran a session for Advice A/S. Focused in on one key project, centering around a fairly meaty client. With three of the project team members around the table and around twenty or so Advice folks watching, it made for a great session - with the following reactions:
Bringing critical and creative thinking into the same space reveals our justifications and shortcuts the one thing we’re always lacking when we innovate – time.
There’s so much talk of holistic solutions and co-creation within the product, service and media industry, yet such talk is hot air if we ignore the weak links within the concept development chain. I believe that it all comes down to our inability to deal with large amounts of information within the creative space and hidden motives. We’re throwing away the very thing that makes us creative, context.
The Handling Ideas method solves this by creating a single place for critical and creative thinking to come together. By visualising, mapping and prototyping we’re able to handle much larger amounts of input and see the rational for our innovation, and this is the why and how.
A right Royal Affair
In 1999, Peter Mechels, a man ahead of his time, said ‘if content is King, then context is his mistress’. Maintaining the monarch’s role appeased the content makers and yet a nod to the royal lover revealed where the real influence was growing. Forward wind fifteen years and understanding context has shown itself to be vital if storytellers, content makers, designers, communicators and marketers are to gain attention around their content and stay relevant.
It’s all around you
Critical thinking gives us context, by breaking down what’s happening in the world around us: how do audiences respond to a theme, how do travellers move through an airport, when do shoppers switch from high street to online. Irrespective of whether you’re an artist, designer, developer, commissioner, financier, communicator or marketer you explore the situations that both reinforce old needs and generate new ones. You take the trends, patterns, cultural shifts and social norms that arise from the adoption of new technologies, policies and practices and turn them into strategies. Such strategies in turn give creative thinkers a direction to generate content: the stories, concepts, projects, products, campaigns and services, that want to make an impact.
So where’s the problem?
Teams often struggle to handle the insight that is gathered around audience behaviours, attitudes, motives, goals etc. within the creative space. Documents are great containers for such data. They’re light and travel quickly and easily, but all too often, the stuff they contain, is ignored. Rather than incorporate this rich source of inspiration, it remains buried within the written summaries and conclusions. There doesn’t appear to be a natural fit within the more open and creative blank canvas of the creative thinking stage. So how can we create a single space in which critical thinking and creative thinking can come together so that the things we create are shaped by the insight we’ve gained? How can content be created as a response to context? How can we expose and manage the variety of motives for how a concept is developed? The answer? We visualise, map and prototype everything in one single space.
Horse and the cart
Let’s start moments after we’ve had an idea or received a brief. If we start with critical thinking rather than simply building on the idea, we can explore and map context. Here we can capture our assumptions e.g. how we imagine someone might interact with an existing service, say an ATM machine or an audio-visual historical guide to a museum. We can map out where they’ve come from, their goal, and their motive for that goal, their expectations, desired outcome, the way they navigate the existing service and their exit route. At any stage, we can replace our assumptions with genuine insight, modifying our map as we research and tighten the journey. We might even map in the competitors, their products and alternative services etc. The journey becomes a frame, containing both hypotheses and real data. It reveals context. We can also map in the little that we know of our new service. Even if it’s not yet formed, we can still represent us, the owner of the service, our goals, motives, stakeholder needs, desired outcomes etc. Our concept starts to form alongside the insight, exploiting various touch points between the behaviour and actions of the user and our new service; our content is forming alongside context.
Shortcut to the gold
But what makes the Handling Ideas approach so special is that when we choose one object from amongst hundreds of other objects to map, we expose the justification for each choice, thereby revealing our rationale at that point within the development. Understanding rationale is gold dust because it speeds things up by getting to the essence of the work.
It doesn’t have to be complicated
By mapping and justifying each of the elements that make up the concept, including tangible ones (user, product, output etc.) and intangible ones, (motive, conflict, goal etc.) we ensure that everyone understands what lies behind the work and can retain much more information as they co-create. If someone says “I’m going to represent the user with this small dog because it reminds me that the user is very dependent at this stage”, people will both remember that it’s there to represent the user and that the person choosing the object believes that one key aspect of that user is that they are dependent. Suddenly critical and creative thinking combines, as everyone is able to express, hold and understand a greater amount of information. It’s that simple.
Not a piece of LEGO in sight, but still a chance to bring out my BBC producer's 'paranoid eye'. Worked with the hosts during rehearsals and the scriptwriter to ensure that the scripts made good English sense. It really only came down to subtle tweaking, sometimes challenging my own understanding of the nuances of the English language, but hopefully made a difference and boosted confidence all round.
It was the directors turn to work through the projects to be shot as part of their fourth and final year at the Danish Film School. Working with their accompanying producer and occassional writer, the directors set out their ambitions whilst witnessing the underlying themes and character constellations mapped out onto the table.
The focus of this workshop was to visualise and map out the projects from the users' perspective. This revealed that most projects are made up of differing parts, each with a particular value to a particular sub-group. By separating out the experiences, it was then possible to consider how each project could create multiple 'front doors' to such sub-groups. Activity of one group could then be used to advocate pick-up by another. This didn't relegate the holistic approach, but simply encouraged a more strategic approach to delivery and roll-out.
Aarhus, Denmark: SPOT INTERACTIVE - Designing and developing interactive media experiences. May '14.
With the overall header "How do you design and develop interactive media experiences that reach new audiences and create new branding opportunities with new ways of earning money in mind?" I was asked in to moderate the day's conference. With an international and local line of speakers, covering a range of creative businesses, the audience went away with more than a brainfull of insight.
See the days's schedule for more. For a capture of the day, see my Jysk Bank TV's interview.
On Friday, joined forces with Creuna's Simon Kibsgård to drive a three hour workshop "CREATING A MEANINGFUL USER JOURNEY" where we attempted to bring our methodologies together to introduce the participants to a 'new type of journey mapping and its potential for describing the complexity of rational and emotional values in user/customer experience.'
Bagsværd, Denmark: Demonstrating the value of visualisation and mapping to marketing group. April '14.
I was invited up to Bagsværd by Martin Bille-Hansen to present to 'Marketing Netværk under Huset Markedsføring'. Here I demonstrated the power of getting our thoughts out onto the table to a group of marketeers who regularly meet to share wisdom. After a twenty minute explanation of the approach we set about by taking one case study, where Tina Andersen, Global Marketing Manager, Orafol set about explaning how their company was increasing distribution of their products within the far east. Mapping helped reveal the dependencies within the system and gave the group 'food for thought'.
No plane needed as I cycled over to SOHO in Kødbyen to run a session for the folks at Magic Hour Films. A three hour session to map out the vital elements that give direction to their outreach plan for the launch of their 1989 project later this year.
Present: Cecilia Valsted, Lars Frederiksen, Kristian Mosvold (Substans Film AS), Martin Ericsson & Tishna Molla.
I grabbed this quote from last year's Nordic Talents. It reminds us that when pitching a project, your job is to evoke and engage others to such an extent it demands to be 'switched on'. Always lovely working with the Film School and with such promising students who truly care for what they create.