Expert: Canada Primed to Become Major Transmedia Player

Digital guru Anita Ondine cited the National Film Board's "Highrise" interactive documentary as evidence of cutting-edge digital storytelling north of the border.

TORONTO – Canada is poised to become a major player in digital storytelling, thanks to the National Film Board of Canada and other local pots of gold for indie digital production.

So says transmedia guru Anita Ondine, the CEO of indie Seize the Media in Toronto this week to deliver a masterclass at Bell Lightbox.

The veteran transmedia producer cited the NFB’s Highrise mixed media project about vertical living worldwide as an example of an interactive documentary that pushes the boundary in digital storytelling.

“What the NFB is doing in Canada is taking a leadership role in encouraging transmedia by supporting projects like Highrise to be a showcase for what’s possible with cross-platform story-telling,” Ondine said.

She pointed to the NFB's Highrise collaborators using next generation open-source technology like Mozilla Popcorn to develop new ways to tell stories in a web environment.

“The reason it looks and feels on the edge is they’re using new techniques and tools to tell stories, and they allow multiple entry-points,” Ondine explained.

The latest incarnation of the NFB transmedia project is a video and poster installation currently feature in the Toronto subway system, Highrise/One Millionth Tower, that has commuters imagining the transformation of a rundown Toronto highrise building, via six different 30-second animated videos playing on LCD screens in subway stations.

Ondine also pointed to support for local transmedia producers from financing sources like the Canadian Media Fund’s experimental stream, the Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund and the Independent Production Fund, each of which steers a percentage of revenue from domestic cable and satellite TV operators to homegrown digital content production.

That backing, leveraged by local digital tax credits, has enabled a growing list of small and medium-sized transmedia producers like the Stitch Media, the Canadian Film Center and Francomedia to push ahead with cross-platform content.

Ondine said that output puts Canada on par with other mature media markets like the U.S., Australia and Europe that are shifting into cutting-edge transmedia to keep pace with changing consumer patterns.

“Canada… should definitely stay active in the space to stay towards the front of the pack,” she added.