Most notable Transmedia projects in Hong Kong of 2012

We will soon release our second installment of the Asian Screen and provide new updates on trends and markets in Greater China and South-East Asia. Since the report will rather focus on industry insights and interconnected relationships we want to highlight specific projects mentioned within here in greater detail with direct links and videos. Hence, this post will be a small recap on what kind of transmedia projects came out during 2012 in HK.

However, this is HK in 2012 and transmedia still has not actually gotten off the ground yet. So we will use the definition of what is a transmedia project a bit broader than usual, otherwise there would not much to report at all. Also, this is by no means a complete list. A lot of local projects do not even appear on our radar as they fail to reach a significant audience to be regarded as relevant. However, should you think we missed something/someone please do let us know in the comments below.

Webseries

Galaman

This animation series is quite the exception in HK. It is one of the most notable, creative and well-maintained transmedia projects in town. Run by Minimind Studio, a young start-up that is currently part of the HK Design Centre incubation program, Galaman is a mix of superhero and game-style comic animations with a number of episodes online. Besides building a vast story universe with a number of characters, latest episodes divert from the main hero to entertaining side characters. Every episode holds underlying social and political criticism towards the HK society and sometimes reacts to recent trends as well.

Despite the webseries primarily running on YouTube, Minimind Studio managed to find syndication effects with Yahoo HK as well as a whole catalog of merchandizing articles for all its characters. Since the team is small, a new episode will be released every 2-3 months. While the story universe keeps evolving, Galaman built a solid audience base on Facebook.

We will discuss Galaman in further detail in our upcoming report as well as within an interview with the creator.

Page: http://minimindstudio.com/galaman/

blog: http://jacso.hk/johnee

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/galamanhk

Current 7 episodes of Galaman:

Cross-over projects:

Mr French Taste

A HK-France co-production of a comedy series that ran very successful on Koldcast.tv. With an international creators team Mr French Taste is an entertaining series with a broad audience appeal on a global scale. Even though the transmedia aspects of the production fell short on season 1, the series will hopefully embrace social media integrations and story expansions with interactive nature during their next season.

Koldcast: http://www.koldcast.tv/video/the_job_interview_ep_1

Page: http://www.misterfrenchtaste.com

Microfilm series

There are very few webseries produced in HK that fall under the traditional definition of a webseries. Microfilms are running very strong recently, short films with a branded entertainment character, sponsored by corporations or brands. Such microfilm campaigns often come in a bundle of 3-6 short films and hence have a webseries character. On top, such branded entertainment is mostly produced and directed by famous feature filmmakers. One of the more relevant contributors to these microfilm series in HK is Heiward Mak. In 2012 she came out with two series. One for MTR Malls, one for LG. Story structures and character development are mostly loose and the main focus of such series always lies on staged nostalgia and generic forced emotions. Such webseries usually come with a transmedia-like marketing campaign around them. MTR Malls Popcorn campaign for example created game apps, live events at the malls as well as social media channels for fans to engage.

MTR Malls Popcorn:

LG × 麥曦茵微電影::

Feature Films

Triad

Triad was the only local feature film to adopt a transmedia campaign for its theatre release. And yes, we are talking about using transmedia for marketing purposes only. The concept of generating a story on a sole transmedia level has yet to be understood and implemented by local producers and filmmakers.

We talked about the campaign of Triads before here (https://haexagon.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/haexagon-concepts-monthly-recap-october-2012/). Sadly, since this post there have been no significant developments. In fact the entire campaign stopped at the opening weekend and the film basically flopped at HK box offices

But how do Hollywood feature films translate their transmedia marketing campaigns to HK? Usually, local distributors do not bother to localize what the US studios provide. The big campaigns of Girl With A Dragon Tattoo or Prometheus always merge down to simple posters on public transport. In fact local distributors seem to struggle a lot with the use of technology. It took two years for them to put QR codes on film posters. Such codes would lead to a flash web site and rendered quickly inappropriate.

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Only a few weeks later no film poster in town would have any QR codes at all. Even the big players like Warner failed to set up a simple movie web page for their tent pole pictures. The Dark Knight Rises would show a blank page until the opening week.

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Official trailers sometimes get deleted from YouTube. In general a distributor’s YouTube channels can get quite confusing and messy. Obligatory are localized Facebook pages that just post the usual cross-promotion efforts. Main focus across the board still lies with TV adverts, huge banners on busses and marketing stunts with meet and greet s
essions inside shopping malls.

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Disney on the other hand knows how to play the global transmedia game. Almost all their campaigns of 2012 releases are highly engaging event periods, online and offline likewise. Notable is the two months run for Wreck It Ralph. Tying in the film IP and theme to affiliated promotion partners like Samsung made Disney not only translate the game/technology aspect into all-day life but also gave audience something to connect with since Samsung’s mobile devices became highly popular in HK during the past six months.

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Admittedly, it is fairly easy for Disney to appeal to a local audience and find connection points as they are used to localize all their IPs, primarily on the audio level, on a regular basis. Naturally, having local celebrities dubbing the animated characters creates a very own eco system of marketing/ads and cross-storytelling. Of course, such an eco system is complex and hard to create. Only a few big players like Disney actually have the needed muscle to pull it off. But then again, this is still gatekeeper thinking rooted in the old film industry middle-men-system and transmedia projects (not including the ones using it for marketing sake only) have a serious potential to cut costs while achieving the same results for/with the audience.

With a bit of hesitant caution one could count Iron Sky to such an underdog example. The film finally landed in HK and closed its one year global theater run here. But how do you make a place connect to a film’s topic that is culturally not even remotely relevant in this region. The answer lies in promotion stunts and turning Nazis into pop-culture icons. Premiere parties with guests dressed in SS uniforms, an Iron Sky helicopter during the biggest music festival in town or students greeting publicly “Sieg Heil” at a screening at the HK Design Institute, it all brought dubious Nazi-Schick in our lives, at least for a couple of weeks.

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The social media team rendered excellent work with bilingual content on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/IronSkyHK ) and Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/IronSkyHK ). The traditional press work was conducted on a regular mainstream film level. For some reason (presumably to be found within the film’s financial structure) the www.ironskythemovie.com webpage turned into the HK webpage and offers promotion tie-ins for dining. Not sure how that correlates with moon Nazis though.

Now it has to be mentioned the local distributor for Iron Sky is VII Pillars Entertainment, a company founded by former Hollywood studio executives.

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Despite all those efforts Iron Sky did not turn into a box office success. It seemed like the cultural gab between pretending to be a moon Nazi and watching a film about moon Nazis was still too great. Identification and fun alone do not sell tickets.

Documentaries/short films/indies

2012 was still no breakthrough year for indies and documentary filmmakers to adopt transmedia storytelling. While the indies rely on copying the big players by selling out to studios or brankrupting themselves by employing PR agency giants to make them look like a non-indie production, documentaries were caving in to even deeper underground status with primary focus on exiling themselves from the international scene together with their Mainland Chinese network.

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Short film projects with huge transmedia potential like the recently launched Zombie Guillotines (https://www.facebook.com/ZombieGuillotines) fail entirely in online-strategy. While the time of the web launch was chooses perfectly with the Chinese mainstream film Guillotines hitting cinemas end of December the project seems to stall before it even began. After an obligatory Yahoo syndication of the short film and a more less decent view count build up on YouTube, the project offers only little to maintain a sustainable audience base. The filmmakers will definitely look for a genre festival run and maybe a follow up video. Despite this being one of the few very creative short film concepts this year that does not go for the oversaturated love/family drama kitsch there is very little room given by the creators for designing something outstanding.

The remains of the day

What becomes evident in 2012, the major social media channels for any kind of film related production are still Yahoo, Facebook and YouTube. Significant for community maintenance, but not necessary building, are Sina Weibo and WeChat. Distributors still jeopardize their entire first week box office revenue on traditional ad spent for posters,
banners and TVCs, holding on to a system that is burdened by an army of middle-men which supposedly worked for the past 50 years.

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The audience more and more turns away from cinemas. Screens have become too small, prices too high, value too low. The potential of mobile story telling has yet to be discovered. HK in 2012 was still a place where the media world was proclaimed to be flat and those who said that transmedia can make it round were burned for witchcraft. So we move on into 2013 in the hope the inquisition might cut us some slack for a proof of concept.

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concepts<at>haexagon<dot>org

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The Asian Screen – The state of China & Hong Kong’s film industry and the emergence of Transmedia

Intro:

THE ASIAN SCREEN is Haexagon Concepts’ ongoing series of industry reports on the media and entertainment market in the Greater China and East Asian region. This first installment tackles the state of Hong Kong and China’s film industry, uses of traditional and alternative media and the emergence of Transmedia within both territories.

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Report sample (excerpt):

“…For example, Hong Kong director Derek Yee’s “The Great Magician”, a comedy that starred two of Hong Kong’s most popular male actors, was a major success in Mainland China, becoming the highest-grossing domestic film in the first half of 2012. Even with a Cantonese version featuring the voices of the two leads playing in cinemas, “The Great Magician” had a Mainland Chinese comedy style that did not appeal to Hong Kong audiences. Unlike “I Love Hong Kong 2012” and “All’s Well Ends Well 2012” – both star-studded comedies with Hong Kong stars and Cantonese humor released in the same time slot – “The Great Magician” will not be among one of the top ten grossing Chinese-language films in Hong Kong in 2012.

The Hong Kong film industry also got a shocking wake-up call in 2011 when Taiwanese coming-of-age romantic comedy “You Are the Apple of My Eye” beat box office records and became the highest-grossing Chinese-language film in Hong Kong history. Compared to films starring Hong Kong superstars like Stephen Chow, Jackie Chan, Chow Yun Fat, and Andy Lau that have sat on top of that list for the past two decades, “Apple” doesn’t have any recognizable stars, and the only true appeal the film had was writer-director-novelist Giddens (making his directorial debut) and a strong word-of-mouth among the youth audience. Suddenly, Hong Kong filmmakers realized that their films don’t necessarily need big stars and huge budgets to succeed…”

 

Download options:

The report is available as following download options:

1) pay with a Tweet or Facebook:

2) get it on your mobile device by scanning this QR code:

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3) read on Scribed:

The Asian Screen #1

Credits:

Report Lead: Kevin Ma
Supporting Analysts: Diogo Martins, Marco Sparmberg, Juergen Hoebarth

About HAEXAGON CONCEPTS:

We are a creative think tank and transmedia workshop based in Hong Kong. We create new forms of immersive experiences for the entertainment industry by means of new media, mobile technology and the internet. We build a client’s audience for socially interactive products that will further engage and amplify their users into faithful content advocators. While developing creative and high quality projects/entertainment franchises, Haexagon Concepts is implementing a common usage of Transmedia in Hong Kong and in the future, East Asia.

To learn more about working with Haexagon Concepts, any press inquiries or background information & references to this report, contact: concepts<at>haexagon<dot>org

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Leave it to the Russians (QR Code Extravaganza!)

Full disclosure… I hate QR codes.

Yes, they serve a purpose, and so far, from what exists in the market, they are “revolutionizing” how brands communicate and “interact” with their customers (this of course is a pleonasm as the only one doing any interaction is the user… not the brand).

But…

They are esthetically unpleasing, sometimes bulky and attention deviating, most of the time extremely badly utilized in where they are presented and ultimately, bothersome.

A QR code, to me, looks (and feels) like a barcode – extremely effective in keeping track of a given product in a production line, but occupying premium advertising space in the cover/package of any well-developed object/content persona.

Barcodes… they are scanned by a laser reader, right? In a conveyer belt, right? Wouldn’t it be cool if we all could scan a QR code in the conveyer belt of daily life? Wait… what am I saying… of course we can.

Let me see:

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 What is that over there in the corner? The lower left-hand corner… Is it… YES!!! I believe it is! A perfectly located and strategically poised QR code (the lower left-hand corner is by far, the worst place you can locate a QR code, but in this advert, since the supposedly readable text is in the left, whomever developed the ad thought people would be easily directed to it).

Let me see if I can scan it:

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Hmm… no… too far… but I really wanted to know what Emperor Qianlong’s concubines are doing… OK… let me walk a few steps to another advert and try again:

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Closer Diogo… don’t be afraid to go closer! It’s nothing but an MTR train line between you and the enormous portal of knowledge that a QR is – and a train coming in 2 minutes. If you fall, it’ll be for the greater good!!!

SUCCESS! I can see the code in the camera! Let me go just a bit closer…

Damn… blurry image.

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 Train comes… I’ve just lost 3 minutes of my life trying to scan a little sequence of squares and dots 3 meters away (and no… the fault wasn’t my phone or my hands… the camera can see some of the mountains in the moon in a clear night and I’m pretty steady with my hands, so I’d think both would be good enough to scan something that’s so close ahead of them).

But I don’t give up. That’s just not my style (hmm we’ll let that slide). On the next train stop, I see this marvel:

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 I scan it and it directs me to a facebook page… Eureka! But… wait… it’s the same facebook page that right next to the code is perfectly advertised by a Facebook logo and the search query a user would make to find the product in the social network.

I start thinking… it’s just me. I must be stupid. Or rather, technologically impaired.

So I continue:

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Yes. Right-hand corner. You see it. I see it. I scan it. Failure… The rim of the ad space glass/metal cover  is obstructing half of the code.

I walk a few steps out in my stop and…

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AAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!

So. Much. AWESOMENESS!!!

But wait!?! Which one should I scan?

The Ultra-Big-Awesome-Eye-Popping one to the left? Or the once again (Cof Cof) strategically located, one to the left?

I’m incompetent… I know… I scan both. Same page. Both of them. Success!

2 out of 5 ads in one night take me to a desired page. A “more information” page. A “trackable page”. An advertising, market strategy, mobile justifiable java enabled page.

I get out of the MTR glad from my evening’s successful advertisement consumer enterprise. Right next to my apartment entrance what do I see (I live in Mongkok so this wasn’t entirely unexpected):

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Another code.

At this stage I’m tired of the previous ordeal. I still try to scan it; too far away; go close to it; too far away; change to the camera not the scanner; take a picture; blow it up and… give up. But I think in the back of my head “I’ll just test it when I get home”.

And then it hits me.

Weren’t QR’s developed so advertisers could track and test out which costumers were willing to search for their products online? The ones that would be as interested to buy or at least learn about the product? The ones who would go to the trouble to take their phone out of their pocket, direct it at the ad, locate the QR, open the app, scan the image, wait for the page load and then get to where they (the advertisers) were trying to get them?

Yes… yes they were… but I’m a lazy consumer. I went to my browser, searched for the product name and I got all the information I needed to find me interested or not in the Vaio. I even got 2 pages that had pretty interesting reviews on the product and a great video advert from Japan, something that I didn’t get when I ultimately tested out the Code – it took me to the official page of the product – a page where the most valuable information I got was the price in HK dollars and some of the specs of the product.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying QR Codes are evil or that they should be completely discarded from any and all physical/digital adverts existing in Hong Kong.

In an ideal world I’d just scan an ad (any ad) and the scanner would take me to the same place as a QR code (this exists, of course, but the technology is still in its early stages of “Augmented Reality Development”).

I’m just saying… If you go through the trouble of setting up a Code link, at least give me, the customer, some valuable information, enticing information, attention grabbing information on my mobile device.

Something that makes it worthwhile to go through the trouble of the situation that some customers might be put through while being “guided” by your market strategies. 

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Confirm that the package where you put your product and your code, don’t have enough gloss to almost make the customer go to a dark alley so they can scan your code (all criticism aside, this code takes you into the Apple Store where you can download a pretty neat app that further augments the experience of eating Skittles and advertising it – pushing it – to your network of Facebook/Twitter friends – by making you a Skittle-faced customer!).

Ohh… and by the way…. When you do put a QR Code on your product, a difficult to find, almost completely impossible to scan Code on it – Make it have fun content behind it.

Like the Skittles thing. But take it further.

I’ll give you an example. Sure… an extreme example, but a fun example nonetheless.

2 Months ago, out of nowhere, the advertising campaign for Branded started appearing in zee interwebs. Branded looks like a weird, weird experience for the movie goer, so they developed a great little advancement to their story &ndas
h; Branded content through QR Code dissemination – 100 QR Codes to be exact, the idea behind it is that the audience by interacting actively in their weird, advertised, universe, they’ll slowly see what the movie might be about (the global distortion of perception, advanced and perpertraited by big Branded companies).

And where can you see them? Their trailers, their posters, their everything!

Give it a try (this is the first trailer of the campaign):

Can’t get any? I’ll help you with one of the pages:

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But wait… there’s more, lots more… if you look hard enough, you’ll find them.

It takes time. It’s a pain to stop the videos. It’s frustrating at times but, you’re watching something new. Something that doesn’t appear if you search it online. New content. A new experience. You’re augmenting the experience of watching the trailer for a film. You’re using a QR Code the right way. The although hard and confusing, satisfactory way.

Here’s more (on the second trailer the codes are even harder to scan):

Once again. Stop the video. Can’t get them?

Here are some of them:

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Like I said… if you do use QR Codes – Make them fun.

Or else…

Leave it to the Russians.