New Media

I'm sure you've been hearing a lot about new media lately, and you may not quite know what it's all about. Brian Seth Hurst, Chairman of the Producer's Guild New Media Council and Governor of the Television Academy's Interactive Media Peer Group, finds it difficult to describe this burgeoning field in one sentence but says it's basically the use of digital technology as a means of telling and distributing stories and information. He said new technologies have spurred the creation of so many different platforms in which to deliver content—it's huge!

Platforms for new media would include interactive television, CDs, the Web, DVDs, wireless devices (PDAs and phones), console games and virtual reality experiences. It would encompass all types of video and arcade games, as well as entertainment-based informational and service-related interactive displays that can be found at museums, amusement parks and shopping centers (often called location-based entertainment, or LBE) and electronic kiosks (booths) that are like ATM machines and can be used for information or entertainment.

Whether it's using digital technologies to tell stories, educate or market and sell, the jobs in this field would involve DVD producing and authoring, creating program content, visual effects and digital animation, flash animation (for the Internet), interface design and computer programming. And for those interested in marketing, new media is a powerful tool in the advertising and launching of new films, products, businesses or even a cause. Carolyn Miller, author of Digital Storytelling: A Creative Guide to

Interactive Entertainment (Focal Press) says this is a creative and fun industry for writers. When I asked her about writing jobs in this field, she used the Internet as just one example, pointing out that writers are needed for story-based serials, games, animated stories, journalistic outlets, online magazines and promotional purposes. She explains that when you write for new media, whether it's for a video game, the Internet or other platforms, you're developing characters, writing dialogue and dealing with story structure and plot points in just the same way you would for more traditional venues, though some new skills are also involved. She said some writers take on the larger task of becoming content designers (or "info architects," as they're often referred to in informational or training projects), and are involved with the overall thrust of a project, whereas others may just be hired to write chunks of text, dialogue or clues. She said writers are needed for all forms of new media.

If you'd like to learn more about the field of new media, more colleges and universities are offering programs and internships in this field than ever before. And just start researching: check out books and articles, and do a Web search on the topic. I'd also highly recommend Carolyn's book, Digital Storytelling.

I hope this, as well as the previous chapter, has opened your eyes and started you thinking about the many different career choices within the realm of entertainment. I've only touched on a handful, but there are many, many more out there. Take some time to read, ask questions and explore what this business has to offer. Choose some options that fit well with your skills, strengths and interests, and then evaluate what it takes to get into those facets of the industry. Don't take the first thing that's offered without knowing what your options are.

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