Fourth Wall Studios is a company founded in 2007 in Culver City (USA) that produces transmedia stories. According to themselves, the company’s initial concept is to create “content that crosses the tradition between audience and onscreen action, resulting in entertainment experience that feel more connected immersive and real” (fourthwallastudios.com, n.d.). Fourth Wall Studios is a company that “develops a wide range of Alternate reality Entertainment,” more specifically in Transmedia storytelling and augmented reality. The company uses a wide range of platforms to share information ranging from Internet bower to smart phones to movies to the physical world. Fourth Wall Studios is “dedicated to creating the properties that define the next generation fo information” (Fouthwallstudios.com, n.d.).
Their two main products are ‘’Rides’’ and ‘’Elseware’’. The service that ‘’Rides’’ provides is transmedia storytelling, through narrative experiences which unfold stories via connected devices such as cell phones and browsers. ‘’Elseware’’ provides alternate reality entertainment by producing augmented reality services. Through mobile devices and tablets, Elseware’s patented technology enhances game play, narratives and computer graphics which seamlessly blends into the real world. Fourth Wall Studios finances their projects through sponsoring, and therefore is a Sponsored transmedia enterprise (Kapoor, 2012). They were given 15 million dollars by Los Angeles based investor Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong and were given up to 200 Million dollars to finance individual properties (fourthwallstudios.com, n.d.).
In today’s media landscape, Fourth Wall Studios as a company that creates transmedia stories and augmented reality games has a lot of competition. Big and influential companies have created experiences similar to Fourth Wall Studios’ Rides, that allow people to dive into the story using multiple platforms. For example, Universal Studios even has thrill rides like the Incredible Hulk Coaster in their theme-park. Also, series like Dexter have before published augmented reality games that included the use of mobile applications and webisodes.
However, even though Fourth Wall Studios is not the only one of their kind, they do seem to have something special. In order for us to evaluate Fourth Wall Studios’ business model, we will look at one of their most know projects: Dirty Work. This is an online based comedy show built around a team of crime-scène cleaners’ experiences. According to the website (n.d.), Dirty Work is “a gritty and immersive experience delivered through Fourth Wall Studios ‘RIDES’ platform” . The series might seem like your usual thriller, but nonetheless is very innovative, since each episode of the series is told through the users’ computer or Smartphone. It takes the theory of augmentative reality to a whole other level, playing on the short attention span people have nowadays (Watercutter, 2012). The transmedia project uses a combination of video, audio, text and images, putting the viewer in the center of the action. Fourth Wall Studios promoted Dirty Work by launching trailers on YouTube that sparked the interest of many.
Hence, it received a lot of positive reactions. LA times (2012) called their work very innovative, and said Dirty Work by Fourth Wall Studios was the first to actually “engage young audiences who want to do more than be passively fed stories”. Instead of just watching an episode on TV or online, the public truly engages with the show while watching it, via their telephone. The programmers even won an Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media, Original Interactive Television Programming at the Creative Arts Emmy awards recently.
Something about the company’s business model that might bring problems in the future, is the fact that they are completely dependent on sponsors to give them money, since the public does not pay for any of the services. However, in the future they could solve this problem by implementing advertising into their products, like most media products do. All in all, Fourth Wall Studios as a fairly new company is doing very well, thanks to their innovative ideas and high level of interactiveness.
By Ashlynn, Sydney, Wally and Vivian
Fourth Wall Studios. (n.d.). Fourth Wall Studios. Retrieved October 19, 2012, from http://fourthwallstudios.com/
Fritz, B. (2012, April 15). Fourth Wall does the ‘Dirty Work’ of innovation. LA Times. Retrieved October 19, 2012, from http://articles.latimes.com/2012/apr/15/entertainment/la-ca-fourth-wall-20120415/2
Kapoor, R. (Lecturer). (2012, October 12). CM2052: Transmedia Entertainment & Marketing – World Building. Lecture presented in Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Interactive Video Experience. (n.d.).RIDES. Retrieved October 19, 2012, from http://rides.tv/