R. Lachman

Ryerson University (CANADA)
This paper explores collaboration and creativity across the commercial creative sector through an academic and industry partnership called TIFF.Nexus, The Toronto International Film Festival’s Bell Lightbox facility, Ryerson University, and a number of other Canadian media organizations launched the TIFF.Nexus project to explore the barriers to collaboration between media-students, professionals, and members of the creative industries across various media disciplines.

The program works within four target areas: Peripherals (exploring innovative collaborations between novel hardware-interfaces and game-designers); Women and Games (which seeks to involve women in creative and digital fields directly in the design and construction of digital games); Youth and New Media Literacies (bringing educators, youth-market creatives and media-makers together to explore digital literacy experiences); and Comics & Games (teaming comic-book creators with game developers).

The initiative is based on the idea of a creative “Jam”, or charette, in which collaborative teams of students, media makers and creative professionals collaborate across sectors to create prototype-experiences during an intensive build. The design-teams participate in educational and creative development sessions, and then create prototypes in response to a common theme. The goal of the Jam is not to produce commercial projects, or even to finalize fully developed ideas; rather, the idea is to produce inspirational projects that draw from the various disciplines of the parties involved, and speak to the potentials of collaboration across media industries and disciplines.

The second part of the project exposes the wider creative communities to the ideas and concepts that focused each Jam. A one-day symposium on each of the four topics brings together speakers, presenters, and practical hands-on workshops from across the spectrum of related fields. The collaborative prototypes are premiered at the end of their respective events, with a chance for hands-on access to the interactive experiences.

To date, two of the four target-area explorations have been completed. The Peripherals Initiative saw the production of five prototype experiences, developed by students, designers, hardware-hackers, indie-game designers and amateur artists (most of whom were meeting one another for the first time). The one-day symposium, dubbed the Locative Media Innovation day, brought together educators, innovators, professionals and trade organizations from across creative, advertising and business sectors to explore the potentials of locative and digital/physical experiences. More about the Peripherals Initiative can be found at http://www.tiffnexus.net/jamsincubators/the-peripherals-initiative/

The Difference Engine put two groups of women media-makers, students, designers and artists through a collaborative game-design and build process; the twelve resultant games were shown at the attendant Women in Film, Games and New Media conference. More about The Difference Engine can be found at http://www.tiffnexus.net/jamsincubators/the-difference-engine/

This paper will present preliminary findings from the project, including a discussion of the design/development process, experiences working with cross-disciplinary collaboration in the media arts, and advice for future cross-media collaborative programs.