Crossover is an international programme that brings together responsive individuals from all sectors of film, TV, interactive and new media sectors to find ways to produce compelling convergent and transmedia projects. Crossover was born in 2002 in the United States, when NY based WebLab gathered a few dozen filmmakers, interactive artists, designers, animators, writers, technologists, game designers, web producers and cultural theorists at White Oak Plantation in rural Florida. The next Crossover Lab was run just outside of Adelaide, South Australia about 6 months later with support from the SAFC, Adelaide Film Festival and The Australian Film Commission - the participants were film, tv, games, mobile and new media producers from around Australia. Another Crossover Lab was run in South Australia in 2005. Adelaide Film Festival was a lead partner in presenting the series of Crossover labs held in South Australia.
When Heather Croall moved from South Australia to the UK in 2006 she brought the Crossover Lab programme with her and teamed up with Frank Boyd to run a series of Crossover Labs in the UK, Europe and Canada as well as a number of Australian labs. Mark Atkin joined as a mentor in 2006 and now is part of the team who lead the Crossover Labs.
The lab process brings together creative professionals from diverse disciplines - including film and TV production, animation, games, theatre, web design and new media - to share understanding of a rapidly changing mediascape, to form new interdisciplinary collaborations and generate ideas for projects. A team of great mentors from around the world are always on site to help make the lab as transformative as possible for the participants. Crossover Labs differs from other models of lab, which work with existing teams on pre-conceived proposals. We mix people with a range of creative skills, at different stages in their careers and from diverse cultural backgrounds. Participants are selected as individuals to create new partnerships and explore new collaborative interdisciplinary approaches to cross-platform development. There are many follow up labs that Crossover do now around project development, legals, business models and company structures ideal for producing transmedia projects.
Crossover also presents sessions at the Sheffield Docfest and at other festivals around the world. Each year a full day Crossover Summit is staged on the opening day of the Sheffield Docfest and this is a perfect place for Crossover Alumni to gather and for people interested in the Crossover process to come and meet ex-lab participants and hear inspiring speakers from around the world.
What happens on a Crossover Lab?
Crossover is an intensive, immersive, residential laboratory normally held over a five-day period with up to twenty-five participants and a team of expert mentors, designed to enable professionals from different sectors of the audio-visual industries to acquire the knowledge and skills to develop concepts and build prototypes and pilots for new media.
Crossover comprises a robust set of methodologies, refined over a period of more than ten years, for testing, enhancing and developing ideas for convergent programmes and services.
Practical and dynamic, focused on outcome as much as process, Crossover
- explores new techniques for developing multi-platform projects
- encourages fresh thinking about interaction with viewers and users through user-centred design processes
- provides a framework for the development of concrete projects
- results in the building of pitches and early stage concept prototypes.
Time is divided between individual and group sessions with the mentors, peer-to-peer collaboration, and unstructured time for teams to develop treatments, pitch documents and visualisations.
The climax of a Lab is a pitching session in which the participating teams present their projects to a panel, which can include TV commissioners, publishers, advertising agencies, public and private investors or relevant funding organisations. In some cases there may be real offers of a commission at stake; there is always very valuable feedback on the creative and business potential of the ideas pitched. These pitching sessions can also be staged in a public context at a conference or seminar. In 2008 these included the Sheffield Doc/Fest, the London Games Festival, the Nordic Panorama, the Australian International Documentary Conference and BAFTA.
Crossover Lab structure
The Lab is tightly structured for the first three days; the final two are more open, with participants working together in teams, on ideas that they have chosen, with support from mentors. The Lab is in four phases:
Participants: discover who the mentors and other participants are, and what they know; build a common understanding of the territory the lab will explore; share knowledge of and debate about media futures, and establish the best possible environment for creative collaboration. The main outcome of this phase is knowledge transfer: developing an understanding of the values, culture, language and approach of producers working in different sectors.
Cross-platform idea generation
In the second phase of Crossover participants are challenged to create original ideas for cross-platform products and services. Using a range of techniques from classic brainstorming, lateral-thinking techniques, user-focused design processes, Stanford Research International’s Innovation methodology and other tools, people work in constantly changing interdisciplinary teams.
Selection, evaluation, development
From the third day onwards, Crossover adopts a more convergent approach. The mentoring team provides a framework within which the participants select ideas to develop further, working in a team with diverse knowledge and skillsets.
In the last 24 hours of the Lab, teams focus on developing a value proposition and a pitch for the single project that they will present on the final day of Crossover. Presentations are made to an invited audience.
Beyond the labs
After the labs the relationships continue with
- Business Labs
- to explore and develop innovative business models afforded by digital technology, with seminars and events on issues of money, rights and law in emerging media markets.
- On-going Mentoring
- building an international network of industry leaders to provide expert guidance in developing digital projects and businesses.
- Pitching events
- presenting new ideas at festivals and conferences to disseminate new thinking, for feedback and possible commissioning.
- Crossover International MeetMarket
- a new conference focused on the business of new media: money, law and markets.
- Online network
- year-round online resource for potential and actual partners to collaborate and exchange knowledge.