This morning the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Interactive Media Peer Group announced the juried winners for Creative Arts Emmys in the field of digital media programming. Walking away with awards were "Top Chef's" "Last Chance Kitchen" for Multiplatform Storytelling, "Oprah's Lifeclass" for Social TV Experience, the Nick App for User Experience and Visual Design, and "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" for Original Interactive Program.
While some of these titles contain familiar names, the power of these creative projects is just beginning to permeate the public consciousness. So what are these award-winning interactive works? Let's break them down:
"Top Chef's" "Last Chance Kitchen"
Watch an introduction to "Last Chance Kitchen":
"Top Chef's" method is a unique take on viewer engagement. The "Last Chance Kitchen" series provides extra video content to fans of the show each week by having the most recently eliminated "Top Chef" competitor come back to face off against that week's winner in a segment for BravoTV.com. These extra segments are accompanied by recipes and photo galleries so that the audience can participate from home, cooking up the dishes they drooled over on TV. The multifaceted "Last Chance Kitchen" is being recognized for Multiplatform Storytelling.
See a clip of "Oprah's Lifeclass"
"Oprah's Lifeclass" is not only a tool for engaging viewers, it is a television show (airing on OWN) that exists because of those who participate online and via social media. In each episode, Oprah is joined by an expert, and the two interact with viewers to share ideas and tools on how to help people live more fulfilling and meaningful lives. After episodes have aired, fans of the show can go to a digital classroom at Oprah.com to find class notes, assessments, questions to consider, and other relevant content. By giving its viewers the chance to become part of the show, "Lifeclass" has become a beacon for Social TV Experience, for which it is receiving the juried award.
The Nick App
Watch the Nick App in action below:
Keeping the kids busy when the family is on the go can be an incredibly difficult job, but having an app at your fingertips from a trustworthy company is a welcome relief. The Nick App is a free app with more than 1,000 items of Nickelodeon-themed content, from short behind-the-scenes clips to full episodes of Nickelodeon's kids' programming. Nickelodeon's goal was to "go beyond a typical app that offers free video viewing and instead offer more interactive content." For that it is recognized for success in User Experience and Visual Design.
"The Lizzie Bennet Diaries"
Watch the first episode of "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" here:
Finally, and perhaps most unusually, there is "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries." This show, which began streaming on YouTube in April 2012, is a modern retelling of Jane Austen's incredibly popular 1813 novel, "Pride and Prejudice." The main character of the series is Lizzie Bennet, a 24-year-old grad student with "an uncertain future" and "a mountain of debt." With the help of her friend Charlotte Lu, Lizzie starts a YouTube channel where she shares stories in twice-weekly installments, dictating the events of her life (altered from the original novel's text to reflect 21st-century developments), imitating offscreen characters with "costume theater," and being generally fun, quirky, and cleverly sarcastic.
[Photos: Emmys Performers Peer Group Red Carpet]
The series expanded beyond its initial story world, however, when characters from "LBD" became active users of social media. The writers of the show kept audiences intimately involved in the story world by setting up Twitter accounts for the characters and using tweets as a means of interaction between them. "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" is being commended as an Original Interactive Program.
All of these projects, whether created by independent producers or major studios, suggest that the future of entertainment can already be seen in the Web series that abound on the Internet today. The Creative Arts Emmys have proved that there's a place for them in popular culture as well.
The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be presented on Sunday, September 15.