New Practice of IP Universe: China Ancient City Universe
Editor’s note: Wei Xia, author of this article, published with authorization.
Recently, the “meta universe” suddenly changed from a niche and difficult concept of the future into a popular word among folks, which also made the popularity of the “universe” further escalated. What lies behind this is the diversified evolution of the concepts of traditional elements such as time and space. Virtual, reality, and surreal have become a three-dimensional existence in human technological breakthroughs and cognitive breakthroughs triggered by them.
Such changes are also falling in the field of film and television IP development. In itself, the domestic IP industry market has gradually entered a state of stock, and the space for fixed routines and shallow derivative development has been limited. It is necessary to find and tap new incremental value of IP. In this context, IP development is also trying to break through one-way Linearity, which is why various “IP universe” projects are becoming more and more active. And what is different from the more gimmicks in previous years is that the current breakthroughs in many new technologies have given the domestic IP universe a real breakthrough point. More and more participants are reorganizing their own development logic, hoping to form an IP system that is more like a living organism and has more room for growth.
At such a stage node, in fact, it is even more necessary to clarify the core elements of an IP universe to form a truly scientific construction and development path.
The key inspiration from the Marvel Cinematic Universe
When it comes to building the IP universe, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is obviously the most representative one in the industry. From our observations on it, we can sort out some of the core elements and key enlightenments about the development and operation of the IP universe.
First of all, a successful IP universe must have a strong audience base. The core of Marvel’s popularity with global audiences and becoming a cross-cultural super IP is because of the “universal values” displayed by Marvel— -The Marvel story and the general expression of the confrontation between the good and evil of the characters, the promotion of heroism, the experience of the characters growing up in extreme adversity, and the portrayal of family friendship and love are all very mainstream and clear and straightforward universal values that can be realized for the public The broadest resonance is that there are no cultural or cognitive differences at this level, and the acceptance is higher. Through long-term superposition, the public will form a unified cognition of the Marvel movie universe, and greatly reduce the cognition and understanding threshold of each new story and new product. In the process of forming this kind of values, Marvel has also formed its own unique cultural value symbols, allowing this IP to continue to have a certain influence in the psychology of global audiences.
Secondly, to determine whether an IP can reach the cosmic level, the key point is whether its IP has a unified, complete and malleable worldview. All content is developed around the same world view, with divergent appearance and unified core, which is a great weapon for Hollywood to do IP development. We can find that from “Iron Man” in 2008 to “Avengers”, Marvel has continuously linked and intertextualized through a character and storyline, in the self-development process of each superhero character, and in the process of self-development. In the process of confluence from individuals to groups, a complete and consistent world outlook system is formed. It is also in a unified worldview space that everything from content stories, characters, and plots, to productive film and television assets, derivative logic, to fans and consumers, can be connected, connected, and migrated. It is possible to continue to be independent, merge, cross, and combine to obtain longer-term vitality.
This kind of IP universe built on the basis of a unified worldview is not limited to product forms such as cinema blockbusters, drama series, animation, games, etc., and even various offline fan cultural experiences can be a piece of the puzzle and can be continued. Diversified development enables the expansion of more people and more perspectives, and increases the thickness of IP again and again, making IP continue to have strong expandability and drillability.
Of course, what can support Marvel’s “universal-level” development practice is based on Hollywood’s mature film and television industrialization chain. For example, in the use of actor’s role, the actor and the character will be deeply bound by signing multiple at one time, so as to achieve the stability of the Marvel superhero character; the unification of the film style and the unification of the drama structure can enhance the audience. The acceptance of content better meets the movie-watching habits of mass entertainment; and the efficient industrial production process can maximize the unification of the quality of the work, and controllable production management to achieve the desired layout and rhythm.
It can be seen that having universal values, a unified world view, long-term cultural value symbols, making IP more expandable, having a complete industrialization system and chain… These are all necessary conditions for building a universe-level IP. But compared to Hollywood, where is the domestic IP development?
Active exploration of the domestic IP universe
Since “Tang Tan Universe” took the lead, the development of domestic IP universe has gradually become a wave. However, just like the extensive early development of everything, the phenomenon of early abuse or application of the concept of “universe” is not uncommon, and there are generally two aspects. Problem: On the one hand, it confuses the logic and equates the basic IP serialization and derivative development with the “universal” system; on the other hand, the development situation in the IP system is rather chaotic, resulting in uneven content and product quality.
In this state, many developments have lost market appeal before reaching the embryonic form of the “universe”, damaging the value of IP, and affecting the public’s confidence in the development of the domestic IP universe in the early stage.
However, in the past two years, some IP owners and large-scale platforms are gradually upgrading their IP development concepts and are beginning to adjust to some relatively formal development directions.
The most typical performance is that the chaos of IP authorization in the past has received more attention. Some large IPs have begun to carry out unified operation, unified development and management, and carry out long-term productions that are more in line with industrial standards-such as “Ghost Blowing Lantern” IP copyright after sorting out. A series of series produced by a fixed production team and a fixed cast have achieved relatively good quality overall, which has rekindled the value of IP. With the lessons of the past, it is clear that creators and developers are now more cautious.
The construction of a unified worldview and values has also begun to become a priority in the eyes of creators. For example, “Cai Tiao Wu Universe” and “Chasing Light Universe”, in the relatively early stage, there were plans for the overall world view, core motifs, propositions of different characters, and the rhythm of the stage layout. As the difficult-to-follow national comics field, this kind of development patience has been realized. It’s not easy.
Another dimension, the scalability of the content type, is whether it can achieve a true cross-media narrative (that is, in different media formats, develop different independent stories in combination with corresponding needs, instead of making different images from the same story text Form), there are also people who are landing, such as “Zuo Son-in-law Universe”, the development of the main line character is placed on the drama, and in the online movie, the story of the auxiliary character “King Gigi” is tried to make a new creation.
These actions in different dimensions can reflect that domestic IP developers and operators who have studied and thought are trying to touch the IP universe from their respective starting points.
Of course, from the exploration of the IP universe in the past few years, we have also seen some new issues worthy of attention:
First, most of the current domestic IP universes are mostly developed on two or three content types, and the system is not enough to support the universe;
Second, many IPs defined as “universe” actually have no independent and related subjects to be developed, and there is not such a large volume. After the development of the main story series is completed, the future development of the logic and characters of the secondary line will be difficult. Larger. Simply understand, this universe may only have one “planet”, and the assessment of the potential of IP needs to be improved by rational science;
Third, there are still very few entities in China that have the ability to construct and develop a complete IP universe. From the perspective of past practice, long-term development is the hardest thing to achieve, both at home and abroad. Therefore, whether it can truly expand from a series of episodes or a small content universe to a diversified IP universe is very uncertain. .
New Practice of IP Universe: China Ancient City Universe
Although the construction of the domestic IP universe is still in the stage of long-term exploration, it is gratifying that our exploration of the IP universe has never stopped. Recently, the “Huaxia Ancient City Universe” launched by iQiyi allows us to see a more promising future for the domestic IP universe, and has also established a close reference system for the industry.
Just 1 month ago, iQiyi officially released the “Huaxia Ancient City Universe” series of IP development plans, and shared new thinking on the methodology of building an IP universe-“Create a worldview of content, unified values, unified industrial chain, line Universe online and offline, a new IP development model for Meta Universe’s business unity”.
Wang Xiaohui, President and Chief Content Officer of iQiyi Professional Content Business Group (PCG), said that “China Ancient City Universe” is a series of IP with Chinese historical and cultural characteristics. In this universe, iQiyi will create dramas with distinctive regional cultures such as “Wind up Luoyang”, “Thirteenth Tour of Guangzhou”, and “Fifteen Days in Two Beijing”, and will be launched in iQiyi’s “One Fish Eat More” commercial Under the mode, the development of multiple content forms and the construction of a unified world view will break the barriers between characters, time, space, and events between different stories, and finally form a “universe-grade IP” with a common cultural core.
Among them, the first work “Luoyang” of “China Ancient City Universe Series” has been launched first. At present, for the “Luoyang” IP, iQiyi is developing subdivisions in twelve areas including dramas, variety shows, documentaries, commercial real estate, derivatives, and VR. At present, the comics and variety shows have been launched, and dramas, animations, documentaries, VR games, etc. will also be launched one after another.
From the initial planning of “China Ancient City Universe” to the overall development of “Luoyang”, we can see that the first domestic IP panoramic picture created by the long video platform has officially opened, and the exploration of the domestic IP universe has also entered a new node.
From the perspective of the overall development of “Luoyang”, the advance planning and development of multiple cross-media content forms such as film and television comics means that it must construct a unified worldview system in advance to diverge, which is also different from Marvel’s exploration path. Convergence; secondly, Luoyang’s historical and cultural and other geographical attributes make its IP more culturally valuable, which also means that its IP audience will be wider; in addition, 12 kinds of development and experience across online and offline, different media content forms , So that the development of the entire IP chain has truly emerged in China.
From the perspective of the entire “China Ancient City Universe”, the five IP origins are based on the five series of “Wind from Longxi”, “Wind from Luoyang”, “Dunhuang”, “Fifteenth of Two Beijings” and “Thirteenth Lines of Guangzhou”. The unique culture of the ancient city is the core universe. As a result, the entire “China Ancient City Universe” will be connected with cultural symbols that span thousands of years and present a profound cultural heritage. In addition, according to Wang Xiaohui of iQiyi, “Building the ancient Chinese city universe is not about telling a story among various categories, but hoping that they are related.” In other words, in the future, the five IP origins are still possible. There will be shuttle development in time and space to realize a huge meta-universe.
It can be seen that whether it is “China Ancient City Universe” or the first “Luoyang”, this has not only the connection and unity of layers of worldviews and values, but also the continuous outward and backward cultural vitality, which is undoubtedly the very key. It is also a very malleable setting.
Based on iQIYI’s strong original content and mature content ecology, with innovation and leading film and television industrialization technology, this series of content products are undoubtedly highly refined. Judging from the multiple works previews of “Luoyang” that have been released so far, the main creative lineup is strong, exquisitely produced, and the visual sound system is unified, giving a set of magnificent and fantastic pictures of Luoyang as a whole.
We all know that iQiyi has been exploring multiple stages of IP diversified commercial development. Under the strategy of “one fish, eat more” in recent years, it has already possessed rich and complete online and offline ecological development capabilities in multiple fields. . The development of “Luoyang”, on the one hand, is to achieve simultaneous development at the level of content items such as dramas, variety shows, movies, animation, documentaries, etc., on the other hand, it is also realized in immersive experience projects such as VR Sense, commercial real estate, and derivatives. Advance advancement and development.
In fact, under such a huge development system, it is also testing the platform’s decision-making capabilities, organizational structure coordination and execution capabilities, integration and coordination capabilities with external partners, and control over different levels of the IP industrial system. For example, at the production level, iQiyi has achieved a high degree of linkage. Earlier, according to He Yunpeng, senior vice president of iQIYI, when the series “Wind Up in Luoyang” was filmed, the relevant technical team entered the scene simultaneously to digitally collect the beautifully built real scenes to form long-term reusable digital assets. Next, this digital asset can be used for many other developments. It can be developed into future animations and games. At the level of commercial development, iQiyi has also achieved pre-planning and intervention. Tao Wenqin, general manager of iQiyi Content Business Development Center, once mentioned that for the “one fish eat more” project, iQiyi’s content commercialization development team will be more advanced, and will be more synchronized with all content creation and commercialization planning. Will be added at the beginning of the script creation, and will be deeply bound and spread with the content. In this way, the overall commercialization and IP content will be more integrated, and consumers will be better reached and monetized.
The physical universe itself is defined as the aggregation of all spaces and all times. This definition falls on the IP universe and is full of precision and meaning. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has also experienced decades of continuous development and operation of Marvel’s own development and operation, and formed today’s thick soil. In the past, domestic IP development was often easily discarded if short-term results were not achieved, and the development of the IP universe today requires long-term patience. . Building an IP universe based on ancient Chinese cities and running through a thousand years of history has allowed us to see the vast space for long-term cultivation of the domestic IP universe, which is worthy of our continued observation and expectation.
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