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Into the Zone: A Study of Adaptations

Page history last edited by Chloe Babauta 7 years, 5 months ago

Into The Zone: A Study of Adaptations

Team Members: Chloe Babauta, Ian DavisMeghan DionPhil Horlacher, Parker Lanting, Sean MabryMorgan Schuler




Hello and welcome to Into the Zone: A Study of Adaptations. For this project, we set out to explore the process of cross-media adaptation by looking at a book that became a film that became a video game. Respectively, that's Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky brothers, Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky, and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl by GSC Game World.


Our hypothesis was that theme and tone were most likely to stay consistent across media. To test this, we split our team into three two-person cells that each dealt with a different medium. After reading, viewing, and playing, each group member filled out an emotional survey and a thematic questionnaire. Both the survey and questionnaire were designed by Sean - the team coordinator and the only member of the group who had previously experienced each medium - to be generic and equally applicable to each medium . Later, we created medium-specific Wordles for the questionnaire results and a Wordle for all of the results combined.


After pulling together the results of the survey and questionnaire, the team assembled in a group discussion where we shared our individual experiences and looked for cross-adaptation patterns. Then, building from the ideas in that discussion, we set out to make our own adaptation in the form of a Vine collage. We decided that the collage should stand as its own independent art object – one that is informed by critical practice but still open to those who aren't familiar with its ancestry. Our goal throughout the process was to study, through both observation and participation, the art of adaptation, and to study the unique affordances of each medium along the way. 


Emotional Survey Answers:


Into the Zone Emotional Survey.pdf  


Discussion Questionnaire:


Into the Zone Questionnaire.doc


Questionnaire Answers:


Film: Parker Answers - Into the Zone.pdf Chloe Answers - Into the Zone.doc


Book: Morgan Answers - Into the Zone.doc Meghan Answers - Into the Zone.doc  


Game: Phil Answers - Into the Zone.doc Ian Answers - Into the Zone.doc





Individual examples: 
No Trespassing


The Complete Vine Page


Across Media Analysis


The Book - Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky


  • Russian science fiction novella translated to English by Antonia W. Bouis
  • Published in 1971 - Government censorship prevented publication for eight years
  • An alien invasion left six dangerous zones, stalkers enter in order to find extraterrestrial artifacts they can sell for profit



  • Setting- Harmont, Canada; the Zone, One of six areas with dangerous extraterrestrial activity inside   
  • Characters - Protagonist Rederick "Red" Schuhart, a member of an underground subculture called the "stalkers"; motivated by the need to support his family
  • Stalkers - a group of people that illegally enter the Zone in order to collect extraterrestrial artifacts to sell 
  • Golden Ball - a device that will grant the deepest wish of whoever possesses it
  • The Title -  an analogy that compares the alien visitation to that of humans going on a picnic
  • Tone - Dark, Pessimistic  



  • Zone
  • Red
  • stalkers
  • Golden



The Film - Stalker (1979) Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky


  • Russian science fiction art film
  • Screenplay by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
  • Loosely based on the novel Roadside Picnic 
  • Follows a journey led by the Stalker who brings two other men into the Zone, which supposedly has a room with the power to grant people's wishes 



  • Characters: the Stalker (protagonist), the Writer, and the Scientist
  • Stylistic elements: use of change in color (sepia/normal full color),  use of long takes/long scenes, lack of dialogue in many scenes
  • Contrast to the style of classical Hollywood cinema
  • Most of the film takes place exploring the Zone 
  • Not much physical action, lots of walking and discussion about reality
  • Theme of figuring out what is real and why it matters, exploring existentialist thoughts



  • Zone
  • Stalker
  • room
  • color
  • powers 



The Game- Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl


  • Post Apocalyptic Survival Horror FPSRPG
  • Takes place after 2nd Chernobyl nuke disaster
  • Main "Stalker" plot line, limited exploration, some side quests 
  • Released to Positive Reviews, widely recognized for its atmosphere 



  • Great atmosphere, very immersive 
  • Great soundtrack, aided in atmosphere 
  • Extensive lore, but largely cast aside for majority of game
  • Felt like an average FPS 
  • No incentive for exploration.



  • Game
  • Kill
  • Seem 



Total Impact





     This project taught us a lot about the process of adaptation, but perhaps the most important lesson is that the adapter's medium of choice has an enormous influence on what they create. Obviously, different media thrive on different techniques, but the mishaps of any given medium can prove just as influential. The glitches and quirky design of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl emphasize and expand the absurdity of the Zone in ways that Tarkovsky and the Strugatskys likely never anticipated. Tarkovsky never would've had time to rewrite the script for Stalker if it weren't for that one bumbling technician. In our own Vines we can see how limited resources and an unsteady camera helped recreate the subtle disjointedness of the Zone.


     This project also taught us a lot about critical practice. The emotional survey and thematic questionnaire worked out better than we could have hoped. Those results, and the conversation that came out of them, yielded profound insights into these works. We doubt that one individual close reading these works could have reached the same conclusions. Thus, our project stands as a testament to the fruitfulness of cooperative and systematic criticism. We believe that other researchers could easily take the tools we used and reproduce our study, and we hope that they will.


     Since this project already serves as a good working model, we would only hope to expand its scope if given greater resources. First and foremost, we would gather a greater sample size for the media cells – that way we might be able to counterbalance individual biases and reach a more basic understanding of how each work affects its audience. We would also like to present our Vines in a more interactive way. In the planning stage, we imagined displaying them in a randomized online gallery where the viewer could move the cursor over individual Vines to hear their sound. This would help emphasize that the collage is designed to evoke the viewer's own journey into the Zone. We would also like to film more Vines and give them more elaborate sets. If we could re-design the “entering the Zone” Vine with a heavily barricaded fence emblazoned with the words “Zone” and “Stalkers” we could cover our most critical exposition in a mere six seconds. We would also like to film more dialogue-centric Vines. To this end we would seek out experienced actors and carefully script their dialogue beforehand. This might save us from the unintentional comedy that so many Vines fall into. That being said, we would still keep the knowingly humorous Vines in the collage. We would even try to expand them.


     Finally, we would like to end our presentation by returning to our initial question: what survives across all three media? When we look at the group Wordle, the answer is clear: the Zone itself. For all the debates we had while filming the collage, we never once argued over what the Zone was, what it could or couldn't do. There was always this implicit understanding of the Zone, perhaps even a certain affection for it. Perhaps Tarkovsky and GSC Game World experienced this same affection, which lead them to flip the dynamic of invasion until the Zone was left innocent. This project leaves us with four different versions of the Zone, but they could just as easily be the same Zone. By nature, the Zone resists understanding, but always maintains a quiet, disturbing logic. Like Red and his fellow stalkers, we are drawn back into the Zone again and again, always trying to make it our own, and the only guarantee we have is that the Zone will always be one step ahead of us.


Final Essays


Annotated Bibliographies 


Research Reports

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