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SXSW 2012 - Reinventing the Graphic Novel
Transcript of SXSW 2012 - Reinventing the Graphic Novel
My background is in Graphic Design and Video Games
I work at the intersection of art and technology
I wanted to apply my unique background to tell a story of historical significance
Reinventing the Graphic Novel for the iPad
Founder - Cognito Comics
How do we honor and maintain the value of our analog tangible past in the age
of digital media?
Start with the cultural framing for the work I’ve done, the artisan in the digital age
Do a detailed case study of the work, CIA : Operation Ajax
Leave you with something to think about
Retains all properties of the hand crafted analog original
All the advantages of digital : instant unlimited distribution, infinitely replicable
The experience between analog and digital is the same for the audience
How do we honor the legacy of the hand - crafted analog past in the age of digital media?
How we used to listen to music
From Tangible to Digital to Service
We don’t even want to deal with files anymore!
No longer a dedicated activity
Consumed while you do other things
Media is turning into a service
While our computing is going mobile…
Digital requires no physical commitment
Lack of physical = lack of focus
This lack of focus can cheapen our experiences
the opposite of noise and distraction
Books go digital,
carefully at first
Amazon understood a reading experience can be sacred
The Kindle gave us the best of both worlds, digital distribution, but light, simple, and a passive screen. Pure.
Kindle is successful because of what it doesn’t do.
This is an intentionally limited experience, different from the phone…
and books converge…
The iPad is the ultimate media consumption device!
It’s evolving so fast, there isn’t even language to describe this stuff!
A lesson from the Kindle for
The Cinemagraph is the photograph for the digital age
Photos are now viewed on screens, usually alongside text, to help augment a reading experience
How to add that little extra that adds value, but retains all the properties of a photo?
Creating a good cinemagraph is the art of RESTRAINT
Motion simply becomes another tool for the artist, just like composition, exposure, lighting, focal length, etc
We can add value in the
Ajax Origin Story
Discovered Overthrow and later All the Shah’s Men in 2007
Wanted to harness the power of art and tech to tell these stories, but games not a good fit…
We created 2 products
A 210 page historically
accurate graphic novel.
An interactive iPad experience.
We needed assets that would satisfy both products.
Coming from a games / animation background, I had to learn the rules of a completely different industry
Starting with a traditional print format comic book
Making comics is HARD
Coming from a games and animation background, learning the culture and rules of a completely different industry
Learning the legacy and structure of the printed page
Comics at their heart, are artisanal
Making Games is different
than making Comics
Team based approach with games / animation
Single artist approach with comics
VFX / Particles / Shaders
COMIC = STORY
(better for narrative)
GAMES = DESIGN
(of which story is a tool)
Comics on Mobile:
Breaking the Page for the screen…
You can break up and reformat text however you want, it still works
This is GREAT for mobile devices!
Not so easy for comics
Unlike text, the art of the comic RELIES on the physical page to function
Colors and Lettering
Our workflow is not that different…
Each Page into Panels
Except for one small difference…
We mitigated this by using the same colorist across every page
Team Based Illustration Approach gave us the best of both worlds
It took 3 years to make a 210 page graphic novel
Reliability / speed in exchange for consistent visual style
2 years for the script alone…
Maya = Epic Fail
Flash = Epic Win
Needed 5 key things: translate, rotate, scale, alpha & tint
How to add motion to comics
without making them suck
Comics are READING EXPERIENCE
No spoken dialogue
Comics allow you to advance the story at your own pace
NOT A VIDEO EXPERIENCE
A reading experience first and foremost
Just enough sound to fill in the gaps
Never go silent unless to make a dramatic point
Roomtone vs music vs sfx
The Value of User Experience
A book is easy to use, an app is not
Without good UX, you are DEAD
Hard lessons learned from the first go around, hidden buttons, how to pace the experience, etc…
USER TEST for the love of god!
At the end of the day, you are making a piece of software. Treat your project this way
How do you present this thing?
Where does the experience start?
The app icon as a book cover… sucks
Foreword gets in the way? Table of contents? Rolling credits?
Branding issues, still not resolved
the blackhole of the ebook
At the end of the day, you want your audience to get curious and pick up another source
The power of tangential learning, the carefully tuned drill down…
Keep optional content optional..
Flashy presentation is not your friend. Subtle is good, let optional be optional…
We over presented our extras at the outset, and it was too much, overpowering the story they were supposed to help explain.
Again, the art of restraint.
Just because you can make it flashy, doesn’t mean you should…
Unity under it all, its a game in the end
3D, what can we do with that?
Apps on your TV, no escape!
ReCap : incorporating the lessons of the stradivarius…
If we hadn’t made a traditional comic first, I wouldn’t have known how to make a good digital experience.
How can we retain the value of the handcrafted analog tangible in the digital age?
It gets noisy real fast
The App Store breaks consumer expectation
The ePub format holds us back
We need help from Apple, Amazon, etc to help fix this, we can't do it alone
CIA : Operation Ajax
Brian Dettmer, Altered Book, BrianDettmer.com
The tuned drill down
Basic Rules of Comics
Left to Right
Top to Bottom
6 panels on a page avg.
When to use insets / splash
Pace the story on the PAGE TURN
Tons of reference material
Holy crap! We can put it all in the book!
And then you realize that’s actually not a good idea
Where do we go
What I am going to talk
Comics at their heart
We wanted to find a solution that added
motion and sound
while respecting the rules of comics
How can we add value to our
media when we go digital?
It really comes down to presentation