The project is a motion based comic book that incorporates various social networking sites into the storyline. The idea behind this is to create a digital media story with a more immersive and “real” experience than traditional mediums. The narrative will revolve around the lives of three main characters and will be used to present the ways technology has affected people and relationships today.
Transmedia storytelling is simply, as the name implies, conveying a story across various forms of media. Transmedia grants a more engrossing way to convey a story (Carter 2013), simply due to it’s incorporation of mediums which are usually kept separate. According to Henry Jenkins (2007), each medium would ideally add its own, unique contribution to the main storyline. Another term of importance when dealing with transmedia is convergence. Convergence, refers to the flow of content across mediums, the cooperation between the media industry and the media audiences who would go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they wanted (Jenkins, 2006).
One example of transmedia storytelling is Marvel. Originally restricted to comics, today the Marvel Universe consists of movies, tv series, games, websites and more. While most of the content on the platforms are cohesive, and are part of the same storyline, known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), due to the sheer size and span of time in which they were created, there are some content which form their own story totally unrelated to the MCU.
Another example of transmedia is the Lord of The Rings series. Written by Tolkien over the course of several years, it was originally conceived as a series of books. Later in the 2000s they were adapted into films by director Peter Jackson, and received with an amazing, positive response. Eventually three more movies based on the Hobbit books by Tolkien as well as several games followed. In addition to the official content, the community also added to the storyline. Fans teamed up and have created virtual maps to explore Middle Earth, as well as extensive resources on the languages used in the story such as, Elvish, Dwarfish and even created short movies, stories and apps. No doubt, some of the appeal in creating a transmedia product is in the possible increase in sales figures and publicity, but nevertheless series such as the Lord of The Rings showcases what is possible with technology today and the way transmedia storytelling and media convergence is enabling individuals to create more content, on more platforms, with more people.
Social media is one of the mediums that can be used to help create a transmedia experience. According to Merriam-Webster (n.d.), social media as a word was first used in 2004, and is defined as “forms of electronic communication (as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos)”. While there is no particular date on which social media was “invented”, it is possible to instead trace the way it has evolved ever since the start of the internet. Basic messaging originated with companies like CompuServe, which was a chat service (Riese, 2016), ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), who are credited with the world’s first email (Hayden & Tomal, 2012) and BBS and Usenet, which were primitive versions of today’s online forums. 1989 saw the creation of the world wide web by Timothy Berners-Lee (CERN, n.d.). With HTML and URLs finally present, this helped pave the way in the creation of more websites. By 2000 around 100 million people around the globe had internet access (Hale, 2015) and with the help of sites such as Friendster, and Myspace, social networking began to increase in popularity.
Today there are hundreds of different social networks out there, some of which are well know and used by millions and even billions of people, while others are more obscure and consist of a very small niche of users. According to Forbes, currently Facebook is the most popular social network, followed by Youtube and Instagram (DeMers, 2017).
Comics have been around for decades. They first started out as strips found in newspapers, but in the late 1920s they started to make the jump to into standalone publications. In 1929, The Funnies #1 was published as a collection of comic strips (Ramsey, 2013). It was a far cry from the comic format found today, but it was a step in the right direction. The 1930s however, are generally regarded as the Golden Age of comics. It was during this period that Action Comics #1 was created, giving the world its first look at the now almost legendary character – Superman. Comics continued to rise in popularity with the introduction of more characters, titles, genres and companies.
Motion Comics & Motion Books
As technology progressed stories and characters from comics eventually made their way onto the screen in the form of live action films and animated cartoons. While the movies and cartoons are undoubtedly among the more popular and prevalent forms of media, there are little niches consisting of lesser known mediums. This includes the motion comic. The motion comic is an unconventional mix of comic books and movies. They don’t have the fully featured animations found in video adaptations, but they certainly aren’t static like books. The goal is to blend the rich illustrations and artwork found in comics with a video element. Due to the challenge of animating and drawing detailed images, the final animations are kept fairly minimal and simple. Opinion on motion comics vary, with some embracing the hybrid element of the medium but others finding them less than impressive. Gizmodo contributor, Graeme McMillan, found that the motion comic “awkwardly removes the benefits of both of its parent mediums and seems more like a quick cash-in from people who wanted to see how easy it was to jump on this comic book zeitgeist without spending too much money” (2008).
Regardless, motion comics do pose an interesting way of communicating a story. When executed well, they can create an engrossing experience that brings comics books to life. “Batman – Back and White” is an excellent example of this. It combines detailed illustrations with camera pans that convey the narrative using a screen based cinematic experience (Smith, 2015). Other notable examples of modern motion comics include Watchmen, Mad Max (which doesn’t have audible dialogue, instead retaining comic like speech bubbles and narrative boxes), and the new Marvel Video Comic series. A interesting point to note is that all of the afore mentioned motion comics serve as a transmedia tie in to they’re respective franchises and according to Smith, “suggest that the future of the motion comic may be sustained by even greater hybridity between the comic book form and animation practice.” An example of this “greater hybridity” can be found in motion books. While sounding remarkably similar to motion comics, motion books typically more akin to ebooks. This means that you have to virtually “turn” pages to progress to the next scene, whereas motion comics are alike videos. And while motion books do contain animation, they are less complex than motion comics, usually containing only the “key frames” of the scene. Lastly motion books lack audio and rely solely on written text to narrate the story.
This section has been subdivided into three parts – drawing, animation and video, and website. Under the drawing and illustration section, the tools used to create the comic will be discussed. The animation and video section will explore the software used to add motion and movement to the comic. Lastly the website portion will take a brief look at the technologies that could be used to create the final website.
Drawing and Illustration
Drawing will be done primarily on an iPad Pro. The iPad combined with the Apple Pencil and the constantly rising number of apps available make a compelling alternative to older drawing tools such as the Wacom Cintiq (Practical Pixels, 2017). On the software side, there is an abundance of apps to choose from. Apps like ProCreate and Affinity Photo provide a portable, stylus optimized Photoshop-esque experience, while apps like Tayasui Sketches and Paper focus solely on the drawing aspect and come with an array of pens and brushes for practically any drawing style. This setup provides an extremely versatile and convenient way to create the illustrations required for the project. Once the required illustrations are created, they can later be imported into Photoshop on the desktop for refining if needed.
Animation and Video
This project does not compromise of any 3D animation, and is solely 2D based. The project consists of illustrations that will be given minor movements and parallax like effects to create the illusion of movement. This means that the animation required is fairly minimal and can be done using several different software, which are explored in this chapter.
After Effects and Motion
For simple animation and motion effects the popular choice is Adobe’s After Effects. However, due to the variety of issues and bugs being encountered with a lot of Adobe’s latest suite of apps, alternative software would be welcome change. Alternatives to Adobe’s apps are not very widespread and are simply not as popular, however they do exist. In the case of After Effects for example, Apple’s Motion is a viable alternative. Motion is a direct replacement to After Effects, focusing on creating animation and other effects such as titles, transitions and such (Kirn, 2011). In typical Apple design, the layout is very clean and minimal, almost to the point where it doesn’t seem as “pro” as AE. But the controls are intuitively laid out and, once one gets adjusted to it, the interface is a breeze to navigate. Because Motion is exclusively designed by Apple for MacOS, the performance equally as fast, if not more so than Adobe’s program.
Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X
In the case of video editing the choice comes down to two extremely popular pieces of software, once again from Adobe and Apple. Adobe’s Premiere Pro is widely regarded as one of the best video editors available, however Final Cut X does have some advantages. Similarly to Motion, FCPX has a much cleaner UI than its Adobe counterpart, with intuitively laid out controls and options. In addition, FCPX has been proven to be significantly faster than Premiere with decreased rendering and exporting time (Dietschy, 2017) (Lee, 2017).
Carter, J. (2013, March 7). What’s the value of transmedia storytelling for organizations?. Retrieved from https://www.artsfwd.org/whats-the-value-of-transmedia-storytelling-for-organizations/
CERN. (n.d.). The birth of the web. Retrieved April 2017, from https://home.cern/topics/birth-web
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Jenkins, H. (2006, June). Welcome to convergence culture [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://henryjenkins.org/blog/2006/06/welcome_to_convergence_culture.html
Jenkins, H. (2007, March 21). Transmedia storytelling 101 [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://henryjenkins.org/blog/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html
Kirn, P. (2011, July). Review: Motion 5. Retrieved from https://www.macworld.com/article/1160958/software-graphics/motion5.html
Lee, D. (2017, April). The best laptops for editing – Adobe Premiere vs Final Cut! [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a59U6kRJHLg
McMillan, G. (2008, February). Why motion isn’t the future of comics. Retrieved from http://io9.gizmodo.com/5032273/why-motion-isnt-the-future-of-comics
Merriam Webster. (n.d.). Social media. Retrieved 2017, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/social%20media
Practical Pixels. (2017, June). Life with the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://medium.com/practical-pixels/life-with-the-ipad-pro-and-apple-pencil-30ee0a71b475
Ramsey, T. (2013, February). The history of comics: decade by decade. Retrieved from https://the-artifice.com/history-of-comics/
Riese, M. (2016, September). The Complete History of Social Media. Retrieved April 2017, from https://www.dailydot.com/debug/history-of-social-media/
Smith, C. (2015, August). Motion comics: Appropriating and adapting comic book artwork [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://blog.animationstudies.org/?p=1239