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Author   Topic : "Best multimedia storytelling format (online comics)?"
Lunatique
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 4:25 pm     Reply with quote
I mentioned in the motivation thread that I'm planning my next long-term personal project right now, and I'd like some feedback or suggestions. My goal is to do some kind of multimedia project where I can combine writing, art, and music in a manner that can be very immersive and cohesive. I want to avoid doing animation since I think animating takes too much time and that time could be spent on better art. I know that today's commercial online comics basically do some basic animation with the comic panels, adding sound effects, but I think that feels a bit gimmicky and forced. I want to intergrate the images with music, and maybe ambient sound effects in a manner that is more natural and flowing.

My idea right now is to render out the final project as either a flash file or a video, where the transition between images and music is carefully orchestrated and locked, instead of allowing the reader to click "next" freely. I'll probably not use any panels and just show one image at a time--almost like an animatic. I'll probably have ambient sound effect like crowds and traffic or wind or engine drones...etc. The music will be dynamic and evolving, so that with the change of the imagery, the music will change along with them to different moods (that's why I think it's best to lock the transition pacing). Dialogues are a bit tricky, since I've never been a fan of word balloons--there's just something about them that screams "look at me, I'm a comic book!" Not that there's anything wrong with comic books--I did write and illustrate them for about 8 years after all. I just think that the way word balloons look and occupy precious image estate was always a necessary evil, and if I could find another way, I'd rather not use word balloons.

I'm thinking maybe having the dialogues or narration shown on the bottom of the images like movie subtitles, and since I get to control the pacing of the transitions, I can make it clear who is speaking and when. I could also maybe do some very simple animation of only the faces so that if in a shot the characters' facial expressions change according to dialogue, I only have to repaint the face to match the dialogue. If the body language also has to change, then it'll require a whole new image, or maybe I just repaint the figure if the background does not need to change.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 2:02 pm     Reply with quote
Hey Luna!

Have you seen the name monster Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YeTuo6AAfE
The first one was nicely done - the artwork is by Ashley Wood. There's two parts but I haven't seen the second one yet.

It's very interesting take on the whole comic book concept. Youtube has at least 10 minutes of it and the real thing is available for Sony PSP.

Cheers,
Timo
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Lunatique
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 5:09 pm     Reply with quote
Yeah, I've seen that, and it's really well-done. It's probably a bit too animated and some sequences become distracting, since there aren't enough actual frames of drawings to support so much movement. The feel I'm after is perhaps more like a polished animatic, where the images are of a high-level of finish, but the sequences are timed and animated to a soundtrack and sound effects (although I don't want to do voice acting since I don't want to have to depend on others in any way).
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Sumaleth
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:33 pm     Reply with quote
Flash does sound like what you're after. You might even want to render it out as a .mov or something once it's complete, since you won't need the interactivity of Flash.
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Lunatique
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:51 pm     Reply with quote
That's what I'm thinking too. I'm also considering alternatives like After Effect, Premiere, Toon Boom Animate Pro, Story planner Pro, Anime Studio Pro...etc. I need to figure out which one of the would be the solution for my needs. Anyone have used more than one of these and can compare them?
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Sumaleth
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 10:13 pm     Reply with quote
If you're happy to render out a video file (the benefit of pure Flash over any other sort of video file is file size) then yeah, you could use any of those programs. In fact, anything with a timeline that you can add stuff to would work, including 3D software like Blender or Maya (not sure what render-as options they have, but you might need to add sound later).
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Lunatique
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 11:18 pm     Reply with quote
Ideally, smaller file sizes are better, and if Flash can provide that even if I don't need to design interactivity, I don't mind. Since I don't think I'll be doing any kind of elaborate animation, I probably shouldn't even consider any of the software geared specifically towards animation. Of the software I mentioned, I've only used flash and Premiere a few times in the past and am not comfortable in any of them, but can get some basic stuff done. I used to use Maya a lot, but I don't think I'd want to use a 3D software for something so simple. I guess flash would be the most suitable then? AFAIK about flash, it can handle all of my needs without problem. I hate dealing with trying to find the most optimal video compression ratio and codec anyway, so flash would simplify that aspect a lot.
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Sumaleth
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2009 2:17 am     Reply with quote
Flash sounds like the best option then.

Flash is a bit of a monster to learn if you want to use it for animation or interactivity, but for what you have in mind it would be about as easy as you could hope. Watch one or two tutes on youtoob and you'll get the swing. Essentially you'll just be loading in assets and dragging them to a timeline. It'll take images, animations, sound, and can all be edited in place. And for something simple it'll play back in the editor in real time.
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Lunatique
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2009 3:17 am     Reply with quote
I've actually art directed a game where the narrative section of the game was done in a similar manner to what I'm describing. In a way that was my first attempt at the format I want to try now, but it had word balloons and the player had to click "next" to get to the next image. It didn't have a dynamic score, but the music did change with the images. There also weren't any ambient sound effects. My artists did it all in flash, so I have a pretty good idea what's involved. Now, I think I'm going to perfect the format and it'll become a standard for all my future projects.

If you guys have any suggestions or comments about the format I'm going to use, definitely chime in. I'm hoping that the way I'll combine beautiful artwork with some very simple animation (essentially pan/zooms, changing someone's pose or facial expression, or sequences like a door opening, or clouds moving across the sky...etc), ambient sound effects, dynamically evolving music score, and subtitle dialogs/narration, it'll be a compelling enough experience where the emotional power of the story comes through without needing elaborate and expensive production. I can't expect it to be as powerful as full-blown feature quality animation, but I know I can at least make the graphics as beautiful as I can, rivaling any big budget animated feature. I'm hoping the lack of voice acting won't take too much away from the emotional power of the story, and I'm almost confident that I can make it work, since even with extremely limited movement, you can still carefully construct the pacing for maximum effect.

I'd like to know if you guys would actually want to watch something like that. or does the fact it's a glorified animatic turn you off and you'd rather read a comic book or watch a full-blown animation?
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Sumaleth
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2009 7:37 pm     Reply with quote
It's hard to know how that style will go. It might work. It sits in largely-unexplored ground somewhere between graphic novels and illustrated novels, in the territory of the more wordy children's books. For me, if I'm at my computer I really like a story to be a game, or amazingly animated.

But as with everything, it probably just comes down to how good the story is.
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