The developers of DeepComix have come up with a way to build and display 3d scenes out of 2d images. Their app, which is available in iTunes, is an expansion of the old parallax trick where as you shift around in a scene, the object closer to your viewpoint appear to move separately from objects in the rear of the scene.
What they did was to stack the 2d images on top of each other in a faux 3d space, with each image anchored to a certain point. This creates the appearances of a 3d scene which you can see from all sides.
It looks something like a 3d movie, but in this case the static nature of digital comic images opens up some interesting possibilities in reading the comic. You can zoom in and shift around a scene, and you can also tilt and turn your iPad or iPhone to rotate the scene and view it from a different angle.
Yes, it is iOS only at the moment, but that’s not platform snobbery; the teaser requires a capacitive touchscreen and other specs which cannot be found on all Android tablets. Watch this demo clip and you’ll see why.
Note, though, that the idea doesn’t necessarily require lots of tech. Another digital comics enthusiast found DeepComix and was inspired to do his own experiments over the weekend (here, here). He built those images using a jQuery plugin called jParallax, and while it’s not as sophisticated as DeepComix it looks like to could offer much of same ability (and on all platforms, too).
Mark Waid, who tipped me to this new trick, summed up how I feel about DeepComix perfectly:
Yeah, parallax is interesting–but think about how much more effective it would be if it served a specific and unique purpose in the story itself other than just “looking neat.”
See, that’s exactly why 3d isn’t taking off in movies. Moviegoers can be awed by the neat trick once or twice, but eventually the audience realizes that 3d is being used just because it looks neat.
It’s going to take a lot of thought to figure out how to use the DeepComix trick to best tell a story, and I’m not sure I see that yet in the teaser. Still, it is only a teaser so it’s too early to pass judgement. There’s a good chance that the later installments will tell a better story.