The South by Southwest Con is going on right now, and Marvel is there to show exactly how big their bag of gimmicks really is. They're showing off Project Gamma, their amazingly wonderful plan to add soundtracks to digital comics:
Project Gamma is, in the words of Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, an "adaptive, non-repetitive score" that changes as a person swipes from panel to panel through a digital comic. Marvel is working with the production companies Momentum Worldwide and CORD, whose composers and producers have worked on "Harry Potter," "Drive," "The King's Speech," and "Looper."
I am underwhelmed. This strikes me as just another gimmick that will turn out as interesting and useful as augmented reality. That was one of the gimmicks that Marvel unveiled at last year's SxSW, and that's a sign we could be seeing a trend.
I think Project Gamma is going to disturb the existing reading experience more than add to it. Does any dedicated reader really need an audio cue that in a certain scene we should pity a character, or that in a later scene is tense because there is a confrontation?
I think readers are smart enough to figure that out on their own. And if nothing else this is not a movie, for Pete's sake.
Fortunately it looks like this won't be coming soon, and when it does it will only see limited release:
Marvel has not announced a release date for Project Gamma, although Alonso said that he expects it to be available to the public before the end of 2013. Gamma's price point, debut comic, and final name have yet to be determined, said Alonso.
I'm going to bet that nothing much will come of this.
Or perhaps it would be better to say that it will continue to amount to not much. After all, ebooks with soundtracks have been hailed as cutting edge since at least 2008, and in 2011 Booktrack launched their first ebook set to synchronized music. Aside from the initial splash none seem to have amounted to much, with Booktrack only showing a few dozen titles on their website.
But that's just my general dislike for the idea. Tell me, how many ebooks do you have that have a soundtrack out of how many in your library? would you buy more if they were available?