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DeepComix Takes Digital Comics 3D (video)

It’s been some weeks since I last showed you a new trick in digital comics, and today I get to break that dry spell by showing you DeepComix.

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.

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Lynne June 11, 2012 um 10:18 am

I think it’d work better if you could "travel" into the story and see *new* things, like around the corner, you see a previously-hidden part of the scene, a super villain skulking while the heros are unaware, or more dialog with another set of characters, and you’d have to explore and figure out where to go, etc, to see the next part of the story before moving on to another panel. It would sort of bring a comic into a game-like environment (after all, you travel through a game and unfold the story) but without game play, just story.

Otherwise, it’s just, as you say, "neato" without any real added literary value. I’m not a huge fan of 3D. The current Hollywood obsession with 3D (well, besides the fact they can charge more and make more money) is that it’s supposed to be more "immersive" an experience. Well, sure, OK, but a great plot and well-acted interesting characters does that better.

For instance, I really didn’t like Dances with Smurfs all that much. Neat (albeit overdone) backdrop and all, but the plot was crap. Less than halfway through the damn thing, I knew the ending, plus there’s the fact that it’s just a tired rehashing of the native/white guilt fantasy, without even changing much at ALL of the plot of far better movies depicting it.

As opposed to say, Up, which was great with or without 3D…any movie which can make me cry and love the main character within 10 minutes of the beginning is just really well-written and who cares how you view the thing?

Nate Hoffelder June 11, 2012 um 10:45 am

Indeed. I thought Captain America and Avatar, 2 movies that did 3D right, were actually better without the effect. While neither was cinema genius, they did have good stories which were well told.

Lynne June 11, 2012 um 12:29 pm

LOL, well I disagree with you on Avatar’s storyline, hence my references to Dances with Smurfs (some cool ideas, but so very predictable, and a story that’s been done many times before…other names for it are "Fern Gully" and "Dances with Wolves"). I liked the art direction (except it was rather heavy handed) and the acting was fine…just, I’d seen that movie before.

Captain America was good. Not sure I saw it in 3D tho…

I saw the Avengers in 3D, it wasn’t enhanced at all by it IMHO. (However, as a fangirl, it was a good movie! ^_^)

I mentioned Up, which I saw in 3D the first time. There were some really cool vistas that took advantage of the medium, though you could kinda tell they "designed" Up to go 3D. Toy Story 3 was done well in 3D, as a lot of the action sequences took advantage of it. But again, a decent story is far better than technical wizardry. (Including in wizard movies! My first of the new 3D experiences was, of course, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.)

Now it’s getting a little tiring. And expensive…

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