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Page Layout

The most difficult mapping problem that was encountered when creating 24 Hours was the fact that print has a very high resolution (approximately 1200 dots per inch or more), while a computer screen has a much lower resolution (72 to 120 dpi). Also, the aspect ratio of a printed page is often quite different from that of a monitor.



Figure 1. Differences between print and screen.

To bring a printed page to the screen, it was necessary to keep the material large enough that the text would remain readable, but small enough to fit as much of the original page together on the screen at once. Due to the horizontal aspect of the screen, only half of a page vertically could be displayed at a time.

Fortunately, the pages of the print version of "24 Hours" were consistently subdivided into multiple horizontal frames. One such frame at a time could therefore be displayed on the screen, as shown in Figure 2 below, keeping the text readable while addressing the different aspect ratios of the two versions.



Figure 2. Mapping a page onto the screen.

This, of course, may cause a significant change in how the comic book is read. When the original comic book was produced, the pages were designed as whole entities, using layout and color to set a mood and make a point. In the electronic version, the reader will no longer be able to see the whole page at a glance.

Art Spiegelman encountered a similar problem in the CD-ROM version of "Maus." Again, the original comic book pages were already subdivided into three or four horizontal frames. However, instead of breaking up the original page layout, he chose to retain the original layout with the computer screen acting as a window revealing a portion of the overall page. A small representation of the page is also provided that shows the viewing area with respect to the entire page. The reader can then use this view-box to move the window's view across the surface of the page. This approach was not taken for 24 Hours, however, because the technique was cumbersome and still did not provide a very effective overview of the entire page. Also, it would significantly interfere with the method of presenting text described in "Narration & Dialogue," below.

Throughout the print version of "24 Hours," all of the pages use relatively even subdivisions, except for one -- page 22. It consists of a single full-page frame, and because of its location within the story it was critical that the impact of the page be preserved. Fortunately, the only text on the page is "Hour 22," so the page could be shrunk down proportionately to fit entirely on the screen at once. Doing so, however, would leave a great deal of negative space around the image, which would play down the power of the scene that must be conveyed. So, a compromise was reached that specifically uses augmentation to balance out the loss due to mapping. First, the top half of the page, which contains the text, is displayed at normal size, filling the screen of the computer. At the same time, a powerful sequence of music begins with a dramatic guitar riff. As the music continues, the view slowly pans down the page to the bottom, giving the reader a good look at the detail of the page. Finally, after a brief pause, the view pulls back to reveal the whole page on the screen giving the reader a "big-picture" view of the overall page design. All of this transpires in a matter of seconds, taking on a very cinematic quality. The resulting sequence utilizes augmentation in the form of animation and sound to make up for the loss due to mapping. However, in doing so, it introduces a new and perhaps more dramatic viewing of the scene that was not possible in print.

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    [Return to Top] Copyright 1997, Mark R. Johnson.
Last modified 6/11/97.