Mark R. Johnson
     
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24 Hours
24 Hours

Development Tool:     Macromedia Director
Development Time:     3 months
Project Size:     60 MB

24 Hours is an electronic comic book concept-project based on an issue by the same title of Vertigo Press SANDMAN series written by Neil Gaiman. All artwork and illustrations are modified versions of the originals created by artists Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones III.

The opening screen, shown in the image above, was created from the original comic book cover. The screen size constraints of working within a 4x3 screen ratio, usually a serious difficulty when moving print to screen, proved to be a source of inspiration for this opening montage.

Images from the cover were modified and rearranged to create the smooth metamorphosis of faces, which serves both as a hook for the reader, as well as to establish the erie overtones present in the story. The morphing faces also relate to the story theme in which none of the characters are what they otherwise appear to be.

The program proceeds from this opening screen directly into the comic book itself. The original comic book uses a standard 3-section horizontal division of the pages which lends itself well to migration to the computer screen, as each of the horizontal sections can be recreated intact.

To help enhance the visual interest of the piece, the horizontal sections are not presented in static. Instead, they are drawn on the screen in the order of the story at a rate comparable to that of the reading. In essence, otherwise static images are presented in a fashion that suggests performance.

As dialog text would be read or spoken, the dialog bubbles pop up on the screen with reasonable delays between each showing. After all of the text of a panel is displayed, the next panel is drawn, fading into place next to the previous one. In some areas, graphic elements extend outside the frame of a panel, creating a layered sense of depth.

In order to make this layering possible, it was necessary to recreate portions of the comic book drawings that were originally obscured by the text. Although these areas are visible for only a few seconds before the text appears, it was essential that the recreations accurately match the style and color of the unobscured regions. Otherwise, even slight deviations would be discernable.

In one week, all of the panels for the first five pages of the comic book, 32 panels in all, were scanned and modified to create the electronic comic book. To enhance the ominous mood of the story, a sound loop was added from an excerpt of Graeme Revell's motion picture score for The Crow.

In subsequent weeks, the process was continued as the remaining twenty pages of the comic book were brought into the project. In addition, audio tracks were selected and digitized from the audio CD for The Crow, and were carefully edited to match the mood and activity of each section of the project.

The finished product will be accompanied by a substantial design document, describing the theory and practice that shaped the piece. Together, they will serve to satisfy the IDT requirement for a Masters Project.

    [Return to Top] Copyright 1997, Mark R. Johnson.
Last modified 4/30/97.