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Z axis in online comics
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Randy
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2001 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have heard some people discussing the potential of comics to go truly infinite (i.e. following the X,Y, and Z axis). Adobe, makers of other great programs, is currently in beta for a 3D rendering program called Adobe Atmosphere. The beta is currently Windows only, and they have a plug in for browsers to view the worlds that are created. I haven't seen anything yet but I'm going to use one of the PC's here to download and try out this nifty thing. I just thought that I would mention this in case it interests someone here.

(Imagine walking through museums online! Among other things!)

Later,
Randy

http://www.adobe.com

http://www.subatomiccafe.com

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Jack Masters
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2001 12:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, acording to current number theory, all physical spaces that extend infinitely have the same amount of "infiniteness" no matter how many dimentions they have.

That sounds really cool though.

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Randy
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2001 7:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know that all directions can go infinite, but are you really moving infinitely if you aren't moving in every direction? (It was LATE when I posted this)

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Randy
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damonk13
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2001 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

gah!

you know, that sounds very cool, but it makes think of one sad fact: how much more work an artist is going to have to put in to be able to fully take advantage of the infinite canvas...

i know that i am currently limited by my lack of computer expertise, as wel as certain specific graphics-related software knowledge... Heck, while things like this new Adobe product are coming out, I see how I still need to learn how to use Flash, and even boefore that, I need to learn how to use my GIMP to its fullest potential, as well as pick up more tricks in reducing file sizes and such...

The problem, of course, is finding the time to do this... I already spend anywhere from 4-8 hours daily just drawing -- trying to add in some computer education in there is difficult, indeed!

it looks like the webtoonist of the future will have to be both a writer/artist, as well as an accomplished computer programmer/operator... at least until the idiot-proof software comes out for cyberdunces like me.

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Randy
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2001 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Web comics are only as complicated as you make them. Start out small and then make them more complicated as you increase your skill.

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Randy
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2001 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heh. Unfortunately for Damonk, he's already set a pretty high bar for himself, comic-wise.

As far as the Z-axis goes, didn't Scott say that the next Zot! Online (or maybe it was a different project) was going to be a zoom-comic- that is, you begin with one panel and zoom in really close to see the next panel buried inside it, then continue zooming into that panel to see the next one and so on? That seems to qualify as a z-axis comic (though there are other ways to think of z-axis comics). Can't remember where I read this-- I know this idea was mentioned in RC, but I'm sure that I read where Scott said he was actually going to try it.

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Randy
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2001 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read that as well. While that is technically a Z axis comic it is sort of a false z axis. Compare a stack of papers and a hallway. Both have a z axis, the hallway by walking and the paper by moving the top sheet away. I don't mean to be negative about the whole thing, I just thought that I would mention the new program for those who want to build a comic using 3D. There is so much more that I want to say but I'm busy at work right now.

Later,
Randy

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Scott McCloud
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2001 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually the Zoom-through comic is a stand-alone story called "The Right Number," (nothing to do with Zot).

It uses Flash to create the *appearance* of zooming but it's all smoke and mirrors of course.

Don't look for it anytime soon. I can only work on it part-time as usual, due to the dysfunctional economic system that we're not supposed to fix...
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Tim Mallos
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2001 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just to be a stinker, Randy, that's not a true 3D, but a 2D representation of a 3D space

Tim
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Randy
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2001 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I had the time to think here at work then I would have stated it that way.

Later,
Randy

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lylebclarke
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2001 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I downloaded Adobe Atmosphere and played around with it (albeit only for a couple of hours) last week. The tool is very much 1.0 as a stand alone product. The real way to use it is with "your fav 3D software", and then atmosphere will browsify it all for you.

I think a better way of achieving the same thing that Adobe Atomisphere offers to comics would be to design a game level in Doom (or some other such game) and stick the comics on the walls, and related objects in the rooms. Of course it won't work in the browser, but then again Atmosphere was crawling anyway, even with an OK processor and nearly 200MB of RAM, so perhaps a browser is not the best place for such a comic.

[ This Message was edited by: lylebclarke on 2001-06-29 15:56 ]
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damonk13
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2001 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

On 2001-06-29 11:41, Greg Stephens wrote:
Heh. Unfortunately for Damonk, he's already set a pretty high bar for himself, comic-wise.


And it doesn't help that I'm a short guy, to begin with! O_o

The largest frustration I experience is when I get ideas that would require the knowledge of lots of the aformentioned software, and have to put them (ideas, not software, since I can't afford some/most of what i would need) on the shelf, in the hopes that one day I'll be able to make them fact.

But what often makes the scenario worse is when you are doing something topical (e.g., a specific storyline) where said effect/look/experience would be perfect within a small, specific window of "time", but beyond said time that becomes unusable...

Oh well, for now, I guess I'll follow Randy's advice, and stick to my large filesizes and rudimentary attempts at visual skewing around...



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Jack Masters
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2001 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

On 2001-06-29 07:44, Randy wrote:
I know that all directions can go infinite, but are you really moving infinitely if you aren't moving in every direction? (It was LATE when I posted this)


In a word, yes. All infinite physical spaces have an equal amount of infinity. Despite common sense, a single line which only extends infinitely in one direction contains just as much space as an infinite 7 dimensional hyperbolic universe. Infinities can be incredibly tricky to work with, and for anyone who's interested in them, the book "Satan, Cantor, And Infinity" by Raymond Smullyan has a very good chapter on them.

I of course concede that a 2D comic does not use all the dimensions available, but I see it as very questionable whether the vast majority artists now working in the medium will continually use 3D spaces when they become available. I have been involved with debates over the desirability of three dimensional spaces in games, and I think many of the same problems with them carry over to comics, along with some new ones, such as the space itself detracting from the comic it contains.

Nevertheless, I look forward to when the software to make these spaces on the internet becomes available. I certainly have no problems with anything that gives comic artists more freedom.

PS. Please excuse my elaborate wording, I find it extreemly hard to write about infinities in E-Prime.

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russ
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2001 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like cool technology.
Whether a comic made with it is really a comic is another question. Making the work 3 dimensional seems analogous to the difference between a painting and a sculpture: they're both art, but a sculpture is not a painting.

(Then there's the additional paradox of it being represented on your 2d computer screen.

As for the "infinity" talk, I'll chime in as a math geek: adding a 3rd dimension hardly makes it more "infinite" than 2 dimensions. A mathematical plane is already infinitely large, and yes in terms of infinite cardinalities, a 3d space has no more points than a 2d plane.

To be pedantic, there are (large) finite upper bounds on what you can store and represent on a computer, anyway -- nothing is going to be truly infinite. And if by "infinite" you mean "really big", why then we already have infinity in 2d comics (e.g. McCloud's My Obsession with Chess).
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2001 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While not by any means, true 3d, the online comic "Unicorn Jelly" (http://unicornjelly.com) uses, quite effectively, two two-dimensional "layers" to tell it's story. This, I think, ties into both the idea of a 3d comic (it is easy to see one strip as "behind" the other) and the idea of continuity and time as directions in comics expressed by Kevin Pease in "Reiterating Comics." Essentially, the normal strip and the "alternate universe" strip may have nothing to do with each other, but they happen "simultaneously" in the comic strip time, which gives a very different feeling from the sort that you would get if they were told in sequence with each other.
Has anyone else read this? Are there any thoughts on it?
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glych
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2001 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HHmmm...all this talk of 3D comics is interesting in and of itself, but let us not forget the wonder of 2D. I mean, the fact that we can give the illusion of a 3D enviornment merely with shading, lighting, line, crosshatch, rubbing, etc. etc. etc. is amazing in and of itself! I'm not saying we need to master this aspect forst, merely explore it a bit more...

But still, one way that 3d software would be cool in these regards (off the top of my head) would be in strips involving the breaking of the 4th wall, and whatnot. i was toying with this the other day, how you could tell a story and humor with a 3d surface.... it would almost be like "choose your own carl" but with a lot more choices, or would it. I mean, a die has 6 sides, and a square has 4 edges you can run off of. If you add more, it get's confusing, and if you use other shapes like a hexagon and whatnot, what could you do better in 3D that you couldn't do in 2D?

Also, in LA, every now anf again, they do these reinacting of paintings, where people get all makeuped up, and into costumes, palced on platforms and inact a painting for about 6 minutes then leave, and repeat the process all over again. Now, from the standpoint of the observation "x", this is an incredible illusion, to have 3D people imitate a 2D surface, but if you shift your placement slightly, the illusion is gone and it's just a bunch of people in greese paint and hot clothes looking silly. I fear this 3D concept, if used improperly, will have the same ill-effect.

hhhmmm....

But i will explore this...it sounds interesting.

-glych

(P.S. you can transfer world craft levels into adobe atmosphere. It's an easier build, and you can play with light)

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Randy
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2001 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't mean to start a thread on the definition of "infinite", but it has been interesting to read. I just wanted to let people know about something that may help them to make there vision happen. I want to experiment with 3D, but that's a someday thing.

As for the 3D vs 2D, follow your bliss. Great work will come from it.

later,
Randy

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Max Leibman
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2001 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whether a comic made with it is really a comic is another question. Making the work 3 dimensional seems analogous to the difference between a painting and a sculpture: they're both art, but a sculpture is not a painting.


Can something 3-D be a comic? I think so.

The idea of a sculpted comic popped up in another thread on this board, and while it may be counter-intuitive to call a sequential series of sculptures a comic, I don't believe it it truly disrupts the core concept of what a comic is.

Whether you take McCloud's more technical, "Juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence," or more poetic, "Temporal map," either way, the central idea is a series of images that tell a story.

Of course a picture is not the same as a sculpture, is it? But then, both are, technically, images. An image of something is just an impression, view or representation of it; it doesn't have to be 2-D. The important part of the images in sequence that make up a comic is not that they are flat, 2-dimensional representations of people, places, things, ideas and events, but that they are images, period. A small shading in definition, but a significant one, I think.

Of course, even setting aside that 3-D structures could constitute images to satisfy the definition of comics, a 3-D structure of 2-D images would still qualify, as well. The 2-D comics page can lead the reader's eye across its height or width; neither sort of movement stops it from being a comic. Nor does a comic cease to be a comic if it moves for a great distance (relatively speaking) in one direction, as many episodes of Zot! Online do. The type of juxtaposition may change, but the images are still juxtaposed in a sequence; adding a z-axis doesn't destroy juxtaposition, either. The placement of some panels behind others, or some panels being further back from the reader's initial plane of viewing, doesn't mean they aren't juxtaposed. A juxtaposition doesn't rely on any specific direction or number of dimensions; the term only refers to the placement of objects next to each other in space.

A 3-D comic might be a very different kind of comic, much like the graphic novel, the 3-D edition of Kurt Buisek's Astro City v. 2 no. 1, the comics page in the newspaper, Zot! Online, and Trajan's Column are all very different. However, they are all still comics.

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Max Leibman

[ This Message was edited by: Max Leibman on 2001-07-02 11:26 ]
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Scott McCloud
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2001 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Max.

All you need is a "temporal axis." In the case of Trajan's Column that axis was a rising spiral. In most cases -- like a row of Statues showing the 7 "ages of man" for example -- it would just be a straight line from left to right.
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Scott McCloud
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2001 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"a 3-D structure of 2-D images would still qualify, as well."

I agree.

RC, page 227, panel 2:




[ This Message was edited by: Scott McCloud on 2001-07-02 12:41 ]
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David Gaddis
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2001 10:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd been curious...

How do you envision the interface for such a comic working, Scott? That is... do you think it's in the artist's interests to give the reader the kind of freedom of movement they'd have in a 3D, immersive video game, so that they could "walk" all around the comic, turn a corner and view the next row of panels disappearing in perspective, etc. ... or did you have a more controlled viewing experience in mind?
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John2two
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2001 8:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WARNING: All diverse answers offered for Mr. Gaddis' question are likely to be sucked into the draft requirement doc for an infinite canvas.
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Scott McCloud
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2001 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi David --

I always assumed that the degree of freedom of movement within a comic would be at the artist's discretion.

For a non-linear open-ended work, that lattitude might be pretty broad; for a suspensed-based narrative, it might be pretty narrow. All depends on the narrative intent.

This is similar to a director's decision to offer fewer establishing shots and more close angles in a horror film, to keep an audience tense and disoriented.

Games offer some useful models for this sort of path-based movement.
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