Mobile Animation for Comics

Is this the next big flash in the pan?

We wake up most mornings listening to the new on NPR (National Public Radio). This morning, after a story on Comic-con (the huge annual comic book convention), there was a piece on the boom in “mobile animation” in Japan. Japan is a big market for comic books (“manga“), as well as a big market for mobile phones and new trends in mobile media. The story indicated that distributing comics through mobile phones had become The Next Big Thing over there. Some advancements include touch-interface phones such as the iPhone, which allows a tactile turning-the-page experience. But also of interest is animating the comics for delivery over cell phones and other mobile players.

If you’re looking for new niches or market opportunities, it may be time to brush up on the subjects of converting drawn art to vectors (time to crack open that copy of Adobe Illustrator which came free with your After Effects or Photoshop bundle), creating vector artwork (especially comics), and – most important of all – animating that artwork. This last skill is what can set you, a motion graphics artist, apart from other more conventional illustrators in the field, or make yourself an important partner for them. Adobe Flash is obviously the big dog in this field, but there are also a couple of other solutions out there worth exploring, such as Anime Studio Pro which allows you to add “bones” to vector or even hand-drawn artwork, and the Puppet Tools in Adobe After Effects CS3 and later.

By the way, another news item this morning concerned a new search engine called Cuil (“an old Irish word for knowledge”) started by a bunch of ex-Googlites. A search for “mobile animation” on Cuil returned a subjectively more useful result (arranged in a far more visually useful fashion) than a standard Google search. Keep an eye on them.

Chris and Trish Meyer

Chris & Trish Meyer founded Crish Design (formerly known as CyberMotion) in the very earliest days of the desktop motion graphics industry. Their design and animation work has appeared on shows and promos for CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, HBO, PBS, and TLC; in opening titles for several movies including Cold Mountain and The Talented Mr. Ripley; at trade shows and press events for corporate clients ranging from Apple to Xerox; and in special venues encompassing IMAX, CircleVision, the NBC AstroVision sign in Times Square, and the four-block-long Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas. They were among the original users of CoSA (now Adobe) After Effects, and have written the numerous books including “Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects” and “After Effects Apprentice” both published by Focal Press. Both Chris and Trish have backgrounds as musicians, and are currently fascinated with exploring fine art and mixed media in addition to their normal commercial design work. They have recently relocated from Los Angeles to the mountains near Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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