Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Paper Comic DeathWatch: SilverLight

Before I launch into this weeks Paper Comic DeathWatch, I gotta couple of items of business to attend to.

Item 1: You can get PCDW mugs now!

You have no idea how much I am loathe to mention this, but...

You can now buy Flashback Universe Shirts and Mugs at CafePress.

Yes, I know. I am now officially one of *those* guys.

Look. Here's how we got to this point - I made some of these shirts for HeroesCon last year, and while making the PCDW shirts for me and Sean Kleefeld, I thought, "Why not let other people buy them if they are so inclined?"

Not a bad idea on paper, right?

The only problem is that meant I had to tell you guys about them. Ugh. Pimping my own band merch. Next I'll be mashing up Evanescence songs with Anime pictures on YouTube.

On the flipside - The Trex vs Prometheus T-shirt is pretty cool.

Anyway. Let's just move on.

Item 2: I'm interviewed on ContentDigital


For those of you who've been following Flashback since the get go, some of this interview will be familiar, but there a few things in there you may not have heard me say before, so check it out.

Okay, so on with our regularly scheduled Paper Comic DeathWatch.

Today I'm going to talk about a new internet technology, that while it's over a year old, I'm betting most of you have never heard of. Microsoft SilverLight.

SilverLight has been called Microsoft's answer to Adobe Flash.

Like Flash, SilverLight is partly a plugin for web browsers that will allow users to view graphics (both raster and vector formats), animation and audio/video content.

There are many, many reasons why SilverLight is superior to Flash on the development side, but I'll spare you the gory details and web developer jargon.

What SilverLight can do, that Flash can't that's pertinent to us lovers of Digital Comics is a feature called Deep Zoom!

What Deep Zoom allows you to do is take, well GIGS of images, and stream them over the internet in a way that is just absolutely amazing. The idea is that say you have an image that is 8 megapixels in size (a fairly large image, with lots of detail), well with Deep Zoom, you can zoom in and out of the picture examining the details as you wish and only the parts of the picture you are looking at travel across the internet into your browser.

Check out this awesome example of Deep Zoom used live at the Hard Rock Memorabilia site. Note: this site is going to ask you to install the SilverLight plugin to view the content.

After you install the plugin, you will be able to use your mouses scroll wheel to Zoom in and Zoom out of the images on the page (see the colored blocks in the picture below? Each one is a separate high rez image.) Notice how fast this process is.

Where this all comes into play for Comic Books, is that developers are already starting to see the potential for SilverLight as a method for reading Digital Comics.

Here's a developer talking about having seen a presentation discussing such a device:


And here is a talented developer by the name of Jeff Prosise who has built a very nice SilverLight web site called http://mycomix.wintellect.com/ devoted to his collection of Silver Age DC Comic.

The neat thing about this site is you can click on a picture, and when the cover comes up, you can Zoom In and Zoom out with your mouse scroll wheel OR turn the cover around to see the back by clicking and dragging the mouse.

I have also seen a prototype comic reader for the internet in SilverLight that was quite amazing (you could actually flip the pages like a regular comic book.)

Where I think this all comes together is with DC Comics.

Last year, Marvel made a huge media splash with the unveiling of their Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited. (A Flash based app btw)

I keep thinking that Time Warner is going to put some major pressure on DC to get busy with an internet project soon - and I don't really count Zuda, because, as far as I know, there is like Zero DC branding on Zuda. Mom and Pop America would never guess that site is related to the company that publishes Batman or Superman.

Somebody at Time Warner is eventually going to see the Marvel Comics DCU site and wonder why DC isn't doing the same thing.

Now if DC wanted to beat Marvel at this game, they would partner up with Microsoft and use SilverLight to build their Digital Comics library. It would be a great way for Microsoft to spread the SilverLight plugin and a good way for DC to take advantage of all of Microsoft's PR muscle.

This idea has already been run by some people at the Microsoft Silverlight team, and they like it. Now, whether DC is ready to start such a project is the question.

PCDW Points: 5000

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jim
~Content Digital


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