Mobile Animation for Comics

Is this the next big flash in the pan?
Chris and Trish Meyer

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.