February 6, 2019
Madefire, which makes digital versions of comic books, has collaborated with Magic Leap to debut its first Motion Book experiences in augmented reality on Magic Leap One Creator Edition, the developer version headset that costs $2,300. The comics are available in the Magic Leap World! Explore stories. In the past, Madefire has also collaborated with DC Comics and Marvel to create digital comics. Its platform, which is available on iOS, Android as well as Oculus Rift, offers 40,000 comics including Blizzard’s Overwatch comics.
VentureBeat reports that the idea of the collaboration started six years ago, at Comic-Con, when Magic Leap chief executive Rony Abovitz spoke with Madefire co-founder Liam Sharp, whose company was then producing content for mobile devices.
Madefire chief executive Ben Wolstenholme said that he and Sharp originally expressed doubt at the offer to produce for Magic Leap’s platform. But Magic Leap senior production director Dan Lehrich, who had worked on the iPad version of Disney Infinity, “felt there was a natural connection between Madefire and Magic Leap because they could empower different kinds of creators.”
Madefire created tools to enable AR authoring, by taking “existing assets for digital comics and bring[ing] depth to them, allowing artists to create 3D objects that can then be placed in a physical space.” Artists, who can preview changes in “near real time,” can also “add spatial sounds easily, and visualize the comic in X, Y, and Z dimensions in the form of layers.” Magic Leap then enhanced the tool “for AR artistry.”
Rather than the “true 3D art” produced by Unreal and Unity, “this is about taking 2D art and putting it into a 3D world,” said Wolstenholme. “Now you can walk in among the comics and through them,” he added. “We are relearning how to tell stories because we are thinking spatially instead of only on black rectangles.” Artists can do so without the need for engineers or “extra coding,” making it available for “everyone from major comic publishers to small indie creators.”
The VB reviewer tried it out and deemed it “a very cool experience … a kind of 2.5D experience,” albeit with the Magic Leap’s limited field of view. VB reports that, “about 20 Motion Books are fully optimized for Magic Leap now, with a couple of hundred more that will work with it.”
In addition to DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Magic Leap and Blizzard, Madefire’s clients include Fox, Apple, Boom!, DeviantART, Microsoft, TNT, IDW, Archie, Valiant, Kodansha, Oculus, Framestore and Technicolor.