Saturday, November 1, 2008

Watchmen: Motion Comic Episodes Available Now!

A few weeks back I posted about 6 comics telling the prequel story to the hit Xbox survival horror game Dead Space, being turned into animated comics through the use of actual stills from the graphic novels, with a bit of camera panning, some lighting effects, really excellent voice acting and music to bring the comic to life in motion video. A few days after that post the Dead Space motion comics became available as free downloads on Xbox Live Marketplace in glorious HD. Now imagine my surprise and giddy excitement today when chapter one of the Watchmen motion comic turned up today on Xbox Live.

Now, I will state this very clearly up front...I typically do not advocate any service that uses DRM (digital rights management) to stop me from being able to watch video I have legally purchased anywhere, anytime on any device I want. I dislike the Xbox Live video download service mostly because their content is too expensive and the DRM is ludicrous, especially when I can purchase elsewhere DRM free , watch online or pirate most of the content they make available. However, the 160 Microsoft points cost (roughly $2 USD, the MS points being another reason to hate the program...) was worth it this time, especially since the Watchmen motion comics are only available via Xbox Live Marketplace, Amazon VOD and iTunes.

[NOTE: While iTunes has started offering some DRM free music, songs are only available as AAC files not MP3's. Amazon is currently the only legal digital music store I support right now (and their catalog is continuously growing), but when it comes to purchasing legal digital video downloads, no one seems to have gotten it right yet - so keep pirating your videos till they get it right!]

I am really intrigued by this amazing new animation style, now being referred to as "motion comics". Actually I'm using the term "new" loosely, as all of the animation elements are all pretty rudimentary, but it's the quality of the work emerging right now that makes it stand out from anything similar you may have seen previously. An article from described it quite eloquently:

...simply a conglomeration of different scenes from the comic book given motion and set to dramatic orchestral music. In order to animate the comic, the production team has apparently dissected the elements from each panel that they wanted to move — such as a cloud or a character — and animated it in front of a restored or “filled in” background. For example — they animated the iconic comic panel that shows The Comedian’s funeral from above to not only have falling rain and lightning, but wind that realistically blows the coats and clothing of the mourners surrounding the open grave. In another, Ozymandias sits in front of his monitor bank — each commercial and TV program on the screens in motion — scratching the back of his pet Bubastis’ head.

Since there is frustratingly still no video search tool available on Xbox Live; to find the Watchmen motion comic, go to the Marketplace blade on your 360, click on "Video Store", then "TV Shows", then "All TV Shows" and then find it on the list alphabetically. Click the following link for the iTunes & Amazon downloads.

Check out my other Watchmen posts.

UPDATE 1: While doing some research for this article I discovered yet another beautiful motion comic! Batman: Mad Love is currently exclusive to Xbox Live Marketplace and Verizon's mobile phone V CAST service, can be found on Xbox Live in the same location described above to find Watchmen and is equally as excellent of an example of motion comics. Warner Premiere announced earlier this summer: "Batman: Mad Love" is taken directly from the pages of the Eisner Award-winning single issue graphic novel by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. The story revolves around The Joker's sidekick Harley Quinn who is madly in love with him. She uses crime to demonstrate her love for her "Puddin'" and sets out to commit the ultimate act of love – killing Batman.

UPDATE 2: Found a couple more motion comics out there that may perk your interest...Stephen Kings' "N.", MTV's Invincible and a 5 part prequel to I Am Legend called I Am Legend: Awakening