Today, Disney and Microsoft - together with a team at Vectorform - revealed a newly redesigned site demonstrating what the future of comics and graphic novels will be.
The TRON Legacy Digital Book site features a TRON Legacy interactive comic: with animated, glowing panels that slide, scale, and feature highlights you can click on to reveal intel on characters like Sam Flynn and Rinzler. The site uses the new HTML5 spec and what's known as GPU or hardware acceleration in Internet Exlporer 9 to achieve the level of interactivity, smoothness, and responsiveness you'll experience when visiting the site. Hardware acceleration offloads the work of drawing the screen from your computer's CPU (processor), to the GPU (video card/chip).
The results are highly impressive, and what's even more impressive is that from start to finish the site only took approximately one month to complete. The site was created by first drawing traditional comic panels in Photoshop, then isolating elements so they could be treated with the added effects mentioned earlier. Then the team at Vectorform worked hard to reduce the bandwidth required for all the high resolution imagery, while keeping the quality and performance of the site high.
I was given an opportunity to chat with one of the creative leads at Disney and a senior director on the Internet Explorer team at Microsoft. During this Q&A, I asked who originated the idea of this new project (Disney), and whether the TRON Legacy filmmakers (Steven Lisberger, Joseph Kosinski, and the rest of the team) were involved in the project in any way (the answer was yes). It seems Disney really wanted to push the boundaries of what could be done with an interactive comic, and remain committed to the TRON franchise for the forseeable future.
If you visit the TRON Legacy Digital Book site, you'll need a browser that supports HTML5. All the latest versions of the most popular browsers now support this new standard, including: Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, and of course IE9. But the site will be best experienced in Internet Explorer 9, which you can download from Microsoft's site.
The site is also promoting a new TRON Legacy interactive book application for the iPad, that you'll want to check out if you own one. The app presents the complete story presented on the web site in the same interactive format.
Below are a couple of videos: the first demonstrating the site in action, and the second going into the technical details of how the site was created. The second video is quite long, about 15 minutes.