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Nawlz Interview for Brazilian Newspaper

Posted by: Sutu on June 23. 2013 at 12:45 am

– Nawlz is a really imersive and interactive story, using a non traditional storytelling techniques. Do you think it would be possible to tell this story with a traditional media? What is the importance of the digital medium to set the right mood?

People will always find a way to tell their story and I’m sure a creative writer could use words on paper to tell a story like NAWLZ,  but, the experience of that paperback story will be very different to the digital experience of NAWLZ.  NAWLZ combines text, illustration, animation, sound design and interactivity to tell the story. The story follows a character who is using advanced technology to allow him to project his art and imagination into a virtual reality. He is projecting, image, animation and sound, therefore the digital media used in NAWLZ is as relevant to the plot and it’s protagonist as it is for the reader.

I try to use animation, sound design and interactivity in response to the context of the story.  For example, Augmented Reality (AR) is a major theme throughout Nawlz.  I use interactivity to allow the reader to toggle between physical and virtual reality. (see image attached)  Not only does the image change but the the music and sound design changes too.   It is a simple technique that is used throughout NAWLZ.  It allows the readers to see and experience how easy it is to jump between the virtual and physical worlds in this futuristic setting and how the difference between these worlds can become blurred.


– From several digital comics, Nawlz stands out, not only for the creativity of the story, but also for the variety of tools used to engage the reader. Could you comment on what kind of experience you expect with this kind of freedom, with a story that goes back and forth on the illustration, stops and then advance again?

By creating an environment that invites the reader to interact you are engaging more sensors than the ordinary reader and can potentially create a more immersive experience. The traditional gesture of ‘turning the page’ to progress a story is interpreted into a new action; a click, a scroll, a swipe etc. An important difference is that a ‘click’ has the power to also trigger sound and animation, it can transform the digital space completely. In this sense the reader becomes a catalyst for that transformation.   In NAWLZ, the story usually unfolds from left to right, however, in a memory scene the story might navigate backwards or in a dream scene the story might shift three dimensionally.  These shifts in digital space carry new meaning for narrative.  Every shift is activated by the readers input.   The reader knows to ‘click’ but they don’t know what will happen when they click.  Interactivity can enhance that anticipation and motivate the reader to read on.

– Can you tell a little about the process of creation of a digital comic? Is there a effect you want to use from the beginning, or you think about the story first to only then come up with the animations to make it work?
I write the story first, then I start drawing the pictures.  I like to draw the pictures on a big long scroll of paper.  Seeing the pictures side by side on paper, helps me to imagine how the story will unfold on the digital canvas. I then scan the drawings in to the computer, colour them in Adobe Photoshop, and then I lay out all the coloured images in Adobe Illustrator where I also add the typography and other graphic design elements.  From Adobe Illustrator I export to Adobe Flash where I animate the comic and add the interactivity. The Flash work is driven by my own framework that i designed specifically for Nawlz.  This framework gives me a lot of control over the sound, animation and navigation of the story. It is also very flexible and allows me to experiment with new animation and interactivity techniques. Sometimes I plan the animations and interactive elements, other times I improvise.   It’s hard to know what elements will work together until you try.  This experimentation process is important for discovering new ways animation and interactivity can give your narrative new meaning.

– In your opinion, digital comics are a new media, or a way of adapting the old HQ to the new times? How do you see this process of changing?
THe techniques used in comics and graphic novels have evolved over a hundred years.  These old formats will continue, because they work and people still love reading printing books.  Digital Comics will become more established as their own format of story in the future and they will continue to change and evolve also.  In the last 12 months I have used the NAWLZ approach to digital story telling for 3 other stories.  One story is NEOMAD, a comic series for kids – it uses interactivity to trigger voice over narrative. Another story is Warlu Song, an adaptation of an ancient Australian Aboriginal song, like NEOMAD this story also uses voice over narration but a key difference is it also allows the reader to toggle between English and Yindjibarndi (Aboriginal language). This ability to switch languages is crucial for teaching young Aboriginal people their native language – which is threatened by extinction.  As people explore the possibilities of digital story telling there will be many changes and inventions.  Like NAWLZ, the experiments are often in response to the context of the story and we as creators will continue to ask ourselves what can we do and what technology we can use to best communicate our stories.

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