By Jim Beard
The ongoing efforts to push the barriers of a traditional, visual comic experience continue with the introduction of Marvel’s Project Gamma, a unique, immersive experience that brings fully adaptive music and sound together with digital comics to create an entirely new audio-visual event.
Project Gamma represents a landmark partnership between Marvel Entertainment, Momentum Worldwide and CORD (A Cutting Edge Company), the composers and producers of such award-winning films as the Harry Potter series, “Looper,” “Drive” and “The King’s Speech.” An adaptive audio experience, Project Gamma dynamically tailors itself to both the events in the comic and the individual reader’s behavior, no matter the time invested in each page and to each issue. In short, with this new technology each reading experience becomes unique to itself.
“We are always trying to innovate in comics and always trying to keep that innovation going,” says Marvel Editor in Chief Axel Alonso. “The thought is, how do we keep it more immersive and more entertaining than it already is? Digital comics in general have been enormously successful for us and the idea of adding audio to the digital comics experience was just something fantastic. And you add that to the graphic fiction content and you add some audio that really matches up with the characters, and you have an amazing experience.
“It’s not unlike being in a video game, to be honest.”
Senior Vice President & General Manager of Marvel’s Digital Media Group Peter Phillips notes that Marvel’s excitement for Project Gamma “is that the audio is key to the story.” Experiences will differ with Project Gamma in that the music matches up with all reading styles, making it innovative and unique.
“The music will not speed up as you flip the page,” he explains. “Its modulated in such a way that whether you’re a fast reader or a slow reader, it will stick with you, it’ll be by your side. This is embedded music to enhance the experience of what you’re already enjoying. And it paces itself to how you’re reading. So that’s really the key.
“If there’s a piano expected to be on there for 30 seconds and plays music for 30 seconds, after that time is over it’s going to randomize in a way that’s completely intuitive. As you’re flipping back and forth throughout pages, it’s not going to be buffering; the audio will enhance that experience and take you back to where you were. You’re not going to hear any break in the music.”
As Project Gamma rolls out and readers experience it for the first time, they will also find the music to be both original and, in some cases, linked to characters.
“You may see different pieces sort of mixed and matched,” Phillips says. “Let’s say for example that you’ve got Nova in a story, and Nova’s got a musical piece that really matches up well with him and his character and then you see Nova in another story; you may hear something that you recognize again from Nova in a different book. What we are trying to do is make music match the feel of our stories and characters, so that means that there could be some repetition from book to book, but not in a way that it’s the same entire piece as when you read a different book.”
Launching later this year with a Marvel event that will be announced soon, Project Gamma will be partnered with Marvel stories that truly compliment what it offers in expanding the reader experience.
“Big events, big characters—honestly, ones that really lend themselves to music,” notes Alonso to what the project may bring. “Part of what’s exciting about this for us is that we really have to match it up and see how it will enhance the story. Does every single book and character make sense with music? Maybe. [Ultimately] we are going to go with the biggest, most marquee, most important books, absolutely.”
Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more details on the Marvel: House of Ideas panel and Marvel’s plans for SXSW. Join the conversation on Twitter using #MarvelSXSW!