Announced this afternoon at their SXSW, Marvel has added a few long expected multimedia features to their Marvel Unlimited mobile apps. Beginning with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel has begun adding a collection of additions to their new release comics.
Intended to make the books more immersive, one of the media features will be a smart soundtrack capability, which they refer to as "adaptive audio," playing related Marvel-style music from scene to scene as you read through the digital book. Kristin Vincent, Marvel's vice president of digital products, said the goal was to make the digital version of the comics feel more authentically digital, without becoming foreign to the avid comic readers. She added,
We knew we had something conceptually but we weren't sure how it was going to work with comics. We wanted to figure out how we could tell stories in new ways.
Arune Singh, director of communications for publishing and digital media, believes that this could fundamentally change the way digital comics are produced by the company, stating,
The way we used to paste comics together on the page in production, so far we have been pasting comics on our iPad. Now, we have adaptive audio.
It is definitely a change in the way that Marvel thinks about comics and their production. The adaptive audio is a huge shift in production, and an interesting technological feat. The app, now written in native code as opposed to HTML5, is able to detect when you switch panels and adjust the music PER PANEL with background score similar to the films. It is also able to adapt the music's speed and transitions based on how quickly you individually read the comics: a faster reader will have quicker transitions planned.
In addition to the adaptive audio, there is also the ability for DVD commentary-style videos. While certainly not the most popular part of a DVD, commentary is popular among a particular type of viewer. Many of those viewers are the same ones who are avid comic readers, so this feature makes a lot of sense. This feature has been available before now, but via a QR code, mostly in print comics, meaning that the already digital content was mostly unavailable to already digital subscribers.
If neither of these new features are exciting to you, there is good news. Both are able to be turned off in the app's settings.