When Books Turn into Motion Pictures

Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India), June 7, 2015 | Go to article overview

When Books Turn into Motion Pictures


New Delhi, June 7 -- Remember the moving images in Harry Potter's newspapers, and the talking portraits in the corridors of Hogwarts? There are now books that can do, well, something very much like that.

It's called augmented reality and it allows you to use an app on your smartphone to transform a regular picture book. You just hold your smartphone up to a page and the images can move, talk and sing, on an enhanced version of the page now visible on your screen.

For the publishing industry, battling the onslaught of the digital media and struggling to reach a generation that has grown up on interactive digital content, it's a magic wand in a different sense of the word, and it's increasingly being embraced as a means of enhancing the scope of their offerings.

For the reader, this means that once you download the relevant free app, you can just hold your phone over a page and see it move, expand into a 3D video, watch the character talk, fight or argue - all on a dynamic version of the page now 'playing' on your smartphone screen.

"Books are also a kind of technology, but have been static since the invention of publishing," says Sankalpo Ghose, an artist and software engineer who created the app An Art for Seagull Books' first AR release, Soho Chronicles, released in February. "With e-books and augmented reality, we can now enhance the technology of the book to reach out to readers seeking a digital experience or format."

In Soho Chronicles, a book about the animated films of South African artist William Kentridge, AR content allows the reader to see the artist at work as his sketches take shape one stroke at a time. "Kentridge's style of filming involved sketching a certain frame and then erasing it to alter the drawing. Augmented reality brings this art to life," says Ghose.

In May, children's magazine Tinkle began offering AR elements such as this virtual dart game on the cover.

Elsewhere, in May, children's magazine Tinkle began to offer an AR version that lets their young readers convert a pinwheel on the cover into a moving game on their smartphones, and leads from the popular Supandi comic strip to video content on the hapless young man's misadventures, even allowing the reader to step into the comic, pose as a doctor in a hospital-themed strip, and take a 'selfie' with the character.

"I really liked playing the dart game, which is on the cover, and my [five-year-old] sister and I clicked selfies as Suppandi's doctor, holding a stethoscope," says Mumbai reader Sophie Mascarenhas, 9. "I find the technology part very exciting. …

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