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It’s all old films but a new experience, courtesy ComicFlix

ComicFlix’s take on ‘Nene Raju Nene Mantri’;   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Imagine digitally flipping through pages where you can read your favourite movie, re-constructed scene by scene, in comic book format. All-time hits like Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay, Rajinikanth-starrer Muthu (Tamil) and the more recent Telugu film Nene Raju Nene Mantri are all available as comics. San Francisco-based Olyvia Rakshit is spearheading this conversion of movies to comics through her start-up ComicFlix.

Unlike the time consuming traditional process of drawing out each scene, ComicFlix uses technology to automate the conversion, with the potential to turn hundreds of movies into comics in a short time.

ComicFlix got noticed when it pitched its ideas and potential at the Anthill Studio Demo Day in Hyderabad in December 2018. It was one of the start-ups to be a part of Anthill Studio’s booster programme.

ComicFlix’s take on ‘Avatar’

ComicFlix’s take on ‘Avatar’  

The idea took off from Olyvia’s wish to have a ‘read’ button next to the ‘play’ button for kids shows on streaming platforms. “Kids love to read and parents want them to read. The initial idea was to generate a lot of readable content from the videos that kids watch,” she explains to us in an interview. This was later extended to convert popular movies into graphic novels for grown-ups.

ComicFlix employs technology to speed up the process. “We spent a lot of time and money to get the technology correct and I’m proud to say that we now have the only technology in the world that can potentially add a ‘read’ button next to videos or have the ability to convert videos into graphic novels/comic books,” asserts Olyvia.

Olyvia Rakshit

Olyvia Rakshit  

Elaborating on the process they locked in after a few false starts, she says the core technology involves proprietary algorithms for video summarisation, machine learning routines to render comic art from videos, language APIs for multilingual support and “a web-based comic book editor for the finished output.”

ComicFlix’s take on Kamal Haasan’s ‘Vishwaroopam’

ComicFlix’s take on Kamal Haasan’s ‘Vishwaroopam’   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

With the technology in place, the next step was to find the product market fit. “With a new technology there are always questions of how to monetise this and whether users will consume this new form of content. While we’ve been fortunate with some early customers, we are still addressing this challenge,” she admits.

It takes ComicFlix only a few days to generate a finished book from a movie. Potentially they can convert thousands of movies or TV serials into readable format. However, at the moment they can only work on content that they’ve been licensed to do so. “We have 20 to 30 titles. A lot of them will release later this year,” says Olyvia.

The team has three illustrators who add finishing to the rendered output generated by proprietary machine learning algorithms.

The ComicFlix team

The ComicFlix team   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

While ComicFlix focuses on novelising a movie without changes to the narrative, they’ve also begun to develop original content based on the content provided to them. “In one deal we’re doing books on each story arc in a TV series. In the TV show, four stories run parallel to each other. In the book, each arc is a story. In another deal we’re summarising a two to three hour movie into two issues of comic books. A comic book is typically 22 pages. Thus the book story is succinct, making it feel like a new storyline,” she explains.

To read, look up comicflix.com or check out the Fumetti ComicFlix app on iOS and Android platforms, which also allows users to create Dilbert-style comic strips using personal video and images. ComicFlix hopes to acquire licenses to launch both digital and print graphic novels.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2021 5:25:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/comicflix-interview-old-films-new-experiences/article26139066.ece

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