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Comicflix: Story of App Creation to Convert Visual Content Into Comics


7 min read

Visual information is more natural to perceive and quicker to absorb for most of us. It appeals to our emotions, reveals creativity, brings a stimulus and motivation to act. Moreover, it may be fun to deal with. Comics, cartoons, and stripes are the expressive way to share ideas via images complemented with some text. No surprise, many of us love comics. Comics always grab attention. Test yourself and answer three questions.

  • Would you give a glimpse to a comic strip rather than a traditional advertisement?
  • Would you remember a grammar rule if you learn it as comics?
  • What would you enjoy more: reading a comic book of your kids B-Day party adventures or watching standard photos and videos as everyone and his brother usually does?

Bet, most of you answered ‘Yes’, at least two times. Visual information is more natural to perceive, as well as ideas concentrated in those images, and they give birth to inspiration.

A visual image in the hands of an artist is merely a tool to trigger a mental image. Roy H. Williams

All of us want to be as imaginative as comic creators, but not many of us can. The simple idea appeared to use machine learning and modern technologies to automate comics creation, to make it available for everybody. It was a vision that a ComicFlix’s product owner has shared with Dashdevs when looking for a development partner. The mission is to have fun by making comics with a simple tool.

An app to make you an author of breathtaking stories

Comics are not only stunning drawings about adventures, superheroes, mysteries, and intergalactic wars, they are also catching stories to read. They are actions in a freeze. The expressive power of a comic strip is a combination of outstanding style and design with a compelling plot. It is what fascinates us in comics.

Drawing comics is a time- and resource-consuming process. A ComixFlix’s product owner and a Dashdevs’ sci-tech crew offer an innovative solution to simplify comics production. If you want to make a long and complicated story simple and involving, turn a digital video and images into a readable comic-style image, comic stripe, or a comic book. We have developed a platform that turns everyone into a comic artist and converts a digital video or a photo into comics.

Who needs a tool of visual storytelling

Comics creation is art. It is both unnecessary and hard, if ever possible, to substitute professional comic artists. The video-to-story platform targets the audience that requires easy-to-create visual storytelling as a service and a product for business and personal needs.

ComicFlix serves as SaaS (software as a service) FlixPro platform for media service providers (like Netflix, Amazon, etc.), movies and TV shows makers, marketers or educators. It provides the service of creating graphic novels from videos which business can use to promote their products, entertain the target audience with visual content, and boost engagement of brand’s advocates and fans.

ComicFlix is also available as an app for personal use and fun. If you are a comic lover, you can convert your digital visual files into a comic stripe. The app also features regular activities of a social network: posting, sharing, ‘liking’, and commenting.

So what does a video-to comic platform looks like?

ComicFlix is a file-to-comics platform and comprises three levels of usage.

  • A service for digital storytelling which supports 100+ languages, if a business wants to outsource a graphic novel production.
  • A web app — FlixPro, is a tool to make comics for business needs and convert digital images or videos to a comic book. If a company possesses in-house resources and wants to create a story on its own, a business may get access to use the tool for making comics-styled corporate stories or branding activities.
  • A mobile app with the social network features — Fumetti, for individual use to add comic effects to a photo or video frames if a person wants to “comicize” some content, and just for fun. A user creates a post, shares it with followers, gives and receives likes and comments.

How to illustrate your stories in a comic style

Though target audience demands vary, the single tech solution meets them all in a powered by a neural network web app.

Get tailored comics. If you prefer a quick and easy way of making a visual story, a service offers you an automated conversion of your digital visual content into a comic strip guided by a professional artist. It is as easy as ordering lunch in a cafe, you select from the menu and get a result.

Make it your way. If for your business, it is important to control the progress all the way through, you may ask for access to the web app. You will rule the process of comics production yourself, as well as try all the variants available to find the one that suits you best. Make a video or shoot photos for your future story presented in comics, start a new project in an app, download your digital files. The platform will split your visual content to separate blocks automatically and add text bubbles, in case you download the file with subtitles and timing. The next step is to select and apply effects and structurize blocks to layouts. When your comics is ready, you can download it for future use and promotion as a picture or as a book in several formats. Your branded comics-like story is ready to boost engagement and add some fun via various promotional channels, especially — social networks.

Create a cartoon for yourself. You can use your photo or a drawing to add some comic effects to it with the help of a mobile application. As well the app may split a video into frames, then a user adds text bubbles and comic-like style to them. A customized comic is a fascinating content for your next post, a B-Day greeting to your friends and relatives, or your any other personal need. The mobile app also comprises social networking functionality.

Under the hood

All the three business models — the SaaS service, web app, and mobile app, work with the same backend. A ComicFlix platform for business needs is a web app with microservice architecture. It means that separate services work for different operations such as to split a video, to convert subtitles and time code into blocks and frames, process images with an integrated neural network to add effects, organize blocks into layouts, save a comic book, convert a project into various formats, and so on. Moreover, there is a functionality to boost collaboration between all comic creators. One can set tasks for others, which form a To-Do list.

The technical solutions worth focusing on

The user interface is intuitive, simple, and comprehensive. It is convenient to navigate the menu of selection of layouts or bubbles with a dropdown list of options and a quick-to-apply preview. A user can use a good old drag-and-drop to add titles, frames, edit images, or layouts.

A comic stripe builder that cuts the video, parses subtitles, and structures images into layouts is a highly-performing and an elegant technical solution. A platform may process different digital visual files from a single photo and up to full HD videos. A user can set the interval of cutting the video. The algorithm detects the scenes, where actors talk. These scenes turn into pictures, the voice is recognized and converted into text bubbles. As well, the algorithm detects scenes with the intense dynamics of actions to turn them into comics blocks automatically. A user can further replace pictures manually.

Filters of comic effects. To add comic effects to pictures, developers investigate the best solutions. Open-source models were not sustainable and sufficient enough. In the web app, the integration with a third-party vendor of a pre-trained neural network to process frames split from a video was implemented.

Export is a reliable service providing a user with different options and formats.

The web app is a scalable solution. Software architects ensured the tool’s capability to process large amounts of data and requests simultaneously. The web app has the potential to serve several clients and users at the same time.

Features of FlixPro

  • Creating comic stripes from digital video and images.
  • Adding a title.
  • Cutting the video and splitting it to blocks by the set period or according to the subtitles and time codes. Both automatically and manually.
  • Adding text bubbles. An app can automate the process by parsing the subtitle file, or a user can add custom text bubbles manually.
  • Setting the style for bubbles.
  • Organizing images into comic book layouts.
  • Image editor to scale it up, crop, or replace it.
  • Adding comic like styles and effects to blocks and frames with filters.
  • Adding custom frames.
  • Storing projects.
  • Saving images in the .png format.
  • Export of layouts to .png, .pdf, or ComicLife formats.
  • A tool for collaboration with co-creators by setting tasks and generating To-Do list.

Architecture and technology stack

  • .Net Core
  • ASP .NET Web API
  • RabbitMQ
  • Azure Blob Storage
  • NHibernate ORM
  • ServiceBus
  • Angular
  • Docker
  • bootstrap
  • RxJS
  • NgRx
  • Redux
  • SQL Database.

Dashdevs’ sci-tech crew spent approximately 5K person-hours for architecture & backend development and about 1,500 person-hours for frontend, a bunch of developers were engaged in the product creation.

ComicFlix is an inspiring business idea brought to life in the automated platform that is valuable and helpful not only for commercial users but also for every person who is fond of comics and movies to have fun, make customized avatars, and cool posts. Dashdevs has worked on the creation of the new tool that makes possible to minimize the human involvement in the comic creation process and reduces the cost of creation of the visual stories as a technical partner. Our sci-tech crew is always ready to be responsible for developing ideas into apps that make a difference.

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