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City of Thamesis

September 24th 2007 | John Dalziel



City of Thamesis

To coincide with the launch of the new Flash based graphic novel, 'City of Thamesis', FlashMagazine invited the creative team behind it to tell us a little bit more about the project.

The Project: City of Thamesis

FM: Can you tell us how the team came together?

At art school in 1997 Jimmy the Gent started creating a serialised graphic narrative, which was then called Albion Rising. Set in an alternate reality U.K. it aspired to define a new sense of ‘Britishness’ for the 21st Century (and look well cool).

However it wasn’t until a chance meeting in December 2004 at London production house Partizan that things really took off. Jimmy was hired to design comic book pages for a music video directed by Edgar Wright (of ‘Shaun of the Dead’ fame) and production managed by one Jonny Wong.

Jimmy casually left sample artwork and story outlines around the office and it wasn’t long before Jonny was hooked in. One thing led to another and soon all three were meeting on a weekly basis to develop the project further. The aim: to create an engaging digital graphic story that could be told across, but not exclusive to, multiple media platforms.

As the world of Thamesis blossomed, so did the desire to attach funding to the project. By May 2006 they had made contact with Fleming Media’s Brand Incubation business and begun a pitching process that would see funds being made available in September of that year to begin production on environment, technology & character concept design and eventually on the six digicomic episodes.

And so Ash Pure Studios was born and set up in Dalston, East London. Over the following months a technical team was recruited that could execute this multimedia project. The studios line up now contained talented design graduate Roland Hammed on Photoshop, Lucas Krull aka ‘Kabe243’ on Flash animation and Colourfield on sound score and design.
FM: 'City of Thamesis' has a very distinctive style. Can you tell us how you achieved it?

The unique look & feel of the setting was achieved by taking digital shots of various parts of London before compositing and manipulating them in order to create the city’s alter ego, Thamesis.

Similarly, deciding against going down a classic illustration route, actors were shot against green screen and then processed digitally.

Fashion designer and long time collaborator Javvy M Royle was enlisted to style the actors and then augment their look with digital clothing and accessories.

These characters were then comped into the backgrounds, creating some pretty large Photoshop files in the process.

The final stage was to bake on lighting and texture effects before exporting layers as png’s, in readiness for import to the Flash stage.

Over time the style of the digitally manipulated images became more complex and rich, and the style more defined.

The brief we gave ourselves was to create a panel-based digital graphic novel. The goal was to make a graphic novel enhanced by animation rather than trying to ‘animate’ with still images.

We used Flash as the obvious publishing tool because of the streaming capability and above 90% reach of Adobe’s Flash Player 8 across multiple platforms.

In Kabe243 we were lucky to find someone with great Flash knowledge but also a keen animation sensibility. He really brought the panels to life.

Flash allowed us to give depth, by using transparent layered images and scrolling the perspectives at different speeds, a feel of action with fast cuts and moves, flickers and flashes, as well as suggesting movement by scrolling and zooming images. By using multi colored glow filters we were able to make the text look individual for every character, but also to stay away from speech bubbles that would have obscured the artwork.

Production was completed in August 2007 as was the website build, leaving everything set for a September launch. The hope: to build a fan base around a growing online community so that exciting adventures from the City of Thamesis can continue to be produced and encompass more media platforms, such as gaming, mobile and TV.

FM: Thanks for taking the time to talk us guys. Good luck with the project.
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