Timeframing: The Art of Comics on Screens

Timeframing in Contemporary Media

Looking broadly at our digital media environment, it becomes clear that we spend much of our time within highly elaborate timeframed compositions: collections of temporally bounded units layered and juxtaposed. Even a VR experience, with its illusion of seamless presence, is often made up of many time-limited animations composed to encourage immersion, with their seams largely erased; by contrast, in a video editing program, those seams are explicit, arranged to facilitate the construction of singular linear video streams. In a digital comic, the seams are likewise visible, but for a different purpose: to serve the expressive aims enabled by multi-panel compositions and the other characteristics which make comics unique. And of course, of late we have become all too familiar with a very specific genre of timeframing: the Zoom call, with its semantic fusion of panel with person. These boxes, though they may be broadcasting live video, are also temporal vignettes; they are spatially and temporally bounded — they do not last forever, as we see here in this mass exodus of students from a USC master class with Jacob Collier.

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