Okay – everything is proving to be extremely busy.
In the past week, that is, the final week of March 2018, over 15 sales have been made by me on eBay, including several international sales, but the profitability of said sales has averaged about -35%. Looking at the data I have just slightly over $200 in payments received [people buying things], and $310 in costs associated with those orders, from fees (about $45 total between PayPal and eBay) to a few key shipping supplies (roughly $25) to the shipping costs themselves, which are higher in some cases than expected. Plus side is, if I work my butt off, I did sell several copies of the new stock media in there too, so I might come out of this madness with some positive ratings related to that product line and related to other sold items, if I work every waking hour the next 8-10 days.
So I’ll simply admit that I’ve botched this, if ‘this’ was an attempt to raise funds for completion of Miniature Multiverse or any of the other projects I’m aiming for.
The process has been good insofar as I’ll be clearing out a ton of books, and a few other items, to people who will actually appreciate those items, although paring my collection down to a minimum wouldn’t be *necessary* in the first place if my family weren’t planning on moving me and everything else to Pittsburgh by the end of 2018.
Yeah, that’s the other thing – we’re relocating to Pennsylvania. I am. Scott and Margaret are too. We’ll be there with my sister Katie and her kids. I think this moving process is intensely stressful; lots of cleaning things up, deciding what to keep,what to throw, moving to a location where my work space will be limited and three adorable but noisy/hyperactive children will be running around as well. Nice new house, nice yard and neighborhood but I have difficulty not being frustrated with this during the transition process as this altogether is making productivity difficult during the transition, and might potentially detract from my creative work for years, or maybe make it better [who knows? It’s possible.].
So, ahem, anyway – all the current irritation and stress aside, what this means is each day in April I must [somehow] earn a few dollars transcribing, at sub-minimum wage, ship a handful of still-unshipped items, and do hours of cleaning in my room and the garage on top of all that. And, yes, somehow I’m scrambling to figure out a way to shoot a final video project with my Houston friends, which is now likely to be in May because April is crazy in terms of the sheer workload, and I am not being permitted to adjust my sleep schedule accordingly.
That’s the same-old, same-old though and not really new – I cannot break free of my family’s rules because I’m not 100% financially independent and I’m unable to be financially independent largely due to their somewhat arbitrary and constrictive rules. I am 31 and despite enormous effort, my life is still going nowhere except an aggravating downward spiral of depression and frustration [and existential ennui?] and a general emotional and psychological sense of being trapped and running out of time.
So, yeah. That. It’s why I may be late shipping a number of the eBay orders, late as in up to a week of delays. There is no practical way to avoid this. I simply need to somehow earn nearly an extra $100 or so over the next week in the scattered hours when I actually have a chance to. Only then can *all* of the items I sold in the past week be shipped.
The February 20th release went through largely without a hitch, with the first massive batch of 36 new clips ready on DVD. And although nobody’s actually rated the new DVD media content yet, or even paid for or bought a copy of the DVD, I nonetheless kept moving forward and added the extra bonus content to the collection as of Feb. 28, 2018, expanding the total count of new elements to 60 in all, even if not every page reflects this update yet.
The page for the product on HornbostelProductions.com is here – $5.99 for a digital-download only version and $14.99 to have it shipped to you:
I’m sorry it’s taken so long to post all the files, there are still many placeholders on the page but that kind of thing happens when you’re gone for a few days to attend a memorial service.
I have – FYI – postponed a lot of things somewhat due to the passing away of my uncle Kent Hornbostel. His death has been a traumatic experience for my immediate and extended family. He’ll be sorely missed by all who knew him.
INCIDENTALLY: I’ve just launched a substantial and very well-targeted $30+ ad campaign so I’m pretty certain that my network will see a boom in visitors for the next week or so. I’m betting the new stock media DVD will finally see a wave of sales and ratings by the end of March 2018… a month after release. I’m fairly confident this product line will be a success and popular on eBay and maybe even on the HornbostelProductions.com shop as well. This could go really well and I’m hoping that with your assistance it will, but we’ll see.
I’m pretty sure you’ll be happy with this video content once I release it.
These are random still frames from the first 14 of the clips I recorded, and there are a few more clips not included in this promo image at all because I’m still adjusting the rotoscoping / masking on the last handful of elements to clear out any remaining random background junk the keying process failed to clean out.
These effects are not flawless – the camera equipment wasn’t ideal, nor the black backing, nor the telephoto lenses that allowed me to get closer views of the effects while the cameras were far enough back to be safe.
But just keep in mind that I did the best I was able to both with the effects shoot and the postprocessing given my available resources. I took reasonable safety precautions and did the best I could given that the entire project was done for under $300.
I’ve stated here my intent to extend the video collection over time with new ‘versions’ – starting with version 2, which is pretty much guaranteed to happen, as an update 2-3 months from now. As for additions beyond that, it kind of depends on how well the product line is selling.
I figure this stock footage DVD needs to sell dozens of copies to keep the releases of new stock media flowing, and hundreds* if the aim is to fund not only more stock video but also massive improvement and progress on my narrative video and video game projects. The good news is that that’s pretty likely to work out given the fact that over 500 people have viewed my stock footage pages & posts in the past two months. If enough of those visitors buy the collection it’ll be good news for me but also for my audiences, and for any indie video & VFX artists who would be getting a fantastic bargain on the new stock video content.
Version #1 has about 20 real clips of explosions, would be more but there were some effects that didn’t turn out at all well or did but were not recorded correctly – maybe they were almost entirely outside the bounds of camera view, or the camera ran out of storage space or battery partway through recording, whatever. Things like that killed about 6-7 shots which I’d meant to capture. It was frustrating but it’s hard to do anything about it now that these mistakes have happened. At least the critical, highest-priority parts of the process – not burning myself and not setting any parts of the house/garage on fire – worked out perfectly. I was focused on safety so much so that the technical [camera work] aspects of the effort were at times overlooked. I think that is as it should be!
So yeah – version 1 has about 20 real-world effects clips against black, varying quality, plus about a dozen digital fire simulation elements.
Version 2 will add an additional 10-15 real-world explosion and fire effects clips, and it should be released in a couple months or so, as a free update to buyers of version 1. Note that the update is, for early customers, digital, and not on the first round of DVDs, but instead will be sent to the email address you used when ordering on eBay or HornbostelProductions.com. In other words, your PayPal email address.
Please buy this collection when it launches; it’s not flawless, I realize that, but even so it is still an outstanding value for any VFX artist wanting real explosion clips on the cheap, and your purchase will help me to continue updating the collection with even more content, so even if you find yourself buying this early and being not all that impressed initially… just wait for the updates, the long term value of your order will wind up being amazing.
I am aiming for some really epic effects in the new collection but that said, the mirror material I used did not work anywhere near as well as planned.
The result is some of the cooler physical effects concepts simply won’t be in the collection as real pyro because they did not turn out well. The mirror surface was only partially reflective and it also tended to wrinkle in complicated ways and distort the image no matter what I tried to do to fix it. I basically gave up on it pretty quickly.
Still, despite a course correction there is absolutely a lot of great material on the way, and the effects which didn’t work well will be simulated with a few variations in setup so for those specific effects types (zero gravity and rolling fire towards camera) you’ll have to accept high-end digital gas simulations.
There are over a half dozen aerial explosion effects (like for a shot of an aircraft exploding, you could position an airplane in frame and then layer over it with the explosion effect, usually the sort with a big fireball and smoke and sometimes sparks bursting out from a central point and bursting outward, then falling to the ground.) and numerous – more than 15 – ground explosions, and those turned out great too.
More material will be displayed at launch, but until then look at the still frame (top of this post) from the later stages of one of the explosion effects as an indication of how impressive these pyrotechnic FX elements will generally look.
Note how fragments of burning debris have gone flying out from the explosion source. Not an accident – the debris was included in many of the detonations intentionally to make it seem more chaotic, more dynamic and more, well, realistic.
I know my digital elements look nice too but they are a bit limited nonetheless in that they seem like the stereotypical gas fireballs always seen in Hollywood flicks. I wanted much of the real stuff to look different than that. More sparks, smoke, random burning debris, and chunks of stuff.
I think there will be between 30 and 40 different video elements in the final version of the collection, more than 20 of them real-world physical FX, and it’s all HD at 120fps. This stuff is all royalty free – buy the collection, all the firey stuff I have been shooting, at a price under $20, or under a dollar per clip, and you can use the effects in your own video projects without limitations. You don’t even need to credit me for them!)
Just because it is recorded in HD does not always mean the effect itself will always be gigantic, filling the frame. Often only 40-75% of the area of the HD video clips have things happening in them, with the remaining areas simply black. I typically opted to get close enough to get a good view of the effect but far back enough to avoid the risk of being too close in and losing some of the firey elements off beyond the edge of the recorded area. Tradeoffs are necessary at times and I did the best I could to get as much of the effects in the frame as possible without making said elements seem small either.
It’s with a heavy heart that I acknowledge the passing of Kent Hornbostel, my outstanding uncle.
He had always been kind, with a sharp wit and great sense of humor.
He will be sorely missed by all, especially by his daughter Emma, who is deeply distraught as a result of his death.
As many of you know, I have made dozens of videos which are not currently online and more are still in the works.
The last performance of Kent in one of my videos was a flashback scene at the start of ‘Fortress Siege 2’ which I added mainly because he did such an outstandingly funny job in the first Fortress Siege video.
His story was over at the end of the first; there was no good narrative reason for him to return but I’m glad he did, and now the sequel will be dedicated to him.
Here are some low resolution stills from that scene [the one with Kent] in the new video:
I hope I can get the more entertaining family videos online at some point. Then maybe you will all know what I do – that Kent was an awesome [and very fun, very silly] person.
My uncle Kent Hornbostel has taken a turn for the worse, his heart has weakened and he will not be able to have the lung transplant he so desperately needed.
Everyone in our family is deeply upset about this. Kent has always been witty, funny, kind and an amazing person. He will be leaving us before the end of the month, far too soon. There is no realistic hope of recovery at this point.
Many family members have been visiting, flying or driving in and out of town to say goodbye.
Kent will be leaving behind a daughter, Emma, and Emma’s mother, Gail.
The situation being what it is, between me crying and feeling depressed, and various visitors – friends and family of Kent – cycling through our house visiting with him, I will not be able to do everything as effectively or efficiently as planned this month.
It is difficult to work in between the sorrow when a family member will soon be passing away. Please be patient. Even if it means the next wave of releases largely get pushed back to March instead of late February.
Despite a strongly positive reputation on eBay specifically, I do struggle with some notoriety for being ‘unreliable’ in the timing of new releases.
This has been the case for years, even before I had any websites allowing a wider audience to notice my work. Why do I keep falling behind on my scheduled releases? Why do I so frequently disappoint everyone on the web with how slow my work goes?
It is largely due to the amount of my time dedicated to earning money to make content… and the generally abysmal rate at which that money is earned. We’re talking $5.50 per hour in the best cases, and often no more than $2 or $3/hour.
When the total list of videos and video games I want to release [in the near future] looks like it’ll cost at least $10,000 more to complete everything I want to complete – between hardware, equipment, art supplies, miniature elements, and other costs – well, that’s a problem. That’s about 3000 hours of work just to finance everything and probably another 3600-4500 to actually make the content once it’s paid for even if no setbacks or major problems occur. So let’s say I average 11 hours a day on this, it’s still about 600 more days to get all these things done. And as usual, nothing ever goes as smoothly as I’d want it to.
Now, I’ve had a tendency to drift focus a lot in a rotation, from project to project, making incremental progress on things in a sort of loop, but quite frankly I’m getting tired of the perception that nothing’s happening and I want to upend that.
In the last two weeks, I have made – saved up – a decent amount of money and also upgraded a few critical toolsets. That’s great. But now I’m looking at the mind-numbingly tedious sub-minimum-wage gigs I have been doing all the freaking time to cover the bills and the eBay auctions of artworks for customers that I make no more than $2/hour on or so, at best, and thinking “Why can’t I try to pare this back? Do I really think this is the best use of my time? Is this what most of my audience actually wants to see me doing?”
And the answer’s definitively a NO.
The audience here wants:
-Games, Videos, Comics, Artworks, and assorted creative stuff available to everyone, either dirt cheap or ideally completely free, and they want that stuff soon, they don’t want to wait forever for the content to materialize.
Now, there’s actually a way to make that happen. It’s a simple well-worn concept that underlies a ton of things from broadcast TV networks, to Google, Facebook, Twitter, to the various blogs you see across the web.
The problem with ads on a website is that for them to be viable, you need a LARGE and LOYAL audience – a lot of people visiting regularly.
I’m only currently at 1% of the level needed for the ad revenue to be substantial enough to replace my need to sell products or work on freelance gigs [transcription & such].
At the threshold of 100x as many visitors as I’m getting now, advertising covers everything on my network.
At or above that threshold, none of the products [videos, games] I release need to be anything other than freeware.
All the games – free, 100%, and production would double in speed across the board… on everything I’m doing.
I WON’T BLUDGEON YOU WITH REQUESTS TO VISIT MORE OFTEN OR RECRUIT A BUNCH OF FRIENDS SIMPLY FOR THIS REASON.
I want to instead entice you to do that with some cool stuff that’ll make you WANT to come back often and which will make this network EASY to recommend to friends.
So here’s my idea. The last two weeks I earned a fair amount of cash.
The next 3 weeks, I’ll work on wrapping up some exciting things, actually finishing or at least getting to a point of viability, on a few new items you’re all getting tired of waiting for.
Then the final week of February, if all goes well:
-a large but finely tuned ad campaign will draw a few thousand new visitors to my web network.
-systematic restructure of my web network, new content appearing in various places.
-New video material, all the House Trek stuff and a couple of other things too, posted on HornbostelVideos.com, with a higher-quality disc version [with animated menus and special feature stuff] available on this website’s shop for $2.99 download or $11.99 DVD / 14.99 BluRay.
-Some added comics stuff and completion of the several articles sub-sections that are still vacant.
-A new batch of pyrotechnics elements, both real video content and some clips done with advanced gas/fluid simulation, in the stock media section.
The material’s all shot or simulated at 120fps, and slowed down to 24fps and 30fps variants. The free video files will be reduced-resolution 960×540, the paid versions 1920×1080. [full HD!] and the paid versions will show up on HornbostelProductions.com for $5.99 as downloadable content on HornbostelProductions.com, $14.99 on DVD on HornbostelProductions.com, or $16.99 shipped on a data DVD through eBay. (I was considering a $14.99 price on eBay too, but given the typical fees I have to pay there, which come close to 20%, $16.99 is basically As low as I can justify.)
I’ve ordered two new additional high-speed cameras, and will be setting up some black backing, reflective mirrors [really it’s a nice clean thick cardstock type material with a very reflective mirror-like coating on one side sort of like aluminum foil without wrinkles.] set at 45-degree angles, telephoto lenses, fireproofing supplies, etc, for the recording of the real-world pyrotechnic elements. All the equipment required is en route, and I’ll try my best to make the recorded material look amazing. The idea with the mirrors is to minimize risk to the camera. These are old-school Hollywood methods basically, you can set the mirror above or below the effect and align the camera to focus on the mirror, so you get the explosion billowing towards the camera in some interesting ways without actually endangering the camera. As for shooting at 120fps, that makes the effect look bigger and more impressive [and makes it last 4x longer when reduced to 30fps or 5x longer at 24fps] than the limited-scale effect it actually is. Recording at such high speed allows a miniature to move physics-wise as though it were 16 times bigger than it actually is, giving the illusion of immense scale and mass. The effects in question will only be four or five feet or so in size at most, in reality and will dissipate within two seconds. But they’ll seem far bigger as recorded, gigantic even, and the effects elements could each last up to 8-10 seconds when played back at a typical speed.
-New game content. I’ve had some frustration with WebGL releases from Unity as they were tricky to debug at times, and WebGL apps require that the game files AND the RAM usage fit within a 1GB limit, to run in a web browser. That said, I am now realizing that these limitations aren’t so bad if used for a lower-res demo version of an ambitious game and not a full-res one. So my plan is to release some of my game content in WebGL form, but with quarter-res graphics. That is, all textures switched on export to half the vertical and half the horizontal pixel count they’d ordinarily use. That reduces file size and memory use on all these projects from around 2-4 GB to under 1GB as far as web-embedded release goes.
So I’m aiming to launch a lower-res ‘Miniature Multiverse’ demo and a bit of other stuff like an early ‘Vivid Minigolf’ reworking posted in HTML5 WebGL form near the end of Feb. 2018, barring an unplanned complication. Neither is the full game feature wise or content wise, they’re both early beta releases with a lot of the content not yet included, and lower-res textures. They will, however, be freeware, and playable on my web network [embedded in the page, with a bit of ad stuff underneath.]
The idea on most of the games, videos, everything, is it is all going to be accessible free in some form, either the full, entire version for free, as with the comics, or some sort of reduced-resolution form, but otherwise as functional as the full version in the case of video and video game content.
If this succeeds, that’d be great. I’m hoping ongoing traffic levels have climbed 10-fold by end of February, covering a full 10% of my production costs, and that most of the other 90% of my costs in running this network can be covered by sales of high-value products that have better profit margins than before either because they don’t involve shipping [downloadables] or because they’re high quality enough and widely viewed enough that they end up selling for a bit more than they would have before.
Update: There’s been an extensive ad campaign ramping up – and fortunately 200+ people have viewed the stock media section of TriumphantArtists.com just in the past 72 hours.
By the time of launch, I think that figure will be more like 1200-1500, and I’m optimistic that the new pyrotechnic stock media / stock footage collection, which will have cost me a bit over $250 in incendiary materials, other materials and camera gear, will ultimately result in an explosion of sales. [Pun intended]
I’m pushing back release of Miniature Multiverse to January 2018.
This time, there’s no promise of [even more] additional content on release, just this:
I’m unable to fulfill my goals for Christmas 2017 unless I wait on Miniature Multiverse.
There are a few videos and some other things that I plan to show to my family over the holidays and wrapping those up will take some time in December, and even aside from that, there are other [slight] technical issues and delays I’ve had to deal with on Miniature Multiverse.
Those are resolved by now, but now I can’t see release happening any earlier than some time around Jan. 5-10, 2018. That is, early January 2018.
In other news, I’m pulling my holiday painting off of Etsy for the next seven days and auctioning it on eBay, so anybody who wants to get that original artwork, this is probably your last chance.
It’s a reminder of the ongoing issue with Etsy, that if nobody buys an item I’ve listed there after a while, it’ll be sold elsewhere instead, either locally or online. But Etsy listings won’t stay on Etsy forever. Favoriting an item is not enough; to actually be sure to have an item, you’ll need to buy it before it sells to someone else [there or elsewhere]. There was the kitten artwork, Southwest artwork, the NYC one, and now the winter one. That’s four items which had been listed on Etsy which are no longer there.
Incidentally, the art-supply listings went reasonably well, no issues there really. Some sold and some didn’t, but it’s all working out fine.
I’ve also sold 3/5 of the batches of vintage art books.
As for other things I’d promised in my last post:
-House Trek Ep. 6 will be online in December, a couple of weeks later than planned.
-The comics I’d promised are delayed further, simply because I don’t have time to finish them given the video situation, they’ll be wrapped up and put online in mid-January after Miniature Multiverse is launched.
-Articles section is likewise unlikely to be fully complete until then, but it’s already very close [all sections are finished except the game-dev section, and even that is partially done.]
And what of the things I’m prepping for the holidays?
Well… they include three videos with family and a few videos with friends in Houston. Like “Video Heist” which is now complete but which, like 90% of my finished videos, cannot yet be posted online [usually because of either copyrighted logos on clothing, or snippets of unlicensed audio or some talent release stuff not worked out]
But I can already show the video’s miniature fire effect that I posted as a .GIF earlier on Twitter:
About $120 worth of brand new, unused art supply items, are going to be listed at prices that are only 55-65% of the amount I paid for the items, and with free shipping.
I’m trying to get my eBay shop to new heights, and most of my recent ratings are as a buyer, not as a seller. I’ve got over 200 ratings by now on eBay, 100% of them positive, but only about a third of them have been as an actual vendor/seller. I’m hoping to draw in about a dozen new ratings on eBay *as a seller* this week and ideally also one or two on Etsy soon as well.
To that end, I’ll be advertising heavily, for both my art shops and my near-release game ‘Miniature Multiverse‘ and I’m expecting a torrent of web traffic during the next 12 days as I post:
-a bunch of art-supply listings at excellently low prices.
-a handful of auctions for substantial original made-to-order personalized artworks.
-a couple of new artworks on Etsy as well.
-a final batch of articles filling the ‘articles page’ on TriumphantArtists.com – the last incomplete section is currently being written, that is, the one on ‘game design/development’.
-Chapter One of ‘Another Road Taken’ as well as early parts of the ‘Troop 4Uncensored, pt. 4’ comic book, filling out the fairly weak comics section of TriumphantArtists.com and in the process also further improving the Troop 4 site.
-House Trek episode 6 posted on HornbostelVideos.com, and also a Miniature Multiverse video trailer shortly before launch.
Good news though: The project, once released, will be far better value.
The program will be priced at $1.50, with six worlds at launch, not three. I.e. I’m essentially doubling the scope of the project and also trimming the price by $0.25. All updates will still be free.
Obviously, adding an additional room to Lokus and two entirely new worlds (Cliak and Sedest) plus another sixth world, will be the focus of much of my time the next two weeks. But once that effort is complete, the launch may be far better for it. Bonus: I plan to launch on Steam and the Humble Store as well – I’ve done a bit of market research (thanks, SteamSpy!) and reached the conclusion that a Steam release will be worth the additional cost and effort. Maybe the project will be trashed by Steam buyers, but hey, if you don’t like it, just refund it [Steam has a refund policy that allows games to be refunded as long as you’ve spent less than 2 hrs. running them)… and in this case, that refund policy means you can see pretty much everything in this initial launch for free. And if you decide you want to hold on to your copy of ‘Miniature Multiverse’ for later updates [there’ll be a lot of free updates over time for buyers] that’s great.
That said – I’d encourage people to go the Itch.IO route. Their review process for indies is leaner and faster and less backlogged so despite the fact that I’m submitting to Steam first, there’s a high likelihood that the Steam version won’t go live until nearly the end of the year. It’s also possible Valve will find some nitpicky reason to reject my project – the HornbostelProductions.com shop release is 100% certain, the Itch.IO release I’d say is 95% likely to work out, Humble Store 80%, Steam 75%. These are just my best guesses at this time though given the available information.
In other news, my video site HornbostelVideos.com is live now! There’s not a lot there yet – basically just YouTube vlog entries and revised House Trek episodes – but more will be added over time. Well worth a look.