Transition of remaining websites to A2 Hosting platform

I’m continuing to phase out of my old service [HostGator] to A2 Hosting, and that includes shifting the last batch of domains from HG to A2, a process which has involved not only shifting the domains but downloading all the files associated with each site from HostGator and then carefully reuploading one file at a time on A2 because my FTP solution simply isn’t working correctly.

So here’s the status:

NscaleScenery.com, HornbostelPortfolio.com, and PanoramicWorlds.com are still down for the moment – but they should be back online and functional in the next 48 hrs, with PanoramicWorlds.com being highest priority and next in line to get running.

RedeemerDocumentary.com, Troop4Houston.net, and VividMinigolf.com are online again… mostly functional and in specific places even updated slightly.

All the other domains [TriumphantArtists.com, HornbostelProductions.com, GalileeGames.com, HornbostelMedia.com, etc] were non-issues as they had already completed the transition in the past.

Apologies to everyone confused by the sites that went down.

New picture on Pinterest

Mars Colony – Artwork made for David Petersen – 2018

This was a recent example of an oil pastel mage I’ve done. A Mars colony – seen here now, and it’s also been posted on Pinterest. [My Pinterest art boards have been getting a bit of attention from people lately, not a bad thing!]

 

And then there’s the book.

Book cover graphic

This is a special extra product line for anyone who’s curious about the creative process or wants secret insights into my projects (completed past projects or those currently in development) – namely, an art book, which will be available before too long. It’s self-published and self-printed material, that may be available in a week or so.  As it’s an artbook, I’d like it to be displayed as nicely as I can display it but as compromises go the quality/price balance I’ve settled on is not bad:

$0.99 in a digital form via HornbostelProductions, maybe Itch.IO, details still in flux a bit on this but it’s not just PDF content, it’s presented as an executable book app with a few cool bonus ‘interactive’ and video elements mixed in along with the text and still images.

$9.99 condensed, on regular A4 paper [8.5″x11″] including a download key for access to the digital version. Includes a small text credit in ‘Miniature Multiverse’ and a 35% off code for a first order on the HornbostelProductions.com shop.

$19.99 art book, listed sometime later, made with ledger size paper – and shipped in a larger mailer, again with download key for the digital AND a higher-position credit in Miniature Multiverse when that’s finally done, plus the 35% one-off code for the HornbostelProductions.com shop.

But for now, just wrapping up that and dealing with the scattered shipping issues I’ve run into on my eBay shop. Lots of people are seeing things arrive late, damaged or not at all this past month due to a cascade of issues in transit with USPS and I’ve had to refund a lot of orders. This led to innumerable headaches but I think it’ll ultimately work out adequately. You probably wondered why I was shelving ‘Miniature Multiverse’ completion until a later month and that was why; things are tricky right now but I am still hoping something will sell – that something will work out nicely among all the avenues I’m pursuing… allowing that to be finished.

I have a decal pack update on the way – more decals included and a resubmission to Unity asset store for those who want the decals in a really convenient quad-prefab form for game dev purposes.] and an expanded, feature-rich version of my museum gallery product. I get that privacy concerns made the product concept struggle initially, people did not want their photos sent to me to be placed in the virtual 3D museum – but I think I’ve solved that, maybe, by which I mean I am working on a way for people to buy the product

digitally on Itch.IO, and load their own pics into it, then send that online to family/friends as a gift. The primary issue, of course, was always privacy, but the secondary issue’s piracy. There’s a DRM system I’m implementing for this which should limit this while also being minimally intrusive and difficult to deal with. More details will be shown later relating to that.

The eBay complaints are still a time sink but that’s getting better, and the remaining issues are being resolved steadily, to the extent I can reasonably manage to resolve them, and I’m up to 275 positive ratings on eBay at this time, so that’s a plus even if the reality is I’m struggling a bit to keep things afloat and moving forward.

April mess

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.

Stock Footage VFX Collection (New)

Still frame from one of the pyro effects in the new royalty-free stock footage collection.

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.

Remember, these will be released on February 20th, 2018 and sold on both my eBay store and the Hornbostel Productions shop. Keep an eye out for that!

Still Frame [cropped] of explosion effect in HD, typical of the quality of the collection in HD.
The same subset of the effect in the SD version. Not too bad, but not as clear as the HD equivalent.
The above explosion in motion, as a .gif animation.

 

 

My transcription work will vanish during the next few months

I’m facing a loss of the transcription gigs I’d been using to pay the bills.  It’ll likely have vanished entirely by mid-2018 and quite possibly before that.  The AI breakthroughs in intelligent speech recognition have occurred sooner than anticipated; Microsoft’s R&D division has come up with an AI capable of understanding conversational context and automatically transcribing large volumes of audio with an error rate equivalent to the average human transcriber.

The best human audio transcribers are able to maintain error rates just below 4% given typical batches of audio – with overlapping conversations, and faint background conversations, muddy static or sudden jarring noises in the mic audio, and really obscure jargon, comprising most of the mistakes made by transcriptionists, and this newly announced program (a new form of Cortana) will have a consistent 5.1% error rate with similar audio.  It’s close enough that it’s not worth paying humans to do the work anymore; the AI can do the task almost as well as any human can.

What this means for me: I was pulling the bulk – roughly 55% – of my income, from transcription gigs. Other scattered chunks of revenue came from unrelated freelance work (10%) and 35% from online sales of art products.  As for where I was spending? 45% of my spending in the past year was tied to ramping up that 35% of my income. Repeat: The art sales were losing money, as in: 20%+ loss margin when the low average sale prices, the shipping, eBay fees, mailers, and other materials, were all factored in.

So basically: My effective total cash flow will collapse soon.  And I was making well below $10k/year to start out with.

I need to figure out a promising new business option soon, ideally by November, or this web network and my creative work in general, is at risk of going under entirely.  What I’m hoping for is consistently available work in the $2.50/hr range or better.  But realistically I will settle for half that much.

Website updates – using Google Fonts and other methods to improve loading times.

I’ll be implementing Google Fonts on my websites, beginning with TriumphantArtists.com, as text links, with images behind them – as opposed to using images *as* the links.  You know those buttons at the top of every page on TriumphantArtists.com?

They all look the same except for the text, and if I separate the text from the rest of the image I can use just one button image as the base for every link, thus shaving a few hundred kilobytes off the page load times.

This – and other similar optimizations – are important because they can improve bounce rates.  There are some people who visit the site for the first time, on slow connections, and immediately leave when it takes more than a second or two to load.  That’s a problem!

I’m also going to compress the main page video further too, making it a bit smaller in size.  The more I can make things load faster while still looking nice, the better!

Craft Fair went well

I’ve made over $250 in total at the craft fair.

Items such as the kitten artwork [colored pencil, faved a lot on Etsy but not bought by anyone there] and the Easter chick sold, so it seems my depictions of animals were well received as usual.

I’ve also sold a spectacularly large item on eBay, made to order for a customer there.

Impressionist landscape artwork

That was a colossal 5′ by 8′ item on canvas, I’ve shipped it and it’s on its way to the customer.  It cost them $108.

So – all told – I’m in good shape to push things beyond where they were before.  I’m ordering a new GPU (video card) for my computer and will try to set that up soon.  I’ve also acquired a few other smaller things that I need, and much of that is related to a virtual tour of the former Church of The Redeemer meeting location.  That’s one of a handful of Unity 3d projects being developed in tandem, so any shaders, plugins, etc, used for this will also be useful elsewhere.

The Redeemer DVDs were generally very popular and the Blu Rays less so even though they look amazing on a high-def TV.  1280×720 video may not be flawless resolution but it’s well above 720×480.  If you’re online asking for a copy, keep in mind that aside from a teaser for the virtual tour, pretty much everything on those discs is church service footage only of interest to the aging people who attended the church prior to 2011.

It’s not exactly a seat of your pants, high octane thriller.

But – it may well lead to some exciting videos making it online, ones that are shorter but way cooler looking and faster-paced, than a church service.

Right now I’m slashing prices on all of my Etsy listings by 20-35% (until May 10) so that’s worth a look.  The eBay listings also have mostly dropped by 5-10% as sales there have slowed down slightly lately.  A lot of that kind of stuff ebbs and flows.  Sometimes I see 3 or 4 people all commission unique artworks in a single week, other times I can go a month with nothing much selling.  So it’s hardly consistent and right now I’m expecting a boost in activity, partly due to the sales and reduced pricing, and partly because I have launched a bit of advertising this week.  So if you like an item I made, that you see on Etsy, buy it before it sells to someone else.

MY ETSY SHOP!

MY EBAY SHOP – OVER 180 RATINGS, ALL POSITIVE!

NOW SELLING ON ETSY, under $35:

Winter Landscape

UNDER $30!:

Fantasy Coast - gouache

UNDER $20 FOR EACH SET!:

Still Life series batch #2

Old still life series, batch #1

Lot of four old fantasy art landscapes

Set of 5 old landscape artworks

Old batch of floral artworks from 2000s onward.

There are INSANE bargains all across my network right now and you should definitely take a look if you haven’t already.

 

 

 

Still reeling and coping with the setbacks

I think in a few days I’ll have the PC operating normally, more or less.

While the Windows OS update was screwing up my plans for a video channel release (previously scheduled for May 10 but now pushed back by two weeks.) I also found a message in my spam folder notifying me that vividminigolf.com was not set to auto renew and that it was expiring.

Fortunately I got it renewed within the grace period, that brief span between when a domain expires and when it is purchasable by other people.  But for a couple days the site was down and the game was inaccessible.  Sorry about that.

I think things are getting back on track, more or less – I have a few options for getting my PC working again ranging from mild [replacing faulty AMD drivers] to severely annoying [reinstalling the OS] but all of them depend on first backing up everything on the internal drives in case something goes severely wrong and the hardware is basically unrecoverable.  That is unlikely but I’m backing all the content up via command line anyway.  This takes some time, and involves a lot of copying of subdirectories to and from a 128gb flash drive.

The first attempt to acquire signatures from a few cast members failed; I’m now revising the terms and will send out those forms on a person by person basis beginning with an initial set of 40 people or so on May 17.  The terms for cast members are now even more generous, to the point where under some circumstances the video channel might not prove to be viable.  I recognize that if the channel on my website were to take off suddenly with above 500k viewers, and the other stuff – the sale items – don’t grow at a similar pace, the cost to me could be enormous and might cause a systemic failure of my web network.

Why?  Because I’m using sale products as a substitute for conventional third party ad revenue.  Should the sale products disappoint and fall below a certain ratio relative to the video views, the profitability of my websites go down and maybe even go negative.  The threshhold at which this happens was, in the original document, very unlikely to be crossed, but now I think the odds of the video channel losing money are hovering around 25%.  This is something that I can adjust to some degree to improve things if they get bad enough, like:

-writing most upcoming videos with smaller casts of about 3-4 persons instead of sprawling ensembles.

-minimizing location shoots off my property.

-increasing promotion frequency [advertising] of related sale products in the video channel playlists in an attempt to boost revenue on the channel to a tenable level.

-promoting my video channel only subtly and emphasizing the shop on most non video pages.

My hope is that the video channel will raise about as much revenue as it costs, maybe even prove mildly profitable somehow.  That would be amazing, and in my view the effort breaking even is still something of a victory.

Since we’re discussing the shops and sale items, I think it’s a perfect time to point out the stuff I’ve got piled into the Etsy and eBay shops right now.  There’s more there than is usually the case and you should check that out.

I’ve got a bunch of antiquarian magazine issues [I maestri del colore] on sale right now on eBay, substantially undervalued, someone could absolutely buy a lot of 20 and flip them, reselling them as individual listings.  That might actually make you a tidy profit.  But those listings are ending right about now!

My eBay shop

I also have a bunch of my old work on sale on Etsy now.  Lots of stuff.  Batches of old artworks that have been around a few years and haven’t sold locally – but which are now on sale at really great low prices!

My Etsy shop

I am screaming profanities right now

My PC, the one I do pretty darn near all my digital work on, is stuck with a blue screen of death.  Again.

When this happened I was initially yelling at my computer at the top of my lungs and crying.  I have been so far unable to start it up [to desktop] but after some effort made it to the command prompt and am attempting a number of possible solutions.  I am incredibly frustrated and it goes pretty much without saying that I’m going to miss the April 10th goal I had set for myself regarding the video channel.

I feel sometimes, no, I KNOW, that I’m doing things that push my pathetic hardware and tools to the breaking point.  I don’t have any other choice; this broken down pile of garbage is all I can currently afford.  If it goes down permanently I am stuck with a serious mountain of problems and I don’t know if my web network would survive that.

I am selling a lot of old vintage books, or trying to, but although they are apparently of some value nobody is bidding on them.  I hope that someone buys something soon on Etsy or eBay, from me, as that would give me access to options like buying a good replacement video card sooner, rather than later, and having local backups of key files instead of relying solely on a cloud service.  Basically I get the sense that my workflow has a minimum of redundancy and that when one of a few dozen key things fails, everything in the pipeline grinds to a halt.  Maybe some things could even get ruined permanently as has happened occasionally before.  Things breaking, stalling, progress in fits and starts, is happening way too much lately.  Really hoping for a breakthrough here someday.

I’ll keep you all posted as this fiasco progresses.

Am hoping that some of you will buy something from me on Etsy as I am using this delay as an opportunity to make and post new art there and also some batches of old works I might as well list at low end prices.

And again, there is the magazine stuff from 1964, I Maestri del Colori, old art publications that I am trying to sell right now, among other eBay listings.

Thank you all for being so patient with me generally.

I know this has been a long, slow wait.

If you haven’t already noticed the ‘ways to help‘ page on TriumphantArtists.com, um, now would be a good time to do something on that list so maybe, just maybe, I can get things moving again.  Again, thank you.

Houston, Texas residents take note!

LOCAL SERVICES & EVENTS RELATED TO MY ART/VIDEO WORK:

If you’re in the Houston area, especially somewhere near the Eastwood neighborhood or University of Houston, the downtown area, etc…

SPECIAL LOCAL EVENT VIDEOGRAPHY

Well, I’m going to begin offering local services like videography [low-cost event videography for weddings and other special events] fairly soon.  My fees are around minimum wage and in practice more like $4.80/hour when measured accurately, so really super affordable compared to many other services, and I offer multicamera coverage of events so if one camera has a problem, for any reason, none of the events that are taking place are lost.  Price is $7.50/event hour plus an extra $4 per DVD or Blu Ray delivered the week afterward, and these are DVDs/Blu Rays with disc art, cover art, and a few basic nice features like that.  But while I will do this work for cheap, I won’t do it for nothing, or as has often been requested, for a loss.  (Incidentally – I’ve still got ten batches of video from the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer closing ceremony lingering on my desktop PC – I recorded all that for free – but I won’t deliver it on discs unless somebody actually covers the cost of that!  That stuff is *still* just sitting in a folder on my hard drive years after the fact all due to the church members’ unwillingness to pay $4/disc for it!  Kind of a dumb stalemate there, and doubly dumb given that for another $150 I’d be willing to make a realtime 3D tour of the entire church building as it was a decade ago, in Unity 5, and include that on the discs.  1/3 of the building is already sculpted in 3D, but that too is stalled because nobody will cover the cost of completing it [even though I have 14-mp photos of pretty much every surface of the structure inside & out, hundreds of them, and the skills/tools to generate a full realistic 3D version of the structure that players can walk around in on Windows and Mac.)  The worst part is that many of the church members are senile tech-illiterate dodos who probably will never even realize this blog exists or what they could have had very cheaply.  Sorry, but I refuse to coddle you anymore or continue absorbing losses doing things as an unpaid volunteer for you all.

(I don’t believe in your ancient myths any more either and I’m agnostic, nearly atheist in practice and generally no longer willing to quietly accept idiocy and irrational wishful thinking that defies logic.)

 

LOCAL SCOUTING PROGRAM AND VIDEO SCREENINGS THERE:

Boy Scout Troop 4 meets at the Church of the Redeemer Lutheran and I’m still somewhat involved in the group as a sort of leader / Assistant Scoutmaster despite having turned 18 well over a decade ago.  This group is awesome with some great but aging leaders and a fascinatingly funny legacy dating back a century, which includes great events, parties, camping and hiking, road trips, video productions, even a flight to Hawaii for a week once in 2005! – but if there aren’t a few new scouts inbound (plus a parent or two volunteering) the group is likely to continue to deteriorate and will disband entirely at the end of 2017.  That’d be a shame but not a surprise.  The BSA – a largely bloated, inefficient and corrupt non-profit institution and not really adhering to its founding ethical principles anyway –  is not adapting adequately to changing demographics; when over 2/3 of young Americans [under 30] are non-religious* and the organization actively bars non-believers from being involved even if they’re idealists who truly are trying to be good to others [just without faith in a God] then it’s no surprise that the organization is going downhill and generally screwed in the long run.  Their efforts at inclusivity have been slow, confusing and mismanaged [the multi-stage acceptance of non-heterosexual scouts] and they’ve hit a bad stage where they are adopting policies which alienate both the conservative religious groups and the emerging secular culture.  It seems like they don’t know what the hell they’re doing.  The fragmented culture of America, to be fair, has become something of a minefield for this sort of organization and controversy is seemingly found everywhere.

So if the troop is headed for dissolution, at least it’ll have a legacy living on through the troop’s website, the comic books, videos and even the little T4 adventure game in development.  Some time this summer I want to set up a big HD projection/sound system and play all the T4 movies, remastered, for the group, both current and past scouts, complete with drinks & popcorn.  It’d be a great chance to see why the troop is amazing – a big party and local boys ages 10-17 and their parents are encouraged to drop in and watch when that takes place.  (TBD)

 

ART MARKET and VIDEO PRODUCTION GROUP:

Vineyard Church of Houston, had an Art Market last Christmas and likely that’ll be an annual event so keep that in mind for the end of the year, as I’ll almost surely have a booth there again at the end of 2017, and also there’s a Video Production / Movie Makers group there probably September-November 2017 (if pastor Michael Palandro approves it, which he might, given my Dad’s consistent and steadfast supportive position in the church and my undeniable credibility as far as relevant skills are concerned, or he might not, given some of my openness about not believing in God.)

WALL ART, MURALS, ART TUTORING, ART WORKSHOPS, 3D PREVIZ, all made affordable:

You can commission artworks – handmade wall art, murals, and similar – from me (again, quite affordably and a bit under minimum wage) locally as well.  I can also teach art and video skills locally, and I’m able to create virtul tours/previs cheaply for anyone needing to show a potential client what a redesigned or ccompletely new property or location could someday look like.

Try emailing me via matthornb@gmail.com if you need an actual creative job done in the Houston area and maybe we can work something out.  Please though, no more emails from scammers.  I’m tired of evil, pathetic brain-dead criminal morons trying to con me and failing miserably at it.  Don’t even try.  It’s a waste of my time and yours.