Making some new videos this summer, not just stock media, plus handmade artworks and finishing ‘Miniature Multiverse’ (hopefully)

My current plan involves the following sequence of events:

#1) Wrapping up and releasing the stock-media asset pack updates on Itch.IO, including an expanded ‘Marshes & Meadows’ and two new collections of 3d assets beyond that. Expected timing is late June, with the sale running from end of June through July 4th. I’d attempted to be ready for the entire duration of the Itch Summer Sale but things aren’t progressing quickly enough. So the start of that sale was officially June 21, and I had reworked my plan for June 24th or 25th when it became clear this would not be ready for the 21st, and now that it’s the 25th, I’m very close but realistically the 27th-29th is now looking like a probable release timeframe. But whenever this stuff IS a bit more polished and ready to launch, you’ll see a video on my Itch profile, 15 mins. long, an extensive overview of my work, especially work related to Itch.IO releases & content.

The sale will include massive discounts as well, especially on a bundle of all five stock media packs ($1.49 for five different stock media collections together in one incredible bundle, essentially 30 cents each!)

#2) I also have been slightly reducing prices and broadening options on eBay, and I posted a brand new fantasy artwork for sale too, I created it on the afternoon/evening of the 24th, over a span of 3 1/2 hours. Opening bid is $8.99. You can view my eBay profile here as usual, and the fantasy item in particular, here. 

All the eBay activity is partly to raise funding, but also in preparation for a stock-media DVD launch coinciding with the new Itch.IO releases. Basically, it’ll be all five of my massive stock media collections that do or soon will, exist digitally on Itch, together on a physical DVD complete with disc art, cover art, shipped to customers through eBay. So the eBay ramp up in activity is intended to coincide with the equivalent excitement at Itch.IO.

#3) With the eBay and Itch frenzy wrapped up, ideally I’ll have raised a couple hundred $, or something close to that, and it’d get me to the point of funding the remaining content of ‘Miniature Multiverse‘ which STILL IS MISSING THE LAST HANDFUL OF MINIATURE WORLDS! So while I *could* plausibly raise that cash elsewhere, over the next month, if I want to do so before end of July, I will need something to happen on eBay / itch.

If you’re wondering why I recently bought a handful of items on eBay, incidentally, which have zero connection to that, including a batch of candy gummies and some lighting stuff [filters and a light] plus a bit of children’s clothing… yeah, I am recording a couple of comedy family videos with my nephews and niece, all of them under the age of seven. So they have short attention spans and candy is key to keeping them on task as the 20-minute mark hits. Plus the light stuff is related, as is the roll of blue paper I’m using as a improvised cheapo bluescreen. And the clothes, I want to be sure there’ll be shirts that won’t have any blue in the design, as blue would get keyed out! So yeah, sometimes for holidays I’ll grab something (the flower items for Mothers’ Day) or for projects. In the case of the current video projects, we’ll see if there’s a way to get everyone onboard with the idea of posting that stuff online, but for now I’m just focused on getting those videos made in the first place. So that… the videos in question include a short called ‘Freeway’ in which the children are forced not to watch TV, they get upset, drive off in a car, on their own, and a ridiculous chase ensues. The other video is “House Trek: The Next Generation, Season 1” and that is a follow up to the ancient HT TOS series of absurd sci-fi videos I did and which can be viewed (some of them at least) on HornbostelVideos.com.

Only this time it has an actual cast, better production values (in terms of set stuff, props, etc) and a real narrative arc across the handful of episodes that constitute Season 1. The cast of HTTNG S1 includes me [as the crazy inventor uncle] and the kids [who accidentally initiate a launch sequence and cause the adventure to develop] and Katie [my sister / their mom] as well as my parents. This should be fun. You’ll see what I mean someday.

I’m recording this in much higher quality too. Really, it’s 1080p, good pristine 1080p too, some shot in 1080p, some in 2.7k and downscaled sharply. I could go higher res than that even but I think an HD final edit makes sense for a few reasons, mainly that 1080p is about as high as many PC monitors and mobile tablets can display anyway, and it’s the highest resolution that works for BluRays. But the bottom line is it’s real high end HD and it should look nice when done.

I am hoping that despite spending near $120 on the pair of video shoots, that I’ll still be able to cover the Miniature Multiverse stuff too, sometime in July. It’ll be the end of the month if no sales are made on eBay/Itch and maybe early/mid July if things go unexpectedly really well on my sales. But the project *will* move forward soon to completion, one way or another.

And so will the ‘older’ video projects. I had worried that a significant chunk of my video core data on videos recorded during the last couple years, would be unrecoverable and that in the worst case the videos would be severely weakened as a result of the data losses. But I’ve, with a mix of clever digital methods, been able to recover almost everything at this point, that was key to those. The resulting reality is this: Now those videos can also continue and move forward again. And that’s great news.

So, for example, Fortress Siege 2 is going to happen. And a few other videos too, will be part of what I’ll be working on from October-December 2019, after the release of Miniature Multiverse. If that launch goes well I may even be able to overhaul some of my hardware/software workflow and that may result in some cool VFX imagery and techniques / technology that you’ve never seen me pull off before!

Well, let’s just see how this goes, shall we? 🙂

 

 

PATREON PAGE GOES LIVE

https://www.patreon.com/matthornb

BENEFITS AT THE $1/month tier include:

-29% off all orders placed on the HornbostelProductions.com shop

-All the paid content on matthornb.itch.IO for free.

-‘associate producer’ credit in all my posted videos and games, as long as you’re still a supporter.

At the $4/month tier, I ship stuff to you fairly regularly. Like video collections on DVD, artbooks, handmade artworks, etc. Plus there’s 42% off all items on this shop, not 29%. And more credits, executive producer, your name carved into a ‘Miniature Multiverse’ monument, and you get to choose an image and text to be included in a world of ‘Panoramic Worlds’. Oh, and any games I release on Steam, you get that copy too, not just the Itch.IO version.

Incidentally, now would be an interesting time to jump in as many videos will be posted about a month or so from now. If you want to be credited in a ton of my videos, that is an option! Also note – if you contributed to any of my videos as a cast member, or provided a location, and you’d rather not have your role appear in the project, I can obfuscate your face, voice, etc, if necessary, to avoid humiliation/embarrassment. [I can create a pseudonym for you too so you’re not credited!] But you need to contact me now, in the next 30 days, otherwise that stuff gets posted as is.  And once it’s online… it’s online, and I cannot easily let the genie out of the bottle, so to speak.

If you want to request a particular piece of content be held off the internet, please contact me asap on the forums of this site, or by whatever social media connections we may have. [email, FB, etc]

SSL fix, other updates, and a rant

I, right now, am successfully solving the SSL issue that has been making Google Chrome throw errors and warnings on this site for roughly the past month.

I’m also planning to update and overhaul a lot of other things. Just stay calm if you saw that error, it was just a configuration problem. I’m working on it and the shop will be secure again in a matter of hours. [EDIT: Chrome no longer throws the red warning, because I’ve successfully re-implemented and fixed the SSL encryption that will ensure all store data [ie financial stuff, passwords] is kept encrypted and safe.] 

Updates of other types include a delay on Miniature Multiverse again. I keep looking at my shoestring budget and sadly cannot imagine any way I can cover the remaining $350+ in costs there without seriously compromising summer plans. The basic issue is that if I put the cash into my indie game,  it may or may not succeed. Indie game development is hellishly risky and very unlikely to work out, and I’m sort of wondering if I should double down on ‘lower cost’ and somewhat smaller projects for now in order to launch the game more effectively at the start of 2020. That is the safe bet given the likelihood that aiming full steam ahead on ‘Miniature Multiverse’ will ruin some other things if the game fails.

So here’s what the choice looks like for 2019:

-a few little minigames, plus a couple of niche multimedia projects & games that certain notable subsets of my audience have been waiting on seemingly forever, plus a bunch more still art, comics, and several key but small video shoots over the summer, plus overhaul of my video section on HornbostelVideos.com with a bunch of new things. And expanded lines of stock media/ 3D model collection stuff.

OR:

Miniature Multiverse. And the extras relating to that.

That all said, if any of the stuff in category #1 does surprisingly well, there’s no reason #2 won’t also happen in 2019. But it’d then likely be at the end of this year and not somewhere in the middle.

All of this shouldn’t have to be an issue but my effective discretionary budget across all projects is roughly $60-75/month lately and this slows everything down for obvious reasons, especially projects with massive volumes of physical supplies involved like Miniature Multiverse or Vivid Minigolf v2.  So yeah. Things will continue to move forward agonizingly slowly, indefinitely, until something, anything at all, that I make actually sells well. That’s just simple reality. It’s math. My list of 25 projects in varying stages of progress across all media formats will require 2.5 more years in the best case, to wrap them all up and 7-8 years at the current lurching-forward-in-fits-and-starts rate.  I don’t see a great solution arriving any time soon as my current pay rate is collapsing to roughly $1-2/hour (I’m not joking) on the most consistently available tasks. I am scraping by somehow though for now, mainly due to the assistance of family and the disability checks that cover the cost of my medications but not really anything else. I’ve got great, bordering on amazing, stuff on the way as far as stock media on Itch.IO but nobody is rating/reviewing it so it is going nowhere [so far]. The total revenue earned on Itch.IO after launching 3 different stock-media packs is under $50 still. Total. After 180+ hours of labor unpaid, hundreds of dollars spent on the stock creation processes, $45 in ad campaigns announcing this launch, and telling everybody I could, hours spent posting in forums and the like linking back to this stuff from a dozen sites. https://matthornb.itch.io was my best shot at justifying going full steam ahead on Miniature Multiverse and it has only managed to further demonstrate that it’s unlikely to work out as a project launch.

It has been discouraging generally.

If I sound bitter, maybe it has something to do with several hard drives being utterly unrecoverable and almost 1TB out of 15TB est, of unique data lost forever, making a bunch of my in-development projects damaged and in certain cases possibly irreversibly ruined. That will set me back by about a year overall, and even then there’s still a slight chance it could become far worse due to lack of sufficient redundancies even now. And of course, it’s clear nobody except me cares about this or recognizes how good the material that was lost could have been. Which is perhaps for the best that they don’t; I do and it is still painful me emotionally as I sort through the losses and make desperate attempts to reconstruct the projects in some form. I have found some methods that might allow some bits of the lost material to be recoverable but it’s… slow going.

But I am – as someone with multiple mental illnesses – seriously an exhausted wreck by this point, running aggressively on fumes for years but still not quite at the point of giving up… or maybe will just finally admit my work will never be viable, and stop doing art, videos, game stuff. Just… stop trying. I’ll admit that taking a break and trying to relax is tempting, BUT:

I cannot help but suspect this time period, the past few years and the next few, might actually in retrospect be the best years of my life. Which kinda sucks. The world – our entire industrial civilization – is itself built on a bunch of fragile underlying structures and foolhardy assumptions that will start to unravel over the next decade. We have assumed that unlimited growth is possible, but it clearly isn’t. The earth is finite, and it is dying, and as the resource shortages start hitting us we’ll realize that we cannot continue in an economic order that assumes perpetual 2% average annual [real] growth. We’ll see volatility first, natural disasters, shortages, heat waves, persistently high inflation as our governments become entrapped by untenable debt to GDP ratios, widespread civil unrest, demographic problems with aging populations that are larger than the younger ones that have to support them, ultimately some desperate scramble to secure key resources ending in massive global warfare. I wish I could say we can manage the decline and unwinding rationally, but my optimism about this is dissipating now that it’s increasingly evident that nationalist us-vs.-them movements are the dominant public response forming in most countries. (i.e. Trump, Brexit, etc) and such tribalism is going to make things much, much worse because the underlying issues (climate change and environmental degradation) are global issues demanding international solutions. And it scares me to think so many people are deluded enough to believe a ‘rapture’ will save them. It won’t. God won’t save us. He’s probably not real. We have to fix this ourselves, using reason and empathy and long-term thinking, instead of continuing to ‘kick the can down the road’ because guess what? Time’s almost out. We’re at the end of the road. And while we may hope for a miracle, some ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, more than likely the light is a ‘train’ about to run most of us over.

These are the thoughts running through my head at times. I’m 32. I started pursuing creative work around age 13 roughly as that’s when I began working on videos and 3d animation, etc. 2001. Now it is almost 20 years later, and despite a college degree and a ton of effort, I’m still to this day working 10 or 11 hours a day on gigs and creative projects, with no financial viability to show for it and no good career prospects realistically ahead of me. And that’d be okay if I thought there was much time left. But I don’t. And I want to do something, help in some way. And I don’t know how I can, aside from ventilating about societal mass idiocy on this blog post.

I also have to note: My life is not over yet. I may be 32, still a virgin, autistic, depressed, never tried alcohol or drugs of any kind, technically unemployed yet working all the freaking time, working a lot of online gigs, at wages around $1.30-1.50/hr, tilting at creative windmills and pursuing personal projects I may not be able to actually complete if things get any worse, etc, but I am still not quite yet at the ‘giving up’ stage. Nor am I convinced that we should give up as a global society. We’re gonna have to make tough calls starting right now. I think to try desperately to solve things we have no good chance of solving, and pushing ourselves to and beyond the brink of sanity for others on the off chance that somehow it’ll pan out even if the odds are 99-to-one against or worse… is fundamentally one of the most human things I can think of. I am a Triumphant Artist. For me that’s defined as not giving up no matter how burned out you are, just pushing yourself harder and harder to make something work, until your last breath.

But it’s also about a certain sort of delusional idealism. I want to make a difference in this horrifically messed up world and if you or I can’t make an impact and help keep human civilization afloat, while there’s still a chance to do so, then why bother existing at all?

Which is why I’ve recently been giving little amounts here and there fairly often, to educational causes, to medical causes, environmental causes too. If you were to see my tax returns next year… you’ll likely find my total 2019 income to be basically nothing, about $2000 earned doing creative work for others, and virtually all of it poured back into projects of my own, save for maybe 40% given away either as gifts to family/friends/cast members (birthdays, Christmas, stuff like that) or to genuine charitable causes. I know the statistics. I know conservatives donate more per capita than liberals. So all you – liberals or conservatives – please step up your game and give to causes you’re convinced are genuinely worthy and which you can verify via unbiased sources, actually have an efficient and effective impact on the world. I realize I may not ever make more than a dollar or two an hour in earnings. But if I, even as ugly as my prospects are, can give *anyway*, and influence someone, anyone, to give a bit more too, or give to better or more impactful causes, then maybe I can live with myself being in the frustrating situation I’m currently in.

It should be over. I should’ve given up on any sort of career years ago. But because I’m kind of an idiot, I am still not yet giving up.

I won’t give up because I can’t. It’s not who I am. Jason Lindsey once described me as ‘one of the most intrinsically motivated people I’ve ever met’ and maybe my breakthrough is still ahead of me. And by breakthrough, I mean $12-15k per year, being off of dependence and government disability, paying taxes, giving way more to worthy causes and to help people I care about, having creative freedom to pursue my ideas for outstanding projects without having to stall them or compromise them constantly due to lack of funding, and basically that is my dream, to do this on my own terms, with my own business. And if it doesn’t happen, well, I guess that’s okay. I’ll try to be satisfied with less. Because adjusting your expectations downward is usually the only road to peace internally. And ‘success’ is a moving target nobody ever hits anyway. Everyone wants more, until suddenly life hits the endpoint and you’re stuck wishing you had enjoyed life a bit, while it still existed for you.

Nobody hires a mentally ill person. It’s a red flag. And especially, nobody hires a mentally ill person with no recent ‘steady’ conventional employment. That’s a HUGE red flag. So I have essentially come to accept that no matter how extensive and exceptional my skill sets are or how little I agree to in pay, or how much unpaid overtime I’m game to do, I will never be hired anywhere for any longer-term ‘real’ job… I’ve given up on anyone ever hiring me and I am determined to make a real self-supporting living on my own, freelancing and doing artworks and creative stuff for other people online, dirt cheap, and building what I hope will be viable self-created product lines – more and more of them as time passes – digital products or on DVD, sold on Etsy or eBay or Itch.IO or Steam or right here.

I am not giving up yet. I probably never will until I am forced to face the collapse of industrial civilization due to our short-sighted political/macroeconomic/environmental/militaristic thinking, then death and then no longer existing.

And if that is mentally, psychologically and/or emotionally unhealthy for an unemployed nobody like me to feel the stress, the crushing weight and responsibility of needing to help save the world, and it makes me a deluded moron, so be it. Rather work hard trying to improve things for everyone, than shirk all responsibility and live unaware of, or simply not caring about, what’s most likely coming.

But… I do think that there are massive systemic risks ahead in the next 25 years. I am worried for what the world will be like for my 5-year old nephews as they grow up. I want the future to be bright. I believe there’s still a chance that it will be. But that won’t happen if we ignore the warning signs and go about ‘business as usual’ without regard for the future, without regard for the health of the planet’s ecology that our civilization is dependent on, and without regard for the needs of the sick, the poor, the weak and desperate.

So yeah. Do something to make the world better. I may not succeed and indeed am near certain I never will, but if a few of you who actually care about fixing things do succeed and put your success to good and selfless use, then maybe my embarrassing train wreck of a life isn’t for nothing. We have the internet. We are globally connected, right now, by the world wide web. That, if nothing else, is encouraging. Maybe we will start to care more about people in other countries, when we have friendships and personal connections online, with people all over the world. Maybe it’ll be a key platform for younger people to save the planet and work together, help each other. The internet’s often been hateful and full of trolls and deceptive misinformation, and idiocy and criminals. But it doesn’t have to be.

It can and should be a force for collaborative good, for compassion and cooperation. I want that, and if enough of us choose to actively use it that way, to solve problems instead of cause them or apathetically drown them out… we could still turn the world around. It does require deep, painful sacrifices though.

As for any not-mentally-ill people whose only takeaway from this was that I am a deranged lunatic, you’re being superficial. Sorry. But it’s sort of true. Just because a person is emotionally volatile and sees the future as a dark and horrific place, does not mean they are insane, and it doesn’t mean they’re wrong about everything or that there’s not data backing up the thesis that the current era is not ‘normal’ and that we’re facing the impending potential end of civilization as we know it. I can’t believe I have to point this out but there was an earlier draft of this post that was WAY THE FUCK MORE HONEST and WAY MORE UPSET than what actually ultimately got posted. And if you are bothered by some damn F-bomb being dropped here – again – I don’t give a shit at this point. I posted this message after three straight hours of tears, a lot of soul searching about whether I can justify continuing to allow myself to live, when my death might actually make more constructive difference than I will realistically ever be able to make by living, billions of people dying off in the next 15-20 years, the collapse of the current system of govt. in the US within a decade and global collapse following that, a desperate scramble to mitigate human suffering and make an impact in the dwindling time before doing so is no longer logistically possible… and you aren’t listening to that and only see a curse word and think that’s the problem here, then maybe you’re the lunatic. Sorry. I hope you get help. 😉

 

ALSO: I have a few ideas for how to pull of $12,000/year income within 24 months assuming the next, bigger recession doesn’t hit by then, which I cannot assume. There are some big question marks but it may be feasible to get there. We’ll see. Right now I’m again in the ‘researching, and trying things’ stage. $3.50/hr, 10 hrs/day, should get me to my target where dependence on family and country are not issues. The question is how to reach that approximate pay level. I have a bunch of ideas that could maybe do it. None of them are safe bets but they all have a decent chance of working, and right now I am starting off with mTurk and TurkerView, working my ass off sorting through gigs that are, around $2.50-4.50 / hr, seeing what I can do, even though it does mean other (creative) work goes on the backburner or slows down dramatically. I have this loopy idea of working hard and being miserable on these gigs, as a setup for a pivot back to an improved art pipeline after a couple months. And with the art I’ll advertise the content heavily, like to the tune of $150+ in ad campaigns, in pursuit of driving bidding activity up on eBay, and if sale price on each item goes up by a target of 10% that is really a 35% increase in profit. Another 10% beyond that and the earnings hit the $3.50/hr goal. Maybe it’ll work? :/

I also clearly will continue to try to get the ‘Miniature Multiverse’ project completed. So… phase 1, boost art pipelines. I’ll have that done by end of May 2019.

Phase 2, complete Miniature Multiverse. By end of July 2019 ideally.

And phase 3, a bunch of other stuff. There’s a lot of video stuff to wrap up and some other things that could be amazing. Video projects pose a fascinating challenge insofar as they have NO evident path to profitability, as I’m now finally accepting. BUT, I still hope to pay a bit to any actors who participate, using a simple 20% of the profit margins made by my art sales, indie game sales, and stock media sales. There’s a post about this on Patreon, and it wound up on Facebook as well, but essentially everybody who contributed to my projects will now have a stake in their success or lack of it. Within 30 days, a new batch of material goes live on HornbostelVideos.com, along with a removal of all the banner ads, logos, and links out from the site. Basically we’re talking wave after wave of posted videos, 100% free, totally non-profit, which has some upsides, but there’s also a problem with this, which is that it still does not stop litigation.

I am sacrificing a lot. I have sacrificed a lot. I am not doing well fiscally.

I spent a ton of cash on making these video projects over the past 18 years. Thousands of dollars. I also poured thousands of hours into them. I will likely be divvying up a couple hundred dollars or more, to pay past cast members for their involvement. Those same cast members who refused to agree to sign basic talent release documents, which is partly my fault and has kind of precipitated this mess.  I’ve announced this elsewhere but as a reminder, to all cast members, unless you voice concerns about a particular role, scene, or bit of video content, going live online, after the next 30 days, you will probably begin to see that content head online. So there’s a cast member with altered voice, blurred out face, pseudonym in credits, all that is being done on several videos because she requested it. Others likewise requested that certain roles be kept offline. But if you’re not willing to request that a [role] be obfuscated/withheld from the web, in the next 30 days, you will probably find that it’ll get posted. And once posted, it won’t leave. It may be pulled from HornbostelVideos.com, I can do that, but as you all already realize, there’s nothing to stop the web browsing public from downloading the video files, and posting them all over the place on their own blogs and sites and social media feeds – which means if you do not act now, before the videos go live, and contact me, and are later embarrassed by a video posted online, let’s just say I gave you ample warning. Which is verifiable; I posted this warning in multiple places online including social media, emails to my contacts lists, etc. If you’ve missed it, it’s your fault for not keeping track of what is going on.

 

TACC 2018 now available for $3.99 on Itch.IO!

Check out this link: https://matthornb.itch.io/tacc2018 

Sure, you could order a physical DVD version of my stock footage and textures through my eBay shop, but this way it’s cheap and *immediate* – as soon as the payment is made, you get the entire batch of stock media files! Plus, Itch.IO is a very reputable digital sales and indie game venue that is thoroughly secured and scans all content for viruses, malware, etc, so you can feel even safer buying this there than buying it elsewhere. [Not that viruses were actually ever a problem with this item in any way, BTW]

Plus, this helps cover costs of ‘Miniature Multiverse’ and ultimately also data recovery so I can complete other projects too, as soon as possible.

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!