Okay, quick notes:
- The Troop 4 party went really well. Terrific food, and I got the two new videos done fairly well by the deadline, so that’s awesome. Some of the audio needed work and the animation was spotty on the cartoon, but other than that it turned out great.
- With regards to two questions asked of the cast payments, yes, if my network is successful that will affect cast payouts, and no, payouts will not go up in tandem with inflation, at least not directly. $1/year/actor/video remains $1/year/actor/video [that’s the standard minimum payment] unless my income increases.
- Realistically, however, my income should gradually increase over time as I gain a more extensive reputation as a vendor, better skills, more experience, etc, and my income is also likely to go up in terms of dollars as the value of a dollar gradually trends down over time. I am listing a very high income bracket in the chart below, and that might SOUND like pie in the sky for an artist like myself, but I’m not being ridiculous; I’m actually well aware that the only way I’ll ever reach $200k+ in income by the end of my career is if my career somehow gradually improves, and the value of the US dollar is collapsing during the next half a century and inflation is persistently high. Which could well occur given America’s rising debt levels. Even if inflation’s at a historically normal level, though, that still means we should expect the dollar to be worth around 20% of what it is now, by 2060. So that’s when I expect that sort of income is *possible* for me – the final years of my career, and it would be more like $40k in today’s terms.
Here’s the chart:
My aim then, is to hold the residuals or ongoing payments, somewhere just slightly below 10% of my total income, and another 10-12% in one-off pay in any given year. Residuals can be adjusted simply by adding more or less in the way of new content in any given year. If my income [after taxes] is soaring, I will make more videos that year than usual, with more cast members and locations than usual, and post them online. If not, I won’t. The numbers were revised downwards slightly with the goal of making more future video projects per year, [with larger casts] more likely to be feasible over the next half century.
Note that my plan is for 40% of my post tax income to go to making new videos & video games – perhaps 20% as casting budget and 20% as production budget. Comics and games use the same payment logic for contributing members that videos do. So if you voice acted or did FMV or simply had your name/resemblance used in a comic book or video game, that is counted as if it were a video. Then there’s the other 10% or so in residuals… which makes the total 50%. 5% is disposable income focused on entertainment or for allocation in case something else costs more than anticipated. Another 33% covers core operating costs of the network, like web hosting, and domain renewals, as well as maintaining and expanding the sale product lines on which the revenue depends. In other words, an ongoing supply of shipping materials, canvas, paints, other bills, etc. The final 18% is saved up or invested in some way so I have a reserve in case it’s needed later.
The video channel itself, launches in a few weeks. It won’t contain much initially, and mostly the cast will just be me, but it marks the start of something bigger.
I’ve toyed with the notion of simply bypassing cast members I can’t reach and posting videos anyway [in a space where they have no way to generate revenue of any kind] but it seems there’s no legal benefit to doing so. I might as well run ads for my services, with the content, and hold the actor’s earnings in a safe place until they finally come out of the ‘woodwork’ and become reachable again – at which point I’ll immediately offer them the money their video earned, hopefully pre-empting the question of ‘why did you release this without my explicit written permission and make money off of it?’
My rule now is as follows: I will go ahead and post videos over time, even if one or two random people in it are inaccessible and cannot be reached by phone, email, or any other means. I will tally up all actors’ earnings on every project annually and pay them. If they are unreachable, I’ll hold that cash in an organized folder or envelope somewhere secure, marked with the actor’s name. If and when I find them, I will ask them to sign and will pay them. They may ask for the video or alternately their scene in the video to be pulled – I’ll remind them that it will upset the audience that likes the video and the other actors who did sign, and who do want the content online, but that if they insist the content be pulled, it will be.
What about the signatures? Legal documents?
I am debating how best to handle that; I like the idea of the digital signature, but the document was way too complicated and long last time and I’m trying to pare it down and make it clearer and leaner for future use. I’m using eSignGenie for this.
My production pipeline is emerging from crisis stronger than before.
A few quick notes: much of the cash I raised from the Crafts Fair, etc, has gone to a new video card for my PC (The old one was the source of long-running random crashes) and a few extra plugins for Unity. I’ve also made a concerted effort to wrap up some local projects for Boy Scout Troop 4, as the troop looks to be on its last legs and will be unlikely to survive beyond 2017. One of the scouts is leaving for the navy at the end of the spring semester so I wanted to give him a good send off. I’m trying to complete Troop 4 TV Seasons 2 & 3 during the next 15 days for that event.
Other things I’d tried to get done prior to this I couldn’t, including the video channel, etc. The computer being down for about 10 days had a lot to do with that. In broad strokes, my production schedule is like this:
MAY 2017 – Troop 4 stuff screened for Troop 4
JUNE – AUGUST 2017 – Work on some interactive-media stuff like the Redeemer Virtual Tour, Spiral Skies, and also finally launching the comics and video channel, which I’ve devised a clever, or maybe just stupidly deranged and risky, plan to deal with. This plan involves having the videos/video channel all on a separate domain with no links out of it, but various links in, no real way for me to profit [even slightly] from any of the videos if they take off or prove popular. I will pay out residuals from other sources unrelated to and not in any way benefiting from the video channel. These residuals will be kept extremely simple: $1/year per actor per video released that they were in, plus a one-off $5 payment for any new project they participate in [a payment for taking the role] and a second one off $5 payment when the project is finished and goes online. The math on this works out fine by me; if all my projects end up online over next three years, it could add up to $1500+ in payments to actors by the end of that time… and over $12k after 20 years [distributed among all actors].
If one actor tries to sue me [cease & desist] I’ll pull the video in question offline quickly, and attempt to avoid legal conflict, so just keep in mind that videos might go offline at some point if somebody complains and if they cannot be convinced by me or the other cast members, to allow the video to go back online then it’ll stay offline. I know I’m taking a risk of screwing myself over massively and that even if that does not happen, I’ll still lose a lot over time, but it is worth it to me to have the videos online, because I like people to be entertained, darn it, and it bugs me to have this gigantic backlog of awesome stuff that nobody is able to view!
As for Fall 2017, I will try to wrap up some of the family stuff – 1999, Globe, and Fortress Siege 2. That’s basically it, that’s the plan.
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.
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.
NOW SELLING ON ETSY, under $35:
UNDER $20 FOR EACH SET!:
There are INSANE bargains all across my network right now and you should definitely take a look if you haven’t already.
Okay – a few notes. One is that after a great deal of frustration I’ve gotten my PC working again. I backed everything up and then it went from bad to worse, from ‘blue screen of death’ to ‘black screen of death’ in which I could not even reach the command line. Fortunately I found a way to get back to BSOD, then from there I wiped the C: drive and reinstalled Windows, followed by copying the backed up data back onto the C drive.
The day or two after that? Mostly spent reinstalling a long list of utilities and software packages. Then and only then, could I resume work on a range of projects that had been unfortunately on hold while the computer was screwed up. This has been a huge hassle and I’d like to replace the aging video card as I’ve long suspected it as the root of my PC issues. I know what other better cards are compatible with my desktop, and I am planning to get a replacement, as soon as I’m able to factor it into my budget. To that end:
I’ll be attending a crafts fair at 5700 Lawndale, Houston, TX, this Saturday April 22nd from 9 am to 3 pm. This is the Redeemer Lutheran church buiilding and they’re hosting the event and organizing it, plus some Redeemer Episcopal and Missio Dei Houston members are also involved and participating.
Anyone who wants to meet me there can do so, I’ll have a booth and will be selling handmade art and will also have some great freebies available. Some of those free items may run out quickly so it’s advised to show up on the early side of the event, ideally during the first hour or two.
There’s a massive crafts fair there, plus garage/yard sale and bake sale, bbq, etc. It’s basically one of those huge fundraising deals, which I’ve attended in the past. The booth fees are $25, which gets you an 8 foot table, although it may be too late for anyone else to sign up now.
The vendors keep whatever’s raised, generally, and I am hoping to sell a few handcrafted artworks at this event. I will also have some other stuff like stickers, pencils, prints, push pin buttons, and DVDs/BluRays which are going to go fast it looks like. I’m still agreeing to hand them out for free on a ‘pay what you want’ basis. My dad says they should cost $20 but I’m fine with just handing them out.
Those are mainly of interest to people who have been a part of the Redeemer Episcopal community, but the handmade stuff has much broader appeal.
I have sold a set (triptych) of three artworks at one of these old events, at a price of $90, which was later appraised at $150 by an art dealer. You might find similar bargains here; many items will be marked 15% lower than on Etsy, given the local nature of the event and the fact that they won’t need to be shipped, so shipping isn’t built into the pricing.
What is? Well, materials, plus a rate of about $3 per hour for my creative work on each item. Some items are a bit more if new, or less if old.
Worth a look for anyone in the Houston area.
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!
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 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.
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 email@example.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.
I’ve been given a large batch of old art books by my grandparents; they’d been owned by my grandfather Daniel, and after he passed away they were handed down to me by his wife Sharlene.
I didn’t think much of it at the time but apparently these old 1960s publications – I Maestri del Colore – are fairly valuable. Not extremely valuable, but there are a lot of them in my house [almost 90 issues] and they’re worth anywhere from $5 to $150 each. Most are valued around $10-15, but some issues are worth more and some less. So I’m selling them off on eBay right now in batches. If you stumbled across this blog post by searching for I Maestre del Colore for your collection of antiquarian books or whatever, and are actually here actively looking for that Italian magazine, then by all means take a look at my eBay shop:
My eBay shop — also, if you are interested, please take a look at some of my other projects on my various websites, as they’re likely to benefit noticeably from the sale of these old art books. I won’t be able to launch the stock footage I’d planned to, any time soon, but nonetheless my new video channel, new handmade art on Etsy, new comics/graphic novel content, and an update on my Spiral Skies game… all of those things are still on track for a release in mid April 2017.
Just to generate a bit of curiosity, maybe get you all a bit excited even, here’s a little .GIF pulled from one of my upcoming videos:
Why is next Monday, April 10 – and every Monday after that for the next 15 weeks – going to be epic? Here’s why:
- Comics. New T4 content – the Troop 4 Uncensored, pt 4 comic book [divided into 10-12 parts] -and the first portions of Another Road Taken, which have been delayed way, way too long, will be posted during this span. Not that anyone has complained. Most of you either don’t know what I’m even referring to – or do know but have been really patient with me.
- Game news. Spiral Skies sees actual up-to-date media content [new stuff to see on a new website specifically chosen for the project – SpiralSkiesGame.com – posted on one of these Mondays. This is something that actually has gotten a bit of response which is great… though at this time nothing is visible on the new domain, just on PanoramicWorlds.com.
- The video channel. It’ll be on TriumphantArtists.com. I’ve put some substantial effort into this launch but my friends/actors mostly have yet to sign a digital document I sent them, which, in effect, stalls almost every video I really strongly want online from actually being placed online. When they ask about the videos not being online, I turn the question around and ask them why they have been unwilling to sign the documents I sent them. I tell them that THEY are holding back said releases. Most of them seem genuinely surprised by this. Perhaps once I am pulling in thousands of viewers these holdouts will actually notice, and respond to, the messages I sent.
- More artworks on Etsy in the lead up to the mid-April launches. This is the only way that some of the launch content can actually [realistically] materialize faster. If you audience members like the items I list on Etsy then buy them, knowing that those sales [if made in the next few weeks] will finance completion of more videos, etc. So once again, please take a look at my Etsy shop.
Here are the different videos [definitely] making it online in the next 15 weeks. Longer projects are often split into multiple webisodes and I currently estimate between 24 and 36 videos being on the channel by the last of the 15 weeks. 24 is the likely outcome if nobody signs off on the legal documents in the next few weeks. 36, potentially, if a bunch of the signatures are collected soon.
DEFINITELY RELEASED IN NEXT 15 weeks:
–House Trek: The Original Series – this is a reworking of an old video series from 2001-2004 that had a very silly take on space travel, badly going where much better sci fi series had already been before. The fifth episode, the longest one, is now a two parter, and there’s also a short new episode tacked on to the end of the series to bridge the gap between this and the upcoming House Trek: The Next Generation.
–Storm – an old 2003 art video short depicting a rainstorm.
–Storm 2 – new short video two-parter in which I find myself alone in the house unprepared during a severe hurricane.
–Relativity – Escheresque 2004 art video with cool [and recently somewhat reworked] imagery that messes with your perceptions.
–Send in The Clones 1, remastered The brief first  video in the aging ‘Clones’ video series.
–Creativity – 2005 art video short.
–Awakening – new eerie short video in which I find myself struggling with persistently trippy and creepy nightmares which affect my judgement and sanity even when I’m awake.
–Refuge – new 3-episode sci-fi short with some freaky horror-ish surprises. It’s the year 2202, Earth is a poisoned wasteland and the surviving humans have traveled to another world to keep going. But now people are going missing at an alarming rate!
–Sheol – psychological horror/mind bender. Brand new short. After an internet troll interrupts a video chat, and threatens to kill me, I wake up the next morning imprisoned in a horrific death trap.
MAYBE RELEASED IN NEXT 15 weeks:
“Matthew’s Portal” (2005) a classic family mind-bender with a fun and clever story.
“Send in The Clones 2” (2002) My clones rapidly transition from laziness to rebellion.
“Duel 2030” – Recorded in 2007-2008, it’s a dark post-apocalyptic action mini-epic.
“Snow Siege” – The first of the videos I recorded with my cousins, in 2003. A kid-friendly holiday classic.
“Tinyville Disaster” (2003) – A classic comedy made with stop-motion animation.
“Fortress Siege” – a 2009 medieval comedy that is equal parts visually impressive and wackily absurd.