What do you all want?

I’m trying to get some authentic feedback from my viewers and customers, and so I’ve set up a poll here:

http://www.triumphantartists.com/kompozer/html/poll.html

There are some cool things you could get on this page as well, like coupon codes for my shop here, but it’s also a great chance for all of you to tell me what you are excited about and what you all think I should work on more.

Two artworks added to ‘Still Art’ page and new eBay auctions posted!

Two more artworks (one from 2015 and one from 2016) were just posted on the Still Art page.  More archived stuff will be uploaded later tonight, plus a couple of alternate sorting methods will be set up soon beyond the current chronological method [images will be sortable by art medium, and by size]

If the Still Art page looks really screwed up briefly at some point around 11 pm to midnight, that’s because that’s when the HTML and JS stuff is being actively changed.

Also, three auctions just posted on my eBay shop, all priced under $4 for the opening bid.  Haven’t done actual auctions in a while so I figured now was a good time for that.  Check that out!

Incidentally, I’ve just ordered some new art supply materials.  More pastel pencils, and a few other things.  I’m ready for the next wave of orders.

Fortress Siege 2

I recorded a lot of material for ‘Fortress Siege 2’ over the holidays and will add completing that project (and 1999, and Globe) to the massive pile of video-completion to-dos the next few months.

This picture reveals some of the costumes people wore while acting in front of bluescreen. Obviously it’ll look way more epic once the computer-generated backgrounds are added. It’s the eighth video I’ve directed with my extended family over the past 14 years. The first one was ‘Snow Siege’ in 2003. I am going to be working towards getting many of my old (and new) video projects online this year.

I attended the Art Market at the Houston Vineyard in December 2016

Firstly, big thank you to the Houston Vineyard for putting this together, lots of artists in the area had booths, which was great, and the atmosphere was very nice, well decorated, good snacks, pastries, and hot cider, coffee, hot chocolate, etc. The live nativity was cute, some church members filling in the roles, including a baby as the baby Jesus. There were three goats and a donkey there and they handled the bright lights and music and guests well, though one of the goats was apparently a bit rambunctious and kept messing with the guy playing Joseph. The main issue here was, I think, the lack of local promotion beyond the obvious laminated banners at the building itself. Simply put, visitors were sparse, and many of the ones who were there were already church members. I think there were more vendors than visitors in the art market, at all times, only at most six or seven people browsing at any one point and most of those not interested in buying anything. I cannot say anything about foot traffic with confidence, of course, as my booth was in a dead-end section of hallway leading to a door to the main area of the church (off limits to most everyone during the event) and I didn’t notice every single person who walked into the venue. However, even though there weren’t many people looking at the arts/crafts the few who did show up at my table were awesome. Everyone commented on the art on display, many people were impressed by the Southwestern piece I did specifically for the show, and there were also many other items that drew attention. Ann Armstrong and some other local artists walked by when the pace slowed down and we chatted. Ultimately, I sold three items. One was a small pastel work on paper, of a dog, one was the NYC skyline artwork, which has been pulled off of my Etsy shop because of this event, and won’t be activated there again. The third was the Southwest oil pastel mentioned earlier, which I fortunately was able to photograph before selling it. Southwest Artwork, oil pastel I also had some people really impressed by the video reel (vfx reel and short films) that I was playing on a cheap Android tablet on the table. There was a lot of enthusiasm as there often is when people actually see my video work. I still want to get hours of that content online in the next year, and if things go well enough business wise that should be feasible. I have had a former cast member, Bradley Wallace, once say, “One day we’ll look back and say, we knew Matthew years before he became famous”. That’s something he said that I still remember, and although I’m hardly ‘famous’ and my work is still very cheap (“You’re undercharging”, say my uncle and other family members) it is sometimes valued higher later simply because it’s so cheap to start off with. A decade ago I sold a triptych (three paintings) for $90, which was later appraised at $150. That was at another crafts fair way back in the old Redeemer days. My work is *still* quite affordable, obviously, which you’ll realize once you learn that the image above was of a 36″x54″ oil pastel item, which I sold for just $45.00. I’ve probably put a total of around 6-7 hours into it, so I made more per hour with this than with the vast majority of the work I do. (My usual going rate is around $3.50-$5/hour in practice.) People say I undercharge, but in my experience this is how much my work is valued by the art market; if I aim anywhere above $5/hr the stuff usually won’t sell. (Art valuation is really screwed up, BTW, and I feel much of the modern art out there is grossly overvalued simply because the artist has a ‘name’, but maybe that’s just me.) $4/hr or so, instead, seems to be the sweet spot right now. It used to be $2-3 per hour but business has been really good lately and now it’s up to $4. And really, I’m very happy with $4/hr, even if most others wouldn’t be. It’s a type of work I love doing, and if I can line up 7 1/2 hours of work per day at that rate that’s $30/day which is not at all bad, IMO. At $30/day, if I can do that consistently, I’ll make $10,500 in the next year… enough to pay bills and recurring baseline costs, pay a bit in rent to my parents, and with an extra 4-5 hours a day free to work on my own personal projects! I could get several game productions and a couple dozen videos released online next year if this goes as well as I’m hoping. Maybe some of that will be lucrative in its own right, which would be phenomenally awesome. (By lucrative, I don’t mean I’m trapping that content behind a paywall. It will all be free but with some ads and also DVD editions available on this shop.)

House Trek trailer released on videos page

You can also play it right here.

This – the impending redesign and rerelease of the old House Trek videos I made in 2001-2004, marks the early stages of a lot of my movies from the past sixteen years, even a lot of fairly embarrassingly bad ones, winding up overhauled, and put on the internet. If you acted in any of my videos, please contact me via the contact page on TriumphantArtists.com! I will need contact info for all the past cast members on old projects, who haven’t already signed talent release forms. A talent release form, by the way, is basically a form in which the actor agrees that their image/voice/likeness as recorded by me in a video work, can be placed online. My version of the talent release form is distributed by ESignGenie, which lets you sign it digitally, via email, which is still legally valid. My version of the form is longer than a standard-issue release form, as it also defines terms of compensation for actors, and applies to video games, still art, and interactive media, not merely video. Some of you have already given contact info and agreed to my broad terms but there are a number of holdouts or people I have proven so far unable to reach. If that is you, please email me, again using the contact info page on TriumphantArtists.com.

Spiral Skies news

This little note was originally posted July 10, 2016, had to be reconstructed due to SSL transition and such.

“Spiral Skies – and some other games – now in Unity 5? Yes. (Maybe)

I am exploring the option of using the Unity 5 engine to make a realtime 3D version of Spiral Skies. This is part of why this has been delayed further – I am pushing into full realtime 3D and that involves a lot of optimization but Unity is fortunately a good choice for this kind of project. In some ways the realtime version is weaker but in most respects it should end up looking way better. Apologies to anyone who wanted the 2D version in Construct 2, but this has a lot of potential if I can make it work correctly.”

UPDATE, as of February 10, 2017: It’s not perfectly functional yet but is progressing nicely – I’m doing most of the interactivity using PlayMaker for this game and it is turning out pretty well so far, great learning experience potentially highly applicable to future games.  Will post more visual content before long, as soon as SpiralSkiesGame.com is designed fully and ready for widespread attention.  I’ve registered that domain but nothing is there yet, will be soon but not yet.  Suffice it to say that I’ve raised my aim as far as visual fidelity is concerned, and given the enormous, incredibly aggravating and nearly endless frustrations I’ve had with WebGL debugging and output in general (*grumble grumble*) I am only likely to release the game as a downloadable app for Windows, Mac, & Linux, and Android/iOS users will probably find that disappointing, as will the people on NewGrounds & Kongregate who wanted the game to be playable there, but… it’s the best I can do at the moment.  Sorry.

Big explosion sequence!

Date the below entry was originally posted – June 25, 2016.  If you don’t know why the old copy was lost, check this post:  Website Port and SSL upgrade completed

 

Here’s an effects test for my upcoming short video ‘Averting Apocalypse’, with fire simulation. The 3d physics simulations are increasingly high quality and large in scope, to the point where I’m questioning whether miniature effects will have a place in my videos at all in the future. CG fire and explosion sequence Computer generated fire effects I mean, let’s face it, there’s something very satisfying about scale models going boom Derek Meddings/Joe Viskocil style, but the materials required to do that well can add up to make that somewhat impractical. I may even fake the miniatures in some parts of “Tinyville Disaster 2”, and that’s a video which relies heavily on the charm of miniatures! I think ‘Duel 2030’ may have been my last big miniature-effects project in recent memory, and even that was loaded with 3d animation. I’m getting closer and closer to a thorough integration of liquid effects, rigid body dynamics, and gaseous smoke/fire effects all seamlessly interacting with a lot of detail and realism, which begs the question, why would miniatures be better? Let’s face it, more CG and less real pyro is not only safer, it is less expensive, and that is a big plus when I’m facing down the sheer number of shots I need to get done. I think going the CGI route would save over $250 in the case of [Fortress Siege 2] and $400 in [House Trek: TNG] and $130 in [Averting Apocalypse], $100 in [Video Heist], etc. It all adds up to several thousand dollars saved and that is significant in reducing the obstacles to getting the video projects actually done.

The first videos on Triumphant Artists.com…

Date the below entry was originally posted – June 25, 2016.  If you don’t know why the old copy was lost, check this post:  Website Port and SSL upgrade completed

ONE OF THE THINGS I’VE BEEN QUIETLY WORKING ON, IS READYING MY MASSIVE TROVE OF OLD VIDEOS FOR INTERNET RELEASE. THAT INCLUDES THE OLD ‘HOUSE TREK’ VIDEOS I MADE OVER A DECADE AGO (2001-2004)

House Trek old sci-fi videos, House Trek, remastered.

To be clear – the closest this comes to a fan film is the word ‘Trek’ and the fact that it’s in outer space. While I drew inspiration from a certain TV show, there is a major effort in the online release to avoid anything remotely resembling copyright infringement. I’m also often asked if Chris Van Allsburg’s work inspired this silliness. No, no it didn’t. This was inspired by my love of sci-fi as a young teen and I thinkthe reason I shot the videos inside my home was because I had no budget for a sci-fi set and I couldn’t really drive anywhere else. (Like the original ‘Send in the Clones’, It’s all in my house and I’m the only actor because my sisters wouldn’t be caught dead in my early videos, and nobody else wanted to be in them either.) So part of the goofball charm of the old videos is the way I childishly disregard science with sounds in space, no spacesuit on spacewalks, no obvious visible source of propulsion, and of course I’m using old computers from the early 2000s as my navigation system, and wearing sweatpants and walking around barefoot. It’s incredibly dumb and the fact that I’m redoing about half the VFX and almost all the audio doesn’t change that.

So this blog entry is the start of a series of occasional blog entries about my adventures in indie video production. The first three House Trek videos and Send in The Clones 1, were all made in 2001, shot on crappy tape-based camcorders, and marked the start of my infamy as a video/vfx nut. Back then I was using Bryce 3d and AlamDV2 as my VFX tools. Now I use Lightwave & After Effects, among other high-end programs, and can do far better work. So for online release I’m enhancing or replacing over 60 VFX shots in the six House Trek videos, creating a 9-second intro title sequence that kicks off each video, and restructuring the audio completely. The stock audio is the main cost here. I used some sci-fi movie soundtracks originally but clearly I can’t license any of that for online release without getting sued so I’ve swapped out all the music.

The new stuff is actually pretty good and licensing the stock music/SFX I needed was only around $30. Obviously this is only a tiny piece of a very long list of 80-odd videos made in the past 15 years so the process of getting them all recut, or as Minhthien says, “George Lucas-ing them” will cost hundreds of dollars. That doesn’t even consider the cost of the new video projects (which include a follow-up to this old series, “House Trek: The Next Generation”) or my video game projects.

It also doesn’t consider the time involved. I wish this blog were a huge hit, and the shop too, because then I’d be able to finish all the stuff I’d like to finish. There have been a hundred or so viewers here since I launched it just 3 days ago, which is great, but I would like to see this go even bigger. I want this blog to go viral, but it won’t happen without great content, and the great content won’t happen at a fast enough pace without an audience of roughly 12,000 regular viewers to support it, and what I have is a rotating batch of maybe 5000 regular viewers, who get bored and drift away as fast as new ones arrive. So we’re kind of stuck here in a slow-moving rut. I’m hopeful that things will improve, though, after the release of Spiral Skies. Which, sadly, is taking far longer than I’d like.

Shop details

Date the below entry was originally posted – June 21, 2016.  If you don’t know why the old copy was lost, check this post:  Website Port and SSL upgrade completed

PRICING

The price of items on the shop here will be based on the eBay ‘Buy it Now’ pricing, with typically only a slight 1-4% reduction in price per item. That’s not thrilling in itself.

The good news is there are a ton of additional discounts planned – discounts for repeat customers, aka loyalty rewards, and also if you refer friends to the blog, there’s a discount. If there’s a sale going on, then there’s another discount on top of that. You’ll even be able to join our affiliate program, which means if you refer somebody to the shop, and they buy something, you get a small percentage of the sale amount!

Basically, I will want the people who are fans of my work – the content on TriumphantArtists.com, PanoramicWorlds.com, etc, to spread the word about this shop because if it takes off I could potentially raise a lot of cash – enough to finish a long list of lingering projects that I really want to complete.

TIMING

The first sale on the shop will be an opening ten-day sale – from June 22 to July 2. There’ll also be a one-day sale on July 4th on a few items, but the broader sale will be in the initial ten day timeframe.

NEW PRODUCTS

-Local event services. If you want some sort of service in the Houston, TX area, especially near the 77023 zip code, such as videography of a special event, mural/wall/large surface painting, or group events/workshops, I will make some of those services available through the shop.

-Unique miniatures in N scale. Got a special place in mind that you want recreated in miniature? I can actually craft a miniature replica of a special location chosen by you. You might want your home recreated in miniature, or some other local building there is no premade kit for. The item can be sent ‘as is’ on a flat surface, for integration into a model railroad layout, or it can be placed in a display case with a painted backdrop, or it can be embedded in a snowglobe! Pricing and other details will be viewable on the shop before too long.  The miniature category will also include a lot of premade designs to choose from.

-DVDs and Blu Rays with either video content or interactive media/games… found nowhere else and made by me!

-Prints of handmade art I’ve designed, i.e. posters and postcards and other similar items.

LINKS – these are important to notice!

Date the below entry was originally posted – June 21, 2016.  If you don’t know why the old copy was lost, check this post:  Website Port and SSL upgrade completed

LINKS YOU SHOULD BE AWARE OF: –TriumphantArtists.comPanoramicWorlds.comVividMiniGolf.comIsolaGame.comTroop4Houston.netHornbostelMedia.comHornbostelPortfolio.com –The TriumphantArtists Forums –The TriumphantArtists ShopTriumphant Artists Affiliate ProgramTriumphantArtists on eBayTriumphantArtists on EtsyTriumphantArtists on CafePressTriumphantArtists on ZazzleTriumphant Artists on YouTube

There are actually a number of other pages I run, and the list I just provided is merely a jumping-off point to start with, but these seem to me to be some of the most significant ones right now.