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.
Some of my fixed price listings have been sitting for a full year without any orders. It’s been just over a month since the last sale I made on eBay.
So – all of that considered – I think it’s a good time to lower prices a bit.
So if you’re interested in an original work by Matthew Lyles Hornbostel, now’s a good time to order one.
Most of the custom made-to-order art on my eBay shop is now 10-20% cheaper. So go take a look!
Also – the Etsy items are also on sale still and cheaper than they were. An automated Etsy notification was sent to me actually warning me that based on the statistics for similarly sized items in the category, “you may be substantially underpricing your work” and that most other items in my category are priced higher, and therefore able to make a viable profit.
WELL THANKS A LOT ETSY, BUT THERE IS THIS LITTLE THING CALLED A “LOSS LEADER” BUSINESS STRATEGY.
I amwell aware of the fact that my prices are low and that I may be losing money on many of the items I make. That is intentional. I did that on eBay too for the first three years or so, so I could gain the first batch of ratings from customers and establish my shop as a credible, trustworthy venue with a positive reputation! After that I could start to incrementally raise prices over time – while still keeping them lower than almost all other vendors’.
Quite frankly, I would rather make under $3-6/hr doing painting or pastel work, or visual effects, video editing/post, game art assets, etc – than make the same level of income doing long strings of tedious tasks like transcription of audio & video recordings for subtitles or other purposes, or repetitively tagging the content of image files on Mturk so people can search and sort through them easily [on various websites, search engines, etc].
And by the way, I HAVE done those things, and they’re a mind-numbing waste of the [creative] talent I have. But they do pay the bills in times when nothing on my web network is selling, and they do keep the whole thing afloat and inching forward during rough stretches. I think it needs to be clarified that such income streams, while taxed by the government, are not applicable to [paying actors]. That should have been stated in the actors’ pay post, it was a detail I overlooked… the fraction of my income generated outside of and unconnected to my web network and unrelated to creative work is not considered ‘web network’ revenue and none of that goes to cast members.
ACTORS TAKE NOTE OF THIS FINE PRINT:
This distinction matters; it means that the total revenue generated by the web network I run is the baseline that determines the size of residuals in a given year for each actor on each video or other project.
So while transcription and other similar grinding non-creative ‘in between’ work have generated around $1260/year the past three years, for me, on average… that doesn’t add onto the other income made elsewhere.
The only numbers that count for actors are the other revenue sources that now constitute the majority of my income:
-eBay sales [avg. $360/year the last 4 years but generally trending upward over time]
-Art sales I make locally at craft fairs, or elsewhere, or on this website shop, including DVD/Blu Ray releases of video collections and video games. [booming like crazy – over $400 the last 12 months locally, but no success on this website shop yet]
-Etsy sales [none yet despite a strong effort to list items and promote them there, at really low prices.]
-third party or affiliate ad revenue if ever applicable [negligible – under $5/year the past 5 years]
-Freelance work involving creative effort; i.e. videography, vfx, 3d game assets, web graphics, previz, etc. [$240/year on average, over the past 3 years.]
-printed swag like T-shirts on Zazzle/CafePress [minimal so far]
Do keep in mind that most of the art I’ve sold on eBay ‘made to order’ has resulted in enthusiasm, even ecstatic responses, and that if you buy something there you’re likely to be happy with it [judging from past patterns] but that while I am able to do fantastic pet portraits and landscapes, cityscapes, water scenes, still lifes, fantasy/sci-fi work, etc, lots of things I work on turn out well but portraits are a bit of a risky thing to ask of me as the depictions of the people involved will often look a bit ‘off’ from the real people I’m trying to paint/draw, despite my best efforts.
PROBLEMS PAINTING PEOPLE
It’s well known that the human face is generally the hardest image for artists to recreate correctly by hand, due to the enormous portion of our human brains that is wired specifically for the purpose of recognizing who other people are and identifying their emotional states. Our minds are finely attuned to facial recognition of [humans] and that’s why the phenomenon of pareidolia is so common [seeing faces in randomly patterned things like clouds or wall textures] and why we can tell hundreds of people apart very easily but can’t tell individuals apart anywhere near as well when it comes to other species. If the image of a non-human subject is very slightly off, nobody will notice. If it’s an image of a person, though, the image will seem ‘wrong’.
For example, there’s this portrait of my sister Sarah and her new husband (they got married a few days ago – as of early June 2017 – and it was a beautiful wedding. We jokingly called it the Sarah-mony.). The portrayal of the couple in pastel looks a little odd and most people will say so but few can say exactly why; it simply doesn’t quite capture the appearance of the two people I was trying to depict. It’s close but not close enough to break through beyond the uncanny qualities.
So yeah – keep all of this in mind. There are amazing bargains on custom, made to order work on my eBay shop. However, there is a risk that portraits (in particular) which I make may, despite best intentions and a lot of careful effort, may not look quite like the people I am attempting to draw. But I’m generally getting better at it over time.
And to all those of you who want to see my video work, I’ll begin posting it on a little domain I’ve acquired (HornbostelVideos.com) well before the end of summer 2017. There’s also another new domain – SpiralSkiesGame.com – showcasing the new minigame I’ve been developing, and while nothing’s loaded onto either domain yet the websites will both become active soon enough with a bit of content at first and more posted over time.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.