Some of you may have noticed a problem with my eBay shop lately. Things are taking longer to deliver. Orders do, in some cases, take weeks to fulfill.
That has much to do with my bare-bones financial condition. I’ve made a lot of artworks and am shipping them as soon as I can, but even so the delays continue to escalate as some customers have requested and been given, refunds. Note that even in these cases I still will fulfill their orders, it’s kind of important to me even if it makes zero difference to eBay, but… the last two weeks I’ve been scraping through huge piles of sub-minimum wage tasks in an aim to finish shipping all delayed orders. My losses [all factors considered] on eBay in the past 40 days are in excess of $70 which makes me a rather godawful excuse for a business person but maybe not a truly horrendous ‘person’ person?
I’ve been doing a ton of stuff on mTurk and other places, every gig I can grab, at $2-3 per hour, including low-end tasks I’d normally not touch, in an effort to stabilize things and resolve complaints from customers, complaints that have piled up badly.
You need to know that I’m working on it, working very hard to shovel my way out of the broken mess I’m now stuck in. Much of that low wage work’s already done, I do see some delays/lag as likely though as the tasks are still being approved and shifted out to a usable form of money. But I’ve earned $10+ daily doing that and it seems to be piling up faster than the refunds are going out. So sending refunds *and* shipping all of the ordered items, should be viable in the next week at most.
Upsides: my Itch.IO profile has seen a gradual climb in sales even despite total absence of reviews from buyers there. Even comments here and there would be enormously impactful FYI, the only feedback I have ever gotten was a comment on one Itch stock-media pack that said the collection was a great deal. Which explains why that one pack is accounting for about 60% of all my sales on Itch!
Also, I’ve made a second sale on Etsy, so it seems that is going well and I’m posting three new artworks soon, later than I’d aimed to, but still… they will be posted.
Here’s the item that was sold. I’m still posting more and more art there as time passes. I expect the total number of available listed items to be around 25 by the end of February:
Likewise, I’m nearly done setting up an overhauled version of TriumphantArtists.com and will switch everything over to the new web design in another day or so. It’s better in terms of navigation, clean style, and flexible [responsive] formatting. The pages, in general, load faster too!
As usual though, don’t expect the changes to necessarily show up in your browser without hitting refresh. My advice, go to the main page at TriumphantArtists.com next week, hit refresh, and, err, feel refreshed I guess by how the site looks after that point? I expect the switch over will be in effect by Feb. 15 and may become visible worldwide over the following 48 hrs. so some cool things should result from that.
“Pirate video” – I’m making a little video short for the nephews’ birthday, putting an hour or so a day into that on top of everything else. It includes some pretty awesome VFX shots. That’s just another reminder of what I can do with videos and visual effects!
Final note – I know everybody’s so, so tired of waiting for something to happen with Miniature Multiverse. I have completed the first part of the game’s design, 100%, with other sections of the game in varying stages of completion. Now I’ve opted to release a ‘partial version’ with the later areas all stripped out temporarily, and post that as a downloadable on Itch.IO with added sections posted every two months afterwards as long as it is still selling (if it sells much at all really, which given the nature of indie game dev, is unclear.) So that is the first fifth of the game which will be posted on Feb. 24th, along with the corresponding sections of the making-of PDF for ‘Extras’ buyers. So yeah, a lot is going on right now. I’m working every waking hour on something creative or earnings related [or both] lately and wouldn’t have things be any other way.
I’m pretty sure you’ll be happy with this video content once I release it.
These are random still frames from the first 14 of the clips I recorded, and there are a few more clips not included in this promo image at all because I’m still adjusting the rotoscoping / masking on the last handful of elements to clear out any remaining random background junk the keying process failed to clean out.
These effects are not flawless – the camera equipment wasn’t ideal, nor the black backing, nor the telephoto lenses that allowed me to get closer views of the effects while the cameras were far enough back to be safe.
But just keep in mind that I did the best I was able to both with the effects shoot and the postprocessing given my available resources. I took reasonable safety precautions and did the best I could given that the entire project was done for under $300.
I’ve stated here my intent to extend the video collection over time with new ‘versions’ – starting with version 2, which is pretty much guaranteed to happen, as an update 2-3 months from now. As for additions beyond that, it kind of depends on how well the product line is selling.
I figure this stock footage DVD needs to sell dozens of copies to keep the releases of new stock media flowing, and hundreds* if the aim is to fund not only more stock video but also massive improvement and progress on my narrative video and video game projects. The good news is that that’s pretty likely to work out given the fact that over 500 people have viewed my stock footage pages & posts in the past two months. If enough of those visitors buy the collection it’ll be good news for me but also for my audiences, and for any indie video & VFX artists who would be getting a fantastic bargain on the new stock video content.
Version #1 has about 20 real clips of explosions, would be more but there were some effects that didn’t turn out at all well or did but were not recorded correctly – maybe they were almost entirely outside the bounds of camera view, or the camera ran out of storage space or battery partway through recording, whatever. Things like that killed about 6-7 shots which I’d meant to capture. It was frustrating but it’s hard to do anything about it now that these mistakes have happened. At least the critical, highest-priority parts of the process – not burning myself and not setting any parts of the house/garage on fire – worked out perfectly. I was focused on safety so much so that the technical [camera work] aspects of the effort were at times overlooked. I think that is as it should be!
So yeah – version 1 has about 20 real-world effects clips against black, varying quality, plus about a dozen digital fire simulation elements.
Version 2 will add an additional 10-15 real-world explosion and fire effects clips, and it should be released in a couple months or so, as a free update to buyers of version 1. Note that the update is, for early customers, digital, and not on the first round of DVDs, but instead will be sent to the email address you used when ordering on eBay or HornbostelProductions.com. In other words, your PayPal email address.
Please buy this collection when it launches; it’s not flawless, I realize that, but even so it is still an outstanding value for any VFX artist wanting real explosion clips on the cheap, and your purchase will help me to continue updating the collection with even more content, so even if you find yourself buying this early and being not all that impressed initially… just wait for the updates, the long term value of your order will wind up being amazing.
Despite a strongly positive reputation on eBay specifically, I do struggle with some notoriety for being ‘unreliable’ in the timing of new releases.
This has been the case for years, even before I had any websites allowing a wider audience to notice my work. Why do I keep falling behind on my scheduled releases? Why do I so frequently disappoint everyone on the web with how slow my work goes?
It is largely due to the amount of my time dedicated to earning money to make content… and the generally abysmal rate at which that money is earned. We’re talking $5.50 per hour in the best cases, and often no more than $2 or $3/hour.
When the total list of videos and video games I want to release [in the near future] looks like it’ll cost at least $10,000 more to complete everything I want to complete – between hardware, equipment, art supplies, miniature elements, and other costs – well, that’s a problem. That’s about 3000 hours of work just to finance everything and probably another 3600-4500 to actually make the content once it’s paid for even if no setbacks or major problems occur. So let’s say I average 11 hours a day on this, it’s still about 600 more days to get all these things done. And as usual, nothing ever goes as smoothly as I’d want it to.
Now, I’ve had a tendency to drift focus a lot in a rotation, from project to project, making incremental progress on things in a sort of loop, but quite frankly I’m getting tired of the perception that nothing’s happening and I want to upend that.
In the last two weeks, I have made – saved up – a decent amount of money and also upgraded a few critical toolsets. That’s great. But now I’m looking at the mind-numbingly tedious sub-minimum-wage gigs I have been doing all the freaking time to cover the bills and the eBay auctions of artworks for customers that I make no more than $2/hour on or so, at best, and thinking “Why can’t I try to pare this back? Do I really think this is the best use of my time? Is this what most of my audience actually wants to see me doing?”
And the answer’s definitively a NO.
The audience here wants:
-Games, Videos, Comics, Artworks, and assorted creative stuff available to everyone, either dirt cheap or ideally completely free, and they want that stuff soon, they don’t want to wait forever for the content to materialize.
Now, there’s actually a way to make that happen. It’s a simple well-worn concept that underlies a ton of things from broadcast TV networks, to Google, Facebook, Twitter, to the various blogs you see across the web.
The problem with ads on a website is that for them to be viable, you need a LARGE and LOYAL audience – a lot of people visiting regularly.
I’m only currently at 1% of the level needed for the ad revenue to be substantial enough to replace my need to sell products or work on freelance gigs [transcription & such].
At the threshold of 100x as many visitors as I’m getting now, advertising covers everything on my network.
At or above that threshold, none of the products [videos, games] I release need to be anything other than freeware.
All the games – free, 100%, and production would double in speed across the board… on everything I’m doing.
I WON’T BLUDGEON YOU WITH REQUESTS TO VISIT MORE OFTEN OR RECRUIT A BUNCH OF FRIENDS SIMPLY FOR THIS REASON.
I want to instead entice you to do that with some cool stuff that’ll make you WANT to come back often and which will make this network EASY to recommend to friends.
So here’s my idea. The last two weeks I earned a fair amount of cash.
The next 3 weeks, I’ll work on wrapping up some exciting things, actually finishing or at least getting to a point of viability, on a few new items you’re all getting tired of waiting for.
Then the final week of February, if all goes well:
-a large but finely tuned ad campaign will draw a few thousand new visitors to my web network.
-systematic restructure of my web network, new content appearing in various places.
-New video material, all the House Trek stuff and a couple of other things too, posted on HornbostelVideos.com, with a higher-quality disc version [with animated menus and special feature stuff] available on this website’s shop for $2.99 download or $11.99 DVD / 14.99 BluRay.
-Some added comics stuff and completion of the several articles sub-sections that are still vacant.
-A new batch of pyrotechnics elements, both real video content and some clips done with advanced gas/fluid simulation, in the stock media section.
The material’s all shot or simulated at 120fps, and slowed down to 24fps and 30fps variants. The free video files will be reduced-resolution 960×540, the paid versions 1920×1080. [full HD!] and the paid versions will show up on HornbostelProductions.com for $5.99 as downloadable content on HornbostelProductions.com, $14.99 on DVD on HornbostelProductions.com, or $16.99 shipped on a data DVD through eBay. (I was considering a $14.99 price on eBay too, but given the typical fees I have to pay there, which come close to 20%, $16.99 is basically As low as I can justify.)
I’ve ordered two new additional high-speed cameras, and will be setting up some black backing, reflective mirrors [really it’s a nice clean thick cardstock type material with a very reflective mirror-like coating on one side sort of like aluminum foil without wrinkles.] set at 45-degree angles, telephoto lenses, fireproofing supplies, etc, for the recording of the real-world pyrotechnic elements. All the equipment required is en route, and I’ll try my best to make the recorded material look amazing. The idea with the mirrors is to minimize risk to the camera. These are old-school Hollywood methods basically, you can set the mirror above or below the effect and align the camera to focus on the mirror, so you get the explosion billowing towards the camera in some interesting ways without actually endangering the camera. As for shooting at 120fps, that makes the effect look bigger and more impressive [and makes it last 4x longer when reduced to 30fps or 5x longer at 24fps] than the limited-scale effect it actually is. Recording at such high speed allows a miniature to move physics-wise as though it were 16 times bigger than it actually is, giving the illusion of immense scale and mass. The effects in question will only be four or five feet or so in size at most, in reality and will dissipate within two seconds. But they’ll seem far bigger as recorded, gigantic even, and the effects elements could each last up to 8-10 seconds when played back at a typical speed.
-New game content. I’ve had some frustration with WebGL releases from Unity as they were tricky to debug at times, and WebGL apps require that the game files AND the RAM usage fit within a 1GB limit, to run in a web browser. That said, I am now realizing that these limitations aren’t so bad if used for a lower-res demo version of an ambitious game and not a full-res one. So my plan is to release some of my game content in WebGL form, but with quarter-res graphics. That is, all textures switched on export to half the vertical and half the horizontal pixel count they’d ordinarily use. That reduces file size and memory use on all these projects from around 2-4 GB to under 1GB as far as web-embedded release goes.
So I’m aiming to launch a lower-res ‘Miniature Multiverse’ demo and a bit of other stuff like an early ‘Vivid Minigolf’ reworking posted in HTML5 WebGL form near the end of Feb. 2018, barring an unplanned complication. Neither is the full game feature wise or content wise, they’re both early beta releases with a lot of the content not yet included, and lower-res textures. They will, however, be freeware, and playable on my web network [embedded in the page, with a bit of ad stuff underneath.]
The idea on most of the games, videos, everything, is it is all going to be accessible free in some form, either the full, entire version for free, as with the comics, or some sort of reduced-resolution form, but otherwise as functional as the full version in the case of video and video game content.
If this succeeds, that’d be great. I’m hoping ongoing traffic levels have climbed 10-fold by end of February, covering a full 10% of my production costs, and that most of the other 90% of my costs in running this network can be covered by sales of high-value products that have better profit margins than before either because they don’t involve shipping [downloadables] or because they’re high quality enough and widely viewed enough that they end up selling for a bit more than they would have before.
Update: There’s been an extensive ad campaign ramping up – and fortunately 200+ people have viewed the stock media section of TriumphantArtists.com just in the past 72 hours.
By the time of launch, I think that figure will be more like 1200-1500, and I’m optimistic that the new pyrotechnic stock media / stock footage collection, which will have cost me a bit over $250 in incendiary materials, other materials and camera gear, will ultimately result in an explosion of sales. [Pun intended]