I’ve flown to Pittsburgh

I’ve had a bit of an adorable ‘trial by fire’ in Pittsburgh, with my first two days after my flight, involving twin boys, Nick & Ben, 4 years old, and a 2 year old girl [Evelyn]. They’re my sister’s children and they’re cute but exhausting.

But that’s precisely why I moved to Pittsburgh. I want to be there to help and be a friendly and fun uncle.

A lot of our family is now gravitating towards the Pittsburgh area actually – my parents (the tots’ grandparents) and my grandmother, now in her early 80s, who’s now a great-grandmother for the kiddos.

Downside: Lots of eBay delays – the big moving truck that is carrying my PC and my art supplies left Houston a little while before I did, and it still has not arrived in Pittsburgh at the new house. We continue to wait as it is en route. I am hoping the truck will arrive to unload the stuff within the next couple days and only then will I realistically be able to begin making/shipping eBay items again.

My digital content seems like it’ll likely mostly be fine; I took one copy of all my data on a handful of hard drives. The backup copy of the same data was carried by my family in their luggage on other separate flights.

Between the local backups and the fact that nearly 2/3 of the data also exists in the loud via BackBlaze, I think it’s likely nothing of value will be lost in the transition.

I’ll catch up on delivering eBay orders as soon as I’m able to do so, and will continue chipping away at my other projects as well, once that’s settled.

I am also planning some fun activities with the family. Sure, they’re playing games on my aging and slightly screen-cracked iPad, which is what I’m writing this update on.

But I’ll also try organzing active games, outings, simple board/card games, reading to the kids/playing word games, and some video projects even. I’ll even show you fragments of what I’ve planned – I was thinking of activities with family even before I packed everything up. So here are some images hinting at planned fun things:

The floor is lava – a VFX test for a video with the children.

I’ll record a short and silly video in which the children are playing ‘the floor is lava’ – complete with menacingly realistic looking lava! Basically we will get to see what the children are imagining come to life.

There’s even a lava monster.

I also have plans for a reconfigurable, modular box maze. It uses the medium-sized Home Depot boxes that we have packed stuff into for the move, and they’ll be arrnaged into a bunch of different maze configurations, a new one each day for a week or so.

This was an early 3d mockup of a possible layout before I shifted to the ‘modular’ design plans:

An old design test for a childrens’ box maze / fortress.

And yes, the twins are very silly, I introduced myself as Uncle Matthew and Ben the twin, started calling me Buncle Bayou for some reason. The absurd nickname’s a running joke now.

And finally, some kid friendly crossword puzzles. I don’t think they’re quite ready for these but they’ll get there soon enough.

Colors, numbers and shapes kid crossword.

 

Crossword with all words made from the letters in the word ‘teacups’. For children.
The most commonly used English words placed in a crossword puzzle.

Anyway, you can tell I’m getting into the role of fun uncle or ‘funcle’ in Pennsylvania, but that does NOT mean I’ve forgotten about my internet audience, eBay customers,  or my friends still living in Houston, Texas!

 

Acceleration in late February 2018?

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.

Advertising.

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.

Fireball Simulation

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.

How the three FX setups will work

-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]