‘Miniature Multiverse’ launch pushed back but mostly there’s good news!

Miniature Multiverse will now launch in October 2017, probably mid-October. That’s a delay of about half a month.

Good news though: The project, once released, will be far better value.

The program will be priced at $1.50, with five worlds at launch, not three.  I.e. I’m essentially doubling the scope of the project and also trimming the price by $0.25. All updates will still be free.

Obviously, adding an additional room to Lokus and two entirely new worlds (Cliak and Sedest) will be the focus of much of my time the next two weeks. But once that effort is complete, the launch may be far better for it.  Bonus: I plan to launch on Steam as well – I’ve done a bit of market research (thanks, SteamSpy!) and reached the conclusion that a Steam release will be worth the additional cost and effort. Maybe the project will be trashed by Steam buyers, but hey, if you don’t like it, just refund it [Steam has a refund policy that allows games to be refunded as long as you’ve spent less than 2 hrs. running them)… and in this case, that refund policy means you can see pretty much everything in this initial launch for free.  And if you want to hold on to your copy of ‘Miniature Multiverse’ for later updates [there’ll be a lot of free updates over time]

That said – I’d encourage people to go the Itch.IO route.  Their review process for indies is leaner and faster and less backlogged so despite the fact that I’m submitting to Steam first, there’s a high likelihood that the Steam version won’t go live until nearly the end of the year.

Miniature Multiverse GIF
Miniature Multiverse

In other news, my video site HornbostelVideos.com is live now!  There’s not a lot there yet – basically just YouTube vlog entries and revised House Trek episodes – but more will be added over time.  Well worth a look.

House Trek TOS space battle
House Trek space battle

 

Miniature Multiverse happening?

One thing you should know about me is that when I’ve latched onto an idea, I rarely abandon it. Even if that means chipping away at obstacles to completion for years on end.

One good example? Miniature Multiverse.

For those who don’t know about this, it was a concept that I ran a Kickstarter campaign for in 2011, and the campaign was poorly promoted and weakly managed and failed to raise any real funding. That said, the concept was sound and Kickstarter staff gave the project a ‘Projects we Love’ designation. I still get occasional messages and emails from people who only discovered the KS years after it failed but still want it to happen.

Well… I have gained a lot of experience using Unity as an engine since 2011, and have acquired a lot of good assets and tools connected to it. I have a better camera than what I had in 2011, a Sony camera with 20.1 megapixel photo capability, and I’ve figured out a great camera rig setup that is suitable for this project. I also have a lot of miniature supplies now and am actively and rapidly scratchbuilding the baseline content I aimed for in crowdfunding, now quite efficiently on my own dime.  It also helps that I have no physical backer rewards to worry about shipping! And I have a strategy to launch both the HT:TOS DVD and the Miniature Multiverse first three worlds, by September 20th, in just fourteen days.  Two. Weeks. From. Now. And that is also when I post online chapter one of Another Road Taken and the first limited set of video stuff is posted on HornbostelVideos.com.  Nearly all of this is already completed and in position now and all that really still needs to be done is a few final changes and then uploading those things.

And yes, I know I’ve drastically miscalculated timing on projects before – but I think this is so close to ready that even if I miss the mark it won’t be by much.

One catch: I want to build more worlds. Miniature Multiverse was always intended as an ongoing thing. So is the [similar type of project] ‘Panoramic Worlds‘.

There are even other things going on beyond all of that that involve making 3D worlds, including one-off 3D game productions such as Spiral Skies, Isola, and the church project that some of the Redeemer church people fully funded, and a few larger long term things I can’t discuss easily but they’ll involve fan art and more info on that will be known on Sept. 24.

But to make worlds – a lot of them – for everyone to explore, sometimes means funding is necessary [in the case of Miniature Multiverse] or at least helpful in getting things done a bit better and faster.  Now, not a lot of funding is needed, but if I had, say, at least fifty or sixty subscribers as members supporting my work consistently while also benefiting from it enormously through exclusive content and deep discounts across my shops? That’d enable me to get a new world built for Miniature Multiverse every month or two, ongoing. That’d be pretty awesome, no?

Members would have access to the newest builds of Miniature Multiverse – months ahead of everyone else. So subscribing premium members and shop buyers will be able to see some things sooner than the general public. Same with videos.

And while the House Trek DVD is going to be available for purchase, to non members, it’s free [digitally] to members.  Members will get things cheaper or earlier than everyone else. And if you’re a member, you provide a degree of momentum here that is exciting – every member makes things move forward faster across the board for a variety of reasons.  So if you want to help, remember to become a member! 

Update, May 2nd, 2017

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.

 

Still reeling and coping with the setbacks

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!

My eBay shop

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 Etsy shop

April 10-15, 2017 – the big updates

Why is next Monday, April 10 – and every Monday after that for the next 15 weeks – going to be epic?  Here’s why:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4.  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 [2001] 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.

 

 

New VFX stock footage .GIFs!

All of the video archives in the ‘Stock Footage’ section of TriumphantArtists.com, now have little .GIF previews so you can see what you’re downloading before downloading it.

Here are some great examples of this, in the ‘pyrotechnic’ category:

 

HD pyrotechnic stock footage

All of this is free and royalty-free and you can use it in your own video projects.  Please, however, don’t try to sell the content or pass it off as your own work.  You can, however, redistribute it for free by sharing links to TriumphantArtists.com.  Okay?

I have ordered a video camera capable of recording 720p HD video at 120fps.  That is, when played back at 30 fps, it’s 1/4 speed, slow motion footage.  So the blasts of fire and sparks will look HUGE but they’re really quite small – the nature of high-speed video means that at this framerate everything should move as if it were 16x larger.

The collection will be a modest batch of ‘zero-gravity’ pyrotechnics elements for all your indie sci-fi blockbusters.  These are also great for exploding aircraft shots and other explosions that are in the air.

I’m shooting these essentially the same way Hollywood would, but with somewhat cheaper supplies on a smaller scale, and no salary involved.

There’s a little remotely triggered bundle of explosive material, ignited electrically from a switch & radio setup – when the switch is flipped, the radio signal activates an electrical charge and that ignites/blows apart the rest of the materials like coffee creamer, debris chunks, etc.  The whole explosive rig is hanging beneath a fireproof black backdrop [Duvetyne cloth] and the surrounding area is sprayed in advance with Fire Gard, a fireproofing liquid, to minimize risk of other things catching on fire.  I’ll also have two fire extinguishers on hand, and three containers of water, two of them with spray nozzles, one is basically a large bucket.

I’ll be triggering this from a safe distance wearing a protective mask/goggles.  I’ve read up on relevant precautions and will do this as safely as I am able.

The ‘zero gravity’ recording will be captured with an HD camera and telephoto lens; these won’t be under the explosion for obvious reasons, so I’ll be using an acrylic reflecting surface [like a big cheapo mirror] positioned at a 45-degree angle directly under the blast, with the camera viewing and recording the reflection of the explosion off the surface.

I’ve plugged in the physics numbers for the sequences and can say fairly confidently that the main portion of each fire burst effect will last about 2.5-3.6 seconds when played back at 30fps.  Maybe some drifting smoke and haze after that but not much else.  There may be about seven or eight of them in all.  They’re, as I’ve said, small effects by necessity, but the high speed photography will help with that.

This recording effort may occur within 2-3 months, and other supplemental effects for a few of my video projects, a few months after that.  If the idea of highly affordable pyrotechnic and other useful video effects elements at under $1 per clip, sounds great, then by all means keep an eye on the TriumphantArtists.com stock media page.

FEBRUARY 2017 RECAP

Recapping the recent events of February 2017, just the last month, to remind everyone that despite appearances, a lot of updates do actually happen on my web network if you keep looking:

-eBay auctions with low starting bids continue.  Look at these three in particular, especially the top two as they’ve gotten relatively few views so far compared to the third but are nonetheless impressive value:

Pastel Pencil art, 16×20 inches, starting at $1.99

Oil pastel art, 18×24 inches, starting at $2.49

Acrylic Painting, 18 x 24 inches, starting at $2.99

-The new batch of polls continue to go largely ignored by website visitors.  I’ve gotten *hundreds* of visitors to my websites in the past week, over 700 actually, but the polling page seems to be a bit hard for them to find for whatever reason.  It’s a shame, too, given the amazing opportunity for the few who actually take a look at that page.

The polling page.

-Membership options just launched.  There are some stupendous perks to being a subscriber and signing up for a Premium Membership status here.

The most obvious is free shipping while a member and 15% or more off all HornbostelProductions.com store items.  You could get some great bargains on handmade art doing that right now.  $4.99/year for 15% or more off everything, and a list of other extras.  Really reasonable.

Membership benefits

-The VFX section of Articles were just recently posted.  There are four new articles on TriumphantArtists.com, and they are all in that category.

VFX and 3D art-icles

-Still Art section has a few new images and is now sortable.  You can now view the artworks I’ve made, organized by year, art medium, or size.

Still Art Page – now sortable!

-Ground work laid for some big stuff updated in the next 30 days.  As in, major news related to ‘Spiral Skies’, release of House Trek content, and a new batch of HD stock footage, as well as more comics stuff, finally a new vlog entry, and continued expansion of the articles section with even more valuable information.  There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes and it’ll be publically revealed over time.

-That goofball auction of five hours of my time.  Nobody bid, but I am not really surprised given the brevity of the auction.  It was kind of an experiment and it failed.  Time to move on.  Maybe I’ll try that idea again later on with a longer build up beforehand.

-The Vineyard Video Leisure Group is now moving closer to fruition.  I posted a teaser image for it just this evening.  [See previous post]

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.

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.