Pre-Production Kickstarter Launched!

As you can see from the widget on our
front page, we have just launched our Kickstarter campaign to fund
pre-production artwork development for the series. This includes the
character design and model sheets, the set plans, and plans of the
vehicles that appear in the pilot episode, “No Children in Space”. It
will also support Rosalyn Hunter in making final revisions to the


Kickstarter Launched

We’re very excited about this, of course. And a little terrified.
This will be our first real chance to see just how much interest there
is in Lunatics, so I hope the news will be good. It’s also our first
chance to test out Kickstarter and the general “crowd-funding” (or
“community-funding” as I prefer to say) model of financing a project
like this.

After all, we are engaged in an experiment in producing commercial free culture, so this will be an important milestone for us.

Here’s a brief summary, although you can just go to our Kickstarter site to see the whole thing:

“Somebody Has To Be Crazy Enough to Go First”

is a concept we (Rosalyn Hunter and Terry Hancock) first had about 10
years ago at a space conference (the International Space Development Conference)
when we asked ourselves this question: if the Moon were colonized not
by corporations or by government but by a grassroots organization by the
same people who today are space fanatics — as seems likely to happen
— what will that look like?  (“Lunatics” is a tongue-in-cheek
label for space advocates who promote the Moon as a target for
settlement, as opposed to Mars, Near Earth Asteroids, L5 Station, or
some other vision of space development).

It’s a story about confident, resourceful people facing serious
problems with a sense of humor; it’s about the fundamental dangers both
of nature and of human nature; and it’s about a truly realistic view of
space colonization and settlement.

A Free-Culture 3D Animated Web Series

At first, we didn’t know how we were going to create Lunatics,
nor exactly what it would be. Should it be a series of stories? A web
comic? A live-action television series? Each presented its own problems.

What we have settled upon is telling the story with 3D animation
using the Blender animation software and other free software tools. We
will also make extensive use of existing free-licensed artistic works,
include some fantastic music and sound effects libraries that already
part of the intellectual commons created by free licenses, like the
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike. Releasing our work under
the same free-license means, among other things, that we have access
to so much of this material.

Phase I – Characters and Pre-Production Art

Although Rosalyn and I are willing to do quite a bit of work on
speculation, we need to pay advances, especially on early work on
Lunatics, when the perception of risk is a lot higher.

So, we’ve agreed to pay Daniel Fu $1600 for commissioned character
design work which eliminates a lot of the risk for him, and justifies
the amount of time we need for him to spend on creating good character
design model sheets from which we can create 3D character models (having
a good plan is an important part of getting a good model).

We’ve decided to let the minimum funding goal be just enough
to ensure we can pay this advance, after the platform overheads and
costs of producing and shipping the rewards. This will cover the costs
of creating:

  • Full model sheets and plans for the eight colonists
  • Full model sheets and plans for four secondary characters
  • Model sheets for “extras” with mix-and-match elements we can use to fill in “extras” or “walk-on” characters
  • A “Character Line Up” sheet which shows the correct relative scaling
    of the characters to each other — we’ll also be using this for
    marketing purposes, as it will replace the current “silhouettes” logo
    we’ve been using

However, of course, we will be continuing our own work at the same
time, and this will be reflected in the rewards from this Kickstart.
Rosalyn Hunter has a full time job, so she’s not able to spend as much
time on this project yet, but she will be doing some important things

  • Finishing up the script (especially polishing some of the dialog) for “No Children in Space”
  • Voicing over several roles on the temporary track
  • Consulting on character design issues

Some of my directing and producing work is already done, although in
most cases, I still have a lot of finishing work to do. Here’s what I’m
committing to finishing by April 2012:

  • Floorplans for the entire ISF-1 colony (for most of the series, we’ll be on this one set, but it’s a HUGE four-story set)
  • Plans and a 3D model for the “Lunar Transportation System” moon
    shuttle and associated components. This includes the “Space Station
    Alpha LTS Servicing Platform” as well as some of the ground facilities
    and vehicles on the Moon
  • A partial set of “Iridium Station” (the USAF-sponsored lunar base from which ISF-1 is supplied) including the “terminal” module.
  • Diagrams, maps, and some 3D models for the “Gagarin’s Start” launch
    facility at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan (this is a real place,
    updated to 2040)
  • Updated storyboards — I need to fix a lot of inconsistencies that have crept in due to script revisions and design changes
  • The music selection for the soundtrack is nearly finished already
  • Complete soundmixes will need additional recorded dialog (at this
    stage, this will just be temporary voiceover done by us and drafted
    family members) as well as additional processed sound effects and foley
  • With these elements, I will be able to cut together the first
    complete version of the pilot episode, using the temp sound, hand-drawn
    storyboards, and a few 3D animatics for moving shots