More about music, and about this Lib-Ray thing…

This week I got most of the open questions about the soundtrack music settled.
The only problem is that I opened a new question too. I also started a (mostly separate)
Kickstarter project for the “Lib-Ray” video format, and I probably need
to explain a little how that connects to Lunatics.

Cleared all the music (then uncleared some…)

There were four musical artists I needed to contact to clear licenses
on the soundtrack I’ve been setting up for the pilot episode. From
these, I got an enthusiastic “yes” from three of them, and a very long
amount of dithering that dwindled to a “no” from one.  I should
emphasize that all of the really important/significant music has been
cleared.

The one track I had to ditch has been removed, and I’ve been trying
different alternatives to replace it. I think today that I’ve found the
one I want to use, which is actually just a different part of a track I
used earlier on — it makes for a nice “reprise” effect this way.

I was nervous about asking Elaine Walker from Zia about the use of
the title track, which is obviously a very important track, even though I
have spoken with her before and she’s been pretty open with releasing
her music online over the years.  However, she was very positive
about it, and she’s even doing a remix of the track for us herself. She
also offered to let me use additional music from her past work, which is
fantastic. Naturally, I decided to go have a look, and as a result,
I’ve made a few additional changes to the soundtrack.

One of them involves getting permission from another artist (oops),
though, and so I once again have one track in question. This isn’t that
much of a hold-up, though, since I already had music for that part of
the episode — it’s just that this track would probably improve it
considerably, and we’ll change the way that sequence was cut to fit the
music better if we can use it. Hopefully I’ll know soon.


Lib-Ray Kickstarter

Launched May 4th

The Free Software Foundation has been billing May 4th as
“International Day Against DRM”, and it seemed like a particularly
auspicious day to start a Kickstarter for a non-DRM high-definition video format.
Blu-Ray video disks have some pretty aggressive DRM features which are
not only annoying for free culture producers and fans, but they also add
extra expenses. So, I’ve been wanting to come up with a good way to
release “Lunatics” in high-definition that didn’t involve Blu-Ray.

In the end, I decided to invent a standard, based on open standards
for video and menu systems (Matroska/VP8/FLAC for the former and HTML5
for the latter).

A few of you may be thinking, “Hey! But you haven’t delivered on the first Kickstarter!”

This is true, and I’m a little embarrassed about that. I would prefer
to have waited until I completely finished before starting the next
one. On the other hand, this is mostly a separate project (if it
succeeds, it’ll be almost like having a “day job” for awhile, which
would be useful), and it did seem really appropriate to launch it on the
4th. I also had decided I was not going to put the same level of effort
into promoting this Lib-Ray Kickstarter — if people want it, I’ll do
it, if it fails, so be it. Gauging interest is part of the point. So I
decided to go for it.

Finishing Up Pre-Production

We are of course finishing up the work on the Pre-Production stage.
Daniel Fu is almost finished with everything we contracted him for —
which is what this Kickstart was really about.

Rosalyn has finished a lot of the character sketch material that will
go into the Writer’s Guide, and that’s mostly just waiting on me to
typeset it for the book. She keeps fiddling with the script, but in
general, that is actually a good thing. It does get better as a result.

Sadly, I am woefully behind on some of the parts I personally promised to do.

(Bad director!
Do your homework!)

I have got the Moon shuttle lander just about done now — this is an
Inkscape drawing with about 60 layers! I need to add a few finishing
touches and then add the rest of the shuttle to it as well. The colony
floorplan is done, except for a few rooms on the “support” level. I’m
actually considering the possibility of leaving a couple of “blank”
areas just in case we need to retcon something I forgot to include.

The biggest lack has been in creating the actual Blender 3D models for
animatics. I hope to get to that soon and then finish the storyboards
and create a story reel. I may have to cut back a little on what I
promised on these, or else delay the data disks a little longer to
include them (but then I can send the other stuff out earlier).

On the other hand, I’m actually far ahead of where I expected to be with
the soundtrack. The music is just about all cleared (and even if I don’t
get the extra track mentioned above, I already had that sequence
planned to different music).

I was also contacted by an actor, and having spoken to others, I now
think it will be much easier to cast than I originally imagined. Turns
out, actors like to act. Who knew?

So there may be
some areas with a little less than expected and others with a little
more than expected on the pre-production rewards.

I’ve also had a better chance to observe other projects on Kickstarter (such as
The Tube
and Amanda Palmer’s new album project),
and this is affecting my strategy for Lunatics. I no longer think it
makes sense to go through another intermediate stage. Instead, we’re
just going to run a big Kickstarter to pay everything needed to finish
the pilot episode. I now think this is more likely to succeed.

As a result, I will probably simply be trying to raise enough money
to pay the Blender animation people — I’m still doing the math, but it
looks like we’ll be able to pay for some “remote interns” to work on
either a full-time or half-time “stipend” while being able to work from
their own homes. In some ways this is not as cool as getting everybody
together in one place as they’ve done on the Blender Foundation’s open
movies, but in other ways, it’s much nicer. So, we’ll probably get a
different group of people, but I think we’ll be able to find talented
people who will really like it.

This means less of me trying to talk people into doing stuff for free, which is a big relief.

Upcoming Announcements

Well, you’ll be the first to know about this: I’m preparing announcements to go up on
the site opening up both voice casting and applications for 3D Blender animation interns
to work on the modeling and animation. These will be appearing in the
“Support Us” block soon, and I’m going to have to ask for your help to
get the word out to the right people. There are going to be some
interesting challenges there, which the announcements will explain.

All-in-all progress is pretty good.