About Raspberry Pi and Embedded Players
I've had a couple of suggestions that an affordable player for Lib-Ray could be made with hardware such as the "Raspberry Pi" single-board computer. This is an interesting possibility, and I thought about possibly promising a player based on it as a reward in this Kickstart.
There are a few reasons why I didn't, and so I want to share my reasoning with you.
1 Predicting Costs
Cost on a computer build tends to be hard to predict, because there's often a component that you forget about or that you didn't realize you needed until the last minute. So it's dangerous to predict a price on one without first building a prototype. This becomes even more of a big deal when you're pushing the cost as low as you possibly can.
For example, the Raspberry Pi costs just $35. But what do you get for that? It's just a circuit board with chips on it. To make that into a player, you at minimum need to add a case -- and for this application it probably needs to be custom. For small runs, that might mean 3D-printing the case, which can be pricey. Or using an off-the-shelf project box, which would probably look pretty lame.
Also, the RPi needs to use the SD card to boot, which means you need a second SD/MMC slot to support a Lib-Ray card. So, that probably means plugging in a USB 2.0 SD-card reader. My guess is that my own cost to build this would be anywhere from $60 to $90.
A small mistake in estimating could easily result in me losing money on each unit, and if there are a lot of them, it could quickly add up to more money than I have to lose.
2 Kickstarter Economics
As Kickstart reward, then, I'd probably have to charge $200 or more -- because the whole point of the Kickstart is to raise the money for the fixed costs. And you have to be careful not to offer something that has a thin margin, because if you make all of the money on the thin-margin item, you wind up with no development money (if that happened, I would have to cancel and return your money, even if the Kickstart technically succeeded).
It might make more sense to promise to prototype such a player and then just sell it with a thinner margin (or run a separate Kickstarter to get the batch-size needed to make the unit-cost low). Then, instead of having to double the cost to raise development funds, I could offer it on a thinner margin for a more attractive price.
3 Will It Actually Work?
The biggest problem, though, is that as it currently exists, GNU/Linux on Raspberry Pi actually can't play 1080p VP8 video -- or at least that's what the Wiki currently says. 720p is currently the limit for VP8 decoding (we won't use the more popular h264 codec for patent reasons).
This is apparently a software problem, though -- it seems that no one has written a Linux kernel driver to access the VP8 hardware decoder in the Broadcom SoC that is the CPU for the RPi.
Now someone could write that support, and that would solve the problem. However, I am not a programmer at that level (embedded programming at that level is serious stuff), and I did not want to promise something I could not deliver myself. I've had some offers of help, though, and if that pans out, then maybe this driver will exist and there will be a path forward to an RPi-based player.
Since I started this Kickstarter, though, I should say that I've gotten some offers (from people who are comfortable with this level of programming) to write this code so that such a player could be made. That would be really cool, and if you're interested in helping, I can get you in communication with those people.
At the moment, the Raspberry Pi board is infamously hard to acquire -- there are waiting lists. That makes it hard to get one to prototype on, let alone a batch to support production of players.
It Will Happen, Though
Despite these issues, though, I don't doubt that a low-cost player will happen, if the Lib-Ray standard gets established. There's several SoC-type boards like the Raspberry Pi that are expected to come out sometime in 2013. One of these boards will undoubtedly make a player in the $100-$200 range practical, even in short-run quantities.
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May 4, 2012 - Jun 3, 2012 (30 days)
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Notification of download availability for the software and specification documents.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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BACKER CREDIT: In addition to receiving notification of the download, anyone contributing $10 or more will be credited in the distribution notes for the software.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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COPY OF THE SOFTWARE: CD-R disk with all of the developed software in a Live-CD Linux so you can play Lib-Ray on most computers with CD-ROM and SD card support. The "Complete Guide to Lib-Ray" book will be provided in PDF format on the disk.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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BLENDER FOUNDATION OPEN MOVIE COLLECTION. Lib-Ray edition of the first three open movies created by the Blender Foundation: "Elephants Dream", "Big Buck Bunny", and "Sintel". You get all three films in high-quality 1920x1080 HD video with stereo and 5.1 surround sound, plus as many subtitle tracks as I can locate. This release will be in a compact, lightweight sleeve.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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SITA SINGS THE BLUES. Lib-Ray edition of Nina Paley's award-winning feature-length animated film "Sita Sings the Blues" in beautiful 1920x1080 HD video with stereo sound. Some of the proceeds from this Creator Endorsed release will be shared directly with Nina Paley after we make our minimum. This edition will be in a light-weight, compact, eco-friendly sleeve.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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BLENDER FOUNDATION OPEN MOVIE COLLECTION (Lib-Ray): Deluxe-packaged Lib-Ray format release of the first three of the Blender Foundation's Open Movies: "Elephants Dream", "Big Buck Bunny", and "Sintel", with extras and subtitles in all of the available languages I can find. The Lib-Ray software and documentation will be provided as an extra on this special edition card. (This is the same package as the mock-up I showed in the video).Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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SITA SINGS THE BLUES (Lib-Ray): Deluxe packaged Creator-Endorsed Lib-Ray format release of "Sita Sings the Blues" by Nina Paley. Note that this will be the first time this title has been released in a high-definition format. The Lib-Ray software and documentation will be provided as an extra on this special edition card. (This is the same package as the mock-up I showed in the video). After we make our minimum, a portion of the profit from sales of this card will be given to Nina Paley herself.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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PRINTED MANUAL: A printed copy of the "Complete Guide to Lib-Ray", a book documenting the specification, tutorials on how to create a Lib-Ray disk "from scratch" as well as by using the developed Lib-Ray mastering wizard software. Plus you will receive the software on disk as well.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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BOTH RELEASES (SITA SINGS THE BLUES and the BLENDER OPEN MOVIE COLLECTION) on Lib-Ray: Both "Sita Sings the Blues" and the Blender Foundtion open movies "Elephants Dream", "Big Buck Bunny", and "Sintel". The Lib-Ray software and documentation will be included on these cards.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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PRINTED MANUAL and SITA SINGS THE BLUES: "The Complete Guide to Lib-Ray" printed book along with the Lib-Ray format copy of "Sita Sings the Blues" in the compact package.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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BOTH RELEASES - DELUXE PACKAGE OPTION ("Sita Sings the Blues" and "Blender Open Movies Collection"). If you would like to get both of the Lib-Ray releases in the deluxe (metal package with 3D-printed plastic card clip and printed insert with liner notes), you can select this option. These will be similar to the mock-ups in the video.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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TRY OUT LIB-RAY 4K: Experimental "Lib-Ray 4K" release of the Blender Foundation's "Sintel" Open Movie. This will be in an experimental 4096x2048 pixel format as currently used in digital projection systems. There are only a few home theater systems available at this resolution, and you will need to run the software on a fairly high-end computer to make this work (the hardware player I am offering is not guaranteed to be able to play this disk).Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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PRINTED MANUAL and BOTH RELEASES: The "Complete Guide to Lib-Ray" printed book along with Lib-Ray format copies of "Sita Sings the Blues" and the Blender Foundation Open Movie Collection.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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GOLD SPONSOR: You will receive the printed "Complete Guide to Lib-Ray" book, both Lib-Ray releases ("Sita Sings the Blues" and the Blender Open Movie Collection), and you will be credited as a "Gold Sponsor" in the documentation, book, and distribution credits.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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PLATINUM SPONSOR: Be listed as a "Platinum Sponsor". Also get your choice of compact or deluxe editions of both "Blender Open Movie Collection" and "Sita Sings the Blues" and the printed manual "Complete Guide to Lib-Ray", with a signed message of thanks from me (all the "PLATINUM" level sponsors will get this -- because I'm really going to be that grateful!).Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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FILMMAKER (MASTERING OF YOUR OWN FILM): Special reward for producers -- I will work with you to produce a Lib-Ray edition of your own film. You will need to provide lossless (or best available) original video, original audio, still images for menus (unless you want me to use frames from your video) and any other extras you want to have on the release. It does NOT have to be a free-licensed release, but I will need to get a statement identifying you as the copyright holder and indemnifying me against claims (I'll provide boilerplate for that). The video content also should not violate any laws or require any special regulatory notices (e.g. no porn films, please).Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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PLATINUM SPONSOR / HTPC SYSTEM (PLAYER/COMPUTER): I will build you a Home Theater PC with playback support for Lib-Ray, DVD, and (some?) Blu-Ray disks. The system will be GNU/Linux based and will use one of the existing player distributions for DVD and Blu-Ray playback. Lib-Ray playback will be through the software I develop and will be integrated into the distribution as best I can make it. This player will come in a low-profile HTPC case. The system will be powerful enough to do the decoding in software, so you'll also be able to find other uses for it, such as playing games. You will also receive the "Sita Sings the Blues" and Blender Foundation Open Movie Collection releases and the printed "Complete Guide to Lib-Ray" book, and you will be credited as a "Platinum Sponsor".Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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PLATINUM SPONSOR / HTPC SYSTEM PLUS MONITOR AND SOUND SYSTEM: I will build you a complete Home Theater (or private screening) system with the player HTPC, a set of 5.1 surround sound speakers, and a 32" flat-panel LCD 1080P HD TV monitor. You will also receive credit as "Platinum Sponsor" and you will get copies of both "Sita Sings the Blues" and the Blender Foundation Open Movie Collection as well as the printed "Complete Guide to Lib-Ray" book. (Warning: if there are customs regulations or tariffs affecting the import of this product to your country, you will need to be responsible for them. Monitor and speakers may be drop-shipped separately from the supplier to reduce shipping costs).Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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CORPORATE SPONSOR: Organizational logo sponsor. Your company's logo will be included prominently in all of the project materials and on the Lib-Ray.org website as a project sponsor. You will also receive up to 10 copies each of the two Lib-Ray releases ("Sita Sings the Blues" and the Blender Foundation Open Movies Collection).Estimated delivery: Jul 2013