Have you watched the video and are wondering what the heck is going on here? We'll give you the quick and dirty version of our goals that led to this Kickstarter campaign first. Specific budgetary details are further down in this section if you find yourself thirsting for them. Afterreading this if you would like more information on the show, who we are, and our vision for the future please visit:
More "About the Cast & Crew"
Our Goals, Dreams, and Ambitions for the show
In short, our goal is to improve the quality and variety of the children's web series that we have developed, called Bean's Monkey Business. This Kickstarter campaign contains all the necessary budget for completion of a full first season lasting 6 months. The show is currently in production and airing short 5-10 minute clips several days per week. If our Kickstarter campaign is funded we will transition to 22-25 minute multi-segment shows airing twice per week. There are a number of obstacles in the way of making this production more professional looking and therefore more attractive to a larger audience. The obstacles basically break down into two categories- production environment and production equipment.
From a production environment perspective our biggest need is space. We're currently filming in our living room, which only has room for one small set and has 7.5' tall ceilings. The ceiling height is far more limiting to a puppet production than you would think. The puppeteers are currently sitting cross-legged and hunched over on the floor, which makes puppet movement within the set severely limited. We need a larger space so we can do several raised sets that allow the puppeteers to stand up behind them, move around, and still be hidden. This is the same method used for Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. We found an office/warehouse space that suits our needs for $450 per month.
Bean the puppet also needs to be 'remade'. The current Bean is our first stab at making a puppet, and we learned a lot in the process. There are a couple of things that need to be fixed or modified to polish the character's appearance, and the only way to do that is start from the ground up. There are also four other puppets we currently have planned (making a high quality puppet is surprisingly expensive), and four distinct sets (a bedroom, a kitchen, a jungle, and a green screen backdrop for special effects usage.) These improvements will result in a much more engaging and varied production. All our theater experience has made us REALLY good set designers/builders and we know how to inexpensively do it ourselves.
Where production equipment is concerned, we need a higher quality camera, actual microphones (instead of the one in the camera), monitors for the performers so they can see what is happening on screen, higher quality lighting (also an issue with the low ceilings we currently have), some music production equipment, and a better way to edit the video and audio into a finished product. We've allocated $7800 towards filling these needs.
And that's it, from a birds-eye view. The nitty gritty details are below if you would like them. In the event that our goal is exceeded here on Kickstarter, we intend to build a mobile set so that we can take the show to visit local children's hospitals, city libraries, and other community-centric locations.
For those who want the closeup view, here's the nitty gritty:
The bulk of our monetary needs are in the technical realm. Cameras, lights, sound, and editing. We lack in ALL of those areas. I won't cover the entire laundry list here, but these are the major bullet points:
Our current camera is a Sony Handycam that we paid $600 for about eight years ago. Considering that it's had a long life and been used a LOT, it's remarkable that we are getting the quality out of it that we are. When it works, that is... It often doesn't and has to be taken apart, soldered, cleaned, have parts replaced, or otherwise massaged. We are looking at a good used professional rig by Canon that's available for $2800 that would provide much better quality and have far more features and production flexibility. The camera sold new for $8500 just a couple of years ago, so it's a pretty good buy.
All good shows need music, and we have a number of local musicians/composers excited about working on the show. What we don't have is anything to engineer a high quality audio track on. A good MIDI keyboard combined with some microphones and audio editing software will turn the trick. The keyboard we're looking at is again a used unit that still sells new at music stores for $4500. A friend-of-a-friend is willing to part with his for $1300, so again a good buy. Say hello to lots of original music! Also in the sound realm, we need some real microphones for the actors and a mixing board to blend the audio in seamlessly. We're currently picking up all the audio from the built-in microphone on the Sony Handycam, and if you've heard one of the episodes you'll understand why this is a need.
As it stands now, the puppeteers have no way of seeing what the puppet is doing on screen. In other words, they're making all the puppet motions blind. The budget includes the cost of a couple of monitors that can be placed behind the set so that the puppeteers can see the real-time screen image as they manipulate the puppet. This will improve the puppet's 'realism' by tremendous amounts.
Lights are far more important than we ever imagined before we knew what we were doing. When it's done well you never notice the lighting environment in your favorite TV show or movie, but without good lighting a production will either look flat or just really look like crud. We're currently making do with some pieces that we've assembled ourselves and a $50 photography light rig we got from Amazon. In a larger studio environment we're going to have to up the ante. Fortunately lights don't cost a fortune if you know where to look and are frugal and creative. $400 of the budget is allocated to this.
Finally, the editing process is at the moment our largest daily roadblock and the most limiting factor creatively. The computer and software we're using just aren't up to the task. It takes about 45 minutes to render out a 10 minute clip, and when you have to do that a couple of times to tweak the final product the time investment becomes prohibitive. We also don't have the ability to do any green-screen or other special effects, and we'd like to be able to throw some of those in periodically. A decent used Mac and a copy of Adobe Premier CS5.5 is a workable solution for $2500.
There are numerous other small items that are in the budget, things like tripods, mic stands, extension cords, power strips, microphone cables, sound treatments, etc, etc, etc....
We really believe that we've covered all the bases though, and are budgeting some of our own funds to cover the portion of the total budget not represented by this Kickstarter fund. Thanks for helping us reach a larger audience and bring laughter and learning to this generation!