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Character and set design art and writers' guide for the free-culture animated web series about the first lunar settlers.
Funded pre-production for "Lunatics!" series in 2011, now completing production of our first episode to be released Spring 2015. Please visit our main project page for up-to-date information!
Funded pre-production for "Lunatics!" series in 2011, now completing production of our first episode to be released Spring 2015. Please visit our main project page for up-to-date information!
47 backers pledged $2,410 to help bring this project to life.

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Lunatics! Audiodrama: "Earth"

We've completed our first production, which is an audiodrama:


The colonists are joined by meta-conceptual artist R. Allen Emerson as part of his project to experience a lunar eclipse as viewed from the Moon, while Josh struggles with a new problem getting the colonies first crops started.

This episode worked particularly well as an audiodrama, and we're very excited to have been able to finish an entire episode!

You can stream or download the FULL EPISODE (34 minutes) from our site here:

We are also offering the episode on Audio CD along with some extras, in an IndieGoGo Campaign:

This is a "flexible funding" campaign, which avoids the problems of falling through if we don't make a specific goal (because at this point, partial funding is better than no funding -- we're past the 'threshold problem'), and we've set a much lower goal of $3000 which is meant to cover producing the audio CD pressing costs, shipping and handling, and (hopefully) paying a little bit to the actors in the production.

Should we raise more than these base costs, it will go towards the 3D modeling work for the animated production. Or... for sponsorships of $200 or more, you can tell us where you'd like your money to be spent -- on the voice actors, the 3D modelers, the writing/producing/design team, computer hardware for rendering animation, or to pay the musicians whose work we're using.

We could also use some non-monetary help: in particular, we're looking for more venues to get "Earth" released. Possibly we could enter it into festivals or competitions, get it on independent radio stations, or other places. Anyone who could review it for a podcast or for reddit or sci-fi fan groups, or whatever. We can't really publish in those places ourselves, because that's "self-promotion" which is too much like spam. So we have to rely on people who like the show (a.k.a. "fans") to spread the word about it.

Of course, the episode remains CC By-SA 3.0, including voices, music, and sound effects. Full credits are available on the download page (I even made them clicky!).

We hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed making it!

2013 Production Kickstarter

We are now running a Kickstarter campaign to fund production of the pilot episode for "Lunatics!", "No Children in Space". After a year of work on this project, I'm really excited with how much we've accomplished -- we have already got many of the most important models for the project created, and of course, with your help, we were able to do the pre-production work, create an animatic, and do voice recording.

The goal of our new Kickstarter is to finish off the pilot by doing the remaining model work and then animating. Please check it out!

"Lunatics!" - 2013 Production Kickstart - "No Children in Space"

All Rewards Shipped!

Today, we posted the very last rewards, which were the three Lib-Ray-formatted versions of the pilot episode animatic, along with the dataset, which included all of the extras from the episode download page as well as a snapshot of the development source tree. Once we decided to release these in a format compatible with our developing Lib-Ray standard, we had to wait until we had enough of that standard defined to make sure they would match -- but we've now reached that point with Lib-Ray, so it was possible to finalize these and get them shipped.

And that marks the end of our Pre-Production Kickstarter! Hurray!

I've contacted the three of you who are receiving the USB/SD card datasets with delivery estimates (since they're all different).

For everyone else: if you haven't received your reward shipment, something is wrong -- please message me and we'll get it straightened out!

So, How Did We Do?

This project had a lot of surprises for us. We kind of expected that -- that is, we "expected the unexpected" -- but it's still surprising when it happens. We've run almost a year past our original 4-month estimate for delivery. About 2 to 3 months of that was actually due to us underestimating the time things would take. The rest was essentially "feature creep" -- it became clear that we would have a better product a little later, so we waited.

I can't say I really regret that, since we were ultimately able to deliver a much more complete work than we originally expected: we have the real voice cast and final music on the animatic, which is a big improvement over the temp-track version I expected to deliver in the pre-production stage.

It didn't have much impact on the schedule, but we did also take longer to deliver on the storyboard animatic itself and the CG effects animations because of my progress on the learning curve for both Blender and Kdenlive. Nevertheless, most of those issues are resolved now.

So, I feel that we did pretty well, although I would prefer to have estimated the schedule better. Towards the latter goal, I've adopted a somewhat more cautious approach to estimating for the next steps.

On to Production?

Some big open questions regarding the production plan, schedule, and costs probably contributed to the failure of our production Kickstarter in August 2012. I don't think we were really properly ready to move on to that step then, and the truth is that we still aren't.

We ran so far over on our pre-production schedule that it interfered with our other (larger) funded project, Lib-Ray. We are therefore obligated to spend time now bringing that project back up to schedule -- I really don't want to deliver late on it! We believe it is possible to still deliver on time, even with the delay, but it does mean we don't have time for much else in the immediate future.

However, once we meet certain milestone goals, we will be able to return to the next steps on Lunatics development:

  • Demonstration of Digital Puppetry Technique (0% done -- this is probably the most critical risk and needs to be resolved)
  • Teaser Trailer (40% done? We have the models, but they need some rework and re-integration, then animation)
  • Blocking Model of Colony (20% done -- I have a plan for this set and a couple of module models started. Not hard, but time-consuming)
  • Finished CG model space shots of LTS, Earth, and Moon (60% done -- you've seen these in the animatic, but they need detailing)
  • Audio voice recording and mixing for second episode "Earth" (50% done - still have to mix. Of course, we already have this for the pilot, as well as the animatic).
  • Detailed cost-breakdown and projections of production schedule and expenses (more bean-counting and more accurate/conservative schedules! I have some ideas in my head, but I need to write them down and do the math)
  • Re-connect with the team, and recruit new members as needed (some will have gone onto other projects).
  • Produce a campaign video using all of this material and higher production values (no more last-minute campaign videos!)

At our current rate of progress, I think it might just be feasible to have this material ready sometime in May -- at which point we could then run a Kickstarter right at the beginning of the Summer to fund modeling and animation work over the Summer (which would work out very nicely for students -- the timing of the previous Kickstarter was a little awkward because it required modelers to work in the Fall when some of them needed to be in school).

However, that's going to depend also on how Lib-Ray is doing at that time (we are supposed to deliver all of the Lib-Ray rewards in July). If we have anything other than basic fulfillment tasks left in May, that may require another adjustment. One thing I've decided for this year is to proceed on the basis of our readiness and not on a fixed schedule.

This is probably the last full post I'm going to publish on this Kickstarter blog, though I will continue to post links to major developments as we move into production. If you want to follow our progress more closely, it would probably be a good idea to subscribe to the newsfeed on our main site at  (or one of the social media links from there if you prefer).

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Penultimate post: DVD datasets finished!

This will probably be my next-to-last update.  The DVD data sets are being mailed (all but one of them is in the post, the last one will go out on my next trip to the post office).

What's on the Disks:

There are two disks in a double-disk thin-pack (I know I didn't actually promise a case originally, but I had these already, and I thought they'd look nicer than just sending you a paper sleeve).

Disk 1

Disk 1 is a hybrid video/data DVD. That is to say,  you can put it into a DVD-player and play it like you would any DVD movie, and there is also "DVD-ROM" content on the disk which you can get to by putting the disk into your computer (look in the "Extras" directory).

The DVD features include:

  • The storyboard animatic itself (51:30 long, by the way)
  • "Virtual Table Reads" for both "No Children in Space" and "Earth"
  • Cast & Crew Profiles
  • Character Profiles
  • Production Art Slideshow
  • What is Free Film?
  • Series Proposal (very brief)
  • And two "Easter Eggs"

The DVD-ROM content includes everything that was on the download website, including:

  • Digital sources for the posters
  • Various sized desktop wallpapers
  • The printable fingerpuppets we used in some of our presentations
  • The entire "Artbook & Writer's Guide" in PDF format (which includes model sheets, set designs, a prospectus, the first two scripts, and some other stuff).
  • SVG drawings of sets, vehicles, and character modelsheets.
  • Video of the animatic in 720p HD video (MKV with VP8 video and Vorbis audio).

It's possible that some DVD players may have some issues with the DVD image I created for this disk -- I had some issues with the automatic compression rate-control for MPEG2 encoding which may cause some lost frames on some DVD players. And something weird happens which made a lot of the menus inaccessible on one Blu-Ray player I tested it on -- I'm hoping that's just a bug with that player. If you have problems, send me an e-mail to let me know -- at the very least, we can hope to improve the mastering for the actual series (and if it's a big enough problem, I might replace the animatic disks later).

This disk is an archival "M-Disc" DVD from Millenniata. It should basically last forever -- or as long as a regular pressed DVD, anyway. That's because M-Discs have actual "pits and lands" on their surface, like a pressed DVD instead of just dye-marks like a DVD-R.

Disk 2

Disk 2 contains a somewhat pared-down "good parts" version of the Lunatics "source tree". This double-layer DVD-R holds twice as much data as an M-Disc (which is only available as a single-layer disk, unfortunately). To get it to fit, I had to delete some intermediate-stage files (renderings) and get rid of stuff that wasn't used in the production of the "No Children in Space" animatic (the original source tree is too big to fit on a DVD at all).

Since this is dye-based media, all of the usual caveats apply -- so keep it cool and dry. It is a high-quality Verbatim DVD+R, though, so it should be about as good as dye-based DVDs get.

What's Left

With these shipped (there's just one more left to go in the mail), the only things left are the three USB/SD-card media versions. These will be nearly identical to the DVD versions, except that all of the data is on one flash-media volume, and I plan to add a complete, prototype "Lib-Ray" image of the animatic and extras, based on the same menu design as I created for the DVD. The feature video file for this release will be the same as the HD video contained on the DVD disks.

I'm officially working full-time on Lib-Ray now, so these will be finished up as part of that project. I'm also ordering the media to send them out on, which will take a few days to arrive.

Still working on the animatic DVD

Well, this is taking a little longer than I planned, due to software problems I don't even want to get started on (I'm having to do a lot of workarounds and trouble-shooting as a result).

But I'm getting fairly close now. Just have to smash some more menu bugs.

Much of the DVD-authoring also serves double for the USB flash drive versions, since it will be basically the same design (for these, I'll be using the prototype Lib-Ray spec, which basically means a small on-disk website with linked videos).

These will be "hybrid" DVDs with additional "DVD-ROM" content accessible by computer. I may have to be a little creative with that, since the whole production source tree is now too big to fit comfortably on a DVD. I'll be paring it down some, and some content will probably be on a second disk.

Meanwhile, of course, the video of the animatic is available on our website:

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