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 http://lunatics.tv (or one of the social media links from there if you prefer).