1st Stretch Goal Reached!!
Holy smokes - we've not only reached our initial funding goal, but just crested our 1st stretch goal as well! Which means that we've got enough to finance our film's opening sequence, in addition to the visual effects.
Huge thanks to our generous backers!
Anything else we can raise before the doors close will give us more flexibility in how we can achieve our ambitious workload. In the extremely unlikely scenario that we raise 60K, we will make training materials based on our visual effects work, release all of our Blender assets creative commons (BY-NC) after the film's release, and ship every backer who pledged $100 or more an extra print - of a full resolution frame from the film.
Thank you for getting us to this incredible milestone!
--Colin & the SKYWATCH team
In the near future, a pair of mischievous friends hack into the infrastructure of a drone delivery system. As they reroute orders zipping through the sky, they set off a chaotic series of events and soon find themselves on the run from forces they can barely see.
SKYWATCH is an original sci-fi short that I’ve been working on for the past couple years. This project is designed to stand alone as a fun and gripping piece of entertainment, but is also intended to serve as a proof of concept for a mid-range live-action feature. Our goal is to build a world, set a tone, and introduce characters that could form the foundation of a compelling feature film.
This has been a passion project for me and my core team. Throughout the process, we have relied heavily on the generosity of friends and volunteers. Now, we’re in postproduction - with over 150 visual effects shots to execute. We’ve got a good head start, but we need your help to complete the remaining shots.
This Kickstarter campaign will fund the visual effects and remaining production to get this project across the finish line. When the short is finished, we will be releasing it for free online - for the world to watch!
Our core creative team has made up of longtime friends and collaborators: myself (writer/director Colin Levy) producer Andre Danylevich, VFX Supervisor Sandro Blattner, and DP Adam Habib. The short was production designed by Julie Chen, Morgan Johnson is supervising the sound, and Jasper Blunk is composing the score. The talented Mike Sundy is co-authoring the feature screenplay, based on the short.
Before dedicating myself to SKYWATCH, I worked at Pixar Animation Studios as a Camera & Staging Artist, working on several features including INSIDE OUT and FINDING DORY, and serving as the Camera DP for the animated theatrical short LAVA.
I also have directed several short films in the past, including THE SECRET NUMBER, which was successfully funded on Kickstarter, and the animated short SINTEL, which has over 4.5M views on YouTube - and was made entirely with the Open Source software Blender.
Visit my PORTFOLIO SITE for more.
WORLD & THEMES
SKYWATCH takes place in a future defined by immediacy and convenience. In the world of our short film, you can order anything - anytime, anywhere - and have it delivered into your home in minutes. A physical pipeline now exists in every home, building and skyscraper - pneumatic tubes that funnel products right to your fingertips. But at what cost? Our short explores themes of voyeurism and surveillance, privacy, identity, and control. In some ways, we’re telling a cautionary tale about the sacrifices we make in the name of convenience - in a future where corporations have immense power and control over how and what we consume.
THE VISUAL EFFECTS
Our VFX team has high standards. Our lofty aim is for SKYWATCH to be visually indistinguishable from a Hollywood blockbuster. Of course, working without the resources of a studio has meant making sacrifices – in our case, time. Our small but dedicated international team started modeling, shading and rigging our assets in early 2015. Now, our key assets are complete - and it’s time for the animation, lighting and compositing of shot work. We’ve made it through two of our six sequences, but we still have over 150 shots to complete.
We chose to use the Open Source 3D software Blender for the CG work in this project. Even after using Pixar’s Presto for years, Blender remains my favorite tool for 3D. Partially due to the thriving community of artists and potential collaborators, we have developed a Blender-centric pipeline that also includes Nuke and Houdini - and we’ve been very pleased with the results.
Raising $35K is literally the bare minimum we need to be able to bring on freelance VFX artists to finish the film. This figure doesn't include the additional photography that we still need for our film’s opening, nor any funds for the final tasks of music/color/sound design. For a variety of reasons, it would be phenomenal to have a bit more wiggle room in the budget.
We know it's a longshot, but better to be overambitious, right? Here are our Kickstarter STRETCH GOALS:
$45,000 - PRODUCTION: In addition to sound, music and color, we will be able to finance production for our film's "cold open.” Although it was in our original shooting script, we’ve simply not had the bandwidth to tackle it - which I think is a daggone shame! This stretch goal would pay for actors, food, crew, and the same high end film gear that was used for principal photography. Help me make my original vision a reality!
If we reach this stretch goal we will make some of our HERO ASSETS available to our backers in .blend format. Play with the rigs, examine our node trees, or create your own animations!
$60,000 - VFX VENDOR: At this level, instead of hiring individual freelancers for visual effects, which requires a huge amount of coordination and overhead, we can consider working with a small studio or VFX vendor. Which would be awesome! With these additional resources, we could get the work done in less time - and perhaps achieve a couple additional dream shots while we’re at it.
If we hit this stretch goal, we will make training materials based on our visual effects work, release all of our Blender assets creative commons (BY-NC) after the film's release, and ship every backer who pledged $100 or more an extra print - of a full resolution frame from the film.
$100,000 - IDEAL BUDGET: To be honest, even 60K is chump change for most VFX vendors. With this stretch goal, we would assuredly be able to find a suitable studio, and could accomplish all our goals for VFX and remaining production without sacrificing quality - or asking people to work for free. And while I’m dreaming, I'd love to develop a website and produce a fictional TV commercial for our near-future drone delivery service, which I feel could be a great companion piece for the short!
We’re excited to finally share a glimpse of the film with the world! If you like what you see, we hope you consider backing the project.
We have some nifty rewards - but you'll notice that a lot of 'em are digital. For this campaign, I’d like to really focus on putting as many dollars on the screen as possible - and make sure we can deliver our rewards in a timely fashion. Thank you!
Risks and challenges
SKYWATCH is an ambitious project and while we are confident in our abilities and our track record, we have a lot of work ahead of us! As with every film project we've done, there will be bumps in the road - challenges and unforeseen circumstances that will affect how we move ahead. But in bringing the project to this point, we have already had our fair share - and have gotten pretty good at rolling with the punches!
It's probably worth saying that there has been an incredible amount of sweat, blood, time and money invested in this project already - so there's no way we're *not* going to get it done.
Perhaps a more relevant concern is the Kickstarter rewards themselves - that takes a lot of work too! I learned that lesson the hard way on my previous campaign for my film The Secret Number. (So. many. postertubes.) This time around, I won't be doing it all myself - and the workload will be decidedly sane: we have been careful to select rewards that we know that we can fulfill responsibly and in a timely manner once the film is completed.
Thank you for taking a chance on us!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (20 days)