The groundbreaking anime series, subtitled in English and French and dubbed in English, released on Blu-Ray with a boatload of extras!
Note: KickStarter doesn't display the video in full resolution, so I've uploaded the music video to Vimeo -- you can watch in 720p or download a 1080p version!
Now that the KickStarter has met our goal, we have added the option of accepting PayPal for those of you who cannot sign up using the normal KickStarter process.
Current Challenge: if the KickStarter exceeds $160k, I will personally pay for the authoring of a 3rd BD50 disc, should the Backers decide to use some of the excess budget that way. Details here...
Previous Challenge: If the KickStarter exceeds $130k, I will personally pay for the mastering of a 3rd BD50 disc, should the Backers decide to use some of the excess budget that way. Challenge met with 72 hours to go.
Bubblegum Crisis was one of the first titles AnimEigo released over 20 years ago. This classic 8-episode OVA series was created by a who's-who of the Anime world, featuring character designs by Kenichi Sonoda (Riding Bean, Gunsmith Cats, Gall Force), production design by Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed, Full Metal Alchemist, Space Pirate Captain Harlock (2013)), direction by Katsuhito Akiyama (Armitage III), Masami Oobari (Detonator Orgun), Fumihiko Takayama (Patlabor III), Jun Okada, Hiroaki Gooda (Oh My Goddess!), music by Kooji Makaino (Oh My Goddess!), and mechanical designs by Sonoda, Aramaki and Hideki Kakinuma (Detonator Orgun).
We could simply just release it like most of the dozens of Anime and live-action films we've inflicted upon an unsuspecting North America over the years, but we want to do something more ambitious -- we want to use it to test a new model for releasing films.
Anyone who follows the foreign-film business knows that changes in the Anime market over the last decade has made life much more risky for releasers, and the result has been that small companies like ours have to be very conservative in our licensing decisions, especially when it comes to niche titles (which are the ones we like the most!)
This means that there are a ton of projects we'd like to work on that we can't economically justify because we can't properly estimate the risks and rewards. Which makes us feel like this...
Doing this project as a Kickstarter lets us totally avoid this problem, and precisely tailor the project to your specifications. We do this by having two simple rules. The first one is:
50% of the amount raised gets used for actual production expenses.
By this we mean all out-of-pocket expenses such as materials acquisition, mastering, replication, printing, shipping, etc., plus a flat $7,500 production fee to cover the cost of our time (very conservative estimate: 500-900 man/hours).
The other 50% will be divided between AnimEigo and our Japanese licensor.
KickStarter fundraising expenses, including the out-of-pocket cost of providing special bonus rewards, come off the top, before the 50/50 split is made.
The end result is that the final product you receive will have much more real value in it than if we released the title in the traditional manner.
The second rule is:
You're the patrons making this project possible, so you decide how the budget is spent.
We rather unimaginately call this "CrowdProduction". We don't want you to be passive consumers, but active producers. You will get to contribute to the actual project, and vote on how the budget gets spent.
Our goal is $75,000. Let's say we actually get funded for $100,000. That means there is an extra $11,250 in the production budget (I'm rounding up the KickStarter/Amazon fees to 10% in this example). Some of that will be needed to produce more sets, of course, but how does the remainder get spent? A fancier package? A bonus commemorative item? Spanish subtitles? Klingon subtitles? Flying over to Japan to record interviews with the original creators?
You come up with the ideas... we'll figure out if they are feasible and how much they'll cost... and then everyone will get to vote on how the budget gets allocated.
In addition, if you want to take a stab at actually doing some of the work, you'll have that chance. If you want to contribute, we'll try and find a way to let you do so -- and give you the credit you'll deserve!
A Singular Goal
Due to the unusual way we're doing this KickStarter, we only have one goal. If we reach it, the budget will be enough to provide each supporter with Bubblegum Crisis (with both Japanese and English soundtracks, and optional subtitles in English and French), all the Hurricane Live animated music videos, and the Holiday in Bali live-action video on 2 region-free BD50 Blu-Ray discs.
In addition, supporters will get access to a downloadable Omake (Extras) Archive that will contain all the static bonus materials we have, including program notes, song lyrics, translated interviews with the original creators, and high-resolution color artwork and line-art (settei). Our current plan is to provide this in both HTML and PDF formats, so you can refer to it on a tablet while watching the videos.
Finally, the package will include 5 Postcards from MegaTokyo and a custom Commemorative Challenge Coin that you will help design.
Our estimated delivery date for the product is August 2014. We hope to get it done sooner, but in our CrowdProduction system, you might decide you want a feature (like a new dub, or adding AD Police) that takes extra time.
Important Geographical Restriction: due to license restrictions, we cannot ship this product to Japan, the People's Republic of China, or Taiwan.
Stretch Robert's Wallet!
Even though we didn't set out to have stretch goals, one of the interesting things about the CrowdProduction process is that it is already causing the project to evolve. One of the things a lot of backers are saying they'd like to allocate the budget to is a 3rd BD50 disc (to permit additional content, and higher bitrates). I personally think this is an excellent idea, and I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is (just like you backers are doing!).
So if the KickStarter tops $130k, and you vote to include a 3rd BD50, I will personally pay for the mastering of the 3rd disc and the AACS content certificate and keys -- that's about $1700.
And if the KickStarter tops $160k, and you vote to include a 3rd BD50, I will personally pay for the authoring of the 3rd disc ($2000 and up, depending on how complex it gets, and somehow I think you'll find lots of ways to make it complex!)
We've set up a forum for the KickStarter. If you are interested in joining the discussion and helping us shape this project, please head on over. Comments on this page are fine too, of course! And it goes without saying -- tell your friends about the project!
Here are some links to some interviews I've done about the project:
Media Inquiries: I am happy to answer your questions, do interviews and appear on podcasts; please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Omake supporters will get access to the downloadable Omake Archive, have their names included in a Scroll of Supporters on the disc, and be able to participate in the CrowdProduction discussions, but won't get a vote in the final decisions.
PenPal supporters will get access to the downloadable Omake Archive, have their names included in a Scroll of Supporters on the disc, and be able to participate in the CrowdProduction discussions. They will only be able to vote on issues related to the Postcards.
Challenge supporters will get access to the downloadable Omake Archive, receive the Commemorative Challenge Coin, have their names included in a Scroll of Supporters on the disc, and be able to participate in the CrowdProduction discussions. They will only be able to vote on issues related to the Postcards and Challenge Coin.
Basic supporters will receive one copy of the final product, have their names included in a Scroll of Supporters on the disc, and have the right to participate in the CrowdProduction process -- both discussions and voting. Half of the pledge ($25.00) goes right into the production budget. Those of you who are fast off the mark will be able to take advantage of the limited number of Early Adopter Basic slots.
Premium supporters get everything Basic supporters get. Half of the pledge goes right into the production budget, but up to 50% of that portion will be assigned to a special Premium production budget that only Premium supporters will decide how to allocate, either for special commemorative items made just for them, or to enhance the final product for everyone. The exact amount that gets allocated will depend on how much of the pledge is needed to fund a fair share of the basic production budget -- if we exceed about 1550 supporters, then 25% of your pledge goes into the basic budget, and 25% into the premium budget. And like Basic, those of you who are fast off the mark will be able to take advantage of the limited number of Early Adopter Premium slots.
Patrons get everything Premium supporters get. In addition, your name will be listed as a patron when the disc loads, and you will receive a special bonus item -- first come, first served. The cels come from my personal collection, and most include the pencil sketch.
There are multiple limited-quantity Patron levels, each associated with particular items. Many are cels, which you can see here: Largo1, Largo2, Largo3, Lisa-1, Lisa-2, Lisa-3, Mason, Daley, Leon, Revenge Road, and Hurricane. We also have Garage Kits, Metal Figures and the infamous “Night Night Knight Sabers" Satin Pillowcase. And thanks to our friends in Japan, we've got 4 poseable and preprinted 1/15 scale figures available: MotoSlave+Priss, MotoSlave+Linna, MotoSlave+Nene, and Boomer+AD Police (only the Boomer articulates). Also, one of your fellow project backers has donated 1/8 scale Vinyl kits of Priss and Nene to be used as Patron rewards.
Finally, we have a special Patron Inspector reward that gets you one of the actual replication check discs -- you'll get to see one of the discs before everyone else (and if you see a problem, hopefully you'll tell us about it!)
We also have limited number of the original Bubblegum Crisis 18x24.75" poster from 1991 in three groups: Basic+Poster, Premium+Poster, and Patron Poster. And don't worry, the posters will be shipped in tubes -- although if you ask nicely, we'd be happy to fold yours up as well.
And then there's the Sonoda Sketches -- Sonoda Ken'ichi, the lead character designer of Bubblegum Crisis, will create, sign, and personally inscribe a sketch of your favorite Knight Saber! Only 4 sketches will be available.
Note: some non-Poster Patrons have indicated they want the Poster as well. KickStarter doesn't make that easy, but I have reserved some copies to handle "lost in the mail" situations. If you are a Patron who wants a poster, contact me and I will put you on a waitlist -- with any luck we'll be able to get you a poster.
Finally, there is the exclusive SuperBoomer level. In addition to the premium supporter benefits, your name will appear on the actual printed packaging, and you will receive my personal, all-time favorite cel of Largo. To give you some idea of how much this means to me, Largo has been on my business card for over 20 years. I will literally weep if someone actually springs for this. Update: Waaaaah! Sob! I am retroactively increasing the reward to make it include 5 copies of the product, not just one; after all, the SuperBoomer will want to give them to family and friends!
Patrons will get their special items immediately after the KickStarter concludes!
A Rewarding Experience!
Now that the KickStarter has reached its goal and we know that there actually will be a project, there are many more possibilities for unique rewards -- and given that a big goal in this project is to involve you in the actual production process, we are going to start giving you the opportunity to become part of the actual production team using Experience Rewards!
The fine print: we will make reasonable efforts to deliver on these rewards, but circumstances beyond our control (such as scheduling issues, or the destruction of Wilmington by Hurricane or Kaiju) may make it impossible; if so, we will work with you to provide an alternate reward or refund you. Also, in some cases you may be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. So remember: your mileage may vary, and Otaku in the mirror are closer than they appear!
With that out of the way, let's dip our toe into the deep pool of insanity that is the Anime business with our first experience reward...
Music Video Maestro! (6 available starting Wed 10/30 @ 8pm ET)
All the core benefits of being a Patron (Premium benefits plus being listed when the disc loads), plus you will have the opportunity to visit the incredibly non-fancy AnimEigo office in Wilmington NC, where we will coach you through the process of recutting one of the music videos into HD and subtitling it! You will receive an official production credit and your name will be displayed -- as the editor -- when the video plays on the Blu-Ray. You'll also get 5 copies of the final product, not just 1! Airfare and Hotel not included (because they are so variable), but we'll handle ground transportation in Wilmington and take you out for a nice celebration dinner. We think someone with no previous editing experience will be able to complete the job in about a day, so this could be done on a weekend -- fly in on Friday night, edit up a storm on Saturday, and fly back Sunday.
The first choice of which music video to work on goes to the supporter who claims the Music Video Maestro #1 reward, second choice to the claimer of Music Video Maestro #2, and so on.
As with all other support levels, 50% of the amount raised (after KickStarter expenses and actual out-of-pocket expenses related to providing the reward) goes directly into the production budget. So you'll not only get to do something cool, but you will be increasing the budget so that everyone ends up with a better product. And as a Patron, you'll have a say in how both the Basic and Premium budgets get allocated!
Double Vision Option
If you have selected the Basic level or above as your reward, you can get a second copy of the product by simply pledging an extra $45 (US) or $55 (International). For example, if you live in the US and pledge $50+$45=$95, then just select the Basic reward and you will get a second copy. Or if you live in the UK and managed to snag an Early Adopter Premium spot ($90+$10 shipping), then pledging $90+$10+$55=$155 will get you a second copy.
To change your pledge and activate Double Vision, use the “Manage Your Pledge” button on the upper right of the Kickstarter page, then change the amount (in green). Do not change the reward tier. Then click “Continue to Next Step” and finally “Confirm.”
Now that the KickStarter has met our goal, we have added the option of accepting PayPal for those of you who cannot sign up using the normal KickStarter process.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Since we've been releasing Japanese films for almost a quarter-century, we have a good handle on how to do projects like this -- and in fact, we've done "proto-Kickstarter" projects before, such as the complete SDF Macross TV Series.
The major risks are things outside our control, such as problems obtaining proper source materials. While we either already have, or have confirmed the availability of the materials we'll need, experience has taught us that occasionally unexpected problems occur.
Similarly, problems can crop up in the final authoring process. If a disc needs to be reauthored, this could cause a delay.
Finally, since supporters get a say in deciding what goes into the set, it's possible that something will get added that takes extra time. If that's a possibility, we'll make sure you're aware of it before you vote.
That said, we have built some slippage into our schedule, so that even if we have a couple of problems, we should be able to make the promised release date -- and our track record of hitting promised release dates is upwards of 95%.
We can definitely include AD Police if the budget allows it (a new HD telecine transfer will be needed) and you decide that's the best use for it. However, for a variety of reasons, we cannot make the same commitment about Bubblegum Crash at this time. If this changes (and we hope it will), then it'll be on the table for discussion.
We will start with the same HD telecine transfer and encode of Bubblegum Crisis that was used for the Japanese release. We'll do our own encode if needed to use up every last bit on the Blu-Rays.
The audio will be the original 2-channel stereo. We may include an alternate version that has been processed to reduce noise.
You bet! We've revised our subtitles every time we've released any of our titles in a new format, and the UE of BGC will be no different. We will review the translation, retime the titles to precisely match the new 24p transfer, and adjust fonts, sizes and layouts.
Furthermore, we intend to provide the subtitles in both our trademark multicolored style and a white/grey variant.
Our current plan is to work with you to develop a list of possible ways to allocate the budget (think of it as being like customizing a PC, +$X if we do this, etc.) then use a voting system like Single Transferrable Vote (STV) to let you rank your preferences.
The animated music videos will be recut shot-for-shot using the HD transfer. The live-action music videos (Holiday in Bali) will be provided in the original SD video.
Could we get the original soundtrack albums as an extra feature? And what about an English soundtrack album?
Maybe. Our license gives us the right to reproduce the soundtrack in conjunction with the video. Doing a soundtrack album (as opposed to the music videos) will require negotiating a separate license. It is something we will explore if the KickStarter succeeds, the budget allows it, and you want it. As for the English songs, only those parts of the songs needed for the videos were actually recorded, so our ability to put out an English soundtrack album is limited.
We went back-and-forth on this, considering separate editions and a Blu-Ray/DVD combo. But after doing some hard budget analysis, we've decided it's better to keep it simple and just do the Blu-Ray for now. If there is sufficient interest later on, we will consider doing a separate DVD project.
The whole point of the CrowdProduction idea is that we don't have to worry about that now. If the KickStarter succeeds, then we'll know what our budget is -- and you will get to decide how it gets spent. You come up with the ideas... we figure out if they are doable and come up with a cost... you vote to rank the ideas... and then we just run down the list in order... "Do we have enough left to do that?" OK, it's in... Next item... "Do we have enough left to do that?" Nope, so we skip it... and so on until we use up the budget!
The items can be big (adding AD Police files, or doing a new dub) or small (a minor upgrade to the packaging) or something in-between (providing the Omake on a DVD-ROM as well as digitally). We will use your collective wisdom to maximize the value.
KickStarter does not support PayPal at this time. However, now that we have met our goal, we are providing the ability of sign up using PayPal. You can find the various options here: http://www.animeigo.com/products/anime/bubblegum-crisis-ultimate-edition-blu-ray-set-kickstarter-paypal-signup
Out of fairness to KickStarter, this method should only be used if it's the only way you can support the project.
We may do this, but not until 2015 at the earliest, and it won't have all the special features of the Ultimate Edition. The UE of BGC is going to be a custom, bespoke limited edition made just for you, our supporters.
If the project goes well, would you consider doing a KickStarter for <insert favorite anime series here>?
One of the reason's we're doing this is to explore whether this model makes such projects feasible. If things go well, then we'll certainly consider doing other series -- and we will certainly be taking the opinions of our supporters into consideration!