iHeed Crowd: An [Almost] Groundbreaking Idea

Thanks to Kunal Patel for the tip to this rather interesting idea. iHeed Crowd isn’t a traditional studio. Instead, their mission is to create educational content through a crowdsourcing setup; similar to the way open source software is developed. Such a notion enables many people to collaborate on a project with slivers of time they donate, rather than hiring a bunch of people to work on it full-time.

What’s relevant to us is that they rely on animation to accomplish the task rather than live-action. The entire library that’s been created so far can be viewed here. The video above is by New York-based Buzzco Associates.

The cause and aims of the project are laudable, especially given that in the current economic climate, it is a strong reminder that even though we want for much in the developed world, there are still billions around the world who lack even the most basic services that we take for granted. (Seriously, try losing your water for a day and see how you cope; we were nearly at each other’s throats!)

However, it is the competitive nature that worries me. Graphic designers (such as those over at Under Consideration) are loathe to appreciate competitions. While there are naturally benefits to be had, there is the unfortunate fact that in order to enter, a full storyboard must be submitted before the entry is eligible. From the storyboards submitted, 10 are chosen to go through to production with the top 3 selected winning a cash prize. All this is accomplished within 3 months.

While this does ensure an aura of fairness and helps maintain an acceptable level of quality, it doesn’t seem to be the best way to go about it. The website proclaims it as “crowdsourcing” but that’s only true in the loosest sense. Sure they are sourcing ideas from anyone rather than soliciting a single studio, however the nature of the production leaves a lot to be desired.

Charity should be given freely and willfully. Offering money or other rewards for donations is nothing new and is accepted by many as a must if ordinary members of the public are to be involved. In this case, the cause is worthwhile but offering money for only the top three films while the rest receive nothing smacks just a little bit of exploitation. You see, if everyone got paid, that’s one thing. If no-one got paid, that’s another, but when everyone completes the same amount of work while a select few receive a decent sized sum, that’s going to cause some consternation.

Ideally, if the true nature of crowdsourcing is to be used, certain segments of videos would be done by designated volunteers in their free time. That means that a studio like Buzzco can maintain their profitable projects (or jobs in the case of individuals) while also donating time to finishing iHeed Crowd’s video.

The current approach requires a lot of time, effort and money to function. Alternatives could be cheaper and better for both the charity and the volunteers.