The Vegtoons Kickstarter Project Looks Appetising!

The Vegtoons Kickstarter project is one that aims to create an animated show around the idea of vegetarianism, not necessarily to convert carnivores. Described thus:

The show explores a variety of issues, concerns and assumptions surrounding the vegetarian lifestyle — ranging from the foods that vegetarians eat, to health and ethics, to relationships with family and loved ones. Each episode has a specific theme and therefore can be enjoyed on its own; however, the larger trajectory of the story unfolds over the entire series.

It’s a project that certainly looks promising from a number of angles, not least of which is the fact that it’s not aimed at kids but rather people in general. This is one to keep an eye on. Check out the teaser below or head on over to the Kickstarter page to watch the full pitch video.



Tube: The Next Generation Animated Film

Discovered yesterday, 7 hours too late to contribute, this is nonetheless the Kickstarter project that was made for me*.

Animation with substance. The crowd funds it, the crowd owns it. Tube is the experimental production of a 3D animated short about the dream and failure and achievement of immortality. It’s also a love letter to free software and open culture that marks their convergence with independent filmmaking.

As the almost polar opposite of the Kickstarter project mentioned earlier in the week. Tube is not only a slick, well thought out campaign, it also has all the hallmarks of the next generation of animated films in concept if not in content.

For you see, the goal of Tube isn’t just to create an animated film, it’s also to release everything (and I mean everything) under a Creative Commons license after production is finished.

“Surely that’s no big deal” I hear you say “loads of independent animators have released their works under Creative Commons licenses”. Ah, true, however this is a full-blown animated feature. On top of that, it’s entirely open source; that is, once production has wrapped, all the sets, animation, sounds, rigs, etc. will be freely available for anyone to use and modify. Watch the video if you haven’t done so already, it explains everything.

What a significant idea! What animation studio do you know is willing to give away all their tools after a film is released? None! Need a CGI subway car? Sorry, you’ll have to either build it from scratch, or why not re-use the one from Tube? Thanks to the CC license, you can do the latter, and modify if for your needs, all without paying a cent.

Why is this so significant though? Why does should you even pay attention to a diverse group of animation and free culture geeks harp on about making a film and then giving everything away? Well, it’s a massive pointer to where content is eventually going. In other words, Tube is a very early prototype for the animated films that will eventually come.

Think about it for a second. The group is requesting donations. Why? Because making a film has (and will) cost money. Unless loads of people are willing to give up a lot of free time, films will require money to be spent in order for them to be made in a timely fashion. Secondly, and this is the really salient point, The point is to make something entertaining, not exploit audiences. The animators are still compensated, they aren’t reduced to working for free; highly ironic considering many artists in studios working on massively profitable properties continue to whittle their lives away at the studios’ pleasure. Also, because it is released under a Creative Commons license, the film will go on to further assist and benefit anyone and everyone.

So where is this going to end up? Well, eventually, films will only be financed as far as time spent, in other words, if rigs, sets, etc. are freely available, the only thing that will cost money is making them move the way the director wants them to, in other words, the actual animation itself. And with only that and various post-production work to pay for, animated films are likely to become much more common and freely available.

Crowdsourcing will also become much more widespread. Instead of studios coughing up the money themselves and keeping any profits in return for the risk, they can simply crowdsource the funding, pay the animators to make the film and build a solid reputation off of their products. All this doesn’t preclude making profits, in fact, if the filmmaking model is simplified, there are even more opportunities available to make money; as mentioned last week, merchandising will always be there.

On top of all that, the greater proliferation of these kinds of films there are, the greater the quality will be. I can’t wait for the day when an independent, crowd-sourced, collectively animated film wins critical appraise.

*Yes, I am an open source junkie, in part because Steve Jobs set the price of the PowerBook way to high for me, so instead I turned to Linux and haven’t looked back since.


A Kickstarter Campaign Too Far?

Randall Monroe just could not have gotten the timing of yesterday’s XKCD comic any better:

Yes, this comic is relevant to today’s post as I recently discovered over on the animation subbreddit, a campaign to do almost exactly what the XKCD comic above purports to do; that is, use Kickstarter to raise money for a pitch of the real product.

The campaign in question is being initiated by Daran Carlin-Weber whose currently (?) an animation student in Pennsylvania.

Being the smart lad that he his, there’s a trailer/promo pitch for the campaign:

So it’s actually pretty good, in fact it should be something that is right up a network’s alley given the right circumstances. Described thusly:

“Summer Rec” follows the lives of the college-aged staff at a dreary, under-funded, suburban Meadowlark Recreation Center. It specializes in its “Summer Rec” program, something supposedly fun for ages 4 to 14, weekdays from 9 to 4. The target demographic would be the Adult Swim viewing crowd. It’s loosely-based* on experiences I had as a counselor at a recreation program in High School.

Daran’s got his ducks in line with the description in that he knows who he’s aiming the show at. Again, that’s a good start and with a pitch video, Daran’s got a heck of a lot further than a lot of people get with pitches (in that they don’t even get off the drawing board). In addition, we’ve also got a rundown of the cast as well as what the pilot episode will be about.

So with a well thought out concept, cast, pitch video pilot script and animatic, why on earth is their even a Kickstarter project at all? Weeeeeeeell, that’s where we get to the sticky part:

“Summer Rec” is a passion project I’ve been working on for over 2 years now and I’m hoping with your funding to be able to give back to the people who made this project possible for me to produce. Those fantastic folks would be my voice actors, my musician, and my co-writers, who have given me their invaluable time and talents for free thus far. I dunno, I think they’re pretty worth it heh.

Well, now that part is fair enough and throwing a bone to your friends when they’ve given you a hand is a grand thing to do. Except it’s not generally something you would ask strangers money for. Moving on:

Also, I am in a bit of a pickle. My trusty computer that has stuck it with me through years of animating finally crapped out on me and I am in desperate need of a new computer. I have been animating the pilot on my girlfriend’s computer for the last couple months and you can just guess how thrilled she is about that. Heh… hmm

Soooooooo, he needs a computer, and the Kickstarter funds will provide it, right? Ehhhhh, no. Not that there is anything against him getting a new computer, we’ve all been there at some point. It isn’t a fun experience and it really can throw a spanner (or wrench for the Yanks) in the works. However, again, it’s not something that you would solicit funds for. Props for the honesty though.

All the additional money will go towards things such as submission fees to film festivals, ASIFA memberships, producing presentation DVDs and also, funding us personally taking the pilot to the 2012 Ottawa International Animation Festival and Television Animation Conference. All additional money will go towards making sure this is the best damn pilot it can possibly be!

So the money will basically fund the cost of pitching the thing. Again, this is a fair enough assumption. Being in the hills of PA that are shockingly close to where the future wife is from, pitching a TV show in person is going to require some travel/effort/money on his part.


I’m having a seriously difficult time justifying my support for a number of reasons:

  1. Why ask for money after the fact? There’s some perfect pitch material already made! And a little bit more effort (and a few dollars) could get a really nice pitch packet/bible made.
  2. The wonders of the internet means that you don’t necessarily need to travel in order to make pitches. OK sure, it helps, but getting eyeballs on your content should be your number one goal. The more people that are aware of your idea, the easier it is to improve it and hone it for a real pitch.
  3. Speaking of which actual animation is waaaaay more advanced than most networks look for in a pitch. Again, it helps, but most studios/networks like to see either a pitch bible, or in Frederator’s case, storyboards. The extra effort looks good, but isn’t a guarantee of a pickup. having said that, it can hone your animating skills.
  4. Running a show takes a lot of effort, ability and trust. Networks unfortunately don’t tend to give unknown entities a budget and a crew and a promise of delivering a show. John K. was a seasoned animator and Nickelodeon still couldn’t get him to deliver episodes on time.

So I can’t back this project. It’s a Kickstarter project too far. It’s a superb idea and a great concept and is proof positive that Daran has real talent but $7,500 to fund a new PC and travel to Ottowa? [deep breath] No, sorry.

Daran wants to work for Titmouse though, and he seems like a perfect fit for the studio. Do any Titmousers (Titmice) out there know of any openings or where he could even submit his reel? If so, perhaps they could get in touch with him and give him a leg up.His resume is here for the curious.

In the meantime, check out Daran’s final school film, Cheromanchequois and Daran, if you read this man, check out my buddy Dave’s book Animation Development: From Pitch to Production. It tells you all you need to know about getting a show off the ground. You can even find it at the library!




Michael Sporn Needs To Kickstart An Animated Film on Edgar Allan Poe

Independent animator and widely respected blogger, Michael Sporn announced on Wednesday his plan to use Kickstarter to fund a feature-length film on Edgar Allan Poe. Michael is hoping to raise $21,500 and in the space of only a few days has manged to raise almost a quarter of that!

This project serves as a reminder that animation is much more than just the big boys. Independent projects like this are (in my opinion) the future as traditional channels become obsolete thanks to the internet. The connection of creators and fans is becoming ever stronger and the best way to show your support for a project like this is to fund it, and for as low as $5, for a lot of folks, that’s less than a Starbucks coffee!

Embedded below is the video on the Kickstarter site. Watch it before heading over and pledging to a great project.