Thursday, February 23, 2006

Open Source and Open Call

The actual production process is Open Source, and we operate an Open Call system.
Open Call is a conventional term used in theatre where anyone can come and audition for a part. We use that concept not just for actors but also for software model makers, graphics artists who do materials, sound effects creators, animators and even persons who have little artistic input but who have spare computer time and would like to render (film) the animations created by others.

To join the system a person goes to our (new) forum website and registers there explaining what aspect of the film production process he or she would like to be involved in. Then the person 'auditions' by posting an example of work (art, models, voice overs, etc).

If the quality of the audition is high enough and we currently need that ability in one of the projects we accept that person into the project and give access to a private resource that includes the details of each project. The team member can choose from the list of segments and make a claim on that by indicating which he or she would like to tackle.

If the finished work is accepted then it is edited into the project and the person gets a screen credit for the work.

As no movie is ever 'finished' it is always possible for a team member to put forward a new version of any scene and if it is accepted as being an improvement for the overall movie it will be edited in and a new release (upgrade) made.

New tools for a new movie industry

We are developing the tools and methods for this Open Source Studio system, and have not yet moved all of the action on-line, we still use mail delivery for renders due to the size of the files and also for some acting recordings if the actor isn't that clued-up on computer internet methods. Our first production, a 60 minute animated film called "God's Companion - the search for Jefratus" is now out of beta and ready for release 1.0 which is due this summer.

The people involved in the production are in America, Brazil, England, Germany, & Spain and probably other countries - being connected by internet you don't necessarily know where your collaborators are. I have only met a few of them face to face and I haven't spoken to many of the others. The process has involved lots of email and file exchange, but little conversation.

Any software can be used as long as it handles common standard files, but because we want it to be very easy to enter the Open Source Production system we have a preference for readily available low cost software. Much of this is open source, but not all of it. We use wings3D for models which is free, we use DAZ-Studio for posing and animating articulated models (humans and animals) because it is also currently free, we use Audacity and Wavepad for audio both of which are currently free and we use Bryce for landscape and machine animations because is is low priced.

The reason for using free or low priced software is because anyone can obtain it, try it and see if they like being a moviemaker without the trauma of spending a large amount of money and then finding that they don't enjoy the process.

We have nothing against higher priced software, its just that to be OPEN, we need to also be CHEAP, so that everyone can try their hands (and eyes and brains) in this fantastic new process the Open Source Studio movie production system.

(Note: Our virtual studio was featured in the August print edition of 3DWorld magazine, the leading source for 3D software artists.)