"Lunatics!" is back - Crowd-funding, Free-culture, and Free-Software

After an additional year of production work, our free-film project "Lunatics!" is back up on Kickstarter. We have a lot more done - some "finished" animation, voice acting and soundtrack mixing, a lot more completed 3D models, including some of the toughest mech modeling, and several characters. We are still 100% free-culture, using CC By-SA license for everything we release, and we're still open-source, making our models and other elements available to the commons. We use only music with By-SA compatible licenses, and we are working entirely with free-software, especially Blender, Kdenlive, and Audacity.

"Lunatics!" is back up on Kickstarter

We've gone through a lot of changes over the last year. We have a new character modeler, Bela Szabo, and an expert mech modeler and rigger, Chris Kuhn, who has been doing some of the toughest models for the pilot. I've been able to fix the problems with the set for our "teaser" demo animation, included below.

"Teaser Trailer" for "No Children in Space" shows Georgiana Lerner's PoV during the launch into space

This is meant to be demonstration of rendering style for the series (or at least a possible one) and of course, proof that we actually know how to use Blender, for those who may have doubted. It's not strictly shots from the film, although elements of it might be reused. The idea of using a PoV/hyperrealist style for this trailer was to limit the number of 3D assets required to make it, so it could be done before many of them were ready (in fact, originally, it was going to be entirely PoV because we didn't have a character model yet).

However, one of the side-effects of the delays is that more of the models have been made. Although they are not in this trailer, some -- such as the exterior model of the "Soyuz-SF" launch vehicle are demonstrated in the pitch video on our Kickstarter page.

"Gagarin Start" Launch Pad with Support Train for "Lunatics!" pilot episode, created by mech modeler, Chris Kuhn ("Lunatics!" Project / CC By-SA 3.0)

Free-culture and Business Models

As I outlined in my update on licensing and business models, "Lunatics!" is entirely under the same free CC By-SA 3.0 as Wikipedia and other bastions of free culture. Unlike several other "free" film projects, we've actually decided to be strict about the music licensing as well -- every piece of music we use is under a By-SA compatible license so that we can release it to you under By-SA.

We're pushing a little beyond the models of the Blender Open Movies (supported by foundations and DVD pre-sales) and "Sita Sings the Blues" (supported by creator-endorsed merchandising after release) -- combining the concepts and pushing them to work on a somewhat larger project with many contributors.

Character "Georgiana Lerner" in spacesuit. Character design, Daniel Fu; Character Model, Bela Szabo; Spacesuit Model, Andrew Pray; Materials and Shading, Terry Hancock ("Lunatics!" Project / CC By-SA 3.0)

Free Software and the Internet

We are operating as a distributed team. Aside from my own immediate family, everyone working on this project is collaborating remotely over the internet. Two major consequences of this are that we need to use free software multimedia tools so that our work is compatible and everyone has access to them, and that we need to use online collaboration tools to coordinate our work. Even if I didn't already have a strong desire to use and promote free software applications, these would be too very good practical reasons for doing so.

So far, we use quite a lot of them:

  • Blender (3D modeling and animation)
  • Synfig (2D display panel animation)
  • Inkscape (2D design drawing and more display animation)
  • Audacity (sound mixing)
  • Gimp (texturing, backdrops, etc)
  • Krita (speed-painting, backdrops)
  • Kdenlive (final video compositing and editing)

Fans and Funding

The idea is to build this project from start-up to on-going program based on support from fans: whether they are fans of free culture, fans of free software, fans of space settlement, fans of science-fiction, or -- eventually -- fans of "Lunatics!" in particular. So far, we have only potential. Until we have a pilot episode, we don't really have a finished product to show, and that does make it harder to find support. One of our challenge is to see if we can overcome that obstacle for a start up project.

So far, we have not tried to get funding from more conventional corporate, government, or non-profit organization sources. Doing so might compromise the goals of the project. Instead we're going direct to potential fans. I hope if our project sound interesting to you, that you'll consider backing us with a bit of money. Even a small amount can act as a signal to others -- people are more likely to support a project that seems to have some momentum already.

Please support "Lunatics!" Project


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.