Crowdsourced Animation Live Music Does Not Add Up

Here is a curious little crowdsourced project from Sony Pictures which got my interest upon learning that Steve Vai is in it.

The animated short is called Live Music, watch the teaser above.  Sony used facebook to network 51 animators around the globe to put this project together.  It's an interesting model that fans have been doing for a while.

The disturbing part is unlike the fan projects Sony Pictures budgeted one million dollars for this project!  One of the advantages of using a crowdsourced project is it's ability to keep costs down and to recruit people who have passion for the project to the project.  One million dollars is a staggering amount of money.  What did they spend it on?

They paid each animator $500 for their part which is cool but that is $25,500.  There are editing, distribution, and advertising costs but where did the rest of the money go?

(via CinemaTech)

Matt Hanson Responds to Conserns about The Unfold

Thanks for your post, very considered and raises some good points. One of them is about 'groupthink' and a 'focus grouped' film -- well I am really positive about this actually and have a completely different spin: I think too many films nowadays are 'generic', genre based to appeal to international demographics -- and I would much rather have a 'groupthink'-inspired film influenced by members who all have a common purpose of creating an artistically interesting and challenging film on a primary level, than one driven by marketing demands.

If this means it appeals to less audience then I'm happy about this because it is an artistically-driven rather than commercially-driven process -- and part of our process of remixing cinema, is reclaiming the seventh art for this very purpose.

Rant over ;)

Finally, yes many flaws in process - but this is a giant experiment and we are deliberately testing lots of approaches to see what works best for this process, and is the most fun and useful...

Matt - Creator, A Swarm of Angels

Originally posted as a comment by matthanson on dashPunk using Disqus.

I am encouraged by Matt's response, and I wish A Swarm of Angels good luck with their project.

To be clear about my hopes and fears about distributed film making. I would love to see a viable model succeed. The glory of the internet is that it allows strangers to collaborate on projects that no individual could accomplish on their own.

My biggest concern is that we have yet to see a finished product from any of the proposed systems.

I have always wanted to make a film and have been watching these models closely, hoping to see one that I could use to make one of my films.

Good luck Matt, I enjoyed the trailer, and I cannot wait to see The Unfold.

The Unfold - An Open Source Film Project

The Unfold is an Open Source film project from A Swarm of Angels.

Lo, a disaffected musician touring in Tokyo, receives a phone call from his Mother, who everyone believed died five years ago, triggering an investigation into her disappearance. Through his sister he reestablishes contact with his estranged Father, so they can perform an exorcism back in England, but it ends in an argument about his Father's possible murderous deed. His mother, Polly, recontacts him via videophone to tell him she is stuck in The Fold, which Lo learns about through a mysterious underground group called Cell Division. In trying to find his Mother's location they destabilize the Fold, causing it to tear apart places in the real world. Benoit, Cell Division's leader, is captured by the Fold, just as Lo's Father returns and reconciles with his son. Finally entering the Fold Lo finds his Mother, but is threatened by Benoit's ulterior motive to accelerate the Unfold. He must outwit Benoit, and then leave his reunited Mother and Father, to stop the Unfold tearing the world apart (The Nine Orders:).

The story sounds interesting, as is the manner they are producing the film. The trailer, as well as much of the production itself is being crowdsourced. They are taking advantage of the talents, feedback, and finances of 1,000+ members to shape every aspect of the films development.

Driven by a core collaboration between the animation skills of Mayec Rancel, and the soundtrack smarts of Santiago Abadia, the trailer is at the forefront of new creative processes empowered through the Internet of crowdsourcing, and peer production. Finished with title design by the internationally recognised graphic talents of Matt Pyke of Universal Everything collaborating with Maxim Zhestkov, it is a stunning glimpse into a world being created by a global membership fueling a pioneering people-powered film studio (A Swarm of Angels).

The potential of this style of filmmaking is obvious, but so is the risk. One of the biggest drawback of the current studio system is the focus grouping of films to ensure that they will appeal to the largest segment of the populace. A focus group is a focus group whether is exists virtually online or in a physical theater. If the producers are not careful and take in too many opinions from their "swarm of angels," they could corrupt the artistic integrity of the film and produce a film that will only appeal to the members.

All groups have the same basic set of problems:

  • Groupthink develops making it nearly impossible to see errors or hard choices that must be made for the good of the project.
  • A group is self protecting which can cause it to be insular, thinking only of its own needs and neglecting the needs of outsiders
  • In the absence of strong leadership, a group can list away from its original intention.

I am not saying that I see any of these flaws in their process, they are merely concerns. Crowdsourcing has worked well with software, and the brilliant artistry of the Mashup arts has shown us all the untapped creativity that thrives online. I am just concerned about what could become a focus group produced film.

They are also working on another film: Glitch

A videogame artist recreates his childhood love as an idoru. A voyeuristic cable installer meddles in his customers lives. A neglected housewife finds evidence of an affair on a lost phone. In a world of the wireless, the powerless, and the loveless, it is time they all made a connection (A Swarm of Angels).