Friday, January 24, 2014

Akari no Chikai

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I’m a joined by Jerry Miller who is here to talk to us about his group’s Kickstarter project Akari no Chikai (Part 1).  Thank you for joining us today Jerry!

Thanks for having me, James. Ready when you are!

There’s several things it seems I get to talk with you about here Jerry.  From Blender, to Kickstarter, and of course Akari no Chikai of course.  Let’s start with that, can you tell us about the story in Akari no Chikai?  

Akari no chikai means the Oath of Akari. During these few “Parts” We will travel with her and Aliester as they investigate the death of Akari’s Father. Some say he was working on a super secret personality alteration technology for Blacksign Arms.

Now for those who don’t recognize it, there’s a lot of Japanese in this project, from the title, to half the campaign being written in Japanese, and even the character designs are Japanese based.  Who is behind the art and writing of this project?  

We have recruited a very good Illustrator named Sozo Maika. Sozo has some pretty impressive pieces of art on blender artists and on his Deviant Art account, I only recently found out he also makes 3D Models too.

The writing is being done by our Project Lead, Dave Gadrinab. Dave has been working on the Akari project for little over a year now. He has some serious talent in modeling, He can practically take any anime image of a character and turn it into an accurate 3D model with great topology in 2 days from scratch. He inspires me and after reviewing his models I’ve learned how to do some interesting things I never thought of. Dave also won a competition our group had to make a 3D Model of a custom Naruto character.

How deliberate is the the “3D Anime” style that harkens to the recent Appleseed films?  Was that the original plan for this property?

Our original plan was simply to share a sense of what Blender 3D is capable of in the Animation Industry. We weren't doing this to try to compete with another 3D Animation or really any animation in general. I have heard some of the blender community saying that we will be competing with RWBY by Rooster Teeth, I loved their animation style and the comical feel they gave to something that would be otherwise serious and I gladly accept Akari VS RWBY.

This isn’t your first time to Kickstarter, in fact you seem to have been hit by the December launch issue with your previous attempt.  What made you cancel and relaunch your campaign?  What was the thinking behind breaking the project into thirds?  

Not one of my brightest moments but it had to be done, after I launched the Kickstarter the team and I realized there were a lot of Loopholes within the proposal that needed correction. So we took it down even though it would hurt our backers already participating… Dave worked very hard to reorganize things and set up the Kickstarter to have a cleaner more professional feel. The way I see it is we took our chances by publishing the first project with some low grade issues here and there but this time, we’re ready and we wont ever publish a kickstarter without pushing it to be more professional.

Kickstarter doesn’t currently support Japanese based Kickstarter projects, yet you have repeated your listing in Japanese, what was caused you to decide to do a dual language project like this?  Will the final project be dual audio/subtitled as well?  

The final project will be Dual Audio and will provide English Subtitles if the viewer wishes to watch in Japanese Audio with subtitles, the reason Dave decided to push this in both languages was to accommodate to a second audience. More views, higher success chances.

Blender is a great 3D modeling and render program and I’m glad to see you using it for this project.  I notice you’re planning on using Freestyle rendering utility, can you tell us what that does and why you’re using it?  Why did you decide to use it over Cycles?  

Blender is a lovely all-in-one 3D Application, its Blender Internal Rendering was recently given the option to render with Freestyle. Freestyle calculates where edges are and adds a line that can be controlled with various options. This style of rendering gives it more of a Hand Drawn anime feel.

The budget breakdown you listed is great!  Not only do you have the Kickstarter and Amazon processing fee you’ve even listed the tax.  How important do you think a budget breakdown is for a Kickstarter campaign?

The Backers should know how their money is being put to use, The calculations are a very close estimate of the transactions we’ll have to make. Since this is my first kickstarter and I never asked a successful kickstarter if they had to pay international taxes recently to their staff. I think it is very important to a kickstarter campaign to explain to potential backers where their money goes.

How did you discover Kickstarter?

The team researched a few different crowdfunding websites, Myself and the Project Lead decided on which one we would use. I have known about kickstarter from being linked to a Parallel Super Computer chip Kickstarter a few years ago.

A key part of successful Kickstarters is backer participation and how to convert a potential backer into a full backer.   How are you engaging your backers?  What kinds of things do you have planned for updates to give notice to those who just hit the “remind me” button and surf on?  Interviews?  Videos?  Stories from the project?

I’ve been messaging the Backers as they come, asking how they found our project and asking what would they want to see next. We are working on a trailer and some more test renders of the scenes we have to post as an Updated video.

What kind of media attention have you received with your project?  How are you spreading the word?  Facebook?  Twitter?  Google+? Youtube?  Advertising?  Are you using Kicktraq to track your progress?  

When we originally posted our Kickstarter it had an article posted on Blender Nation and since Blender Nation is on the live news feed for the site, it was placed on the top of the news! The main man of Blender, Ton Roosendaal, Also Tweeted about our project through his Twitter. It was also posted on the 3D Anime community on Google+ and various Anime Websites. Akari Project Lead, Dave Gadrinab, has been paying for advertisement in various places too.

Yeah, I use Kicktraq on my phone, I wish it had more functionality like possibly the option to see how much someone backs.

Do you have any tips/advice would you give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?

Never give up, I wash dishes for a living. I have been wanting to get into the Game Development field for roughly 10 years and have a project planned out and is in development aside from the animation projects I look over and I’ve only been using 3D applications for 4 years. You. Can. Do. It.

Thank you for spending your time with us!  Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

A quote I would like to share with you all, “Stickles”. If some of you don't mind sending me feedback about this interview, I would like to know if there are any questions that you have that were not asked here. I would appreciate it and I will answer everything to my best knowledge, Grade me please!

James Yee, you're awesome and I really appreciate the interview.

Thanks you're too kind. I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!

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