Reigning Cats and Dogs: crowdfunding animation part 2

(first published November 2011) In an earlier blog I talked about how Crowdfunding might work for animation. Unfortunately my examples were all from Canada and Europe, so I thought I’d balance that with a UK success story, below. Particularly nifty is the way this project hooks in donors by suggesting your pets could be stars!

Hazraf “HaZ” Dulull’s CGI film “Fubar” is probably the best example of a vfx/compositing crowdfunded project in the UK. Whilst Energia Productions’ Iron Sky rumbles on for years, Haz’s one-man band and fleet-of-foot approach means he achieved 125% of his target on for a Cats and Dogs/Gears Of War crossover. Fubar is an epic story of an on-going political war told in an alternate reality with cat and dogs.

FubarheaderHaZ started his career in video games cinematics as an Artist and TD before moving into visual effects and compositing for Feature films, commercials and music promos. Over the years he has worked with clients such as MPC, Passion Pictures, Partizan, Glassworks, The Mill and other high profile studios in London. He has recently completed work at Jellyfish Pictures as VFX supervisor on BBC’s most ambitious full CG creature series – Planet Dinosaurs due to release in Autumn 2011, and is currently Visual Effects Supervisor at Prime Focus London.

Although skilled in the software he needed his own copies- he couldn’t very well do the film at work. This was HaZ’s first challenge. The software for the film was sponsored by the Foundry (Nuke software) and Shotgun. However it wasn’t just charitable giving- it had value for the software houses themselves. “They provided the tools for free to support the film from a technology / product support level.” said HaZ, “In return I beta test versions of the tools being used in the film during production and also provide ‘making-of’ material showing how the tools were used to make the film when it’s done. So in a nutshell Fubar is like a test platform of a live production happening while I use the various beta versions of their tools to make the film.fubar_01 The Foundry provided Nuke which was the core VFX production tool of Fubar because the USP was to make a film completely in Nuke by creating a sandbox environment inside Nuke’s 3D compositing space”. Interestingly, a scan of donors reveal that several employees from the Foundry also felt excited enough by the project to slip in the odd donation.

HaZ’s own network meant editing and sound design were completed through calling on friend editor Deelan Sital, who then brought on board sound designer Luis Almau. Collaboration extended to Chris Maynard fromCMI-VFX kindly donating programming time using Nuke’s latest particle system allowing the creaion of bullet tracers in 3D space with controls such as velocity, glow, size etc. “This made it very quick to add bullet tracers in my war sequences” said HaZ.

fubar_04HaZ also thought creatively about how to make funding attractive- and proposed  to “Feature your Cat or Dog in the Film as a character when you make a Pledge…if you have a cat or dog and would like it featured in the film as one of the marines, or additional characters then send over 3 – 5 images in several angles for it to be digitally placed into the animation. We will contact you if it’s selected to be in the film and of course your cat or dog gets a credit in the film too!”

A video of the making of Fubar also helps foster a sense of involvement. By early September Fubar had attracted publicity. A mention in the Sep 2011 issue of Televisual Magazine helped drive donations.

By 24th September, $6,256 was raised with 75 backers; 25 paying $10 for a credit, whilst at the upper end 2 backers paid $160 or a mini full colour art book of the film, digital download of the film; Blu-Ray copy of the film, signed poster and thank you on the films ending credit. 7 backers paid $100 to get the same minus the art book.

So where next for Fubar? The Fubar “extended redux edition” will be released exclusively for distribution, cinema screenings and festivals while the current version continues to gain success online. It’s being nominated and screened at the yearly Renderyard film festival. Renderyard is a short film portal and agency site that screens selected short films for online and distribution worldwide. Fubar seems to be doing well.



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