Well 2023 certainly was an interesting year for AIPOP-3D. Going from an experiment on how various AI tools might be used across the entire production of a 3D blu-ray, through to releasing not just one but two high quality converted films, with another very nearly ready to launch.
Having roped in Alex and Phil, the aim was to convert 3 films and use three films to properly test the marketplace - we knew our first release aimed to convince backers we could do a conversion and make a good job of it, our second aimed to see the kind of numbers we could hope to sell on a better know (more popular?) title, and our third which is just about ready to launch on Kickstarter, aims to understand how it may be commercially viable to release something that is licensed.
Phase One of Aipop-3D was go!
AIPOP-01: Nightmare Castle 3D
The Italian gothic horror film "Nightmare Castle" was our first experiment, not just in conversion terms, but in looking to see if there was a market for 3D Blu-rays. With the major's pulling out of 3D blu-rays specifically, and physical media in general, it's not really a good sign for the market. Streaming provides a much distribution model, but of course there's other longer term issues, lack of support for 3D in the streaming platforms and possible availability issues to contend with.
There's also the challenge of an unknown, using new technology attempting to convince backers on Kickstarter that the conversion was looking good. And having to actually produce the product on a $0 budget prior to raising production funds on Kickstarter.
Needless to say it went not too badly, feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and as a test it at least proved this option was technically and creatively viable if not entirely delivering returns sufficient to make it a viable commercial business.
Kickstarter backer numbers were only around the 250 mark, which considering the conversion, promotion, design, artwork, production and distribution of any film was disappointing.
AIPOP-02: House on Haunted Hill 3D
Tackling a well know, and much loved film, was both a challenge and a risk, as a fair number of individuals let us know that in their opinion we shouldn't be converting films that were not intended for 3D whilst we also had to deal with the assumption following our first release that AI was in fact doing the conversion - and of course there was still scepticism that the conversion would be any good.
Alex spent over 6 months of his spare time working on this and the vast challenges that it brought and ended up delivering an amazingly convincing conversion.
Again to gain support we relied on word of mouth as we did our best to get backers onboard - relying on social media, a YouTube 2D to 3D Conversion Livestream show and personal outreaches to do our best to garner interest in the project.
At the same time we moved production to the US, which although handled out of the UK introduced additional challenges, did mean there were less distribution woes and shipping worked out cheaper for the majority of backers.
Our assumption is with the better known film, alongside the evidence of the conversion results and the promotional effort did manage to increase interest in the project, doubling our "Nightmare Castle" Kickstarter number with around 500 backers.
AIPOP-03: Electric Man 3D
And finally for Phase One we have the soon to be launched Kickstarter for "Electric Man 3D".
"Electric Man" is an acclaimed independent Scottish movie originally released in cinemas in 2011. A fast and funny hybrid of romantic comedy, chase thriller and caper movie set in Edinburgh, it is centred around the search for a rare and valuable comic, the very first issue of Electric Man and stars Derek Dick (AKA the renowned Scottish singer Fish).
Andrew was involved in this production back in 2011 and as such it lead to this being a good test ground for converting both a more contemporary film as well as an opportunity to test out the possible financial viability of a commercial licensing option.
Obviously as this hasn't gone live yet it's too soon to discuss the results, it would be great if this could reach a wider audience and exceed the "House on Haunted Hill" numbers but this is a more challenging option being lesser known and without major film star drawing power.
The exciting news is you can pre-register your interest in this project now over on Kickstarter!
We've learnt a great deal over the year, above and beyond advanced conversion techniques that is!
People love Slipcovers! I certainly didn't know that until I started doing this.
AI is somehow seen as cheating. (Although for us the AI part of the conversion is about 3 or 4 hours vs 1000's of manual hours fixing stuff)
Most people are fantastic and supportive. The number of amazing comments and emails we've had is really wonderful.
It takes longer to do a conversion that is up to a commercial release grade than we had initially hoped!
So what does 2024 hold?
Well our aims are to get the "Electric Man 3D" Kickstarter fully live ASAP, then we have Phase Two: AIPOP-04 to AIPOP-06 to launch: three more conversions already in the pipeline, more details of which will follow.
As we are film and 3d enthusiasts ourselves we will be moving away from 2D support as we don't want to adversely affect the sales of the superb boutique labels that are out there bring amazing films to physical media for us all to enjoy. Our speciality and USP is 3D and we want to make sure that is what we are focussed on.
We will also focus on delivering a simpler proposal: a Standard Edition, i.e. a somewhat more "barebones" 3D blu-ray alongside a Platinum Edition which will include all the extra goodies, slipcovers and such like, that supporters have shown interest in.
Production will continue solely in the US as we are reliant on the Public Domain films available there and over 80% of the market is US based.
Thank you again to everyone who has backed us or purchased one of our products, we hope we can count on your continued support for 2024.