We've had two very exciting shoots in August - our last shoots, in fact, before the launch. Shooting is the aspect of production I have most experience of, and in some ways I think it will always be my favourite part of the job. This year I've fallen somewhat into the trap of booking shoot after shoot, loathe to pass up opportunities to work with my favourite people while they're available, until in June I looked back and realised I had over twice as much content as I needed for launch. Time to put the camera down and focus on post production and site development. So although I'm in discussions with some cool new performers, I'm not booking any more shoots until after the site is live. Shooting may be addictively good fun - but there's no point endlessly collecting content on my hard drive and never building the platform to share it with the world.
Anyway, first there was a two day shoot with the excellent folks at Restrained Elegance, Amelia-Jane Rutherford and Hywel Phillips, along with my partner and Dom-in-Residence Thomas Cameron. Then at the end of the month we had our first M/M shoot for the site, with Jimmy Holloway and pretty new bottom Sebastian Hawley. I'd been looking forward to both shoots for ages and am really looking forward to sharing some previews with you all after...
Tomorrow, Wednesday 7 September, is the date the DreamsofSpanking brand and URL will finally be shared with the world. I've owned the domain for three years, but have been keeping it quiet until I was far enough along to commit to a firm launch date. This blog is going to be opened up, I'll be able to publically release watermarked images and preview content, and everything's going to step up as I enter the final phase of preparation for launch.
D has been steaming ahead with the development of CMS features, and has finished everything on my core feature list except the CCBill integration which is dependent on my having an approved merchant account. This means the software now supports:
- Manual membership management (via 'restricted file serving' feature)
- Recent items page in shop
- Tags on shop items
- Pagination on shop category, recent items and tag pages
- Discussion threads attached to shop items
- Shop search feature
- Shop product types
- Shop item 'likes'
- Extend tag search to pass full object data to front-end templates
Meanwhile, I've been making leaps and bounds in my editing progress:
- I spent a day troubleshooting to try and stop my software crashing - updating hardware drivers, deleting and re-installing .dll files and codecs, moving my data around to free up space on hard drives, playing with scratch disk options and messing around endlessly with settings and preferences. It was tedious, but it paid off - I've seen far fewer crashes since, and although my PC still doesn't quite have enough memory to handle complex video editing projects easily, fingers crossed it will just about get me through to launch.
- I've worked out how to export video to mp4, and installed the relevant plugins for my image editor to handle RAW files - two steps forward which will stand me in good stead.
- I came to a final decision regarding file formats and sizes, and am exporting each film to a high-res mp4 and a high-res wmv for download (960x540px; around 200-300MB for standard length clips), and a low-res mp4 and low-res wmv for streaming (640x360px; less than 100MB).
- Finally, I've edited one new clip from each of the recent shoots: "A Bet's A Bet," an M/M scene in which two young gentlemen act out the results of a drunken wager, and "Need to Know", an F/F scene in which I spank Amelia-Jane with a hairbrush for compromising the security of our long con scam. I've finished the stills accompanying Need to Know, but I'm still waiting for the photos from the M/M shoot. I'm also halfway through editing Jimmy Holloway's introductory photoset, and have made progress with re-recording some dialogue for the first clip we ever filmed, Hitting Snooze, which had some teething problems with the sound recording.
All in all, progress has been very satisfactory, and with 12 weeks until my provisional site launch date of 1 December, I feel like I have enough time to do things properly. The only downside is that I actually only have until 14 October to do the majority of the site development and editing, in order to allow time to apply for a CCBill merchant account so D can work his Perl magic with the CCBill payment and affiliates scheme integration. That's five weeks away, and I'm starting to feel the pressure.
Still, it's lovely to finally be able to work fulltime on the project after three years of squeezing it into the odd corners of my schedule. Now if only I were able to concentrate purely on the site build and content editing, and didn't have to worry about marketing or publicity...!