For the past 10 days or so, we've been running a crowdfunding pricing survey, and so far we've gotten about 1500 responses (thanks!). We asked several questions in an attempt to figure out what the fair price for an entire season (26 or so 25 minute episodes) of a classic Anime series was, and what possible formats you preferred.
Distilling down all the data, the results so far are:
- About 50% of you insist on Blu-Ray, and almost all of the rest are happy with either Blu-Ray or DVD -- very few people were DVD die-hards.
- The sweet-spot price -- where most of you think it's a fair deal -- seems to be between $50 and $60.
So our task becomes figuring out a way to deliver an entire season of a classic Anime series -- one that has never been released before in North America -- for this price.
This task is made significantly more challenging because releasing a classic series can be significantly more costly than releasing a new one. For one thing, most of the series we are interested in doing do not have an existing HD scan, and getting one done (assuming that the original film materials are still available and in good shape) can be quite expensive and risky -- what if it turns out that there is a unexpected problem with the materials that we don't find out about until after the Kickstarter campaign? Yowch!
Even if everything went according to plan, the costs are such that we'd need a minimum of 5000 people to sign up in order to make the numbers work -- and for a series with multiple seasons to release, we'd typically want more than that because we'd expect to see sales reductions on the subsequent seasons.
While we'd certainly love to have 5000 people back a Kickstarter, at $60 a pop that's a $300,000 goal, which is higher than we feel comfortable with. So we started looking for another approach, and thanks to a suggestion from one of our Bubblegum Crisis backers, we think we've found an interesting possibility.
SD on BD
An interesting feature of Blu-Ray discs is that they can contain SD-resolution video (720x480, 4:3, 29.97fps interlaced video), and we can put a lot of it on a dual-layer BD50 disc -- the equivalent of 5 or 6 dual-layer DVD9s, enough to put a whole season of episodes on a single disc. Since Blu-Rays can use MPEG4/AVC instead of MPEG2 to encode video, you'd also get better video quality at the same bitrate, as well as nicer-looking subtitles and some other advantages.
Releasing a series in this format has significant cost advantages: we can use the current SD video transfers, so there's no HD transfer expenses, and the final product fits on a single disc.
The end result is that with a $60 price, we only need 1500 backers to make the numbers work, which is entirely doable -- if it is acceptable to you.
In order to find out, we've whipped up another little survey for you to take. We look forward to your comments and suggestions.
I will be in San Mateo, CA this weekend helping out with event videography at the 2015 RoboGames. If you've never seen robot combat in person, you're missing something, so if you are in the area, I encourage you to come and check it out.