ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

So, where is this Documentary? —

A pretty valid question, one especially important to the hundreds of folks who have been grand enough to pre-order the documentary, going back to October.

When I first opened the pre-ordering, I indicated that it would be going out for the end of December. In the beginning of December, I realized this was not the case, informed all the orders with valid e-mails, and then shifted to “sometime in January”. As I’m working here, I want to increase the openness of the process so everyone understands what’s going on.

Basically, the project is very nearly complete. The episodes are basically done. I’ve laid out all three DVDs. Even the boxes have come back. Here’s one of the thousands of boxes printed:

Photographs of the Box

There are several reasons why it’s not out to the printers yet. The first is subtitles. I’ve intended to subtitle most of the project, so that people who cannot hear can read everything being said. There’s also a lot of different voices from the hundreds of interviewees, and it makes it much easier to follow. But it also means that I and friends are transcribing episodes, pacing them in a subtitling program, and doing best to make sure they work. This is a ton of work.

Next is refining all the sound and video. There’s quite a few hours of footage, with a lot of variance of sounds, since this was all one guy making the movie. I’ve got it pretty much under control, but there’s still a few spots where people sound too loud or soft, and I have to go through all the footage to fix that.

There’s some issues with having a lawyer looking at some of the footage, mostly based around trademarks appearing on shirts and in backgrounds; most of those are handled.

And finally, there’s rendering in MPEG-2, which takes my machines quite some time (since there’s so many hours).

I’m working very hard on all this, but it really isn’t a marketing trick or other subterfuge; I really am just one guy, and each time I’m doing something, that’s all I’m doing; there’s no team following me up, just a few family members looking for any classic errors or omissions.

The printing company has told me it takes an average of 3 weeks for turnaround on a printing project like mine, which includes a “check disk” phase, where I look at my DVDs back from the shop and run them on a DVD player, to make sure they work well before we make thousands of them. So there’s a big lump of time.

One of the reasons I’ve stopped trying to get this project talked about in other circles is because I want it out and available for people to get in the mail immediately after they order it, and until these things are in my house and ready to be shipped, that’s simply not “ready”. People are still pre-ordering and I appreciate that very, very much, but I am just not doing anything on the promotion side until it’s ready to go.

I’m going as fast as I can, I really, really am. I will likely never do another project like this again, and I want this out the door as right and as good as I can make it. I’ll keep everyone updated in coming days.

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  1. 64 Freak says:

    As someone who pre-ordered last year, I’ve been really looking forward to the getting this DVD in my hands. But don’t rush it. I don’t mind waiting until it’s as perfect as you can get it.I’ll be here, patiently waiting because I believe in your work. Keep it up!

  2. l.m.orchard says:

    As someone else who pre-ordered: When I sent off my order, I did so fully expecting to see this documentary “when it’s done”. And “when it’s done” is when you say so– it’s been this long in the making, and the story is already decades-old, so best to give it the time it needs.

  3. josh says:

    As a third someone who preordered: I would much rather have a project that you were totally happy with than something you felt you had to rush out the door to meet a self-imposed deadline. Take your time.

  4. radman says:

    Just wanted to echo the sentiments of everyone else; I can’t wait to view the finished production. 🙂

  5. bluknight says:

    The advantages of spamming the textfiles blog are that your website will get hostile load testing on an intermittent basis throughout eternity by users that you’ve pissed off.

    Jason: don’t rush the documentary. We’ll wait.