Sunday, 27 October 2019

Fan Film Announcement

Due to the reasons below, we have not been able to finish the fan film by November this year. There is not just one reason for this failure, there are in fact two. If you have been keeping track of this web page you will have seen the running figure for the total amount of donations we have received to date for the film. The figure of £3,015 is only half of what we needed to raise to get through this year in the run up to the convention without taking on other work. But this is not the sole reason for not being able to complete the project, as you all know Alan has a complex and rare cancer. This was only diagnosed in September 2018 four years after he became ill. Five years ago, when it was clear something was wrong with him, he was put onto a regime of drugs in an attempt to combat the undiagnosed issues he was experiencing. One of the drugs he was given was steroids, which are only supposed to be taken for a relatively short period. Unfortunately, in Alan’s case, every time they tried to withdraw this particular medicine, he became extremely ill, to the point of hospitalisation on some occasions. The net result is that he has had to not only stay on the steroids long term, but to also have them increased to try and slow the disease as it has progressed. One of the side effects of long-term steroid use is the possible development of cataracts in the eyes. This sadly is exactly what has happened in Alan’s case. His eyesight has gradually been worsening since the start of the year. As it stands, he had difficulty seeing sufficiently well to work at a computer screen, which has slowed progress to such an extent it became clear that we would not be able to finish the film in time for the convention this year.

We did not have sufficient funds for Alan to have the surgery privately, he is entirely reliant on the NHS. It took several months to get an appointment to be assessed for a cataract operation and a further delay for the first operation on his right eye, which is the worst affected. This operation took place on October 24th and the vision in his right eye is now improving as his eye recovers. Alan’s left eye will not be operated on until approximately March 2020, but as it is far less affected than his right eye and seems to be progressing at a slower rate, it is felt that he should have reasonably good vision in the run up to that date. Whilst this is good news in one way, it also means that sadly, we will not be in attendance at the con this year. Unfortunately, Alan will not be able to drive for a while after surgery and he is also at high risk for infection so has to remain close to our hospital just in case there are problems. We are both saddened that we won’t be able to be with you all, we regard you all as friends and look forward to seeing you each year.

We intend to finish the film once Alan’s eyesight has been sufficiently restored, we have already put plans in place to create an income stream to allow us to pay our monthly bills so that we can look to finish the film for next year’s convention. We are painfully aware that this is yet another delay, but the whole issue with Alan’s eyes came out of the blue. Yes, we were aware it could happen, but the hope was it would be many years away. Unfortunately, steroids can have this effect quite quickly, in Alan’s case five years, and that has left us with yet another medical blow to deal with. It is like that old saying, “it can’t get any worse”, then you discover it can!

Alan & Linda Marques

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Fan Film Update for March

The interior of New Plymouth. It is in colour, honest!
Well, funding is now underway and donations are coming in slowly. We would like to thank all those who have donated so far, we really appreciate your support. It has enabled us to take advantage of a sale that took place on one of the online model stores we use, so we now have a few more ready made models for the film, although the textures will probably change. Alan is continuing to finish off another job and also work on the fan film at the same time. Sometimes it can be beneficial to work on two things at once as it stops you getting tired and making mistakes, a change is as good as a rest as the saying goes. Above you can see part of the interior of New Plymouth, this is one of the latest images Alan has done, but it may have changed by the time the film is finished. Below are some of the untextured building models he is using.

Models of buildings for New Plymouth

For those who get Linda’s facebook posts, you will know that there have been some developments with Alan’s health. At the end of February Alan had the first of his two infusions of a drug called Rituximab, which is usually given to people with Rheumatoid Arthritis. He had this about 18 months ago and it helped him for about 6 to 9 months before the effects faded. He has now also had the second dose and is already finding some benefits. He seems to have a bit more energy and is feeling a bit more positive. We hope this continues and he improves even more as he did the last time he had this drug.

Another potentially positive piece of news is that Alan’s Rheumatologist has been in correspondence with one of the leading experts in this country on Erdheim-Chester Disease at Leeds Teaching Hospital. The latest is that Alan’s notes, scans, and biopsies have been requested. We hope this will lead to something good, but have learned not to get our hopes up too much. 

The website has been updated and shows the new total of donations on the front page, it has also been updated on the funding page. Both pages also show the amount we hope to raise, this is not a set in stone amount and any money over this will also be used on the film, maybe even to enhance the showing of it at Armadacon in November. One or two people have used the contact form and this seems to be working so Linda is very relieved about this, it was one of the aspects of the website that wasn’t able to be checked before going live. The details of how to make a donation via PayPal have also been added to the funding page, but don’t feel obliged to use this method. If you want to make a donation in another way, or even set up a regular small payment, then contact us and we will send you the details.

All monies donated will be moved to an old savings account of Linda’s that had the princely sum of 68p in it. It will mean money has to pass through Linda’s main account to get to the savings account, but as she is keeping records of all money movements she makes this should be transparent. When money is needed for the film it will be moved to Linda’s main account and then on to Alan. Again, records will be kept of the money moved. We want to be totally transparent about the donations, that way you will feel totally happy about donating.

Thank you again for all your support, it is greatly appreciated.
More news will be posted soon.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Fan Film News for January 2019

Update on the Fan Film

In November 2018 we did a presentation at Armadacon about the Fan Film and where things are now. A web version of this presentation is now on our updated website so if you weren't there then this is the place to go to catch up. For everyone who was there and saw our presentation, this is a brief update.

Undoubtedly the big question is, here we are in the month of February 2019.  If the fan film needs 10 months of work to finish it then how is that now possible as we were supposed to start work in January? Well, the answer is simple, we did start work in January 2019. 

Prior to Christmas 2018 we had enough finances in place to fund ourselves for the early part of 2019 and so have already started work on the fan film.  In fact, we were working on a commercial project for ‘Carpe Astra Ltd’ whom some of you may know.  That project required a large number of space-based scenes and it just so happened that a number of the assets could be shared between the fan film and this project.

So, some assets that were already underway for the fan film have made there way into the Carpe Astra project which acted as the incentive to accelerate their completion so that they can now feature back in the fan film. A good example of this is our very own planet ‘Earth’ which is now fully complete, and features in the early part of the fan film.

We also now have an excellent set of asteroids and space rocks which were constructed for Carpe Astra and can now do a cameo for the space battles in the fan film too. So, a lot has already been going on including over 80 futuristic building assets that have been prepared and fully textured for use in the New Plymouth model.
So, well under way.

Since Armadacon, Linda has been working on the new website, this has been an interesting time as she had to find new software. Not being a coder, Linda had been using Adobe Muse to create websites, but this has been discontinued so a replacement that didn't require her to do a crash course in coding was needed. After much research she found the perfect solution and at a reasonable cost too. The new site may not be perfect but it does work and it is early days with this software. There is an annoying quirk in the contact form which she is trying to solve, but doesn't stop it working. If you find any other problems let us know.

As to Alan’s health, back in November we mentioned the Interferon treatment that would significantly help Alan’s condition. Sadly, the NHS has seen fit to turn down the funding request by his consultant for the required cancer treatment. We are not giving up and are pursuing other avenues to try and access drugs that will help stabilise his health long term, we will keep you posted.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Fan film update

We are pleased to say that the filming at Armadacon 26 went very well. We managed to get just about everything that we really wanted to get and managed to do it to the schedule too. We would like to thank everybody who participated and special thanks go to the hotel too, all made our job easier. We were very pleasantly surprised by the amount of acting talent there is amongst the attendees, many of the shots were done in one take and I don't think we went to more than four. We certainly gave the hotel something to talk about by ordering a jug of water and six glasses to be delivered to the Gents Toilets, apparently one of the more unusual requests they have every had. We still have quite a lot of filming to do, but it is all stuff that we didn't need to do at the convention, this will all be done over the coming months.

Thanks again to everyone, you are all stars.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Busy start to the new year

Apologies for not having updated the blog for a while, but thankfully we have been busy here at Planet VFX. The film project we have been working on periodically over the past couple of years is coming to an end. There is just the final finishing off and tidying up to do now so it should be in front of audiences soon. We hope to be able to give more details about it and our work on it soon. Sorry I can't say more now, but we take confidentiality very seriously here and won't give out details before we are allowed to.

We have a few other smaller projects in the pipeline, along with continued work on the Armadacon Fan Film. The later should have done principle filming at the 25th Armadacon last November, but sadly this had to be put back to this year's convention due to issues beyond our control. Following all the animation development work done over Christmas and New Year for other projects, we will shortly be preparing for filming later this year.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Armadacon 25

Well, another Armadacon has been and gone and in spite of recent events we were able to attend Armadacon 25 this year. Several people made this happen and we would like to thank them all. We were also able to show a teaser trailer for the fan film, the last few scenes of which were filmed on Sunday morning in a quiet room at the convention. Many thanks to Chris and Jenny who were great as usual and made the filming go very smoothly, this gave Alan enough time (just!) to put the trailer together and encode it so it could be shown at the closing ceremony. When he was seen, Alan was beavering away on his laptop just so we were able to achieve this. Hopefully, the trailer will be up on YouTube soon. We also took loads of photographs of the venue, and loads of measurements, so we can do the pre-viz accurately. Filming of the film proper will take place next year so we are now a year behind. However, this will enable us to produce an even better film so may be a benefit in the long run.

Armadacon 25 was great fun as always. The guests were great and entertained us very well. Sadly, Neill Gorton couldn't join us due to work pressures, but we hope he will be there another time. Mitch Benn did a wonderful performance of songs after the Convention Dinner, although I'm not sure it was wise to laugh so much at that stage of the evening. We are looking forward to next year now, although just how much of the proceedings we will see will depend on how well the filming goes.

If you want a gentle(!) introduction to Science Fiction conventions then I can recommend Armadacon. It is small and friendly and you will be welcomed. Come and join us next year.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Survived the storm

I'm pleased to announce that Planet VFX survived the storm intact. Yes, we did lose power overnight and yes, it did stop one of Alan's machines causing it to re-boot when power came back on. But we didn't lose any data, and it only delayed something the machine was working on at the time, it didn't cause any major problems.  I think we were lucky here, other parts were not so fortunate.

Things are slowly picking up now and we are trying out new things. More on these shortly.

In the mean time, we are pleased to say that we will be attending Armadacon this year after all, up until a very short time ago it looked like we definitely wouldn't be able to go but Alan has bounced back so well that apart from a lot of weight loss, you wouldn't know he had been ill. We won't be filming, as I mentioned in the announcement on the Planet VFX website, we haven't been able to do the necessary preparation. We will though, be doing some photography so we can do the pre-viz of the film in the coming months. This probably won't involve cast members, but will concentrate on the venue so we can build a cg version. We are very happy to be at Armadacon and would like to thank everyone who has made this possible. Words just aren't enough sometimes to express feelings, and this is one of those times. The people who have helped us know who they are and should be warned they may get hugged when we see them. Hopefully, next year will see us filming. We will use the additional time to do more work and cut down the time between next year's convention and the premier of the film.

I hope you are all OK and if you were caught up in the storm, that you got through it without problems. Until next time this is Planet VFX signing off.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Armadacon 25th Anniversary Fan FIlm Postponed

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we have had to postpone the filming work on the Armadacon 25th Anniversary Fan Film until next year. Below is a statement we sent to the Armadacon Committee explaining why we had to make this painful decision. In an update, we are pleased to announce that Alan is well on the road to recovery now, following further treatment at our local hospital. He is able to do post production work now and, although a little weak at the moment, is also able to do location work within reason (no hiking up the sides of Mountains!).

It is with deep regret that Alan and Linda Marques have to announce the postponement of the filming of the fan film until Armadacon 26. Alan has been very ill over the past few months and this has resulted in several admissions to hospital, both locally on the island and on the mainland. He recently had an operation, but then suffered severe complications which led to him being admitted to hospital again. Due to these ongoing health issues the necessary preparation for filming this year has not been done and we have made the painful decision to postpone this until next year. Indeed, we are not even sure if Alan will be well enough to attend this year's convention. We know it is a special year and it would be very sad for us to miss it, but it all depends on his health and ability to travel. Please be assured that we are committed to making the film and want it to be of the highest standard possible. We felt this could not be achieved by rushing preparations and continuing with the filming this year, assuming Alan is well enough. The Committee have been kept informed at all times and we would both like to thank them for their continued support and understanding, this has been greatly appreciated over this difficult time. We know this is very disappointing, we had been really looking forward to getting on with the film, but fate has stepped in and put paid to that. We hope you will understand our reasons for postponing and will still be willing to participate next year.

Alan & Linda Marques
4th October 2013.

 Planet VFX is now back up and running again. Also, Alan is now able to work as a VFX Supervisor again so if you have a project that needs a supervisor please contact him via his website


Fan Film Announcement

Due to the reasons below, we have not been able to finish the fan film by November this year. There is not just one reason for this failur...