I think I'm more or less on course for a launch at the beginning of April, or possibly even earlier if I really get my act together, but I'm not banking on it since once I've got the thing written I'll have to convert it to HTML (the distribution disk will contain PDF and HTML versions), sort out the rest of the contents of the distribution disk and updated Forgotten Futures CD-ROM, etc. So cautiously optimistic, but don't hold your breath waiting.
Re the question I asked a day or two ago, here's how my studio description ended up. Anyone who played in the second scenario I ran at Dragonmeet will realise I've changed things quite a lot, I think a studio system is more likely than what I described there.
The Mutoscope Corporation has three warehouse-sized “stages” near the docks. The buildings are all much the same; glass roofed, with all of the apparatus of a stage set but the audience replaced by a leather and wood bellows plate camera. There’s more lighting than any theatre the dragons will have seen before; mirrors to reflect sunlight, gauzy awnings to diffuse it, and gas-powered lime lights for use if it’s cloudy. Everything on the sets looks lavish; think “Bollywood” and you won’t go far wrong. Since it’s impossible to tell a complex story with the available tools the producers go for spectacle – for example, scenes set in the pirate’s lair will have dancing girls, fire-eaters, mounds of fake gold coins (actually gilded wood), and so forth. There’s no colour or sound in the final product, but having everything look realistic helps everyone get into the right mood.
Don’t go into technical details about the processes involved in making Mutoscope epics unless the adventurers express an interest. All they really need to be aware of is that they require hundreds of carefully posed photographs, each slightly different from the one preceding it, taking 20-30 seconds per photograph; during each photograph everyone must stand completely still. Between exposures everyone stretches, then assistants rush in with tape measures to carefully position everyone to the next carefully choreographed pose, waits while the director screams at whoever is now in the wrong position, and does it all again. And again, and again, and again…
As soon as a photograph has been taken the photographer hands the plate to his assistant, who rushes it off to be processed. Next it is handed over to the artists and engravers who convert everything to printing plates and interpolate the missing pictures between the frames. It takes several hours to produce each second of the final epic – and occasionally there’s a problem, and it has to be done over again.