A Shining Success

Back in November 2012 I contributed towards an IndieGoGo project. The Misfit Team wanted to create an “elegant, all-metal activity tracker that you can sync with your smartphone just by placing it on your phone screen”. They called it the Misfit Shine. The design was beautiful and their approach to the idea was flawless. Word spread quickly about their idea and the internet was a buzz of interest, bringing a lot of positive attention to the gadget. They were asking for $100’000 to complete the project. In the end, they got $846’675.

This morning (August 2013), via international Fed Ex, myShine arrived. It is simplisticly gorgeous. I slotted the battery in, snapped the two halves together and gave it a single tap. It lit up with one bright white LED. Clearly I hadn’t done much movement yet! I downloaded and opened the Shine App and placed it on my iPhone screen. Immediately my phone recognised the device and the screen animation started pulsing. It then downloaded the latest firmware and updated the device. I filled in some basic details such as my age, height and weight, and it suggested a target figure for me to aim for. With all the details sync’d (via bluetooth) the Shine was ready to go…

It’s tiny, it’s light, it’s waterproof. it’s a cool little gadget, and I bloody love it.

What’s great for me is that I’ve been attempting to cut out fatty foods and eat smaller portions in an attempt to be more healthy and lose weight. But as well as watching my portions and worrying about fatty foods, I can now monitor how active I truly am and use personal targets as a way of being more active.

I currently have the Shine securely held within the rubber clasp that came in the (elegant) packaging. The clasp has a magnet on it, and so the device stays attached to the outside of your pocket by placing the magnet on the inside of your pocket, therefore gripping the material between. Classy and clever. Misfit ShineI’ve worn it for a few hours around work today and I’m really impressed with it. Having sync’d it to the iPhone I can see it does a good job of detecting movement. It also has the function to know when you’re asleep (tap it three times before bed, and it’ll give you a fancy ripple indication) and therefore ignores those movements till it realises you’re really up and moving.

There’s a couple of things I wish the Shine had. Firstly, I wish it had an engraved serial number. This would help identify it as mine, God forbid if it was lost or stolen. Similarly, I’d like to be able to lock the device via the App so that nobody else could change the details or use it without logging into the App.

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/misfit-shine-an-elegant-wireless-activity-tracker

Crowd Production

Not long ago I discussed “crowd funding”, where an idea is put forward to the world and through the support of small (or large) donations the idea can be fully funded and brought to fruition. One such idea was The Fitzroy; a feature length 1950’s style post-apocalyptic comedy based on a beached submarine hotel…

I supported this feature through Kickstarter, and also contacted the Producers separately to let them know I’d be happy to help with my time and any kit I own to help support the film further. They were kind enough to reply. And so on Friday I was tasked with filming behind-the-scenes during the creation of the movie soundtrack, courtesy of The Green Rock River Band.

Green Rock River Band

Reservoir Studios

This band have a distinct character and sound, described on their own website as “doom folk“. I already had an idea of the style The Fitzroy might take, and these tracks simply bolster that vision. Yes, they’ve got bass, drums and guitars. But they’ve also got violins, banjos, a washboard and vocals unlike anything else you’ve heard.

The Green Rock River BandI’d like to thank the band for their patience during their recording session. A special thanks goes to lead vocalist Jeremy Sachs for his splendid cups of tea. Thanks also to Chris Clarke at Reservoir Studios for letting me film at the location.

Crowd Funding The Future

I’m a fan of “Crowd Funding”. If someone is passionate enough about an idea, it’s possible to bypass corporate red tape and make that idea come to life with the help of others. Websites such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo allow people to show off their ideas and have people contribute money towards their project. And if the crowd-sourced contributions hit an amount set for the project within an allotted time, they get the money and the project goes ahead. As a way of getting people involved, some projects give something back to their contributors such as a finalised item, a limited edition version of their project, a signed copy of a DVD, etc. It’s a great idea.

“Why would you want to do this?”, some may ask. My answer is simple; we are an incredibly creative bunch, and not everyone gets their chance to shine. I’m a firm believer in giving people a helping hand if I feel it’s likely to give them a positive outcome.

I’ve backed a few projects in the last year, all of which I thought were worthwhile as standalone ideas. Furthermore I looked at the potential these folks had and the impact their projects might have on their future. I’ve backed a photographer looking to showcase his stunning images, a software team creating a fantastical futuristic arcade racing game, and a technology company who want to get people active with their stylish button-sized activity monitor (who were looking for $100k and ended up with over half a million!).

One project I missed out on was a feature film called Least Among Saints by Marty Papazian, a feature length portrayal on the life of an injured soldier who moves next door to a single mother. It went on to become an award winning feature shown around the world. As an independent filmmaker Papazian wrote, directed and starred in it. He now has a solid future ahead of him, something I wish I had been part of.

My latest discovery is a UK based team looking to fund an independent film. Writer and director Andrew Harmer, producer James Heath and Liam Garvo of Dresden Pictures have put together a winning press package which deserves attention. Their Kickstarter project, The Fitzroy, is a feature length 1950’s style post-apocalyptic comedy based on a beached submarine being used as a hotel; The Fitzroy Hotel. That idea alone was enough to get me wanting more! Having seen the artwork on their Kickstarter video and the detail of their website and blog it’s a no-brainer for me to have pledged something to their project. At the time of writing this blog they had 246 backers and 65% of their goal funding (£39’403) with 10 days to go.

I truly hope they make it.

I mentioned before about their “press package”, and it’s something worth mentioning separately. Gaining exposure is essential in such a venture, and what these guys have done is create a team of people skilled in what they do and a detailed and enticing way of getting people involved. They have a regularly updated blog of the project, they keep in touch with their backers, they have a well designed website, and the perks they offer in return for targeted pledges is something I haven’t seen before. Fancy a download of the movie, or maybe a physical blu-ray version? How about your name in the credits and an invite to the premiere screening? Maybe a gas mask prop from the feature? What about a post-apocalypse survival kit? Or, how about becoming an animated character as part of the opening titles? These are all brilliant ideas to which other projects should take note.

As a side-line to their feature idea, and the reason I initially found the project, they created and uploaded a short film called “Choke Mate”. Although based on the world of The Fitzroy, where earth is engulfed in a poisonous gas, they state that the result is somewhat of a darker world. What got me interested is that they took ideas and suggestions from their supporters and in just over 48 hours turned around and uploaded their creation.

Stellar work, worth applauding. And funding…

If you feel like you’d like to donate something towards their goal, you can contribute to the project by clicking here. In the meantime, here’s the team’s over-the-weekend short entitled “Choke Mate”:

As an update to this blog, I’ve since discovered some other work from Andrew Harmer. This comedy short is also worth a watch: