Beginning 2017 Asset Review

For 2017, I’ve decided to set a goal of updating this production log much more frequently. I’m hoping to get at least one post a week, and possibly 3 or 4. Most of these will be much shorter and less formal posts.


What’s Old:

The technical infrastructure project continues, albeit interrupted by various things like work and household obligations. I’m also taking on some paying contract work with the specific goal of investing it into studio infrastructure (this is what paid for the parts for the render cluster).

Drawer Faces for Render Cluster (Terry Hancock / CC By 4.0)

Completed modifications to Helmer drawer faces to allow for ventilation, panel lights, and power buttons.

I have tinkered with backup and recovery scripts for our web server, which badly needs to be updated, but I have frankly gotten muddled with it. For those interested in details:

Basically, I just have to backup the data from WordPress, MediaWiki, and ResourceSpace, and then restore that data into (a possibly new/updated) installation of each of those, preferably containerized, so we can do future updates more smoothly and keep these packages up to date.

I also need to archive the project discussion from PHP BB, although I’m probably going to shut down the PHP BB site (the new TACTIC installation should have integrated communications/discussion tools, so it shouldn’t be necessary anymore, and it was only a rough fit to begin with).

And then of course, there’s building the new system with TACTIC.  I really like the “DevOps” approach of using containerized deployments, but I’m puzzled by the apparent difficulty of handling “stateful” (data-driven) applications (or interactions between them). Naturally, most of what we need is highly-statefull web applications, with complex database and filestore backends for asset management, version control, and project collaboration.  So I’m still a bit unsure whether Docker is going to do what we need or not. I’m pretty certain we do need to use Ansible “playbooks” to make sure our server configuration is repeatable.

If your eyes are glazing over at this point, I’m right there with you. If you’re getting excited by finally getting to the fun stuff, please contact me (“digitante at gmail dot com”) if you want to contribute — I have so much more fun for you! Key skills/packages: Shell-scripting, Python scripting (on Linux), MySQL, Postgresql, PHP, Ansible, Docker. I have no doubt that someone who knows what they are doing could do this much faster than me!

It’s also apparent that I need to update the content on a number of my websites which are succumbing to link-rot and out-of-date or just poorly-written prose. I don’t think I can delegate that part.

What’s New:

Since things haven’t been moving much for almost a year now, our production information is pretty stale. I’ve left a lot of things tabled, and even forgotten some of them, and so it’s going to be time for me to start a new “Asset Review” to catch myself up on what has been done and what remains to do. This will give me a chance to go through what we have, fix what’s quick to fix, note the more complicated things that need doing, make sure the asset is available in our Resource Space repo, all the credits and other metadata are in-place, and write a quick update here, so you can see what we’ve got.

Since we have a variety of different kinds of assets, this will include Blender models (including characters, sets, and props), flat artwork, plans and sketches, music, voice recordings, and sound effects.

We’ve decided to retain Resource Space as a means of publishing assets, even if the TACTIC asset system becomes our primary solution. If necessary, we’ll migrate the data later.

Baikonur Central Market Set ("Lunatics!" Project / CC By-SA 3.0)

Set of an open-air market in Baikonur, where Georgiana picks up a souvenir box in the pilot episode, modeled by Travis Souza. Still needs materials and backdrops to complete it.