It's just been a few months since the site was re-launched and a new year is upon us. 2001 was a good year not only for ILM but also for the whole VFX community and already we have plenty to look forward for this year. Now that things have stabilized with the site, I'm taking this opportunity to give a brief updates on the ongoings of the site and some of what is being planned for the future.
The State of ILMfan
We have had ups and downs this last few months but now I'm comfortable enough with the infrastructure to do even more updates and bring new features. I must say that doing this site is almost a full time job (besides my regular one), but it's a lot of fun. My admiration for all those hard working folks in the VFX industry and the fact that there are many that also are fans and are willing to read about the happenings makes it all worthwhile.
This constitutes the 200th news posting of ILMfan.com. I find it shocking that we had so many posts and that we reached this milestone so quickly. I would have been happy, when I took over updating, if I could get an average of one new announcement per week. The flow of information has been much greater and looking at ILM's slate of projects I'm sure we'll get plenty more. The main site is now pretty easy to update with the phpWebsite infrastructure. The forums are also running fine and administration has become manageable. This will allow me to make many more updates and add new features in the future. As always I'm open to suggestions and criticism.
As far as visitors goes, it seems that they are polarized. There are many that go to the main site but don't post or go to the forums, and there are those that mainly hang around the forums but just check the main site sparingly. Recently I added a simple navigation bar to make it easy for people to go back and forth. While most viewers come from the US and Canada, we have visitors from all over the world: Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. I was quite amazed at how many visitors we get, well beyond what I imagined. ILMfan also being referenced from other site across the world. It also seems that we get many viewers from search engines, especially Google. I must say that I want to thank all visitors, anonymous or not, for coming to check this little space on the Web, if this site is any good, it's in no small part to you.
So what's in store for the future? On the short term there are many fixes and minor updates to do. The forums will require a minor upgrade, probably in the next few weeks. After that it should be fine until phpBB 2 comes out sometime this year. The update is simple enough that will only make the forums unavailable for a few hours on a weekend. I'll post accordingly. The main site doesn't require any upgrades at the moment, though there is one issue. One visitor informed me that the site didn't display right, because ILMFan uses CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and of course there are computers out there that don't have the latest and greatest browsers available. I'm planning of rewriting the theme so as to use old HTML 4 which will probably make it readable on 99% of browsers. Though I don't plan to do it right away, but probably before the Summer. If you have questions just ask me, or if you have those kind of issues and have an opinion, let me know.
While the forums will stay basically the same for a while I have new features planned for the main one. As some of you might have noticed, now the 10 most recent announcements are displayed, and 15 older ones on the older articles box. The menu is now extended by default. There seemed to be a few problems with it. I also removed all options that didn't lead anywhere. When I first set up the system I added many menu options for things I wanted to add. Unfortunately I couldn't add things as fast as I wanted or expected. But some of those pages will appear in the next few months. The Awards sections is almost ready and should appear in a week or so. I also have planned a small ILM primer and timeline. Also a small reference page on what ILM is working on.
This brings us to the major update coming this year: the credits database. Many people have asked for this and claimed it as the most important feature missing. This will be my main priority this year. It will be a huge endeavor. It will be database driven so as to facilitate not only updates but also searches. The first phase will only have a list of all films and their supervisors. At least that way people can see what ILM has worked on. That shouldn't take long. But adding all credits will take probably the better part of the year. In the end the system should be great but in the meantime just have a little patience. Hopefully by the end of March we'll have a listing of all films and a partial list of other projects like commercials and special venues.
The other main feature is more articles. I've already posted the two interview that thefan did for the previous incarnation of the site. There is one more pending. I'm also currently writing a SIGGRAPH primer article for those who either have never heard of it or haven't attended the conference. I hope to have more articles in the future, maybe more interviews and reports.
The other major feature, but planned for much later, maybe until well into 2003 would be a gallery containing pictures of not only the projects ILM has worked on but also the people and behind the scenes pics. Though I can't promise it'll come to fruition, many things would have to be cleared for that. There are other ideas floating around in my head but nothing really certain or concrete. As always I'd love to hear criticism or suggestions, you can either email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or post in the forums. I love hearing from other fans even if I'm a little late with my responses. May the Force be with you!!!