Old Blog Posts
Spring is almost here, and change is already in the air at Scenic Labs. In the next week we'll be launching a new site, and we're also signing an exclusive distribution agreement with one of the world's largest and most diverse entertainment distributors.
Things won't change very much at first, but within the coming months, you can expect to see a reenergized and expanded Scenic labs. It will also be much easier to find our products on pretty much any website. As this is not the kind of product that most brick and mortar video retailers offer, you'd still have to special order the discs at most brick and mortar stores.
Also of note, our entire catalog is being released in the UK on March 28 (why it's a Wed release date escapes me - I thought that entertainment products were released on Tuesdays). Our new site will also be offering FREE 2-day shipping to the UK (and 5 days to the rest of Europe). We'll also offer 2 day shipping on our other discs, but it won't be free under a certain order size. And because the orders will ship from the UK, there will be no customs fees. I still haven't quite figured out the whole VAT thing, so there's no VAT either, until we figure it out or somebody in the EU comes after us. :)
I'd like to end this post by, once again, thanking you for being a customer. We're hoping that our distribution deal will make it possible to offer a much larger selection of ambient content.
March 8, 2012 - Back from Google Plus.
Not a big fan of Google Plus. :)
In any case, big news. BluScenes Compendium and our entire library are being released in the UK on March 27. Starting on Amazon.co.uk and a few other sites, and we'll also be offering UK shipping (2 days in the UK and 5 days in the rest of Europe -- all with no customs duties) directly from our website!
February 1, 2012 - Moving the blog to Google Plus.
This will be my last post on the site. I'll be moving our blog over to Google Plus. I've been looking for a better way to integrate a blog with our site, and I think that Google Plus will add some cool social interaction. So, if you are already a member, feel free to add us to your circles!
January 11, 2012 - A Fab Deal!
We're excited to be one of the featured products on the design site Fab.com.
A number of our discs and our Compendium are featured at a great price. So click the link above to accept our invite. And while you're there, check out some of the other products. It's addicting and fun!
January 2, 2012 Happy New Year!
Please excuse the break in blog posts. We had a very busy December. Thank you to our customers for making the BluScenes Compendium the best-selling ambient Blu-ray collection ever. And that's without a distribution deal. Speaking of which, there have been some developments in the distribution area, but things are far from settled and I'm unsure of how to proceed.
Anyway, we're planning some cool promotions for January, and we're also offering our brand new BluScenes Compendium with FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING for a limited time. We're able to do this because the fine folks at Scanavo came up with a gorgeous and sturdy case that uses 85% less plastic than using 12 separate cases.
This week also marks 2 years since I lost my job in the midst of the Great Recession. I already had a seed of an idea in my mind, but sometimes having nothing to lose is a great motivation to take a risk.
Wishing you and yours a very prosperous 2012.
All the best,
December 6 - New Release day! (With a catch).
While today is technically our new release day, orders don't begin shipping until tomorrow. Because Blu-ray is still a distant second to DVD, and because there are only a few Blu-ray production lines in the United States, most DVD replication facilities have not yet made the (significant) investment required to run a Blu-ray production line. In any case, last week, both our primary and our backup lines (two separate facilities) experienced significant downtime. Finding a replacement proved to not be an option because many of the other facilities in the USA use those two lines (Signature & Deluxe). Aside from that, the AACS requirement ties our masters to a particular facility.
Fortunately, we are able to mitigate the delay by shipping our orders from the factory in California, which eliminates cross-country 3-day freight. We are also bumping all standard shipping orders up from Media Mail to First Class Mail. While we'd intended to deliver in our usual 1-3 days, these orders will still ship within the original media mail guidelines of 5-10 business days. I sent an email to Amazon and other resellers letting them know that their discs will be 24-48 hours late.
A special shout-out to Denise for strong-arming the production team and getting our discs out first (there is a huge backlog of about 25 other projects)! It's for that kind of service that we've done 11 discs with them and now our entire 12-disc box set. They don't usually drop ship, but they are making this exception for us. (Our masters have been waiting for a looong time).
November 28 - AACS still stinks
Heard back from my replication facility that my attempt to allow "UNLIMITED" managed copies will likely cause problems with some players, since apparently nobody else is doing it, so I had to make a last minute change to limit copies to 3 copies. We'll ship a day or two later than we planned because of this (we will upgrade to first class from media mail to make up for lost time).
That kind of stinks because we don't want to use AACS anyway. For our Compendium, AACS fees add up to $.48 per set. It doesn't sound like a lot, but it adds up. It comes directly out of the bottom line. Meanwhile, the copy protection is ridiculously easy to break and we prefer not to have it anyway (it's mandatory).
It's like I've said in the past. I grew up in a very "mafia-oriented" town in NYC. When you are forced to pay for "protection," it's called a racket.
November 27 - Visions of Meat. You know you want it.
Just an update for all of you Visions of Meat fans.
We're going to try to set up a Kickstarter project. We're going to try to offer two versions:
1) Regular Version
2) SteelBook Version (oh yeah...)
Plus, we'll offer a host of options, like the ability to buy a producer credit. You can be a producer of Visions of Meat. Put that on your business card.
If enough people want this to happen, we will make this a reality. We will even include a bonus 3D Meat section.
You know you want it.
We offered a free Yule Log screensaver with our Compendium, and some people misinterpreted and thought it was a free screensaver. Well, as Steve Jobs taught us, sometimes we can will things into existence.
And don't forget that our 12 disc BluScenes Compendium is still on sale. We literally tried to make sure that has a bit of something for everybody. From flowering gardens for your mom, to psychedelic fractal art for your hippy uncle. From Journey Through Space for your science-obsessed children to Impressionist art for your next cocktail party. It's like a Whitman's Sampler of ambient art. Some of it is sweet, and some of it is nutty. And with some of it you just don't know until you take a bite. Ok. enough bad metaphors.
Anyway, we increased our production by about 300% since last year, but we are also offering 12 discs at essentially the price that we charged for 7 discs a year ago (combining things in a single case meant that we could use the money saved on cases to include more discs!), so supplies are going to be very tight. We might be able to squeeze another replication order in if necessary, but it's not 100%.
No pressure, we still have plenty of stock, but that's just how it is. We only keep 30-60 days of inventory on hand at any given time.
November 23, 2011 - Preparing for Black Friday
It's funny that all three of our release cycles have coincided with Black Friday. Certainly, there are worse times to debut new discs, but each year we start our editing process earlier than the last, and we simply end up using every available moment to get things the way we like them.
At the beginning of our first year, we released 3 discs. In our second year, we released 4 more, and now we've got another 4 discs, plus a 12 Disc Box Set with a bonus disc bringing the total to 12. The economy still stinks, but we're plowing ahead.
When I used to be in a band (back in my college days), I used to dream of walking into a supermarket and hearing the band's music. I'd know that we'd arrived. It never happened. However, now I find our videos in all sorts of places. I've learned that something as whimsical as an aquarium on Blu-ray has a lot of real-life use -- from doctor's offices, to nursing homes, oncology centers, restaurants, spas, trendy boutique hotels and more. Literally, hundreds of thousands of places.
So, maybe there's something to this "ambient thing" after all.
October 3, 2011 - Welcome Deals.Woot visitors.
We hope that you take advantage of our sale and enjoy our discs. If you have any questions, there is usually somebody around to take your call, instant message (look at the lower right of the page), or email.
The most common question that we get is about our pricing. We're a 2 year-old company. We are self-distributed and self financed (read: banks aren't exactly in a lending mood, let alone to a bunch of guys who film fishtanks). In a little under 2 years, we've sold several hundred thousands BluScenes discs to customers around the world. We have five new discs coming out within the next few months (and past customers always get an extremely steep discount on the new stuff).
Simply put, on most days we sell at full (or a higher) price. When we need to raise some funds for new releases, we offer deals. With 5 new discs coming out in the next few months, we're holding some sales to fund them.
The way that we determine our pricing is as follows:
1) We take our production costs into account. They are quite high (expecially when factoring mandatory AACS fees, authoring and mastering), but we immediately divide them by hundreds of thousands of units. We use this figure as the basis of our cost-per-unit.
2) We factor in our replication and distribution costs.
3) We figure out what we need to keep it going. Not to get rich, not to position the product at a higher pricepoint, but to charge a fair markup where we make a profit and customers get a good deal. We price for volume and get volume pricing from our suppliers.
While we make a living producing and selling fun and unusual items, we are dead serious about customer service. We stand behind everything that we sell with a 100% no-questions asked customer service guarantee.
August 26, 2011 - We're not holding our breath for Ultraviolet.
Sorry for the unusual radio silence - nothing top secret going on, but a lot to talk about. Our Mac App continues to rank among the Top 10 entertainment apps, and we've been working on our upcoming releases (check out our YouTube channel for links to works in progress, that's sort of like our corkboard for new ideas).
We've been reading about Ultraviolet, which is supposed to be the successor to managed copy, even though it seems as though you'd need to actually have managed copy up and running to name a successor. Perhaps "replacement" is more appropriate. In any case, we're not buying it. It's a DRM solution that leaves out 95% of portable devices (Apple is not signed on to the scheme).
Instead, we will offer MKV (Matroska Media Container) files, Cineform, ProRes as well as MP4 and M2V files. Unprotected and DRM free.
Along with this, we will announcing volume pricing for lodging, hospitals and OEM hardware manufacturers.
I'm going to be cutting it short, but look forward to a brand new BluScenes website in the next few days. We're getting ready to launch a simpler and slicker design as we prepare to begin our new fiscal year on September 1.
August 6, 2011
We are looking at a few options to avoid increasing our prices. One of these options involves switching our discs to a slimline case. While the cost is about the same, we can trim our freight and postage expenses significantly. As an added benefit, the discs would take up less space on your media shelf.
We've also looked at combining our MegaBundles into a single multi-disc case. The jury is still out on this, though. The main issue is that we are always releasing new discs, and we don't want to have to keep revising our bundle configurations.
Another added value that we'll be including shortly are free screensavers with some of our discs, beginning with the Aquarium disc. We tried to offer an aquarium via the Mac App store, and while the experiment proved that there is a demand, the App store placed too many limitations on how the screensaver performed. We've requested that HiveBrain software remove it from the App Store. Instead, we will offer it for direct download. Revenue from sales of the standalone screensaver will be donated. It will also be included at no charge with our Blu-ray discs.
Hello again! It's been almost three weeks since my last post. But we've been busy processing orders and working on our new release schedule for the end of the year. This month was our biggest month ever. Thank you!
As soon as we sign the papers and cap the pens, I'll be able to provide more details, but I'm pleased with the caliber of content that we've been able to attract. One disc that I'm happy about is an underwater disc made just for kids. I tried to sign a deal for this same program at my old employer, and I'm happy to be working with these guys again. As well as containing some gorgeous underwater footage, there's also an entire album of kids' songs. And yes, a guy in a furry shark costume.
But 2011 will hopefully also see us release discs featuring some of the most beautiful HD footage from the Monterey Peninsula, some truly insane fractal experiments along with some surprising musical scores.
And of course, there are a few other releases that will remain under wraps for now, but we think that you'll enjoy them as much we will.
February 3, 2011 Spears & Munsil Benchmark back in stock!
It took longer than we thought, but we're happy to have S&M back on our site! Our "free bonus disc" offer has been expanded to any of our BluScenes discs, and we're trying something new. An additional discount on our MegaBundle with the purchase of Spears & Munsil. In sum, $24.95 for S&M, $15 for the MegaBundle = $39.95. We'll test it out with free USA and Canada shipping.
February 2, 2011 Groundhog Day
January 1, 2011 HAPPY NEW YEAR!
I can hardly believe that it has been one year since we launched our line of Blu-ray discs. Today also marks the one year anniversary of my last day at my last employer, DVD International, where I helped to develop another ambient, but very different line, called HDScape. I also marketed Digital Video Essentials, and helped to develop a popular line of religious discs called Bibles On DVD. In a lot of ways, my job hasn't changed, I just do it for my own company.
2010 was a growing year in which virtually all of the revenue from sales went into growing an improving our product line. Growing years aren't bad. In business, it's important to implement the right systems to put yourself in a position to scale and expand. I'm really excited about what's in store for BluScenes in 2011. Every week, more customers try us out and experience our discs. Word of mouth was tremendous for us in 2010. So many people tried us out on the recommendation of their friends. It's always fun getting an email from new customers trying our discs and telling us how they found out about us.
On a personal level, my twin girls turned 2 in October. Things have gotten interesting! I owe an infinite amount of gratitude to my wife, Kim. I could not have started a new business (especially in this economic environment) without her faith that I could get it off the ground. When I first started, I was so burned out and worn down from my old job that there were days where I could barely get anything done. These days, even on a stressful day, Kim tells me that she can see from my face that I'm much happier. I'm proud to call her my wife. She's a terrific mom and she's the person that I trust more than anybody when I need an opinion about anything, whether business-related or personal.
I really love what I do at BluScenes. I think that's important to play to win in business, but you have to be passionate about what you do day-in and day-out, otherwise you probably won't last too long. I hope my passion for our products has come through in my blog posts during the past year. Here's to an even better 2011.
Lastly, a big THANK YOU for all of our retail and wholesale customers. We love reading your emails and blog posts about our discs. While we're excited about our continued growth, we're glad that so many customers returned for our new releases. That tells me you enjoy our products and appreciate what we stand for.
Thank you for your business and for allowing us to share our passion with you.
December 30, 2010 USPS Shipping Costs to Increase on January 2nd.
We've taken steps to reduce our costs and lower our prices, so I want to explain our shipping policy. We don't make money on shipping. Unlike some online retailers, we charge exactly what it costs us to ship (not that marking up shipping and handling is wrong, but we choose not to do it). We believe that "handling" is part of what it takes to create our products. If anything, it's already factored into the product cost.
We don't believe that there will be drastic increases in our shipping costs, but we will continue to charge the actual USPS rates, which means that some methods (like media mail) will increase on January 2. The good news? Some methods, like Priority Mail, might cost less depending on location.
December 28, 2010 - 26 Inches of Snow
We've been monitoring orders on Endicia.com (the automated postal service that we use), and it looks as though about 85% have been delivered, another 10% have scanned somewhere en route, and 5% are still waiting to be scanned somewhere.
I asked our post office if we should be worried about that remaining 5%, and they said it's not uncommon with truckloads of orders. These are not scanned "over the counter" as when we wait in line at the post office.
However, if those orders are not showing a status by tomorrow, we will begin reaching out just to make sure (some might be delivered without scanning). Worst case, we will reship an order by Express Mail. If this affects you, feel free to email me at email@example.com or call 973-933-1455. Likewise, if there is an error with your order, please let us know and we WILL fix it.
Dec 13, 2010 Order Processing Continuing
Yesterday I emailed some customers of our non-rush orders to alert them that their orders are being sent 2-3 days later than planned, but that the delivery date estimate is not changing because we upgraded from Media Mail to Priority Mail at no charge.
This seems like a good idea between now and Christmas, so we'll be sending ALL US orders by priority mail, even though rush orders will be sent out first (in fairness, these people are paying about $1.50 more for shipping). The remainder will be sent on a first-in first-out basis.
We still have sufficient stock, but it seems that we will sell out before Christmas. (We have more on the way, but Christmas delivery will be tough for that new replication order).