Industry professionals speak out about new CG artist community (Q&A)

This Q&A is tied into the feature by the same name.

What features specifically are developers of the new site looking to keep?

Kostya Stepanov (Shakuro):  We are planning to give the community back everything they loved. The editor’s pick, all of the standard features like the ability to create and edit profiles, galleries, the forum and the most anticipated feature that has been mentioned numerous times – the WALL OF FAME aka THE MOSAIC. So many more features to make it the best website in the industry again but we have previously mentioned the reason of not disclosing that so far. We encourage you to stay tuned for the updates and the beta release and see for yourself.

 And which features are you looking to leave out?

Kostya Stepanov (Shakuro): At this point we are not planning to bring back education, tools and jobs into beta version and version 1.0. because we think they were not ideal in the way they were implemented.  We have come up with an idea of reintroducing it at a later stage in a much more powerful and well thought out format and we are already working on it.

What features did artists love about CGHUB?

Kostya Stepanov (Shakuro): When it was shut down, the most often heard complaint was that users have lost their contacts and their whole galleries of favorite images. We cannot bring those back because we are legally prohibited from using the source code, database and anything related to it from using in another cg industry website.  But we will still reintroduce the favorites and the contacts because we think they were loved and used a lot. Even more so, because this is such an important and discussed issue at the moment, we think we can introduce export of both contacts and favorites so that they are never lost again and user can have their own backups. This feature has never been introduced before.

Will you provide artists with the opportunity to Beta test the site?

Kirill: Absolutely. The point is to let the community help us with their feedback. We have created a reward tier in our Kickstarter that will allow you to access the beta version two weeks earlier before everyone else gets to it. Even better, we will have alpha version available for selected backers as well. We, artists, appreciate feedback on our projects like no one else and we encourage everyone to give us their thoughts and comments.

Will the site be mobile? Mobile App?

Kostya Stepanov (Shakuro): The short answer is yes. We want to create the mobile app. It heavily depends on the Kickstarter funding. If the community makes it happen and we reach our goal, one of the stretch goals will be to create the mobile app. In any case, the app is in our plans and we will make it happen one way or the other. It is up to the artists if they want it sooner.

Who will own the site and who will moderate it? What about site maintenance?  

Ben Mauro: We need a positive neutral place run by the community and the developer to shape it into something special, to make a great community it has to be run by people with good intentions. The ownership will be split between Shakuro and an advisory board of respected established community members that will all vote on where the site should go, all of which receive no financial gain from any of this. All Kickstarter funds are going to the developer to allow them to get the site up and running and keep it going until the site can become sustainable from ad revenue and subscription costs.

Kris Costa:  Most of the old moderators are just as passionate if not more than before and they are willing to continue the work they started on CGHub. Same goes to the people administrating and running it, before they were forced to stop their activities due to the forceful shutdown ordered by the old owners. Shakuro will be in charge of the website and systems as before. As for decisions, a team of selected artists across the globe will be assembled to make the important decisions regarding the community, always with the input of the other artists, as a true Art Community should be. Somehow a type of decentralized ownership where artists will have a louder voice this time.

Gavriil Klimov: Who will run the project? Artists will make decisions- artists that are part of a board of advisers who (will) basically tell Shakuro the direction that the site has to take. Shakuro is the ship. The artists are the captain. It will be a combo of many artists and Shakuro running the tech and development side. The artists will take the decisions and that’s what matters the most. The goal is to bring back as many people as possible from the entire staff/editors to recreate the same experience. Whoever was working as editor, moderator etc.etc. Everything should be brought back in terms of people- but the site will be even better. The list of new features is amazing.

Mikko Kinnunen: The project is supposed to have two owners. One being Shakuro with a minority stake and the majority stake will be held by a separate entity comprised of members of the art community. I’m currently on the Advisory Board that is fleshing out the details as we speak. The main thing is that we do not seek personal financial gain from this, and are looking to utilize the Kickstarter funds in a way where Shakuro will have a budget to develop the site until ads and subscription fees cover the costs of running it.

Kostya Stepanov (Shakuro): We will be responsible for the development, maintenance, hosting and other technical aspects of running a high traffic, frequently visited website. Obviously keeping a website like CGHub alive costs way more than hosting of your personal blog. We are lucky to have been contacted by most guys who have worked on CGHub as moderators and forum administrators. All of them are extremely excited to work on the new website. Thanks to that, bringing the great experience back and keeping the new website authentic will be a much easier task.

Kirill: Like it was mentioned before, we have established the Advisory Board that will help control the direction that the development is going without expecting any monetary gains.

Wojtek Fus: It will include influential artists from the top of the industry that will vote on specific subjects, creating fundamentals for a strong community website.

Kirill: We encourage anyone who thinks that he needs to be with us on this board to send an application to this email: Treat this as a job application process because it is, in a way. Our only requirement is that you are a professional CG artist with a proven and publically available record. It will be up to the members of the startup advisory board to decide on the fate of the application. The best professionals in the industry trust the existing board. You should check out the quotes in the main section of the Kickstarter campaign and decide for yourself whether you trust their decision or not. To answer the most popular question circulating the community – who owns the company right now – we cannot say at the moment because there is no company yet.  It will all depend on the success of the crowd funding campaign and so far, we have people who have been investing their personal time, hard work and dedication to make sure that the company is set up correctly from the very beginning. Regardless of who owns the company, the Advisory board should be in control of the funds at all time and this way we can make sure that the developers do their job, and we make sure that we voice the opinion of the community without being financially involved. The only interest all of us have in this is building a great website similar to CGHub to help the CG industry evolve and grow strong.

Everything about what went down with CGHub has been kept under wraps. Will the public ever know what happened? Will the digital art community ever get answers?

Kostya Stepanov (Shakuro):  The nature of the relationship between Shakuro and the owner was client-developer also known as work-for-hire. We have not owned any percent of CGHub. We have not been authorized to make ANY SORT of decisions. It was entirely up to the owners. First, we have been denied access to all of the backups, after that the oxygen has been completely shut off and in a blink of an eye, we have lost administrative rights as well. We highly encourage you to ask Full Spectrum Digital, LLC , the owner the same question and investigate the issue. Shakuro has never been the owner and we cannot answer the questions (that) we don’t know the answers to.

Many people are still upset about the abrupt ending to the original CGHub. Artists lost their life’s work. What will guarantee that this won’t happen again with the new community? 

Kostya Stepanov (Shakuro): Any project or website can be closed. The way the owners do it is what makes the difference. You can pull the plug and instantly make everyone disappointed and even angry or you can be a professional about it and give people at the very least a courtesy notice. We would definitely prefer the latter but we have not been given a chance.

Furio Tedeschi: Agree with Shakuro 1000% – It is the way people handle things.

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