May was another fantastic month, but I'm starting to think about the FUTURE of IntroCave and IntroMaker.
The Future of IntroCave
I just watched Back to the Future with my kids for the first time, and that's clearly got me jonesing for a bit of retrofuturism even more than usual. There's a lot going on right now. May's not done, but it's shaping up to be IntroCave's best month ever. Everything is firing on all cylinders. The coronavirus still has most of the country shut down, but demand for creative tools seems to be surging. I'm coming up on the 2-year mark since taking over the site, and that has me thinking about the future.
Most of the major features in my TODO list are completely under the hood: a new renderer and a caching pass to speed up page load times across the site. It's not fair to say these features won't have any impact on the business—both should have a meaningful impact on user experience. Google is taking page speed into account for SEO purposes, and better render server stability directly impacts my peace of mind. They're good long-term projects, but they're not hugely interesting or challenging.
I'm coming around to the idea that all IntroCave really needs is more templates. Which is actually pretty awesome! That was my original plan before I got sucked down a rabbit hole of figuring out how to do SEO and email marketing.
Creating new templates is a virtuous cycle. It gives me something to blog about, something to talk about in the newsletter, and makes it more likely that each visitor will find just the intro video they were looking for. I'm planning to add 3-4 per month as part of my regular content release schedule, but we just had a holiday weekend and I felt like putting together some 80's inspired retro templates. In the last few days, I've added SEVEN new templates to the site.
New Templates (June 2020)
For someone who makes intro videos specifically for YouTube, I know laughably little about actually running a channel. I'm more at home posting new templates on Twitter, but I'm going to play around with at least posting the new video previews on the IntroCave YouTube channel
Car-themed templates are something I know people search for, but I've always stayed away because using real cars is a bit of a gray zone IP-wise. I think this style of template is a great solution (and I clearly love neon).
I have a soft spot for templates like this—simple corporate identities. This is the easiest style of template to build, and probably the type of intro video I'll tackle first with Intro Maker. There will probably be a lot of these coming down the pipe, as I need to practice putting them together.
I thought this was a pretty cool effect. Not too techy. Not too businessy.
80's? Very. I love the chunky Stranger Things-esque music I found for this one.
The lasers in this one are fully customizable, but (of course) I recommend sticking with neon.
I found this template and almost passed on it, but when I heard this music track it immediately made me remember the vibe of the retro planet template. I think they work great together.
You might recall Geometry Wars, but my first thoughts went even further back—to trapper keepers and the flat geometric shapes that were everywhere in the late 80s and early 90s. This intro video is fun!
I purchased the Intro Maker domain right around the same time as IntroCave, but it's just been parked for two years. I have so many IDEAS for what it could be, but the one I keep coming back to is a desktop (downloadable) intro maker that lets you build and render intro videos on your own machine.
It seems like a thing that should be possible, but this month I sat down and banged out a quick proof of concept:
It's still got a long way to go, but it's a good start. I had a huge list of things this prototype needed to prove out, and I managed to check all of them off except one (still figuring out audio).
What does this mean for IntroCave? Nothing. I fully expect IntroCave to remain template-based with a web UI for customizing/rendering.
What does this mean for IntroMaker? I'm honestly not sure, yet.
It's much easier to build customizable templates than a general-purpose editor, so that seems like a good place to start. Desktop downloadable software feels very early 2000s to me. It would probably be smarter to keep everything in the cloud and charge a monthly fee for access, but I'm super nostalgic for the time when you could actually just buy a creative tool and use it as much as you wanted.
I have a while before I need to figure any of this out. For now, I get to bask in the fun "early prototype" phase where anything is possible.