How do I facilitate a "bounty" on a needed CGI sequence?

I can run contests, but it seems a bit less efficient than some mechanism where it is obvious if someone else is already working on a sequence… I mean I’d rather not waste more than 1 artists time as this is not (yet) a rush.

So I did a doc called Thorium Remix 2011. It is about THORIUM as an energy source, as consumed in a Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR). THORIUM was recently covered on, and a year ago in WIRED Magazine.

TR2011 was very low budget, and did not contain a single animation (except stuff pulled from old public domain movies off Internet Archive).

As a perfect example of a sequence I’d like illustrated in TR2012…

“Earth’s molten core generates magnetic field protects us from solar wind which would strip off our atmosphere as happened to Mars.”

Can someone recommend the best approach to doing this? Should I run a contest? Contact an outsourcing service? What’s the best way to avoid wasting artist time and my limited budget?

When I do video work for folks, I generally provide access (via YouTube unlisted uploads) as I chug along, and eventually the improvements I make (for a fixed hourly rate) become smaller and smaller as the project is iterated on. Until the client says “good enough!” and that’s it.

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I’m a little confused by the original post. Are you looking for assistance in creating an animated production?

When it comes to multiple artists working on a project together without overlapping, I have found in my personal experience that it is much easier if you have the whole project very clearly spec’d out. That way you can have one artist work on line items 1-6, and another artist working on lines 7-10. Also a shared folder on dropbox is very helpful as well.

A contest would be great!

Oh, wait-- you said you didn’t want to waste artists’ time. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Post all (and I mean ALL) of your requirements for this project. Running length, sound / no sound, resolution, and links to videos of a similar style and quality. Have artists PM you with their portfolios, then pick a good one and ask him/her for a quote.

  2. You can also go straight to an artist you like on this forum and proposition them with the same specs. You can even make them an offer up front, but don’t try to lowball them; an artist is more likely to turn down an offer than haggle.

Since this isn’t some for-profit venture but rather a public-awareness campaign, I think it’s acceptable if you just posted a bounty for some animations and see if there are interested people are willing to put work into it without a guaranteed payment.
The best way to not waste someones time is to show them as good as possible what exactly you are after. That example you gave is not very clear to me: Is it supposed to be more illustrative/stylized or realistic? What should be shown, the magnetic field, the evaporation, both? Example images/videos are important.
Since you are targetting a creative commons license for the assets (which may or may not be relevant to some artists) you can also try and see what stuff you find over at that might save you some hours.
Lastly, make it clear who you are. I’ve googled your stuff (the kickstarter project that is going on, watched some of the videos) and what you are after. I find it interesting and important to raise public awareness and fight ignorance towards science, technology and engineering topics. I’m from Germany so I have a pretty good picture of how political actionism gets in the way of reasoned debate, regarding nuclear energy. I realize this is an uphill battle in our times. (Although this may quickly change once reality kicks in for the policies that have been enacted…)

It might help to look at other community projects to see how they managed.

If it’s open-source, not for profit, consider a community sprint like Sintel did.
If it’s commercial, for-profit, consider a profit sharing mechanism like HitRecord uses.

The best practice seems to be: post frequent, short videos requesting things you need urgently and let the community sort out who does what via your message board, mailing list, facebook page, google site, basecamp, irc channel, or whatever.

HitRecord: Directors post videos and messages asking contributors for specific assets.
Contributors post assets to the hitrecord website. Duplication of effort is likely, but no one seems to mind too much. The best work gets chosen and paid for.

Sintel - project Durian - posted videos announcing community sprints. Used irc channel to coordinate work effort
Contributors posted assets to the BlendSwap website.