Dreams of Spanking: fairtrade spanking, corporal punishment and discipline fantasies by Pandora Blake. Join us »

 

What's going on at Dreams of Spanking

Nearly two years ago I wrote a letter to Dreams of Spanking explaining why, with great reluctance, I needed to step away from the project for a while. At the time I wasn't sure if or when I would be able to come back to it. It was over a year before I updated the site again, with a new, sexier queer spanking porn film co-created with Chelsea Poe and Courtney Trouble. There was another pause, and since February this year we've released three new scenes - one a month, and we have another one lined up for this weekend. It seems that one way or another Dreams of Spanking has wiggled its way back into my schedule - and my heart.

I thought it was time to touch base and let you know what's going on with the site, and what you can expect.

In the immediate term, there's a new update coming this weekend - one for fans of our cinematic Victorian epic Mrs Smith's Method, showing Amelia Jane, Molly, Adele and I in a new light.

Mrs Smith's Method Behind the scenes at Dreams of Spanking

Beyond that, I have ten new scenes edited - all they need is images and previews, copy, trailers etc. I've been having good success this year with delegating those sorts of jobs (thanks Zak and Violet for the fantastic copy writing, and Nimue for the trailers!), and I'm currently trying out different image editors to see who's a good fit. Once I've put the finishing touches to the team we'll be able to continue to keep the site updated regularly with minimal input from me; all I'll need to do is edit the films themselves, plus whatever promotion I feel like doing.

Those of you who have been following my personal blog and social media posts will already know my happy news, but it's just occurred to me that I haven't shared it here explicitly yet. After trying to conceive for a year, I'm now eight months pregnant, and absolutely thrilled to be bringing a new life into the world with my amazing partner Felix. Our baby is due in July, and I couldn't be happier!

As well as gestating a human infant, I'm also gestating a book. It's about what we do with the sexual fantasies we have that are in tension with our politics and personal ethics, and how we resolve that tension. It's non-fiction, combining autobiography, personal essays, and academic writing. I've got 60000 words of it written so far, two thirds of that since January. Book and baby are currently racing to the finish line; I'm well aware that I'll need to substantially revise what I've written, but I'd love to have a zeroth draft of the manuscript finished before I give birth. To prioritise that project, and look after my body in the final weeks of my pregnancy, I'm stopping all other work and taking a writing sabbatical from 1 June. It's just going to be me, at home, writing and getting ready for the baby. 

Long-form writing is deeply immersive and requires far more of my attention than pretty much any other endeavour I've found to date. Loading the project in my head takes a lot of wind-up time (and energy), and once it's loaded, it's really hard for me to focus on anything else. It's not convenient for me to multitask, or interleave writing the book with other projects. 

For the next two months I'm going to focus on writing - which doesn't leave much attention spare for updating Dreams of Spanking. And from mid-July onwards (perhaps later, perhaps earlier - eek!), I'll be a fulltime parent and totally unavailable for anything else for a while. I intend to ease myself back into part-time work gently once my baby is a few weeks or months old, but I'm not putting myself under pressure to do so on any particular schedule. So if I want to update the site while I'm on parental leave, having a team of people to help me do it is absolutely essential. I'm in conversation with someone about taking on a project management role, so I can hand over that final step of keeping track of everything and making sure it all comes together in time to deliver you regular new spanking content. 

With ten scenes in the bank, it looks like there'll be regular updates for a while - which is great! However, I haven't committed to a specific update schedule yet. One a month would take us to next March before I had to edit anything new. I'll almost certainly be able (and want) to edit new videos before then; I have eleven other scenes filmed and waiting to be edited, mostly dating from before I called a halt to the weekly Dreams of Spanking update schedule in 2017, and Nimue and I are planning to shoot at least one more next month. (I'm eager to shoot at least one pregnant spanking film before I give birth!)

I was wondering about whether that's enough content to go up to two updates a month, but that would only take us up until the end of October - which would put a lot of pressure on me to edit two videos a month from September onwards, on top of my parenting (and other) commitments. I don't want to commit to a schedule I can't sustain.

So it will probably work out somewhere between the two - at least one new scene a month, perhaps one every three weeks if I find myself shooting and editing new content more rapidly than I expect. Members will, of course, get access to everything new the moment it goes live - follow us on Twitter, add this blog to your feed reader, and join our mailing list to stay abreast of new releases.

It's been a while since Dreams of Spanking had a regular, predictable update schedule. Feels good right?

Pandora Blake pregnant and giving the cane

Shooting in a cinematic style - the story behind our new film 'Houseboy'

Our new film Houseboy is a departure from the usual videos on Dreams of Spanking - and most other spanking sites. This is our first attempt at a cinematic short film, aiming for a higher standard of cinematography and storytelling than we are usually able to achieve. I wasn't planning to shoot this way from the start - it came about from a convergence of factors that created the perfect opportunity to try something new.

Casting Tai Crimson

It started last year, when I met an enthusiastically kinky and ridiculously cute young person from San Francisco. He was gorgeous, he loved spanking - he could certainly take it - and he expressed an interest in shooting for Dreams of Spanking. He wasn't old enough at that point to perform in porn, but I said that once he turned 18 I'd be very happy to work with him. We made plans to shoot together when he was next in the UK - which happened to be May 2015, less than a week after his eighteenth birthday. How's that for a coming-of-age celebration?

Houseboy - a new cinematic short fetish film by Dreams of Spanking

I normally prefer to work with kinksters who are a little older, simply because I value emotional maturity and experience in the people I shoot with. I think the common fetish for "barely 18" performers in porn is partly based on the idea that young performers are vulnerable, and so it's easier to take advantage of them and push their limits. I find this sleazy and totally unethical, and I'd always much rather work with older players who know their own minds and are able to look after themselves. It's important to me that the performers I hire can take responsibility for their own limits and communication, are experienced enough players to know their bodies and their preferences, and are secure in their decision to appear in fetish porn - because once you've done it, there's no going back.

When I met Tai, however, he exploded all of my preconceptions. Although a teenager, he has a rock solid sense of his kinky identity, and he's been exploring his interest in private for years. He is calm, confident, intelligent, self-reliant, and very emotionally mature. So at eighteen and a few days, Tai officially beats Talia Lane to the position of youngest performer on Dreams of Spanking - and yes, we do have his ID on file to prove it!

We put a date in the diary, and meanwhile Tai and I exchanged emails discussing his interests and preferences. But by March this year, when I needed to start firming up plans, I already knew that ATVOD were investigating Dreams of Spanking and that I was likely to have to stop updating the site for a duration of several months while my appeal was underway. I had lots of scenes already shot starring Fauni, Mike, Talia and David and others which I wasn't going to be able to publish, so there was absolutely no point spending money and energy shooting more material that might never see the light of day.

Towards a cinematic style

Meanwhile, I'd attended the British Fetish Film Festival in February and the Berlin Porn Film Festival last October, and I'd been thinking an awful lot about shooting styles, production values, and the budget and time constraints under which I was shooting.

Over five years I have developed a shoot style that produces one 10-15 minute spanking film per hour, in a remarkably stress free environment, with plenty of breaks. This is based on improvised scenes filmed live by one or two handheld camera operators, with perhaps some close-ups or cutaways to enhance anticipation in the build up to the spanking scenes, but otherwise shot with as few cuts as possible - unless the performers themselves need to cut. Lightweight, consumer-grade cameras make handheld shooting manageable without the camera operators getting too tired, and using auto-focus allows us to get visual variety by roaming around the scene shooting different angles, rather than stopping the action to reset each shot.

This non-disruptive shooting style allows the performers to get into an immersive scene space and stay in character, which helps the roleplay flow more smoothly, and also helps the bottom stay in their headspace and makes the spanking itself easier to take. It's a system that Nimue and I have got down to a fine art, and I was pleased that we'd reached a point where we could create nice-looking films within budget, while maintaining a relaxed and fun shoot environment for everyone involved.

The downside of this low-key shooting style is that the resulting films would never achieve the cinematic quality that I was seeing at the film festivals I was going to. I'd had a couple of films rejected from international festivals, presumably because the videography, audio quality and storytelling wasn't up to scratch. I found myself wanting to level up, and see if with a bit more money, time and effort, I could raise my production values and put Dreams of Spanking on the map as a credible producer of cinema-quality films.

Houseboy - a new cinematic short fetish film by Dreams of Spanking

So rather than hire Tai for a day shooting a number of improvised ten minute website updates, I decided to use him to do something different. I booked amazing boudoir photographer Matt Christie to help out with the videography - he'd expressed an interest in shooting video last time we shot together, he has a commercial-grade camera and he also had access to an amazing location perfect for the scenario I had in mind.

I started penning ideas for a single 10-15 minute short film. Not five films, or six films, or seven. Just one.

Developing the story

With Tai, I had an articulate and gorgeous masculine-of-center performer with a submissive streak a mile wide, who loved being spanked. I thought about the films I was seeing at festivals, and the lack of beautifully-shot female/male BDSM films shot from a female perspective, with a male submissive who is both beautiful and interesting, and not just a cipher propping up a sexually objectified female dominant. Instead of this I wanted to make Tai the lust object and protagonist of the film, focussing both the lens on his body, and the story on his character's journey.

I started with a fairly traditional plot - a young man applying for a submissive role in the household of an established mistress. I brainstormed ideas for visual storytelling, thinking about ways to focus the storyline on the tension and anticipation Tai's character feels before he takes the plunge towards fulfilling his submissive desires. I considered ways to create an interesting power dynamic between his character and mine. I quickly realised that I'd need a third performer, another submissive serving the mistress - someone to make his arrival at the house feel more formal and more intimidating.

I'd already talked to my friend Eliza Grey about having her on set as a shoot assistant, helping out behind the camera (she had planned to be with us on our shoot in November, but had sadly been unable to make it). I realised she'd be perfect for the role of a bitchy receptionist, enhancing Tai's nerves before his interview with the Madame... and once I'd cast Eliza, the rest of the story fell into place. 

Houseboy - a new cinematic short fetish film by Dreams of Spanking

Writing the script

Ten days before the shoot, I was hurrying to finish the script on my laptop on the train. I'd never written lines for characters to say before, and I was finding it surprisingly difficult. I'd write a line, then agonise over it. What if Tai doesn't feel comfortable saying that? What if that's not what Eliza would say? I've always made a political point of not putting words in my performers' mouths, and suddenly that was what I was literally doing. At the same time I was all-too-aware that they were going to need to memorise their lines, and time was running out.

I closed my eyes, wrote some lines telling myself they were only placeholders, and sent it off with an apologetic email saying this was a very rough draft, and inviting them to make any changes they wanted. But my anxiety proved unfounded. In the end, bar one wording change, that script was the one we used - and Tai and Eliza rocked it.

Working with a storyboard

A week before the shoot I was on D's sofa after a fetish party, scribbling a 'storyboard' in biro on A4 paper from his printer while my friends chatted around me. After writing the screenplay I had a strong visual image in my mind's eye of what most of the shots would look like - now it was just a case of creating a visual reference so I could communicate my ideas to Matt on the day. I'd visited Matt's location a week ago, so the rooms were fresh in my mind. It was a useful exercise to think through camera angles and compose the shots, but I'm pretty sure it was the crappiest storyboard anyone has ever worked from. The most hilarious of my terrible stick figure drawings was this sketch of Eliza being spanked over my knee and feeling sad about it:

Professional production all round, innit.

The day of the shoot

The shoot day approached. I bought food and props, looked up travel options, packed suitcases, selected implements, printed scripts and release forms. Shortly before the day I realised that I'd inadvertently booked our shoot on the same day as the London Marathon, and the location we were using was only one block away from the route. That meant that not only would transport potentially be disrupted, but the exterior shots would all have a huge amount of background noise. Still, at this late stage there was nothing to be done about it. I booked an 8am taxi, the traffic at that hour was fine, and I was on set at 9am. Matt and I drank coffee and looked through the storyboard, then Tai and Eliza arrived - and it was all go.

Shooting from a script was a totally new experience for me, and a steep learning curve. I'd worked out the best shooting order, shooting the story in as close to chronological order as possible while minimising room and lighting changes. After that it was just a question of staying calm, following the callsheet and taking it one shot at a time.

Houseboy - a new cinematic short fetish film by Dreams of Spanking

I was using an external mic for the first time, and was grateful to have Eliza helping out and sharing the responsibility for making sure the mic was a) close enough, b) not in shot, and c) recording each time. She was also an absolute star helping out with moving lights, checking camera batteries and memory cards, making tea and tidying up behind us. A+++, would work with again. Plus it turned out she could seriously act...

It was a full day, perhaps a bit too full - nerves started to fray after a few hours, and everyone was feeling tired by mid-afternoon. The shoot would definitely have been easier with more camera crew or fewer scenes to fit in. After a few hours, Matt noticed a round smudge in the middle of the lens, and wiped it off - but of course there wasn't time to go back and re-shoot the shots we'd already done. By the time we came to shoot the confrontation between Tai and Eliza in the kitchen, everyone was so tired that that scene took about seven takes. Some of the shots ended up out of focus, and we got through so many cans of tonic that I was worried we'd run out!

Editing the film

Still, despite all that, when I came to look at the footage I was pleased to discover that most of it looked how I'd expected. There were a few surprises in the edit - such as that moment when I realised the reverse shot in one dialogue scene crossed the line and was therefore unusable, and was suddenly grateful that we'd shot three angles of that particular scene, even though at the time it felt like overkill. It was a monster of an edit, but satisfying too, sorting through all the footage, plugging it into place, and seeing how the scenes I'd envisioned in my mind played out on camera. 

Houseboy - a new cinematic short fetish film by Dreams of Spanking

Choosing the music was another daunting prospect - I knew I wanted to avoid re-using the same creative commons soundtracks that you hear time and time again in indie porn, and that meant spending money. But how to start looking? First I worked out where music was needed - in the intro sequence, the montage, and the closing credits, which meant I needed two or three pieces in total. Then I did a rough edit of those sequences so I had a vague idea of how long the music would need to be. After that, I set a day aside to browse SoundDogs, typing in different keywords and playing pieces with my eyes closed, visualing the film, until I hit on a genre that felt right. I realised that for this story my usual taste in piano and cello-dominated classical and film score music wouldn't work - Tai's character needed something moody and masculine, guitar-led, energetic and driving. Finally I whittled down a selection, downloaded some samples and started laying them over the edit to see what worked.

Primarily, this film was intended to be screened at film festivals - which meant that the narrative would have a different structure than standard spanking films. In a film intended for someone to watch while having a wank, you need a carefully paced build-up and pay-off that sustains uninterrupted shots of climactic spanking action for long enough for the viewer to reach orgasm. In a longer film, there might be two of three of these build-ups and climaxes, separated by character-driven story. But at a film festival, the audience are watching to have their minds stimulated, not their genitals. Fast-paced editing is preferable, providing lots of new visual information with every shot. Explicit sequences need to be edited down to the bare minimum necessary to develop the characters and progress the story. So that was a new challenge: cutting the 15 minutes of high quality spanking action in, for instance, Tai's audition scene, down to the three minutes earmarked for it in the festival edit. The only way I was able to do it was by promising myself that I'd release the full, uncut scene as an extended edition on Dreams of Spanking later. But meanwhile the deadline for the Berlin Porn Film Festival was June 30th, so I had to get the shorter edit finished first...

In the end, thankfully, it was finished in time to submit to Berlin, and I'm hopeful that they'll accept it. I'll be submitting it to various other film festivals over the summer as well. I'm really happy with the finished film, and completely honoured to have been trusted with Tai and Eliza's porn debuts - and thrilled that they had a good time.

Houseboy - a new cinematic short fetish film by Dreams of Spanking

And that's a wrap!

It was a really long shoot day. We finished the scheduled shots around 7pm, 10 hours after I'd arrived on set. But then we cracked open the champagne and ended up chatting and buzzing on a total high, which led to another two hours shooting performer interviews, and even a behind the scenes caning for Tai when he confessed he still didn't think he'd been spanked enough...

By the time we finally turned the cameras off, sat down for some supper and tidied everything away, the sun had gone down - and it was 11pm before I finally got into a cab. Matt and I had been on set for fourteen hours, Tai and Eliza for thirteen. I am so grateful to the three of them for their enthusiasm, dedication and professionalism. It was a long fucking shoot and everyone put in so much energy and creativity it was kind of overwhelming. Overall, this production cost ten times as much as an average Dreams of Spanking video, but even so I still came away feeling like I hadn't paid people enough for the amount of work they'd put in.

In conclusion

Overall, this was a very satisfying project, and I'm really happy to have it under my belt. But it also taught me a lot about the trade-off that arises when you move towards a more cinematic shooting style. My previous method gave my performers more breaks, less stress and a much more satisfying kink experience. Shooting Houseboy, we did the bare minimum of spanking needed to get the shots I wanted - and stopping to move the camera, check the focus and lighting, consult the storyboard every few seconds made it hard to get immersed into a satisfying spanking headspace. I'm glad I hadn't scripted any particularly hard spanking scenes, because I think severe corporal punishment would be much more emotionally and physically challenging to take in this context.

I hadn't realised it before, but shooting in a more amateur style results in a much more rewarding experience for the performers - with more opportunity for top and bottom to develop an in-scene chemistry, focus on each other rather than the camera, and time for the bottom to sink into a yummy submissive headspace, without constant distractions.

So what can I take away from this? Well, I've learned that shooting in a cinematic style is something I can do, and that's good to know. I've learned that it's hard work, at least ten times as expensive as my usual shooting style, and considerably more time-consuming to produce and edit. It's also exhilarating, exhausting, and very creatively satisfying. I'm glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and gave it a go, and I'm hopeful that the finished film will be screened in Berlin this year. But I've also learned that I don't want to start shooting this way every time. Perhaps I might be able to put out one cinematic film a year, but this experiment has restored my faith in my usual low-key way of shooting, which it turns out is preferable experience for me and my performers - and a much better environment to ask people to take hard spankings in. Our standard Dreams of Spanking shoots emphasise process over product, and trying something new has re-affirmed my faith in that process.

You can watch the long-play trailer for Houseboy below - and if you're a site member, please watch the full film and tell me what you think - and make sure you also check out the extended editions of Tai's and Eliza's spanking scenes, performer interviews and Tai's off-the-cuff behind the scenes caning.

Editing woes and some new figure nudes

My video editing has thrown me a loop this week. On Tuesday I started putting the film together, in good time. The editing software on my computer was barely functioning. So I did a bit data storage overhaul and cleared out space on all my hard drives to see if that made any difference. No dice.

On Wednesday I was at a wedding at a beautiful medieval priory. Believe me, making spanking films gives you a different perspective on everywhere you visit. We showed up with an hour to kill before the ceremony, a rambling old building in stunning grounds with beautiful antique furniture, and I found myself seriously wishing I'd brought my camera! I'm sure we could have found an unused room where no-one would have noticed...

Thursday, back to the drawing board editing suite. Everything's still playing up. It's not just software lag and slow playback, but weird shit like the audio being out of sync with the waveform and video files importing at half the duration listed in file properties, but playable at full length in VLC. I've been having these problems on and off for a while and suddenly the common factor occurred to me: it's all the shoots I've done this year, i.e. files I've converted using new free software I downloaded after re-installing my OS in December.

So I bit the bullet and bought another copy of my preferred Xilisoft Video Converter, since my old licence had expired, set everything re-converting and prepared to start editing again from scratch. Each conversion takes a few hours. But when it had completed I ran into more problems. The frame rates of the new files were all over the place. They'd been set to auto (which should have been 25fps, the same as the originals) but most had come out at 30 and some at random numbers like 7 or 9. Totally unusable.

So I lined them all up to reconvert again, manually adjusted all the settings this time, and started the whole thing from the beginning. At this point I gave up on having a new video finished and ready to upload by Friday evening!

I didn't want to leave you hanging until the end of the weekend, so last night I uploaded a bonus minigallery of submissive figure nudes by Janus photographer Roy Tersley. It's only small, but fans of BDSM and bondage should find something to enjoy.

Am I a captive awaiting punishment, a slavegirl being put through her paces, or simply modelling for a slightly kinky artist? The choice is yours.

The truth is somewhere between the second and third options. In actual fact I was posing for kinky artist Loge's slavegirl collages. Roy, along with other European models and photographers, had provided nude source images for him before. The end results are pretty cool:

Launch schedule update

I'm into the last stretch of editing films and photosets in preparation for launch: or at least the scenes which will be in place on the site when I apply to CCBill for my merchant account. They need to assess all the scenes to make sure they comply with their regulations, so I'm aiming for the shop to be as complete as possible at that point. This is what the pre-launch schedule currently looks like:

  • Now - 14 Oct: Editing the last few films and photosets ready to upload
  • 14 - 30 Oct: Developing/templating the launch site ready to show CCBill
  • 31 Oct: Apply for merchant account

After making the application there'll probably be a couple of days back and forth until CCBill are happy. And if I was using the off-the-peg membership system provided by CCBill (as do most spanking sites who use CCBill), I'd be ready to launch then... but I'm aiming for something a little more ambitious than that.

So during November, D will be working on some custom scripts which interact with the CCBill system in a clever way so as to (hopefully!) integrate their members database with the existing user database on this site. The idea is that anyone who's already created an account to leave comments will be able to keep that username when they want to buy access to scenes ... and keep it when their access expires. I want this system to be compatible, long-term, with this site offering pay-per-download for individual scenes alongside the subscription model, and as such it seems silly for a username to only be usable for the duration of your membership - especially since I'll be offering a short-term membership from the start as well. Additionally, I don't want people to have to log in once to view a film they've paid to see, and again to leave a comment on it. 

The fact that very few people offer this sort of integrated system is a hint at how hard it is to install ... so I'm reluctant to promise anything. We may not achieve our aims. But we have the advantage of our very own expert Perl programmer in D, and he has some ideas about how he might be able to do it. So at the very least, we want to try. If it turns out to be impossible, then we'll fall back on having separate logins for viewing scenes and leaving comments - but fingers crossed that we won't have to!

This is why the launch date is currently a bit of an unknown. Either the billing/membership integration is going to be relatively straightforward (i.e. D's projection of how it will work will turn out to be compatible with CCBill's system) and it will all happen fairly quickly. In which case a launch before December might well be doable. Or it'll turn out to be a complete pain - at which point either we'll keep going until it's achieved, however long that takes, or we'll give up after a certain point and do it the easy way like everyone else. If this happens then I will still definitely want to launch before Christmas - by Dec 15 at the latest - but it'll involve some tricky last minute judgments in terms of how long to keep aiming for what we want.

While D is writing clever code and wrestling with CCBill's systems, I'll be tweaking and polishing the website to add some extra sparkle, and bulking out the scenes - adding photosets to accompany films, screenshots and behind the scenes material. I don't want to add too many new scenes after making the merchant application in case it looks like I'm trying to slip dodgy content past CCBill, but I think it should be safe enough to add the "DVD extras" after they've vetted my site.

Eight weeks to go, give or take: and they're going to be busy ones. But I always have great fun when D and I are working together on an interesting web project, and I've been itching to get stuck into this particular one for years now. I'm feeling pretty good about it. Wish us luck - and I'll let you know how we get on!

Relocated and undeterred

So, it's been two weeks since I last had a chance to update the blog - and an awful lot has happened in the meantime.

I've spent a lot more time with Adele Haze, who has performed for Dreams of Spanking as a switch and who is now helping me out with the web marketing side of things - much to my relief. (I'd much rather make films and photogalleries than publicise them, but the latter is just as necessary if you want anyone to see your creations.)

Relatedly, I've filmed an introductory video talking about my aims with this project, and the results should be ready to show you sometime soon. 

There's been some impromptu spanking filming too, when Tom suggested that we set up a camera during our Wednesday night date, and left it on during the scene that unfolded. That was a rather special experience... and the resulting hour-long romantic discipline/hard caning movie will be available to download from this site at launch.

While editing aforementioned movie, I spent long hours wrestling with new and exciting software issues - most notably the audio sync problems arising during the rendering of extended mp4s. After a couple of days' troubleshooting I've eventually abandoned mp4 as a format for long movies in favour of mpg (with wmv available as an alternative for those who prefer it).

I've made progress with the site build, including choosing a design for the site subsections (with the help of lovely kinky friends including Jimmy, Adele and Ella as well as Tom and D) and starting work on the CMS templating. Designing for your own project is a strangely mixed process. On the one hand, if you have a clear vision and know exactly what you want, you can head straight for it rather than having to waste time exploring other options. On the other, when options inevitably arise, it can be impossible to make a decision. Even when I think I have a clear idea of what I want, I often find myself creating a whole sequence of viable alternatives - and creating options is much easier than choosing between them! Throughout this process I've been soliciting opinions from close friends, and I'm grateful to everyone who's given me feedback, offered advice and helped me clarify my vision.

But none of that is the big news - not really.

The big news is that a week ago, Tom and I found ourselves suddenly (but not entirely unexpectedly) homeless for several complicated reasons. The intervening time has been spent packing, consolidating, planning and moving. Our household is now packed into a locked metal cube in a warehouse of identical locked metal cubes - truly a surreal experience. Tom's staying with friends for the time being, and I'm presuming upon the hospitality of D, who is generously sharing his bed and his internet connection for long enough for me to launch the site and find my feet. Hooray for polyamory, and the reinforced support networks it can offer.

The upheaval couldn't have come at a worse time in terms of my schedule for getting Dreams of Spanking live, and it's likely to put the launch date back by a week or so. But I'm back online now and raring to go. Living in London again for a little while is no bad thing for me, and sharing space with D while we work together on the site build should make some things easier. Come the new year, everything will hopefully be more settled. In the meantime I have a lot of work still to do on the site, and after a week being forced to attend to more mundane concerns I can't wait to get stuck back in.

To celebrate, I want to share a free photo gallery of yours truly, in which I'm dreaming of ... well, you can probably guess.

State of play

Pandora Blake spanking Amelia-Jane Rutherford in Need to Know at www.dreamsofspanking.com Dreams has progressed apace these last four weeks, and is now hurtling towards our launch date in December 2011. Let's have a quick look at where we've got to since I last had time to write:

Shoots:

We've had two very exciting shoots in August - our last shoots, in fact, before the launch. Shooting is the aspect of production I have most experience of, and in some ways I think it will always be my favourite part of the job. This year I've fallen somewhat into the trap of booking shoot after shoot, loathe to pass up opportunities to work with my favourite people while they're available, until in June I looked back and realised I had over twice as much content as I needed for launch. Time to put the camera down and focus on post production and site development. So although I'm in discussions with some cool new performers, I'm not booking any more shoots until after the site is live. Shooting may be addictively good fun - but there's no point endlessly collecting content on my hard drive and never building the platform to share it with the world.  

Anyway, first there was a two day shoot with the excellent folks at Restrained Elegance, Amelia-Jane Rutherford and Hywel Phillips, along with my partner and Dom-in-Residence Thomas Cameron. Then at the end of the month we had our first M/M shoot for the site, with Jimmy Holloway and pretty new bottom Sebastian Hawley. I'd been looking forward to both shoots for ages and am really looking forward to sharing some previews with you all after...

Brand launch:

Tomorrow, Wednesday 7 September, is the date the DreamsofSpanking brand and URL will finally be shared with the world. I've owned the domain for three years, but have been keeping it quiet until I was far enough along to commit to a firm launch date. This blog is going to be opened up, I'll be able to publically release watermarked images and preview content, and everything's going to step up as I enter the final phase of preparation for launch.

CMS progress:

D has been steaming ahead with the development of CMS features, and has finished everything on my core feature list except the CCBill integration which is dependent on my having an approved merchant account. This means the software now supports:

  • Manual membership management (via 'restricted file serving' feature)
  • Recent items page in shop
  • Tags on shop items
  • Pagination on shop category, recent items and tag pages
  • Discussion threads attached to shop items
  • Shop search feature
  • Shop product types
  • Shop item 'likes'
  • Extend tag search to pass full object data to front-end templates

Shiny!

Post-production:

Meanwhile, I've been making leaps and bounds in my editing progress:

  • I spent a day troubleshooting to try and stop my software crashing - updating hardware drivers, deleting and re-installing .dll files and codecs, moving my data around to free up space on hard drives, playing with scratch disk options and messing around endlessly with settings and preferences. It was tedious, but it paid off - I've seen far fewer crashes since, and although my PC still doesn't quite have enough memory to handle complex video editing projects easily, fingers crossed it will just about get me through to launch.
  • I've worked out how to export video to mp4, and installed the relevant plugins for my image editor to handle RAW files - two steps forward which will stand me in good stead.
  • I came to a final decision regarding file formats and sizes, and am exporting each film to a high-res mp4 and a high-res wmv for download (960x540px; around 200-300MB for standard length clips), and a low-res mp4 and low-res wmv for streaming (640x360px; less than 100MB).
  • Finally, I've edited one new clip from each of the recent shoots: "A Bet's A Bet," an M/M scene in which two young gentlemen act out the results of a drunken wager, and "Need to Know", an F/F scene in which I spank Amelia-Jane with a hairbrush for compromising the security of our long con scam. I've finished the stills accompanying Need to Know, but I'm still waiting for the photos from the M/M shoot. I'm also halfway through editing Jimmy Holloway's introductory photoset, and have made progress with re-recording some dialogue for the first clip we ever filmed, Hitting Snooze, which had some teething problems with the sound recording.

All in all, progress has been very satisfactory, and with 12 weeks until my provisional site launch date of 1 December, I feel like I have enough time to do things properly. The only downside is that I actually only have until 14 October to do the majority of the site development and editing, in order to allow time to apply for a CCBill merchant account so D can work his Perl magic with the CCBill payment and affiliates scheme integration. That's five weeks away, and I'm starting to feel the pressure.

Still, it's lovely to finally be able to work fulltime on the project after three years of squeezing it into the odd corners of my schedule. Now if only I were able to concentrate purely on the site build and content editing, and didn't have to worry about marketing or publicity...!

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