Important Changes for Mutant Vehicles in 2016

Ideas, advice, tips, and tricks regarding the building and creation of mutant vehicles in Black Rock City
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Important Changes for Mutant Vehicles in 2016

Postby trilobyte » Wed Jan 27, 2016 10:24 am

This information was recently sent to mutant vehicle builders via the DMV's mailing list. For those who have not recently registered a mutant vehicle with the Burning Man Department of Mutant Vehicles, they have allowed us to re-post this important information about changes to the application and approval process for 2016


2016 MUTANT VEHICLE PROCESS CHANGES


The Department of Mutant Vehicles is moving to a new system for processing Mutant Vehicle applications in 2016.

THE SHORT VERSION
The increased volume of Mutant Vehicle applications (nearly 1000 in 2015) is requiring the DMV to be more selective than ever. Having a vehicle on the playa in the past is no guarantee of
being invited in the future! Put your best foot forward in your application and give us a reason to invite your vehicle to Black Rock City. The Mutant Vehicle application form will be closing earlier than ever this year: Noon (PST) on April 13.

THE WHOLE STORY
In past years, the DMV has invited every vehicle to the playa that met the published Mutant Vehicle requirements. We strove to have an objective process to evaluate each application, focusing on level of mutation - not on quality of the art.

Each Mutant Vehicle application is reviewed by a committee of DMV Hotties, and we strive to reach a consensus agreement on whether the vehicle has met the criteria. Historically the DMV team has reviewed each application shortly after it was received, and responded to the vehicle creator as quickly as possible. Over the years, the Mutant Vehicle Community has steadily “ratcheted up” the bar a vehicle must pass, and we’re now at a point where we require vehicles to be completely mutated - showing little or none of the original base vehicle.

In spite of the stricter requirements, the number of applications has steadily grown, and the number of thoroughly mutated vehicles now exceeds what we can accommodate on the playa. Burning Man is primarily a pedestrian and bicycle city, and only a fraction of burners can bring a vehicle before the playa becomes too crowded with them. Our goal is to enable our creative community of artists making mutated vehicles to show off their creations, while balancing the needs of playa preservation, visual stimulation, and safety.

In response, the DMV is revising how we evaluate applications to bring a Mutant Vehicle to the playa. Rather than considering each vehicle on its own merits, we’re moving to a “curation” model, wherein we will consider each vehicle within the context of all the qualified applications we receive. A vehicle will still be required to meet the published Mutant Vehicle criteria, but that alone won’t guarantee an invitation to bring it to the playa. We will also be looking to invite a balance of different types of vehicles on the playa: large scale sound vehicles, flame effects focused vehicles, small artistic vehicles, large transport vehicles, highly participatory vehicles, etc. We are dedicated to licensing vehicles from projects of all budget levels, not just the most expensively built ones.

We will be looking for vehicles that have good execution of their design concept. We will also be evaluating the originality of a vehicle. There are already quite a number of bar-cars, furniture cars and boats, for example - and that might not be the best design choice for a new vehicle you’re considering. When it comes to larger vehicles, we will be favoring vehicles that have a sterling record for inclusivity when it comes to offering rides to the public.

So...what can you do to maximize the chance of being able to bring your vehicle to the playa this year?

  • Fill out your application thoroughly. Including more detail is better than less.
  • Make sure your application gives us a very clear vision of your vehicle.
  • The application should clearly describe the concept for your vehicle and what you have done or will do to realize that concept.
  • Good photos of both the day and nighttime appearance are necessary - If you’re building a new vehicle that isn’t complete yet, then detailed design sketches are a good alternative to photos.
  • Vehicles desiring a night license need to be detailed about the lighting plan for the vehicle.
  • Mutant Vehicles which align with or comment on Burning Man’s annual theme will be given greater consideration.

Please recognize not every vehicle will be invited. Having brought your vehicle to the playa in a prior year is no guarantee that you’ll get invited again. Your application will be considered in comparison to the other applications we receive. Make sure your application conveys what excited you about building the vehicle in the first place!

In past years, we’ve allowed vehicle creators who were not selected to appeal our decision, and offer up additional details about their vehicle, or change some part of their design. Our new process eliminates appeals, so it’s more important than ever your application be filled out clearly and completely!

Lastly, the deadline for submitting an application will be noon PST on April 13. In past years, we’ve been able to accommodate vehicles that missed the deadline. Because of our new evaluation system, we can no longer do that. So get your vehicle application in early!

Thanks for your time, and we look forward to seeing all of your amazing creative vehicle designs this year. If you have questions, please get in touch with the Burning Man Department of Mutant Vehicles at dmv@burningman.org.


RESOURCES
  • The main DMV webpage is available here
  • The DMV Mutant Vehicle criteria are available here
  • DMV Information on Vehicles for People with Disabilities is here

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Re: Important Changes for Mutant Vehicles in 2016

Postby vargaso » Wed Jan 27, 2016 11:25 am

The curation aspect is interesting and quite a big change. On the surface, I don't like it, because the catch-all topsy turvy aspect of what people bring out there is a primary appeal to the event. The more curation, the less spontaneity and surprise. I get that something needs to be done to deal with the influx of applications and I'm in agreement that the number of MVs shouldn't threaten to overwhelm the space. But, I'm not sure I agree with taking into account how a team's design fits in with some predetermined, overarching vision. It shifts the who the figurative artist painting on the canvas of the playa is, from the participants towards the BMORG. For instance, there are a lot of land yachts on the playa, so now, maybe the Captain's boat doesn't get approved because there's already a boat on the list? Hmm. Or even, boats don't fit into this year's MV theme? And is the curation of MVs tied to the main theme? Lots of questions here.

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Re: Important Changes for Mutant Vehicles in 2016

Postby Captain Goddammit » Wed Jan 27, 2016 11:29 am

i don't like the part about extra consideration for a tie-in to the theme for several reasons not the least of which is who's to say whether something fits with the theme or not?
Also, the theme is usually stupid. Often it's something virtually impossible to incorporate into an MV and some years the theme is so vague... yeah I don't like that part at all.
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Re: Important Changes for Mutant Vehicles in 2016

Postby vargaso » Wed Jan 27, 2016 11:50 am

This new policy will also make it more difficult for the hobbyist type groups to put together a low-budget, maybe even slapdash ramshackle but still fun and fully mutated, MV. I know I've always enjoyed those more than the flashy big-budget pro MVs. Now it's a competition. This is another move towards favoring those with bigger budgets and more experience, which is the total opposite of the entire point of Burning Man for me, which is encouraging inspired amateurism.

I don't know, it's not like I have an alternative idea at this point to deal with the increase in applications. I'm sure someone will suggest something better.

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Re: Important Changes for Mutant Vehicles in 2016

Postby Captain Goddammit » Wed Jan 27, 2016 12:07 pm

Actually the DMV has said they are making an intentional effort to balance the number of high budget rigs and low budget ones.
This change is merely a move of necessity, there are simply too many applications. There are a few possible ways to deal with that, I'm not against eliminating the lowest-effort rigs first.
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Re: Important Changes for Mutant Vehicles in 2016

Postby vargaso » Wed Jan 27, 2016 12:27 pm

Captain Goddammit wrote:Actually the DMV has said they are making an intentional effort to balance the number of high budget rigs and low budget ones.
This change is merely a move of necessity, there are simply too many applications. There are a few possible ways to deal with that, I'm not against eliminating the lowest-effort rigs first.


That's good to know, I hope they do that.

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Re: Important Changes for Mutant Vehicles in 2016

Postby random_vamp » Wed Feb 03, 2016 4:19 pm

One real concern I have with this change is the schedule. In previous years (and I've been involved with several art car builds at this point, all of which are big enough to require a team of at least 5 every-weekend builders) we could be almost certain that a well designed vehicle would be approved during the application process in ~April-June, however we definitely needed to start the vehicle work many months before the applications were even due. With this additional curation limitation, the time we'll know if we'd be able to bring the vehicle will be far past when we'd need to raise funds and have done most of the work.

Assuming this curation will be continuing in the future, I'd like to strongly request that the application and approval period be moved much further from the burn. If we could get approvals in January or February that would probably still leave enough time to build a new vehicle, rather than potentially wasting the many $1000's and 1000s of man-hours on an art piece that may be rejected due to differences in vision.

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Re: Important Changes for Mutant Vehicles in 2016

Postby trilobyte » Wed Feb 03, 2016 5:31 pm

Lead times and getting as early a response can always be a challenge, but I think that was a major factor in the department of mutant vehicles moving the deadline up a full month.

Now, as with camps seeking placement the decisions aren't made until after the application deadline. In the case of camps, they have to wait until early July to find out whether they've been placed... but in the case of mutant vehicles, I understand that builders will be notified much sooner. Your vehicle's lead or coordinator (or whoever is filling out the application and serving as the primary DMV contact) should stay tuned to the 'Spark Plug' newsletter that the team sends out, or send an email to the DMV with specific questions or concerns.

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Re: Important Changes for Mutant Vehicles in 2016

Postby Eric » Wed Feb 03, 2016 5:37 pm

random_vamp wrote:Assuming this curation will be continuing in the future, I'd like to strongly request that the application and approval period be moved much further from the burn. If we could get approvals in January or February that would probably still leave enough time to build a new vehicle, rather than potentially wasting the many $1000's and 1000s of man-hours on an art piece that may be rejected due to differences in vision.


That would be something you'd want to pass on to the DMV directly. ePlaya is just a community bulletin board, and while members of the Org read it occasionally, it's not the best way to get info to them you hope they'll take into consideration.
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Re: Important Changes for Mutant Vehicles in 2016

Postby BBadger » Thu Feb 04, 2016 3:02 am

I expect that most of these changes are to filter out the range of "standard fare" MVs such as those types listed above (yeah, the furniture cars and boats, etc.), especially new mutant vehicles that people are building. This will also filter those MVs that look like a vehicle with some decorations slapped on. Yeah, I know, it's a "circus wagon with curtains," or some bus with stuff strapped to the roof, but maybe it's time to kick it up another notch?

These invitations are also speculative. You can have a great plan and vision half a year in advance, but what happens in the remaining 6 months? Extending an invitation to established or iconic MVs will remain a safe bet and probably still be invited as in other years. Those MV owners also have a leg-up on the competition because the cars are already built, and can just be upgraded rather than starting from the ground up.

As far as themes go and such, I can understand that an MV that is theme oriented should receive some sort of priority -- assuming that the design is sound. Whether or not people actually pull off such a feat in the ten (10) months following the theme announcement with something decent is an entirely different matter. Overall, I doubt it'll factor into many decisions.
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Re: Important Changes for Mutant Vehicles in 2016

Postby BRCDMV » Wed Feb 10, 2016 6:25 pm

All,

To answer some of the questions posted here. The vast majority of the application process is the same. it's still a group of usually 15-25 DMV volunteers at each review session coming to consensus on whether and how well each application meets/exceeds the stated criteria. There are plenty of simple, inexpensive, funky and beautiful vehicles that will absolutely still make the cut. This is NOT in any way, shape or form a way to only make room for the more elaborate, expensive vehicles. Nobody wants that.

The fact is, that we now get far too many applications that meet the base criteria than we can invite.

When the DMV was formed, there weren't that many art cars out there in the world....but the world and the Burning Man community have caught on, and creating movable pieces of rolling art has become far more commonplace. At the same time, the limit to the number of vehicles we can have driving at the event has not increased over the last few years. So we have to find a way to keep within the limit and still invite the same variety of wonderful vehicles we always have. So we're going to have do some choosing among all of the viable applications we get. Not a lot, mind you.....but some. And we're really committed to doing this as fairly and reasonably as we can...remember the DMV decisions are consensus=based, no one person (or Czar as one critic put it) gets to choose. It's a bunch of burners like you and me. In fact, if you want to help us out, you can volunteer for the DMV...just go here for info on how to join us: http://burningman.org/event/volunteering/
The DMV is not a "Them" thing, it's an 'US" thing. We've got burners who've been coming to the event for 22 years (like me) and those who have just been coming for a year or two year among our volunteers.

As always, if you have any questions about the DMV and the licensing process, PLEASE email us at dmv@burningman.org. We're happy to answer any questions we can.

Sincerely,

-Chef Juke
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Re: Important Changes for Mutant Vehicles in 2016

Postby debudodley » Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:58 am

trilobyte wrote:Lead times and getting as early a response can always be a challenge, but I think that was a major factor in the department of mutant vehicles moving the deadline up a full month.

Now, as with camps seeking placement the decisions aren't made until after the application deadline. In the case of camps, they have to wait until early July to find out whether they've been placed... but in the case of mutant vehicles, I understand that builders will be notified much sooner. Your vehicle's lead or coordinator (or whoever is filling out the application and serving as the primary DMV contact) should stay tuned to the 'Spark Plug' newsletter that the team sends out, or send an email to the DMV with specific questions or concerns.




Thanks for this info. I have a question though. I thought I saw that the applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis. Doesn't that contradict not being informed til after the applications close? Or are you saying they will make all the decisions but then wait to inform?

Thanks

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Re: Important Changes for Mutant Vehicles in 2016

Postby trilobyte » Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:01 am

That's how they had been reviewed in the past... and is no longer the case.

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Re: Important Changes for Mutant Vehicles in 2016

Postby Dr Helix » Tue Feb 16, 2016 2:58 pm

I have seen DMV raise the bar almost every year since I've been bringing an MV to BM (2008). First to go; the minimalized golf carts with maybe some expansion foam and a few flowers attached. Then it was night lighting and the need for big illumination as opposed to a few xmas tree lights. And more and more safety including independent inspections for flame effects. All with the increased requirement for interactivity. And frankly, I don't mind this much. It has led to some incredible moving art, that make me stop my own car just to marvel at. And it makes me aware of my own MV and that i can't just rest on last year's build. But I also don't want $$$$$ to be the only parameter of how to get there, so I am happy to see the DMV's comments above and that all will be considered.
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Re: Important Changes for Mutant Vehicles in 2016

Postby SnowBlind » Wed Feb 17, 2016 11:30 am

Dr Helix wrote:I have seen DMV raise the bar almost every year since I've been bringing an MV to BM (2008).


I think the DMV likes to say that it wasn't them who raised the bar, it was the builders who brought better and better cars year after year.

But I wholly agree with what you said, Dr Helix.

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Re: Important Changes for Mutant Vehicles in 2016

Postby Dr Helix » Wed Feb 17, 2016 1:21 pm

SnowBlind wrote:
Dr Helix wrote:I have seen DMV raise the bar almost every year since I've been bringing an MV to BM (2008).


I think the DMV likes to say that it wasn't them who raised the bar, it was the builders who brought better and better cars year after year.

But I wholly agree with what you said, Dr Helix.


It is definitely true, builders have raised their game over the past years without direct prompting from the DMV. My own experience is that they will nudge you when they think you need to. Case in point. 2013 - DMV passed my car for a night license without a single comment. 2014 - same car, same lights. DMV pulled me aside. "We'll pass you this year but you're going to have to increase your illumination or you won't get passed next year." SO of course I did. This year will be interesting without question. I rarely stand pat, so I will be looking for more ways to appeal to the review board and get my car in. Good luck to the rest of you!!!!!!
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Re: Important Changes for Mutant Vehicles in 2016

Postby BRCDMV » Fri Feb 19, 2016 2:26 pm

All,

A few more points that may be of interest.

The DMV has a challenging balancing act. But to be honest, we want what you want because...well, we ARE you. Folks who haven't been involved may not realize how many volunteers we have in the DMV (a few hundred folks have volunteered over the last few years( and how many take part in the review sessions. I did see someone refer to the new process using the term 'ART CZAR" and feel that's really unfair and doesn't describe what we've either BEEN doing or are planning to do. We still are using the same process and people...we're just figuring out how we can be a little more selective when it comes to vehicles so we can keep within our limits. There is no one person or small cabal of people deciding each application. We've had up to 50 volunteers participating in a meetings reviewing each application. And the DMV Hotties come from all backgrounds. A number of them are Mutant Vehicle Creators, some, like myself, have been attending the event for a long time (since 1994), some just a year or two. And we are ALL volunteers. Even the folks on the DMV council like myself...are volunteers. I do this because I love to be engaged in helping bring all of the wonderful vehicles to the playa. I love seeing the astounding creativity up close and I feel it's a great way to contribute to the event.

As for the process. We review every application and discuss every vehicle....some are easy to assess... for example, The Clock Ship Tere. A built-from Scratch Tri-wheel pirate ship that was a multi-year building project built by a young engineer and his friends and fellow engineering students:

http://fault-magazine.com/wp-content/up ... bbetts.jpg

Others can be more challenging....less clear how well they meet the criteria. When there is a question or a concern, we talk it out...and eventually either come to a consensus or, if we don't feel we have enough information to assess a vehicle, we send an email to the owner asking for more information (pictures, detailed descriptions etc.).

While some of the vehicles are incredibly impressive in size and scope, others are simple, inexpensive, and ...provide a wonderful sense of whimsy. A favorite example of mine, a Rocket Luna:

https://www.icloud.com/sharedalbum/#A1G ... 2F1C9FFA4B

One of our guiding concepts is..."If you were standing on the playa, and you turned around and saw the vehicle we are reviewing...would you say "Wow! Cool!" If so, then the vehicle is on the right track.

Now, that being said...as is mentioned in previous messages, we do have a limit to the numbers of vehicles we can have drive at the event. Not just because we (the dmv) or the Burning Man Org, FEEL like we have to have a limit....but our agreement and Use Permit with the BLM stipulates it.

We really do our best to be as fair and inclusive as we can, even though we often have to say no....when we do, we try to be as clear and transparent about the reasons, so that folks understand why their vehicle is not being invited to the event.

As always, if you have ANY questions, please email the DMV at dmv@burningman.org. We're really happy to answer all inquiries.

Sincerely,

-Chef Juke
DMV Council


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