Category Archives: VR

LOTUS MOUNTAIN, a VR movie

This proposal was posted on Kaleidoscope on February 25, 2019.

Shenzhen, China's Silicon Valley, on the night of Chinese Valentine's Day. Joyh, a cyborg, is finally taken out into the world by Dave, her creator.

Five years later, the two are reunited, with very different memories of that night.

 Lotus Mountain: 12 minutes 360 VR film 

Directed and produced by Stephen Black

Cinematography: Leo Wei  

Starring Alps Bethneck, Joyh and the Shenzhen 40th anniversary urban light show, with the city decorated for Chinese Valentine’s Day.  

Original soundtrack: Japanese composer Rei Shimizu, and ​Since You Were Gone​, from The Riverwalk Session album by 3how (High on Chai Productions).  

Featuring an original VR artwork by Scobot, award winning VR artist.  Sound mix by ambisonic pioneer Giovanni Lion

 Editor: Zephyr  

Status: Completely shot, soundtrack and voice acting completed.  

Needed: budget for graphics, final edit, audio mixing and promotion.  

This video was meant to be an inhouse experiment, but due to time restrictions, is being used as an introduction to​ Lotus Mountain​. A proper 4K rough cut will be ready by SXSW, as well as a detailed booklet for press and distributors.  

The assistance and support of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Kandao were invaluable in the production of Lotus Mountain.

Stephen Black is an independent artist/producer/writer committed to finishing ​Lotus Mountain.

Lotus Mountain Notes

Lotus Mountain is about a robot and the man who broke her heart. The 360 VR short film written by Stephen Black and co-directed by Leo Wei and Stephen Black, is currently in postproduction.

Lotus Mountain features Alps Bethneck, who can be seen in the 360VR film Beach Road, as well as The Changi Murals, a short film directed by Boo Jun Feng.

The other stars of the film is the dynamic city of Shenzhen, the Silicon Valley of China.

Chinese city landmarks

Shenzhen Civic Center at night.

This page will be updated often in the next two weeks. The list of people we wish to thank is long, but for the moment, the producers would like to especially thank Stuart Rankin and the Dundercats/Six Cat Studios, Kandao 360 cameras, John Batten, Simon Carr, Ikram Choudhury, D Cafe, Angelo Costadimas/Bao Bao Films and the amazing teachers, administrators and students of the Multimedia & Entertainment Technology (MSc) Department of HK PolyU, especially Gino Yu, Dr. Ludovic Krundel and Giovanni Lion.

Last but definitely not least, Lotus Mountain features the talents of bassist/composer/teacher Rei Shimizu and Scobot, the VR artist whose World One VR artwork has been attracting attention worldwide.

scobot WORLD ONE SIFF2018 360 from scobot on Vimeo.

Rei Shimizu's bass playing featured here...

24 hours in Shenzhen (360 VR): A Project by Leo Wei and Stephen Black

Suggestions for locations and story ideas are welcome. Interesting locations at interesting times, interesting people, interesting tech; we will consider anything.

24 hours in Shenzhen (360 VR): A project by Leo Wei and Stephen Black

Shenzhen, the Silicon Valley of China, will be documented for a 24 hour period on August 18th, in a co-production by Leo Wei (cinematographer) and Stephen Black(screenwriter).The starting points for the production are Wei's experiences as a Shenzhen resident and Black's international background as a writer, artist and producer. The two will co-direct.

Leo Wei: "VR is a fresh and powerful way to share the various feelings and experiences I have had while living in Shenzhen. It will be interesting to see what happens during the 24 hours. Shenzhen is always changing."

Stephen Black: "The last time I visited Shenzhen was in 1997, when I lived in Hong Kong. Since that time, Shenzhen has grown tremendously, as everyone knows. I would like to portray not only the high tech, entrepreneurial side of Shenzhen, but also the way it may symbolize China's unseen past and future."

Leo Wei demonstrating the Qoocam at the 2018 Maker Faire at Hong Kong Polytechnic.

Stephen Black holding a Qoocam 360VR camera at the 2018 Maker Faire at HK PolyU.

AR, VR and Every R in between. An installation at the 2018 Maker's Faire at Hong Kong PolyU.

Wei and Black's first VR experience together was at the 2018 Maker's Faire at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Leo Wei's film and television experiences have been with Shenzhen Satellite TV, where he has been involved with productions that involved stars like Zheng Khai, Guo Caijie and Ru Changhu. He is currently the product manager at Kandao, a manufacturer of VR cameras.

Stephen Black's career has bridged television production, art and writing. He has worked for CNN, Cartoon Network, Fuji TV and Fox. His photographs and videos have been shown worldwide, including Beach Road, a 360VR film which was featured in festivals in Las Vegas, Brisbane and Singapore.He recently gave a number of presentations about AR at Hong Kong PolyU. He has written a number of books, including i ate tiong bahru, a Singaporean bestseller.

Ani-Com and Games Hong Kong 2018: Photos by Stephen Black

To learn more about character goods for the Bubiko Foodtour AR project, we visited Ani-Com and Games Hong Kong. If you have a question, please ask in the comments section. I went because of Bubiko, because of Alphabet Spikes and because I wanted to see what was happening with AR and VR.

Stephen Black’s VR-related posts Part 1

A partial compilation of my VR-related posts. This is mainly for my personal reference. Later I will create a "greatest hits of VR blog posts" and of course the best parts of these will find their way into the book I am writing about 360VR.

SPOKEN

SPOKEN Eugene Soh/Stephen Black open notebook

Angelic Visions (this, at one point, was to be the title for a book on cinematography)

Towards a New Cinematography (same book idea, a different title)

Towards a New Cinematography (notes)... yet another name, for the same book idea, though this title signifies a more philosophical approach.

Beach Road short film (360 video)

Wall Clouding preproduction notes. Beach Road was called Wall Clouding in preproduction.

Virtual Reality for Beginners/Simple Chart/Designer Project (a bit naiive)

Stephen Black exhibition at Mettle Works Art Space

Norm Black: Before Probably the first exhibition of VR art in Singapore.

Norm Black VR exhibition notes

The Cinematography Book/Notes and a Reviewer (again the book has a different title!)

The Cinematography Book/Notes and Eugene Soh

The 2016 Sudden 360 Festival (360 Videos on Youtube)

everything (one of those unusual little projects I sometimes do)

Secret Donut World: a deck of 52 playing words

A brief introduction to Michael Naimark, media art guru

Virtual Reality for Artists Workshop/Michael Naimark/Objectifs

A typical conversation (perhaps) about VR, circa 2015

AR, VR and Every R in Between (July 7, 2018)

HAPPENING NOW: STEPHEN BLACK'S EBOOKS: FREE AND DISCOUNTED Taking place during the Maker Faire Hong Kong, was AR, VR and Every R in Between, organized by Dr. Ludovic Krundel, of the Digital Entertainment Lab, School of Design at HK PolyU. Here is a link to bios of some of the people who made the day so interesting. Plus, there was Kandao and SnapPop. Photos by Stephen Black and Bubiko Foodtour. 360VR video of the event is here! 360VR video of this is here. Day 2 is here.

Alphabet Spikes Z-T (notes from June 2018, Hong Kong)

One of the books free/discounted, as part of the HK Book Fair.

Alphabet Spikes is a collection of stories, essays and experiments created from February 2017 until now--and in the future! The core of the book is here, on Amazon, but this ebook actually something like crowdfunding.

Once you buy the book, send me your email and you will get an updated ebook with new stories, as I add them. Right now, the version on Amazon includes stories about a game developer, Antigone Cloud and my brief encounter with Anthony Bourdain. Next will be journal entries from the Bubiko Orwell Tour, which voyaged through Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia and Hong Kong. The purpose of the tour was to research food, to create a network of people interested in AR, and two work on two books.

Besides the tour journal, there are, and will be, short stories, interviews and essays about Southeast Asia and people, events and places connected to it.

Alphabet Spikes: Art and entrepreneurship go on a road trip in Southeast Asia. Lots of eating, a few meetings, and nonstop ups and downs.

In reverse alphabetical order, the following are some of my experiences in Hong Kong; these will become stories and essays. Questions? Leave in the comments section, as well as any info you'd like to share. Thanks!

Zorn. Click to hear the HK/Macau/CBGB story.

Yam cha and dim sum

Yam cha! The literal translation is "drink tea". However, yum cha usually means eating a meal of dim sum. Dim sum are the foods served in the round bamboo containers. Dim sum restaurants are everywhere in Hong Kong.

Xu Xi at the launch of Insignificance

“An audacious, inventive and original collection: these ‘Hong Kong’ stories are full of clever energy and lively strangeness.” - Gail Jones On Amazon.

Walsh, Joe. Performing with Shear, Jules and John, Doctor.

VR HMD ad on a tram.

Uniworks, the display of students' work, near the entrance of the Jockey Club Innovation Tower on the Hong Kong Polytechnic campus.

Inside the Dome

Tony Tan, Delta Blues Audio

Tai Kwun Art Complex, just down the road from where I used to live.

Alphabet Spikes: Q-S is here.

another book by Book Merah

2018 AR/Augmented Reality: State of the Art

HAPPENING NOW: STEPHEN BLACK'S EBOOKS :FREE AND DISCOUNTED

I recently did two workshops and two presentations about AR at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. This post summarizes what I presented, or wanted to present. Just before the presentations started, there were so many new announcements from Google, Apple and the attendees at the AWE, that not all of the following info was presented. And, a few tweaks and additions will be happening in the next few days. I would again like to thank Phil Morgan, Gino Yu, Dr. Ludovic Krundel and Hong Kong Polytechnic for their support.

AR Reference Materials

Descriptions of Workshops and Presentations

Questionnaire For Those Attending Workshops

Responses to First Day Topics: Emergency Response and Urban Planning

Followup: Head Mounted Devices

Followup: Students' Work

Followup: Food and AR

Followup: Apps and Software

Bubiko Foodtour with coconuts (an AR test)

A large part of the Bubiko Orwell Tour involve networking with AR practioners, individuals as well as companies.

Also, during the events, my ebooks were either free or discounted.

AR HKPOLYU Followup 2 (Students Work +)

MUCH MORE INFO ABOUT THE MATERIALS PRESENTED IS HERE.

As I began to prepare for the events, I soon discovered a fantastic problem. Three huge AR events had very recently occurred:

- Google held its Developer's Conference on May 8.

- Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference ended on June 8.

-The biggest announcements in AR were made at the Augmented World Expo, which was from May 30 to June 1.

Because my presentations were meant to reflect the State of the Art in AR, I had to organize lot of information in a short period of time. Plus, the materials I had gathered previously had become out of date.

The good news is that nearly all of the materials presented were less than a year old, some just a few days old! The bad news is that in the rush, I had to de-prioritize student's work and ended up not showing any. With this post I remedy that, and am thankful to the teachers and students involved with the work below.(Any students, anywhere: I will be happy to post your AR-related work!)

First is the "home team", the Hong Kong Polytechnic University of Design. Dr. Ludovic Krundell helped secure these images, and he was a most helpful resource and source of welcome advice during my time at PolyU. His support, as well as the guidance of Gino Yu, made my time here an unforgettable experience. OK; the work...

Meow Meow AR Cat Game by HK Poly U Students

AR Game by: LIU MingYi, Kelly
ZHANG Zhenyi
LIU Xiaoyu, Sherry

Meow Meow AR Cat Game by HK Poly U Students 2

Poster for Sound Visualization, an AR project by Zhuang Mengzhou, Dai Mingyi, Dong Genggeng, Hu Xianzhi

Thailand: the Institute for Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology has incorporated AR into junior high school science textbooks.(Info kindly provided by Trasvin Jittidecharak/Silkworm Books.)

The following were kindly provided by Fabian Winkler, the Associate Professor of Visual and Performing Arts, at the Electronic and Time-Based Art Program of Purdue University. Professor Winkler's own work can be seen here.

The following presentations were developed within a short period: less than two weeks. They are about the relationship of the markers (image targets) and the AR content they activate.

The following is by Dr. Tomas Laurenzo, who is Assistant Professor at the School of Creative Media of the City University of Hong Kong.

from Singapore

Debbie Ding (http://dbbd.sg / http://openurbanism.blogspot.com

Lecturer, Interaction Design

Module Leader for Final Year Project 1 and Final Year Project 2

A (VR/AR/Haptics+)-based book proposal for agents-like-Lauren-Appleton

(This was written almost a year ago... so much has happened since then, and by that I mean experiences and contacts that will surely make for a great book. Like this. And this. Anyhoo...

Hello literary-agents-like-Lauren-Appleton!

I hope all is well on your side of the interwebtubes! My name is Stephen Black and I have a book proposal that I believe will be of interest to you, one of the publishing companies whom you represent and millions of people interested in visual art, gaming and film-making.

Cinema 8.0 will be a timeless bestselling classic like Towards an Architecture

Towards an Architecture was written during a transitional period in which concrete, preformed materials and Modernism were replacing past paradigms and materials. Cinema 8.0 is being written during a transitional period in which VR, AR, social media and haptics are exploding the concept of "motion pictures".

An artist/producer/writer, I believe my finished text will be factual, inspirational and light-hearted. Just as Corbusier's book is evergreen, so will be mine. (A valuable resource has been this post by Ryan Holiday about the making of Perennial Seller)

Beach Road 360VR film featured at festivals in Singapore, Brisbane and Las Vegas.

SPOKEN Unity-based virtual exhibition, curated by myself, co-produced with Eugene Soh.

Captioned virtual reality scene with two real men in it

Eugene Soh and Stephen Black

i ate tiong bahru A bestseller in Singapore. With. No. Marketing.

I've long lived in Asia, have worked for CNN, Cartoon Network, Fuji TV: writer, director, cameraman, producer. Collected as an artist, published as a photographer.

Here are blog posts that exemplify some of the research that I have done. The theoretical/inspirational components, as well as a chapter outline, can be viewed upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration literary-agents-like-Lauren-Appleton!

onwARd,

Stephen Black

public section of Engadget Experience 100K grant proposal

Bubiko Foodtour: the world's first AR superstar

I discovered information about Lauren Appleton, and her request for manuscripts, here. I wrote the above with a great deal of respect and, hopefully, in a way that prevents internet search complications or misrepresentations.

Oh yeah...a book cover about immersive environments A working title, now scrapped.