Category Archives: Contemporary Lens-Based Imaging

iPhone 11 Pro Max vs. the Harlem Globetrotters

The day after it came out of its box, my iPhone was put to the test: courtside, at the Huntington Center, to shoot the Harlem Globetrotters.

To push it to the limit, the camera was on auto. All image processing was done with the built in apps.

I am pleased with the results, considering they were not made from RAW files. This shoot was a week ago, and I have been shooting with the iPhone every day, including video.

My review: the iPhone 11 Pro Max used on automatic/no apps is very impressive, but, for professionals, apps are needed to be fully in control at the time of exposure, as well as have RAW files and the ability to bring out the best of the camera's potential.

I really would like to write in depth about this shoot, but am swamped. If you have any questions, I will be happy to reply. Just leave a comment below.

Click here if you would like to see my "automatic" results with food, and here if you would like to see some portraiture and art. Glassblowing!

Globie, looking up!
Zeus!
Big Easy is not happy. Neither is the ref.
Hi-Lite goes boom!

I am looking forward to shooting another sports event, with the apps. With indoor sports, the lighting is constant and the area is limited. The variables are positioning, timing and the magic on the court.

Carrot Cake!

Adam @ Gathered Glass Studio

On the last day of the decade, I wandered around Toledo and discovered the hottest (and coolest) place in the city: Gathered Glassblowing Studio. I am very thankful that Adam was so open minded, and allowed me to shoot him in action.

I will rewrite this post very soon, and include the name of the other glass master, whose name I didn't get... I will also add more details about the process, the studio and Adam.

For now, here are the photos. I am looking forward to shooting the finished piece. (The first and second image are out of sequence, the others show the process in chronological order.)

Natchez 1

VIEW 2019 part 3

I used to study moire patterns and halftone printing. So, this image, and others like it, was a treat. This image was taken during a talk by Danny Dimian!

Danny Dimian is a visual effects supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks, most recently supervising the Academy Award-winning SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE for Sony Pictures Animation.

His presentation was proof that daring art can happen in large institutions. Yes, it can be said that Sony wanted a new stylized look for the Spiderverse movie(s). However, many, many times this desire for a new look results in simply hiring a trendy director/VFX person who then spends the money on the flavor of the month gear/software. The result can look dated very quickly.

Danny's team went retro; they researched old comic books and found the techniques (and flaws) that make them so distinctive. Halftone dots and misaligned printing being two examples. They also collected the words, exclamation points and marks that add impact.

They then used these as the basis for experimentation and also brought in painters to create stylistic possibilities. In short, there was a lot trial and error involved with bringing the look of old printing into the age of 8K.

So, this happened. Looking for a place to quietly check my email; Danny was looking for a place to quietly save the Spiderverse. Or something like that.
Jill Culton shared the inspirations and challenges of Abominable.
The discussion about Women in Animation: Jill Culton, Maureen Fan, Janelle Croshaw Ralla, Angie Wojak, Wieke Schrakamp, Carolyn Giardina and Alex Schwartz. The Facebook Spark app allows Bubiko to be on stage as well, but the photo quality is not great.

The Women in Animation panel was serious, yet insightful and lighthearted. Hopefully the unwanted challenges described will become nonexistent for the next generation of women, and the opportunities will increase.

Paul Debevec What he does for Google Daydream and the University of Southern California is very interesting, but also very difficult to explain. New Yorker magazine profiled him, and explained things nicely.
A photo from Paul Debevec's presentation.

This is the third post of a series.

VIEW 2019 part 2

It was unexpected, suddenly having a brief discussion about cancer treatments with Professor Daniel Zajfman, the President of the Weizmann Institute of Science. Unplanned as well; Professor Zajfman was being interviewed right in front of me. What I happened to overhear was a phrase that went something like this: “Historically, cancer was perceived as one disease. Eventually, we understood that there are many kinds of cancer. Now, we realize that cancer, just like every living being, seems to be unique.”

“Wow,” I thought. I felt that I should share the two cancer treatments that I am very familiar with: the two mushroom-based treatments like agaricus blazei Murrill, and turkey tail ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXHDoROh2hA 8:50 mark), as well as the deuterium-based cancer research  of Dr. Gabor Somlyai.

At first, the presence of Professor Zajfman at VIEW was surprising. The VIEW website is a striking collection of the latest animated movies, CG creations and award-winning Hollywood technical talents. Why would a physicist whose career focuses  on atomic and molecular physics be making a presentation..He seeks to understand the astrophysical conditions found in star-forming regions, as well as working to solve the riddle of star formation. VIEW also focus on exploring the increasingly fluid boundary between real and digital worlds. Professor Zajfman listened attentively, gave me his card, and that was that. Unfortunately, I had no chance to attend his talk which was entitled What is Why and Why is it Important?

A woman warrior riding upon a flying dragon the size of a 747.

A rat who cooks in a three star restaurant in Paris. 

A mouse whose best friends are a dog and a duck.

The tortured soul of a giant robot.

A captured clownfish.

Spiderman.

Animation is the art form in which ideas like these become the foundations of global economic powerhouses.

Besides toys, the animation industry sells food products, books, health products, clothing, banking services and more. At VIEW 2019, I was very fortunate to listen to, and interact with, some of the most successful men and women in contemporary animation.

It is difficult to say who impressed me the most, but Thomas Schelesny would be in the top of the list. His presentation about the dragons created for Game of Thrones was extremely impressive.

However, after his talk he spoke to a few people, including students. He discussed the idea of being an artist. Egos were discussed. Mr. Schelesny did not mention his Emmy. What he did speak about was the professionalism needed to keep things moving. The dragons of GoT were an extremely expensive undertaking that required seamless interaction between a number of companies all over the world. These companies, for the most part, rarely work with other companies. The production schedule was dangerously short.

Mr. Schelesny exemplified the traits that are usually found in the best soldiers fighting the worst wars. He was a leader who stayed focused and thought of all members on his team.

Those watching Game of Thrones saw a beautifully choreographed and realistic battle of flying dragons. Those aware of what was happening behind the scenes , with Thomas and the Image Engine Design, saw a very different battle; one equally thrilling but real.

Bubiko learns from the master.

VIEW 2019 part 1

I wanted to meet Skarred Ghost.

Tony, Antony Vitillo, is the AR/VR consultant who runs Skarred Ghost, one of the top blogs for VR and AR. I met Tony online in 2016, and we have shared our problems and joys since then. I was invited to speak in Munich and Paris, and hoped that somehow I could finally meet Tony in person, in Europe.

However, Tony was going to be in China until he returned to Italy, to give a presentation at VIEW, in Torino, Italy. I had never heard of VIEW. When I saw it, I immediately wanted to go. But my trip was on a budget far below “low budget”. Perhaps I could volunteer, like I would do at AWE, in Munich. Tony said he would ask the organizers, and that was how we left it.

 I arrived in Turin on the morning of Sunday, October  21. I’d taken an overnight bus from Munich; the city felt both friendly and alien. Two officers in a polizia car asked me if  I knew where I was going. 

“Corso Marconi...”

Though the officers described the bus and train options very well, I didn’t pay too much attention. Bubiko and I were going to walk.

An hour after leaving the bus, this tranquil scene of the River Po.
Man Ray, Man Ray. Will have to dig up my Man Ray story. No, I never met him, but did meet Julia, his wife, twice.

And, walk we did.

The address turned out to be the administrative office for VIEW, not the venue. I was relieved when someone answered the intercom; and happy when Ricardo, a handsome young man walked out. He attentively listened to my volunteering idea and seemed genuinely interested in my Bubiko demo. Like the polizie, Ricardo gave me directions on how to the venue, a place called OGR, which seemed to be near where the bus from Munich had dropped me off. I thanked Ricardo, slung my bag over my shoulder, and began rolling my little suitcase down the road.

 A blonde young woman called out to me! She was the driver for OGR, and she was going to the venue. As she drove me to OGR, we talked. She lived outside of Turin, and told me how beautiful the golds and reds of Autumn were beneath the snow-capped peaks of the Alps.

Bamboo! Eco Hostel!
Just down the street from the VIEW administrative office.
Mustafa, whose nice little restaurant is very near to Bamboo Eco Hostel.
Bubiko with a group of very , very talented professional animators!

 We arrived at OGR, once a train station, now an art center.

I didn’t know what would happen inside, but I pretended that I did.

(to be continued)

Turino, 5AM...

Scandy, New Orleans: my first volumetric camera experience

I arrived in New Orleans on the morning of October 1, 2019. The very air-conditioned overnight bus ride from Austin resulted in a bit of a raspy throat, but overall, I was excited. At 9AM, I was to meet with Charles Carriere, the President and CEO of Scandy, a company working with cutting edge 3D ideas, like scanning and volumetric video.

My first volumetric portrait experience.

Charles was friendly and informative. Our conversation was stimulating. At one point he pulled out his iPhone, waved it around me, and then pushed a button. Voila: my first portrait in 3D styleee!

My takeaway: AR will be defined by 3D objects. Yes, I knew this before, but now I have internalized that fact. Scandy's work is hugely important.

Bubiko Scrapbook September 2019

Bubiko is a little chef from Thailand who loves AR. Her unusual guide to Augmented Reality is now on Amazon.

This post is an introduction to Bubiko's world.

July, 2017 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Bubiko, the first paper version, based on a doll from Thailand. Bubiko is very knowledgeable about the food of Southeast Asia. Here she studies thunder tea rice.

July 2019 Pierogi Festival, Detroit. Bubiko. 3D version made by Novaby. In the summer of 2019, Bubiko debuted in two formats: Facebook Spark and Facebook Camera. Facebook Camera support by Dana Hagan.

doll with colorful drink
2017: At the Penang Food Festival in Kuala Lumpur. Bandung is the name of a popular drink. Aroi mak mak is Bubiko's favorite phrase. It means "very delicious"" in the Thai language.


https://www.instagram.com/p/Bs4hK_hH8cV/

Bubiko has an Instagram account. She also made one book:

Available on Amazon




Bubiko Foodtour
A guide to the food of Shenzhen, a work in progress.
Shenzhen is the Silicon Valley of China. A story about Shenzhen , written and photographed by Stephen Black for makermag.

ARKit games made with Unity
Presentation at Le Wagon, Shenzhen December 26, 2018 Pictured is an AR game collaborative test with Green Bean Boy, a character by Dominique Wu/Hummingbirdsday Studios.

November, 2018 Shenzhen. Stephen Black, pitching his unicorn idea to VCs at TechCrunch Shenzhen. (The unicorn idea is a separate idea from Bubiko/the Pixar of AR)

Sayuri Okayama, at the 2019 Reality Virtually Hackathon at the MIT Media Lab, sponsored by Magic Leap. 

S O with an early paper mockup of Bubiko. Ipoh Malaysia

A demonstration by Google in Kuala Lumpur.
computer users having fun
Chiang Rai, Thailand May 2018. Stephen Black and Suphakorn Traisrisin testing the HP Reveal AR software with Bubiko Foodtour.
Austin Chronicle, Bubiko Foodtour
A collection of Bubiko's 2019 SXSW blog posts are here.
Stephen Black's Bubiko-themed proposal for SXSW 2020 is here.
Sayuri Okayama's (Food + AR) proposal for SXSW 2020 is here.

Get behind it before it gets past you
Now on tour....Bubiko, Eggy, Ollie and Obasan A! R! Let's go!
Green Bean Boy and other AR characters
The plan: a tour of the US and Canada: readings, food tastings and AR, AR, AR.

SB at MIT. Next presentation by SB: OARC (Open Augmented Reality, Cloud) Munich, October 16, 2019.

Augmented Reality in Asia
Malay Mail article explaining Bubiko and her research about Southeast Asian food.
Bubiko is looking forward to the future, meeting other chefs and discovering new foods.

Bubiko's app is on its way! If you would like to be among the first to play with it, leave a message in the comment section. See you on Twitter , Facebook and Instagram!
BYE!

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bs4hK_hH8cV

Augmented Reality + Autonomous Vehicles: Stephen Black @ Collider

THIS IS FOR THE FIRST PRESENTATION AT COLLIDER. THE SECOND IS HERE.

Bubiko's guide to AR is now available on Amazon!

The following are additions that were not discussed at the Detroit meetup.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/edgarsten/2019/08/12/turning-back-seat-boredom-into-a-virtual-theme-park/#712404fc6019

! https://www.thedrive.com/tech/9548/the-biggest-opportunity-everyone-is-missing-in-self-driving-cars

!! https://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/100430 (What Augmented Driving Will Feel Like, a SXSW presentation by Theo Calvin.)

I wish I had known about the projects and gentlemen above before my Detroit talk.

Do read the article by Alex Roy.

Please vote for Teo Calvin's SXSW proposal.

.......................

Presentation

Thank you very much to Jacob, Rahul and Altimetrik for making this happen. It was a blast! A description of the event, and an introduction to Collider is here.

SLIDE 2

Hyperreality by Keiichi Matsuda

https://www.rt.com/news/455341-chinese-hackers-tesla-autopilot/

https://mashable.com/article/nissan-ar-virtual-reality-windshield-display/

The Nissan video features outstanding visuals.

SLIDE 3

https://www.openarcloud.org/reports/sotarc-2019

The above link is a MUST for anyone with a serious investment in AR.

Novaby is the company that did/is doing a great job with Bubiko.

(Yes, all of the research you see is self-funded. If you can help with a donation or a job...get in touch, please. I am also a photographer, artist, videomaker and a writer.

SLIDE 4

You can see all of my adventures with Bubiko elsewhere on this blog. We would be grateful for your votes for two proposals for SXSW.

This is my proposal.

This is the proposal of Sayuri Okayama, my partner.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR VOTE!

SLIDE 5

This book is a "living" book. Meaning if you buy it, you will get the updated editions free.

SLIDE 7

BONNETS! (My Powerpoint looks extremely low tech. As much as I like this look, I have to say I had no choice. I was using my Chromebook , and used the baked in slide show creator. Next time, I might actually have the time to do some design work.)

SLIDE 8

Artivive One of my own Artivive demos is here. Another, here.

Leo

Bubiko Foodtour

Rouvy Augmented Reality Released: First Ride & Explainer.

DC Rainmaker does his usually outstanding job of reviewing a bicycle-related product.Jump into the video at about the 4 minute mark to see some exemplary AR techniques. Click here to see more examples and ideas related to AR+ Bicycles.

Cannondale, for the win! A great example of functional AR in an everyday situation, as opposed to a factory or medical facility.

SLIDE 9

From a presentation I did on AR and bike safety. All of those concepts need to be unified and rethought for the age of AR.

SLIDE 10

Mapillary

LADOT

Superworld

SLIDE 11

The Open Augmented Reality Cloud people are making efforts to establish a geopost standard. If you are serious about AR, follow their efforts, or better join them and let your voice be heard!

What you see is a test I did with Bubiko. While I was in a car, I positioned her in the road ahead. We then drove forward. It is not clear, and I will redo this test.

But what happened is that Bubiko was in front, then she appeared in the car, and then we saw her in the road behind us. She did not move with/in relationship to the car.

This was using Facebook Spark AR. Technical support: the amazing Dana.

Stunt driver: Norm Black.

No AR characters were harmed in the production of this rest.

SLIDE 12

OPEN AUGMENTED REALITY CLOUD

SLIDE 13

The AR Podcast is a must for anyone serious about AR. This is a link to the extremely informative and important interview with four of the people involved with OARC.

SLIDE 14

Thank you Sergei!

https://www.slideshare.net/sergiikozyrev?utm_campaign=profiletracking&utm_medium=sssite&utm_source=ssslideview

SLIDE 15

One style of point cloud rendering.

SLIDE 16

Another way to render a point cloud. There are many ways to create point clouds and they must be interoperable.

https://www.clarissewiki.com/3.6/creating_a_point_cloud.html

SLIDE 17

An example of an organization that has information that would be useful for AR in Detroit. Geographic Information Services… How much of what is under the road do they have records of? This info would be necessary for many AR services,

How do they make pointclouds-or do they even do this yet?

SLIDE 18

One of Magic Leap's views on how the total AR world might look like.

The layers presented include IoT (the Internet of Things, as well as AI. Photo courtesy of Tony at the Skarred Ghost, another person I suggest serious AR/VR people support and follow.

SLIDE 19

Another presentation from Magic Leap on how the total AR Cloud might look. They use the term "Magicverse".

SLIDE 20

A representation by the OARC on what the layers of the cloud would be. My suggested terms would be REAL1 (R1), REAL2 (R2) and REAL3 (R3). R1=the physical world. R2; the layer with few changes; buildings, landmarks, geography. R3 being the part of the AR cloud that changes the most, and has the most segmentation.

This system also lends itself to further classification. R2C22 , for example, could refer to a specific block in Chicago for example, and R2C22E could be the collective "channel" for all organizations utilizing traffic emergency communications for that area.

SLIDE 21

Microsoft Azure Spatial anchor systems. 'Anchor systems' refers to geoposing. There can be an endless number of clouds. Interoperability... Machines reading the world for humans... A browser...AI assisted browsers.

SLIDE 22

This is from the State of the Open AR Cloud 2019 report by the Open Augmented Reality Cloud group. Already some governing bodies are being formed.

The report is free. Get it here.

SLIDE 24

Ed Garten's article on AV safety, for Forbes magazine.

SLIDE 25

The League of American Bicyclists has an active interest in AR and AV.

https://www.bikeleague.org/content/automated-vehicle-overview-box

SLIDE 27

And the amazing BabbleRabbit! https://twitter.com/BabbleRabbit/status/1115271007315615750

SLIDE 28

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/314522858_Supporting_Trust_in_Autonomous_Driving

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333645946_The_Impact_of_Autonomous_Vehicles'_Active_Feedback_on_Trust

SLIDE 30

An AV by May.

SLIDE 33

Shenzhen's celebration used the entire city as a canvas. Something like this could be done in Detroit with AR, for much less cost, and with greater detail. AVs could travel on programmed routes... a new form of musical is born!

My report on the maker culture of Shenzhen is here.

SLIDE 34

The Fox Theatre is one of Detroit's cultural assets that could be utilized. This slide shows some of the layers of creation and co-operation that need to be considered.

SLIDE 35

An example of an urban AR project, this one by Snapchat. This article also raises questions about AR in public spaces.

SLIDE 36

Diego! DIA! https://www.dia.org/art/rivera-court

SLIDE 37

http://amirbaradaran.com/2019/works-pages/fml.html

Go to the "0.52" mark to see the actual AR clip. It is very brief.

The video on this site by Artivive showcases some possibilities in regards to AR + flat art. https://artivive.com/walkietalkie/

SLIDE 38

Apple's AR Art program. https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2019/07/apple-offers-new-augmented-reality-art-sessions/

SLIDE 39

Back to bROADWAY… and we have "discovered" that the Fox Theater is geofenced. Geofencing is a blocking of AR access. Military bases, sensitive areas...the interior of homes. The Fox Theatre is copyrighted, I believe. In this fictional example, Fox may have geofenced their theater to prevent unauthorized AR usage.

SLIDE 40

MOTOWN!

SLIDE 42

Bose AR

So there ya go! Any questions ask below.

I am available for consultation and all kinds of AR producing, as well as photography, video, art and writing projects. Thank you for any ideas and/or opportunities.

And again, please consider voting for our two SXSW presentations:

XR: bike safety, music and Bubiko Foodtour

and

Augmented Reality and Food

THANKS!

onwARd,

Stephen Black