Category Archives: Art

The topics reflect years spent in Asia: mainly Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as New York and Paris. Daulism starts here.

Bubiko @ the Toledo Art Museum

Bubiko ended one decade and began another at the Toledo Museum of Art!

Happy to be here!
Sometimes, art is like dancing.
These are mysterious people!
A glass dress, a new decade.
New friends
New friends, old glass.
4/5 of The Antivillains
musicians on a simple white stage
5/5 of the Antivillains
About 9 hours of light
Self preservation
Bravery
2020+++

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.)

Bubiko visits Paddington

At Paddington Station, in the store filled with all that is Paddington.
The famous statue. "Please look after this Bear. Thank you."
The world famous bear meets the world famous chef. Lobby of the Paddington Hilton, London.
Bubiko, in awe.

VIEW 2019 part 4

The Hugo Guerra of Hugo's Desk. Hugo is an extremely good compositor and teacher.

From my TV and gamemaking days, I have some familiarity with compositing. Although it is almost certain that I will never become a compositor, I sat in on Hugo's seminar. I think I retained about .001% of the technical information that Hugo shared, but observing his workflow and troubleshooting tips was inspiring.

The Addams Family: Reintroducing a Classic: the presenters, co-director Conrad Vernon and Producer Alexa Schwartz, spoke about the challenges in creating a new version of The Addams Family. Although the story is contemporary, the two looked at the original drawings of Charles Addams. His drawings, featured in The New Yorker magazine, were the basis of the original TV show.

Conrad and Alexa presented like the professionals that they are. They completed each other's sentences. They kept the topics moving. Perhaps they rehearsed and planned for a long time, or maybe they just improvised so informatively because they knew their subject so well. They showed clips and explained the stories behind them. If there is an Addams Family Hall of Fame, Conrad and Alexa should be in it.

Animated movies have their own unique characteristics, but they also act as "containers" for other art forms, music being the most obvious example, drawing being another. However, successful animated characters are the result of combining drawing, sculpture, programming and... dreaming. Animated characters are often realistic, but they can ignore the laws of physics. Dreams and animation need no logic.

Having said that, the more a VFX operator/CG artist/animator studies reality, the better. Noticing the almost imperceptible muscles movements of the human body results in all kinds of possibilities, especially when one must make a character react to something unexpected. The following clip was shown by Theodore Tye, as part of his excellent presentation entitled Beyond Eye Darts: A Closer Look at Acting for Animation:

This masterclass, through the analysis of clips from animated and live- action films as well as acting theory, takes a fun, in-depth look at the study and execution of both comedy and dramatic acting for animation.

Following is one of the clips shown to exemplify a reaction worth studying.

VIEW took place in OGR Turino, an arts center in what was once a train station.
Glen McIntosh is a paleo-artist, and the supervising artist for Jurassic World.Glen's first film was Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. It was a pleasure to watch him work and share his stories.
Turin is a delight!
Bubiko photobombing animation bigwigs.
Hal Hickel, a legend at Industrial Light and Magic.Winner of both an Academy Award and BAFTA. He has worked on Star Wars, Jurassic Park, AI, Pirates of the Caribbean, Toy Story and The California Raisins!
Closing party. The London Siggraph people put copies of interesting black and white images on the tables, making Offtopic a bit like their Drink and Draw nights in London.

I have just settled down after travelling for over two months. I am still processing all that I learned and experienced at VIEW and an other post is on its way.

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.

Bubiko meets Tranzient 1.0

I met Jim Simons, the force behind Tranzient, at the November 2019 edition of the London Augmenting Reality Meetup. He did a live demo of the Tranzient VR/music making app. The app not only performed beautifully, Jim composed some great little beats; on the spot of course.

The Tranzient app allows musicians to collaborate in VR, in real time. Tranzient is impressive on many levels. I wondered if Jim would be consider adding Bubiko to his "band".

Jim was open to the idea!

What you see above is less than an hour's work. Now that we know Bubiko is functional within Tranzient, we can literally play around.

Tranzient is highly recommended https://www.aliveintech.com/ . I just met Jim, but he is genuinely enthusiastic about making music in VR. If you are a musician and working in VR, you should definitely move on Tranzient. Jim is a bit mysterious about his musical past, but I am sure he was involved with some great projects. He sure makes Bubiko look good!

This version on Bubiko was made by Novaby, art directed by Stephen Black and Sayuri Okayama.

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.

The Greatest AR Tour in History!

Would you like to support THE GREATEST AR TOUR IN HISTORY? Do you want to learn the latest news from AWE, Austin, Japan, Detroit, Turin, Munich, Shenzhen and Japan!?

Austin, London, Berlin, Munich, Paris, Shenzhen, Tokyo...full tour info at the bottom of this post. http://www.blacksteps.tv/blam-bubiko-foodtour-on-the-road/
(Photographer: Marcha Farley)

Stephen Black and Bubiko Foodtour are about to go global: learning, educating and networking at some of the biggest AR events in the world. We just need a little financial fuel...we are movin’ and groovin, but our app isn’t out yet! Startup blues!

Not a good time to help fund the excitement? We definitely understand, but why not follow this blog where you can read, and comment upon, informative articles like this: http://www.blacksteps.tv/towards-an-understanding-of-ar-cinema-possibilities/

Stephen Black and Bubiko at ARIA, MIT

You’ve got a little extra cash, and want to help? Thank you! PM me, tell me what you do or about your product, or what Bubiko and I can do to help you in anyway.

You're looking for an evangelist? Get in touch so our enthusiastic team can immediately start learning about you and planning to get the word out!

No one paid for this; it's just an example of how excited we get. It was prepared for a presentation at Hong Kong PolyU.

Your company wants to sponsor the greatest AR tour in history? Step right this way!

Bloggers, podcasters, media people... have we got unique and informative stories for you! Happy to share our information-packed adventures with your audience. Here's a sample story about Shenzhen.

Sayuri Okayama, co-creator of Bubiko Foodtour at a hackathon at MIT sponsored by Magic Leap.

Oh! Bubiko wrote an unusual and very informative book about AR: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WQTT22Z Buy one of these, learn a lot and help the tour!

Thanks for reading this far and any positive thoughts that you can provide. Stephen Black and Bubiko Foodtour

Get behind it before it gets past you
Now on tour... Bubiko, Eggy, Ollie and Obasan A! R! Let's go!(Lemme know if you want one of these shirts!)

Austin Startup Week: September 22-25 attendee

London: presentations date to be determined

Berlin: Meetup October 15

Amsterdam: dates to be determined

Munich: presentation at Open Augmented Reality Cloud Symposium Oct 16

Munich: attending AWE October 17/18

Turin attending View October 21-24

Paris: presenting at PARIS October 25

Detroit: Date to be determined. An update of the AR+AV presentation at Collider

2020

MIT Attending ARIA, where Stephen Black presented this year

SXSW2020 Attending, Sayuri Okayama and Stephen Black are possibly presenting:  SB Proposal SO Proposal 

Shenzhen, China: March presenting at Trouble Maker      my article about Shenzhen

Singapore: Biennale November 22, 2019, through March 22, 2020

Shenzhen: March 28/29 attending AWE China

Tokyo: April Tama Art University

Ashiya, Japan: April date to be determined

This post has more tour-related info.