Category Archives: Artists

Tenten begins

Lately, musicians are going on the web to entertain, to give hope and, understandably, to make some money.

With Tenten, I am doing something like that. I would be surprised if I sell any books or music. This is mostly about connecting with old friends and making new ones. My hope is that I can provide twenty minutes of positive thoughts and energy every day.

I will be prepared before every program, and will not waste anyone's time. Stories for programs are always welcome. Planned topics include art, Asia, augmented reality, writing, photography and video.

If this goes well, I would think about how to upgrade the show technically. This would allow me to show photos, videos, links and do interviews. For now, videos and images will be supported by links on this blog.

In this, the first broadcast, I mentioned the following:

The Agaricus blazei Murrill Notebook. This was written in 2002, and is out of print. The ABM mushroom is extremely good for you, and delicious too.

Bus Stopping Book of photographs of Singapore, all including or referencing buses.

Secrets of Sushi by Kazuko and Chihiro Masui.

i ate tiong bahru, a best seller in Singapore.

i ate tiong bahru audio book

Bubiko Foodtour on Instagram. Search for Bubiko on this blog to find out more about her, including her guide to Augmented Reality.

3how was a dynamic improvisational music performance project in Singapore, co-founded by myself and Amith Narayan, whose projects include The Unseen Guest and The Silent State. 3how's CD is here. A blog post+video about 3how is here.

Rochester, New York (early 2020)

I have had friends in Rochester since I went to RIT. I go back when I can, maybe once every ten years. This year I was fortunate to visit twice.

Paul by Peggi's table
Trees and snow
Russ's tree by the tracks
Valentine's Day at the Little
Dan, where the subway was.
from a class project celebrating "creative failure"
Faulkner's Mississippi, with photographs by William Eggleston
Scandy volumetric image of a sculpture 1
Scandy volumetric image of a sculpture 2
One of several videos shot in Manhattan, edited in Rochester; music by Margaret Explosion.Concept: Daniel Bainbridge.
The atmosphere of the Lower East Side, on a screen at Visual Studies Workshop. Hopefully this event can happen in April. This post gives a taste of the event.
Patrick Moschiano

I took quite a few notes while in Rochester; maybe a story, maybe a poem. This post is about Scorgie's, Rochester's answer to CBGB's.

As for these images, I'm thinking of making prints.

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.)

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...

Bubiko in Lawnspace screen test

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

Bubiko: what is a stage?

The goal is to prepare for the possibilities of AR cinema.

This post documents a simple test. The Bubiko model used for the Tech in the Tenderloin event was used. Two locations: a garage and an open piece of land. The objective: to gain an understanding of what a “stage” can be in AR. AR is a new medium; to use the established techniques of theatre, television and movie is to fail to grasp the uniqueness of AR. Performance art and dance provide clues.

Notes: Spark used

  • Occlusion not a concern at this time
  • Ambient light a constant
  • Size and scaling of Bubiko purposely varied

Bubiko was created by Stephen Black and Sayuri Okayama

  • iPad used; no manual controls nor color correction
This is Bubiko Foodtour, still with the balloons and banner she used for her debut in San Francisco, at Tech in the Tenderloin’s 2019 TNT Tech Fest,  Bubiko is a work in progress, this is not her final version.
Bubiko is a 3D model made by Novaby, based on ideas by Stephen Black and Sayuri Okayama.
These images are a screen test of sorts, a way of documenting the possibilities and challenges of AR cinematography.
AR cinematography is one of my AR goals, especially making content for autonomous vehicles.
In these images. Bubiko was positioned near the white log. Only the camera (an iPad) moved. The software used was Spark. It was stable, except when used at long distances, in which case Bubiko appeared some distance away from the post.
The camera automatically controlled exposure. The light was even, the time being late afternoon/early twilight.
Occlusion was not important in this test, but I would love to use a software like 6D for testing.
Again, Bubiko did not move, but her size was changed in camera. AR cinema reminds me of machinima. There is another test of Bubiko HERE.
The format of the screen size is both an opportunity and a challenge.
Bubiko Foodtour models for some AR camera tests.
Interesting that the same model can have the size of a mouse, or a giant, or anything in between. Size in AR was the topic of this blog post. Thanks again to Fabian Winkler.
Bubiko is actually closer to the stump than this image suggests.
Sparks had some difficulty as I moved away from Bubiko's position. For this experiment it was simply an interesting development. If this were actually part of an movie shoot, I would reposition her, or do testing. It should be noted that wifi was not needed to create these images.

Stephen Black’s AR/VR/spatial computing experiences

SB with Bubiko Foodtour

Stephen Black: This post is a breakdown of my experiences with AR/VR/Spatial Computing. It starts with 2002, though I received a BFA in Photographic Illustration from the Rochester Institute of Technology  well before that.

Before 2002, I lived in Tokyo, Manhattan, Paris and Hong Kong, and worked in network TV, fine arts, photography and music. A fuller biography can be found here. But AR is the topic of this post...

2002-2007. In Singapore I worked as a creative director for a 3D game making company that was also doing something like Youtube,-- but three years before Youtube. Although I was not a developer, I learned a great deal about spatial computing, and taught 3D gamemaking in Singapore, including classes at the Singapore Science Center. It was during this time, that David Severn and I developed the Secret Donut World characters.

Vance

2007- 2014 Singapore/Bali: wrote novels, including a bestseller, was involved with 3how and researched VR and AR.

2014 SPOKEN, with Eugene Soh; a curation of a wide range of artists.

SPOKEN, a virtual gallery

2014 The Oculus signaled the emergence of VR, and I began notes for a book about VR cinematography.

2015 In Singapore, a chance meeting with Ender Jiang, the founder of Hiverlab, resulted in the opportunity to make my first 360 film.  Ender provided me with technical support and creative freedom and I am extremely grateful for that opportunity. The resulting film, Beach Road, featured a soundtrack by Bani Haykal and Chen Yi Qi, and was selected as a demo VR film in the Hybrid Arcade session of the Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival in November 2015, and was nominated as the Best Experimental VR Film in the VR Fest Las Vegas 2016. It was also fetured in a VR film festival at the Singapore national Museum. Beach Road was receiving a healthy number of views and comments before a technical change in Google Play took it off. At the time of this writing, Beach Road is on Veer and has received almost 5000 views.

360 films
Stephen Black, in the film he co-produced with Hiverlab

2016 The year began with discussing a VR startup idea with VCs in Singapore. Though the discussions went well, the lack of a prototype slowed things down. Shortly after, the release of ARCore and ARKit resulted in a halt to VR the possibilities of AR were assessed.

By April, AR had become the focus and the decision was made to become the "Pixar of AR": original characters, stories and software. With Sayuri Okayama, Bubiko Foodtour was originated.

Sayuri Okayama with a prototype of Bubiko

2017 Ipoh: demonstrations of AR, including what is probably the world’s first photo exhibition in AR. The photos also appeared in an ebook by Bubiko Foodtour.

Augmented Reality in Asia
article about Stephen Black/Sayuri Okayama/Bubiko Foodtour in Ipoh

2018 A presentation about AR was given at Sasin School of Business in Bangkok, later followed by two presentations and two workshops at Hong Kong PolyU, all at 80% capacity or higher.

Augmented Reality Stephen Black in Thailand
poster for Stephen Black's presentation about AR at Sasin School of Business
Presentations and workshops by Stephen Black
Stephen Black holding a Qoocam 360VR camera, as part of his presentation at the 2018 Maker Faire at HK PolyU.

2018 Lotus Mountain, a 360 film was shot and post production began including VR art contributions from Scobot and a soundtrack by Rei Shimizu. The film is at least 80% done and finishing funds are now being searched for. Lotus Mountain was supported by Kando, and 8K Obsidians were used for most of the shooting. Noted Chinese VR filmmaker Leo Wei co-directed and produced.

Chinese city landmarks
Shenzhen Civic Center at night, primary location for Lotus Mountain.
from Lotus Mountain

Bubiko at the Rise festival in HK

Hong Kong Comicon

2018 Cross-promotional and development partnership with Six Cats Studios (HK), focusing on their original IPs, Ollie and Charlie.

AR in musical education
The Dundercats, by Six Cat Studios.

2018 Presentations in Shenzhen, including Le Wagon and Tech Crunch Shenzhen.

Hummingbirdsday
Screen capture from an AR game by Dominique Wu.

2018 In a partnership with Hummingbirdsday Studios, Bubiko appears in an AR game demo with Green Bean Boy.

2019 Presentation at ARIA, MIT, resulting in, among others, working relationship with Novaby and UARexperience

2019 Toledo, Ohio. Presentations, including coffee shops, libraries and a collaboration with sculptor Jack Wilson for the Old West End Festival.

2019 SXSW during the 10 day event attended seminars and developed personal connections with AR and VR practitioners.

W
With WWE championship belt

2019 AR presentation as part of GOBA-the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure. Premier of the AR and Bicycle Safety ebook.

bicycle safety
Bubiko Foodtour looks up while thinking about what to order

2019 As part of  Novaby’s presentation in the Tech in the Tenderloin Festival, the 3D version Bubiko will be making her public debut. The Black Hawk Jazz Club AR project by Novaby will also be presented-not to be missed!

We are now looking for funding for the Bubiko app... Stay tuned!