Category Archives: virtual reality

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.

ARphabet Tour: Secret Donut World

All of the sections of the ARphabet Tour are explained here.

A collaboration between David Severn(UK/Japan) and Stephen Black, Secret Donut World is whimsical, colorful and unpredictable. A combination of David's imagination and Stephen's spatial computing ideas, Secret Donut World exemplifies the potential of AR and MR.

At present there are a total of 50 characters and objects, many having unique spatial computing "special powers".

avante-garde art in I
Vance
Secret Donut World by David Severn and Stephen Black

All of the sections of the ARphabet Tour are explained here.

ARphabet Tour: Indiegogo Introductory video notes

All of the sections of the ARphabet Tour are explained here.

Notes for the video introducing the ARphabet Tour on Indiegogo.

Location: Boulevard of Houqian Bei

Stephen Black standing in the heart of China's Silicon Valley, holding the 2018 laminated pamphlet of Bubiko Orwell Tour highlights.

Like this test: https://youtu.be/fM2Z6kr7mAs

Points to cover:

  • 2002: After years of working in art, photography and network TV (Cartoon Network, Fuji TV, Fox, CNN+) became creative director at 3D gamemaking company, WalkerAsia
  • Walker/Asia was also doing something like Youtube, three years before Youtube.
  • CEO's unexpected demise results in non-action, despite great interest by Singapore Ministry of Education, Singapore Science Center, publishers in Hong Kong and universities in Japan.
  • SB, son of a book salesman, decides to write books and wait for VR/AR/spatial computing to become mainstream. Inspirations: his father, a book salesman and the release of the Kindle, Amazon's pioneering ebook reader.

  • Visa complications result in what will become the Bubiko Orwell Tour of Southeast Asia. SB pivots from VR to AR.
  • AR cinema becomes the focus, starring the following characters: the Dundercats (collaboration with Six Cat Studio), Secret Donut World (collaboration with David Severn) and Bubiko Foodtour.
  • AR presentations/workshops at Hong Kong PolyU, a presentation at Le Wagon and pitches to VCs at TechCrunch.
  • An invitation to participate in ARIA at MIT  becomes the inspiration for the ARphabet Tour. Debuting at ARIA will be an ARKIT/Unity collaboration with Dominique Wu/Hummingbirdsday Studios, a game featuring Green Bean Boy and co-starring Bubiko Foodtour.
  • The ARphabet Tour will also be a platform for Stephen Black to do readings and writing workshops.
  • The ARphabet Tour also aims to educate people about mango sticky rice, Bubiko's favorite food.
  • Separate from this, briefly mention the unicorn concept which has a high degree of success regardless of the global economy or 5G take-up.

All of the sections of the ARphabet Tour are explained here.

Presentations and workshops by Stephen Black at HK PolyU.

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.

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.

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.

Stephen Black: Ipoh/Perak Artist in Residence 2018

A4 self-promotion document

when printed out on A4 paper, this explains Stephen Black's background, AR plans and network.

An artist-in-residency would enable Stephen Black's completed Ipoh projects, and new ones, to be shared internationally.

His research about Perak and Ipoh, his Ipoh/Perak multimedia projects and his international experiences as an artist and writer could be shared internationally. Although based on heritage, multiculturalism, natural wonders and food, the spirit of the artworks is forward thinking, especially in regards to technology.

In all cases, the artworks support the ideas of community, multiculturalism and the idea of "doing locally and thinking globally".

An artist-in-residency would allow the following existing projects to be publicized and further developed, in addition to new ones being created.

IPOH IDENTITY(PHOTOS + TEXT)

The first of several blog posts on the Ipoh branding project is here.

TT5 (AR DISCUSSIONS AND MORE)

Since opening in October 2017, TT5 is rapidly establishing itself as a destination for locals and foreign visitors.

woam tour guide in industrial area

The TT5 tin dredge in Ipoh, Malaysia is a popular tourist attraction. Here, a guide explains the workings of the dredge.

Crowd receiving a tour.

On the deck of the last remaining tin mining dredge in Malaysia, a guide gives an explanation

tours of industrial places

A tour entering the last remaining tin dredge in Malaysia.

tin dredge

brainstorming by Stephen Black on the idea of Ipoh identity

YASMIN AHMAD MUSEUM at KONG HENG

Featuring the works of filmmaker and poet Yasmin Hamda, this museum is planning a project that would use AR to connect scenes from Yasmin's movies with their actual locations in Ipoh, by using AR.here are many possibilities here...

Facebook screen capture

Screen capture of Facebook page for Yasmin at Kong Heng

HOTEL ABBY

An interesting hotel with an excellent reputation among international budget travelers, the Abby Hotel hosted the Ni Art Week in 2016. It was also the basis for Stephen Black's 72 hour Facebook Live event and the surrounding area is featured prominently in the IPHOh: 38 iPhone Photos by Bubiko Foodtour AR project. The hotel's rooftop terrace offers the best spot to admire the sun setting over Ipoh.

Ipoh, Malaysia

IPOH:38 iPhone Photographs by Bubiko Foodtour first test of beta, by Claire Monfray

SYMPHONY SUITES BOUTIQUE HOTEL

Located near some of Ipoh's most impressive limestone caves and literally across the street from pomelo vendors and the Nam Thean Tong Temple, Symphony Suites was the location for another experimental 60 hour Facebook live event. Pomelos in Ipoh

IPOH: 38 Photos by Bubiko Foodtour The world's first AR Photo Exhibition

Soon available on Google Play and the Apple App Store.

IPOH: 88 iPhone Photographs by Bubiko Foodtour Advertising and marketing to follow, as well as a print version. For now, the ebook version is available on Amazon.

IPOH SING!

This online photo and video exhibition was an unofficial part of the Singapore-Ipoh Causeway Exchange project.

NEW BOOK PROJECT

The author of eight books, Stephen Black is currently writing about the Ipoh area. The book combines research with personal observations and will be stylistically similar to i ate tiong bahru, which is a bestseller in Singapore.

Augmented Reality in Asia

Malay Mail article about Stephen Black in Ipoh

Black Tofu Soup and The Reality of a Late Afternoon

I’m multi-tasking; this short piece of writing hops across topics like Southeast Asian cuisine, Bubiko Foodtour, self-promotion, AR, VR, branding, racism, philosophy, and the meaning of life. In short: I’m rambling.

We get out of a Grab car in front of a McDonald’s. A young Malay is standing and eating soft ice cream. We ask where the police station is. He doesn’t know, but asks an elderly Chinese, who does. Both men are friendly. We quickly set off down the covered sidewalk. Our destination is the cart of a vendor who sells kidney bean soup and almond paste. The internet says he is near the police station and he sells out by 5, sometimes earlier. It’s now 4:30.

VRLab! I didn’t know there was one here. This morning I had exchanged emails regarding an interview with Dato Jack, VR Lab’s founder. From outside, I can see two women signing in. I enter, explain my connection with Dato Jack, and am allowed to watch. After a thorough explanation and simple instructions, the two women put on headsets. First, they move their heads in all directions, then they slowly manipulate their hands and arms, acquiring the skills to become virtual archers. I study all this because I am writing a book about VR and haptics, as well as planning an AR startup that will eventually expand to VR.

The TV screens in the room show me what they are seeing: a castle under siege. Suddenly, an axe-thrower attacks so suddenly that the woman with braids jumps. Her headset falls off. I leave after a few minutes, by which time they are fully immersed: crouching, cautiously turning and laughing. They are killing people with arrows.

We rush back outside. The sky is soft and complex: rain clouds/blue sky/sunlight/evening. The atmosphere is fresh and I’m glad to have a camera. We find the soup vendor. He’s surrounded by people, all of whom seem to have placed large orders to bring back home. Nearby is a truck stall selling assam laksa. The aroma is uniquely seductive, like a tart, mysterious fruit beckoning from a bed of homemade noodles.

We are soon seated at a rickety table, experiencing multiple foodgasms from the assam laksa, the kidney bean soup, the almond paste and a plate of perfectly fried kway teow that we couldn’t resist. We finish and head into the U-shaped market. In an hour it will be packed.

Ears of sweet corn! I can honestly say I am a farmboy from Ohio, with many memories of corn fields and corn roasts. However, the corn I picked and the cows I milked were actually in Michigan. (OK, full disclosure, about the cows: There was only one. I was a five-year-old visiting a farm with my family. And, yeah... I was too shy to squeeze anything.)

A sign for Pun Tofu! Word play that is not wordplay. I write, often about food. Eight books. One, i ate tiong bahru, is a national bestseller in Singapore. Stories about my IT/VR/AR adventures in Hong Kong and Singapore will soon be a series on Popularium. This trip to the market is research for the text part of Bubiko Foodtour, an AR project. A stall sells kuehs and this is good: I heart kuehs.

The sky is peacefully exploding. Sharply outlined clouds, bulging with water vapor, dissolve into darkening, ragged zones of blue and orange. More generators are started. The lights of the night market come on as the moon rises in a kaleidoscopic sea of twilight. We eat black tofu. This same stall had intrigued us at another market, but we hadn’t tried it. We watch it being made and find a table. Surprisingly, the chicken soup served with it has the taste of green tea. The news of the day encroaches unexpectedly: skin color and Charlottesville.

I remember an article I found while doing research. In a city in Malaysia, over an unspecified period, the police took action on illegal street vendors. The breakdown: 158 actions against Chinese-based businesses, 103 against Malay businesses, 31 against Indians and 13 on other races. The harmonious flavors in the black tofu soup are wonderful , but not enough to take me away from thoughts about Nazis, Communists and the White House.

We step into the crowd one last time, studying foods like nasi lemak, Vietnamese pizza and salt-baked chicken. Five blind Chinese, all elderly, sit on red plastic chairs and sing Chinese songs. A man plays acoustic guitar, a woman taps a tambourine. There is a bowl at the woman’s feet. We listen as we watch Murtabak Sam make pandan pancakes with bamboo charcoal flour. We call a Grab and wait.

Now, here on Medium, are some of my experiences, my reality at that market. As I wrote this I remembered scenes, recalled what I was thinking and added new thoughts. I input my data into the internet, and now it is all over the world.

…one kind of wonder after another kind of wonder, all in something wondrous...

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.