Category Archives: VR

Preliminary metacarpal results

Hi! Stephen Black here!

Following are works in progress for a project for a health provider. This is a very basic TEST for a short film and far from complete. Bubiko's mouth for example, does not properly move yet.

Simply, please do not share with anyone unless they are a professional.

Our partner, the 3D model making company, NOVABY, is doing a superb job, but the newer versions of these scenes are confidential.

Drop me a line if you would like to know how Bubiko could help your business in terms of video, animation, AR and VR...

Also, I would like to thank Vik at Evoaura Records for the music and Alexis Smith for her vocal performance. Hats off to Six Cats Studio as well, for technical guidance.

Stephen Black at SXSW 2019


I'm telling myself that this is a self-portraiture/conceptual art/writing exercise. I do not stand next to celebrities very often; almost never am I photographed with them. SXSW was incredibly brilliant (Cliche police! Arrest that man!), but it was also "very interesting" financially. If this post brings people to my blog and I can sell some books or connect with some funds for my AR startup and/or VR movies (here and here), then I guess this is OK. And if any galleries poke around this blog, that might be good.

OK?

OK.

I am listening to this. I discovered them because of Orions Belte. I knew nothing about OB before they walked onto the stage. The thrill of unexpectedly discovering a great live performance is extremely rare, at least for me. This is a very nice recording of Joe Frazier, but very different from what I experienced that night in Austin.... imagine being dragged to a karaoke night and discovering

Orions Belte with Stephen Black at SXSW 2019. Photo by Bubiko Foodtour.
OB on Bubiko's Instagram account

PS. FWIW: One afternoon at SXSW, I found myself in a nearly empty room with a business partner of Roger McNamee, who wrote a book about Facebook.

I gave McNamee's business partner one of the small goofy pieces of paper I was passing out during SXSW, said "Low tech, high art" and walked away. So there ya go.

Book Merah!
Carlos Trujillo
We met on the train, talked, went to his show that was part of a Columbian music showcase. Lucky, lucky. (His version of a Paul McCartney/Kraftwerk song!) More photos of Pablo and more on this SXSW music blog post.


Guy Kawasaki, hosting an event at the Mercedes Media Lounge. Complete surprise: the decision to attend SXSW was extremely last minute and the first day we had a basic schedule, but discovered many events by chance, like this one. Guy was also releasing a book, Wise Guy.
I thanked him for his work on his APE book, APE meaning Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, which I highly recommend to all independent writers.

Not only was SXSW life-changing, almost across from the Convention Center was the O. Henry Museum!
O. Henry is one of my favorite writers. One example: A Municipal Report.
Another favorite is about a painter who creates portraits that can reveal the soul of the sitter; he sees people in their "true light". I cannot find the name of the story at the moment.
That goofy paper again, this time held by David Mims. David bought a one way ticket: Detroit to Austin. Respect.
An interview in Japanese and in English can be found here.
Yes, I wore the same style Teeshirt all the time. Thanks to Jupmode and Philipp Aldrup and Stuart Rankin/Sixcat Studios! Number 5 on my list of things to do is get some of of these AR Ones tee shirts ready to sell. Message me if you'd like one. Oh yeah... this is Ollie (on the left).


Spontaneity/unpredictability/destiny/Southby synchronicity.. whatever you want to call it... The first night, we're exhausted. But still I am passing out the goofy pieces of paper. I see a guy using a phone on a stick; probably talking to a friend or it's a business call or something. I wait until he's done, then slip him the goofy piece of paper. EXCEPT that he is still talking to someone. I am embarrassed, pull away. Instead he waves me into the camera and asks me to say hi. Suddenly I am talking to two people in Korea-- two students who are studying VR filmmaking! I make VR films!
We talk about screen writing, and I mention my experiences with Robert McKee... and one of the students holds up the book on his desk: Story, by Robert McKee.
I say wow, everyone else says the Korean equivalent of wow. The man next to me,
Chui Shin is involved with a Korean VR festival.He gives me some bread as he is talking to the students and says "wow" a lot. He says I'm an angel; I say no but the students say yes. Anyway, I head toward the bathroom but come back one minute later... with an angel.

So, then, five minutes after the VR/angel incident...who comes by but Leonard Maltin, whom I do not know. But he's in a great mood and there is a friendly little crowd and we end up getting our photos taken with him. Only later did I learn who he is.

MUKASHI MUKASHI NIHON NI SUNDEMASHITA!


W
W + Bubiko

So... for quite a few years, I have wanted to write about the cover of the Soldier album, by Iggy Pop. It is a gem, a stick of dynamite made of stencils and spray paint. He's wearing wild eyeliner and a tee shirt. Every time I searched for information related to that studio shot, the trail led to a video of Dogfood on Youtube. I write about photography; and that cover, shot in 1979, is spectacular on many levels: technique, the times and everything else. I wanted to research and do a blog post about it. I'd research this topic every few years.

So... we're standing on the corner on a beautiful Sunday morning, our plan being to go to the Samsung exhibition again. Mari Goround stops and points to a sign. It is a talk about "screens"(video here), with a collection of VR projects upstairs. The venue is the beautiful hotel right in front of us. We go in. It starts in five minutes. Open bar. We mingle. The speakers are all experts and I am excited that we have discovered this. It starts. One of the speakers, right off the bat, says his name and that he did the art direction for the Soldier album by Iggy Pop. His name is Alex McDowell. A very big deal in Hollywood (Minority Report, Fight Club +++) he is now BUILDING WORLDS. But yeah...Soldier.

Quiet and small in public, a huge force in my life: Sayuri Okayama

Stephen Black with Barry Black, Chief Scientist at Black Ranger Software.
We connected immediately, even before we discovered we share the same last name. Barry told me that he'd traced the history of the Blacks, and got as far back as Belgium. I looked at a basic genealogy map once, and saw that there are/were Blacks on both sides of the Irish Sea.
Regardless of my past, I am very thankful for the present, and excited about the future.

Stephen Black projects.

Recent Bubiko projects, including the MIT talk

I discovered the photographer who shot the cover of Soldier.

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.

10BK: TEN BUBIKO FOODTOUR VR MOVIES FOR $20K


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

10BK + "Bubiko Power"+ Funding= Increased Number of Casual VR Users + $

A VR gamer, trying to justify buying a new headset to his non-gaming partner:

“Hey nongaming partner, you should watch this. It’s like a cartoon, about a little chef and gluten-free desserts from Singapore. Really good, and it’s only a minute long.”

The 10BK movies will make money, create buzz for VR, succeed in 2D markets, and attract food and travel sponsors who will fund the next Bubiko Foodtour VR Project.

Bubiko Foodtour is the star of an embryonic empire. Less than a year old, she has two book projects, appeared at universities like MIT and HK PolyU, co-starred in a game demo with Green Bean Boy and will soon be in an AR game developed by UARexplorer.

Based on great storytelling and creative direction, each 10BK VR experience is different, but all are educational and fun explorations of food culture.

Directed and written by Stephen Black.

Creative direction/research Sayuri Okayama.

Postproduction Consultant: Stuart Rankin (Six Cat Studios, former chief editor for Cartoon Network, CNN)

Audio Consultant: Marc Ursell (5x nominated, 3X winner Grammy awards)

Bubiko is now being made in 3D by Novaby.

A fun movie idea can be found here.

Green Bean Boy, by Dominique Wu and Bubiko Foodtour have tea time
Image from game demo by Dominique Wu and Michael Stragey.
Bubiko Foodtour
A guide to the food of Shenzhen

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...

Lotus Mountain

Latest info about Lotus Mountain here.

Based on Leng Mo, a story from Alphabet Spikes by bestselling author Stephen Black.

LOTUS MOUNTAIN

a Weiblack Machine Production

A 360VR FILM

NOW IN PRODUCTION/POSTPRODUCTION

SET IN HONG KONG & CHINA’S SILICON VALLEY

REUNITED, FIVE YEARS AFTER HE BROKE HER HEART.

SHE’S A ROBOT. HE’S THE MAN WHO MADE HER.

Directed by LEO WEI and STEPHEN BLACK (Shenzhen Satellite TV, Beach Road, CNN, Fox, Cartoon Network, game development)

Featuring ALPS BETHNECK

Lead Actor: Changi Murals (director: Boo Jun Feng; his Apprentice film premiered@Cannes 2016)

Beach Road (VR festivals: Singapore, Brisbane & Las Vegas)

Original soundtrack by REI SHIMIZU

Japanese Bassist/Composer for CM/movies(toured HK with Sadato)

with Music by

3how

Since You’ve been Gone

The Riverwalk Session Album (featuring Amith Narayan(compoer/producer + music for a Tony-nominated play) and award winning vocalist Wilson Goh.)

Audio 360 sound mixing by Giovanni Lion

VR Art by SCOBOT (World One: Seattle International Film Festival 2018 Official Selection)

Producers: Leo Wei and Stephen Black

blacksteps.tv@gmail.com

www.blacksteps.tv

the art of wall clouding

WOAH!... I made a big mistake...if you received a piece of paper at me from SXSW , this is the link you might be interested in. http://www.blacksteps.tv/wall-clouding/

 

Jetlag and an hour at the Snapchat Lounge are factors in this mistake. I accept full responsibility.

onwARd!

 

Stephen Black

你好深圳:
我希望与想要推广或复制Bubiko;对我的书籍或AR软件感兴趣的个人和公司会面。
谢谢!

斯蒂芬布莱克

Hello Shenzhen.

 

I hope to meet individual or companies that would like to bundle or copy Bubiko or my books or AR software.

 

THANK YOU,

 

Stephen Black

 

wechat: BubikoFoodtour

 

Bubiko on Instagram

Bubiko Scrapbook

My books.

From my AR presentations at HK Poly.

Collection of VR posts

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.

Stairway to VR

From the AR, VR and Every R in Between event, part of the 2018 Maker Faire at Hong Kong Polytechnic This was a test by Stephen Black using the Kandao QooCam.

I wanted to experiment with the camera on the top of my head; will edit the awkward beginning and end later.

I will write about this in ALPHABET SPIKES.

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

(If you are interested in cosplay, you may like these photos from the SXSW 2019 event.) 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.