With Sayuri Okayama, I would like to thank Novaby for doing such a great job in creating the 3D version of Bubiko. The version on display is a work in progress, and already the reception has been very positive.Thank you Novaby!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2018Lotus 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.
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.
2018 Presentations in Shenzhen, including Le Wagon and Tech Crunch Shenzhen.
I'm telling myself that this is a self-portraiture/conceptual art/writing exercise. I do not stand nextto 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.