Tag Archives: Stephen Black

Steve’s VR Startup

I began working with VR in 2002, with a software development kit for children, the CDK. The Creative Development Kit allowed inexperienced children AND serious game developers to create games and projects, using our models and commands. The CDK was studied by the Singaporean Ministry of Education and used in schools throughout Singapore, as well as in the Singapore Science Center.  I took a hiatus from VR to write books, one of which has become a best seller in Singapore. I also  began research f0r a book on digital cinematography/VR/art, co-produced/curated SPOKEN, a virtual gallery with Eugene Soh and wrote/co-produced/starred in a 360 short film called Beach Road. In the middle of 2016, I decided that the time was right for my VR ideas. This blog is filled with posts about research , seminars, meetings etc. I am now refining my pitchdeck for presentation to investors/VCs. I would prefer to bootstrap, but for this company, at this time, that is a challenge that would seem to take a long time to solve.
................... Here are the basic questions investors want answered: What is it? What problem does it solve? Who is making it? Potential audience? What work has been done? How will it grow? Business projections Resources needed Reference Schedule Describe yourself Skills Here is what I can share publicly at this time. Potential audience? One billion (yes, that is a 'b') What work has been done? Extensive pre-production  including: research, research research, paper mockup, paper grey box mockup, troubleshooting  bootcamp with trusted associates, started theoretical command sequences for programmers, UI design(fonts, layout color patterns) How will it grow? I have compiled a list of personal connections and carefully selected industry leaders (mainly bloggers and journalists). These people would form a base for testing. Additionally, when the time is right, a press release will be sent to the VR media and notification give to VR social media groups. The user base will grow through these channels as well as through word of mouth. Other methods of promotion have been planned. In addition to meeting a need, the project is fun to use. Though the project is simple and functional, the user experience will feel like the best parts of a five star restaurant, Cirque Soleil and driving a Ferrari. Business projections: Huge If you would like to know more or be a beta tester, feel free to get in touch. Onward!   SB      

Stephen Black: VR startup in Singapore. Why?

An outline of reasons as to why Singapore is the place for Stephen Black's planned  VR startup.
  1. As Creative Director/Producer for the CDK, a CG-generated VR project for a Singapore-based joint venture, SB became very familiar with Singapore's working environment, including government policies and business practices. (The CDK is described more fully elsewhere on this blog.)
  2. As a long-term resident based in Singapore since 2002, and the author of a bestselling book about Singapore (i ate tiong bahru), SB has a familiarity with Singapore as well as a personal and professional network.
  3. The government of Singapore provides support for VR and VR-related startups. https://www.spring.gov.sg/Nurturing-Startups/SEEDS/Pages/spring-start-up-enterprise-development-scheme.aspx VR in Singapore
  4. As a teacher of VR-related educational software in the Singapore educational system, SB has experience "in the trenches", regarding the demands of institutions, schools, teachers and students. The Singapore Ministry of successfully tested the CDK and  presented the results at an international educational symposium.
  5. Singapore is a regional hub, with strong connections throughout Southeast Asia,India, China and Japan. This fact, combined with SB's living experiences in Japan, Hong Kong, Paris, New York and Bali create a strong  possibility for an active beta network that will be an influential force for global take-up.
    two male avatars in a very red gallery

    Stephen Black and Eugene Soh in the virtual lobby of gallery.sg, the location for the SPOKEN exhibition

    6. Safe and stable, Singapore has trustworthy legal and business infrastructures. 7. English: yes! Other languages? Yes, yes, yes and yes! 8.Singapore's multicultural population is also very smartphone savvy.
     

Year of the Rooster things to do

(image by David Severn) The Art/VR startup idea...the time is now! The  Tiong Bahru Mouth the book , the photos, the haikus,  the videos. The Tiong Bahru Market is closing for three months at the end of February. Seems like that would be a punctuation mark of some sort. The i ate tiong bahru audiobook is now being checked by Amazon. The iatb glasses were successfully crowdfunded. So was the design for the Tiong Bahru poster. I ate Tiong Bahru, the book itself, is due for a second printing...   priest painting the skyI Ate Tiong Bahru Audiobook Really...this could go live any day!ArtReview Asia review of IATBcover of Artreview AsiaVoicemaps I have Tiong Bahru mapped out... Bali Wave Ghost After three years+ of doing the starving artist thing,it's time to work on the net net and synergize so as to secure maximum ROI.(that was written last year also, on another blog post. Have not done marketing.. no sales action.)Bali Wave Ghost in a Periplus bookstoreSPOKEN I wrote the following last year, and it has received attention, should receive more... SPOKEN needs to increase its audience...it really is an incredible piece of work :a virtual gallery built by Eugene Soh and filled with contributions from an extremely diverse collection of artists and writers. two male avatars in a very red gallery And these two projects, carry overs from last year. Hopefully by midyear, they can be picked up again...INSEIN Last year, I  spent almost ten days in Yangon. I created images with a digital camera. I would like to exhibit them and create a book.The images use Yangon as a starting point...airline map sing to RangoonI Ate LaPhet Thoke Conceptual art meets culinary research. A booklet co-created with Sayuri Okayama.IMG_3604 la phet thoke in styrofoam w Joe 19th stBeach Road This 360VR movie will hopefully continue to attract viewers. 360 video still from Beach Road Towards a New Cinematography, the book, has been plodding along. I hope it will plod faster.AND I WANT TO SPEND TIME WITH MY MOM AND DAD AND BROTHER AND DAUGHTER!

stephen black start up

Two hundred percent. Ten thousand percent. Whatever it takes.... I am finalizing a pitch deck now and calmly, but urgently, looking for a Unity/C# person who works hard and dreams harder. VR and more. NOW.

Tiong Bahru Mouth: Tiong Bahru Teochew Kueh

Cinematography 8.0:VR (best of blog posts 2016) part 3

the previous post:
Cinematography 8.0: VR (best of blog posts, 2016)part 2
Five things I Learned on my first 360 VR shoot: Pioneer/avante-garde/visionary… flop!?
Five things I Learned on my first 360 VR shoot: just because you can…
Five things I learned on my first 360 VR shoot: The Director is Blind
 
Beach Road short film (360 video)
Five things I learned on my first 360 VR shoot: Bobsledding vs. Skateboarding
360 Videography: What would Matisse do?
the first name for Beach Road was Wall Clouding...
Wall Clouding
Wall Clouding preproduction notes
Angelic Visions Notes
cinematography_cover_221116_576_1024_v3
Immersive Environments/VR: Notes on Art and Cinematography
SPOKEN Machinima Notes
SB & 3D (Why I’m excited to be in Eugene Soh’s virtual gallery project)
SPOKEN (virtual art gallery and writing project)
               

Cinematography 8.0: VR (best of blog posts, 2016)part 2

Continued from Part 1....
Responses to the Peter Rubin/Wired article: “Inside Story of How Oculus Cracked the Impossible Design of VR”
Eight thoughts on The Displaced, a VR project by the New York Times
Norm Black VR exhibition notes
Norm Black: Before
A typical conversation (perhaps) about VR, circa 2015
Virtual Reality for Beginners/Simple Chart/Designer Project
Beach Road 360 VR short film PRESS RELEASE
Five things I Learned on my first 360 VR shoot:Ready for my close-up. NOT!
On to part 3!          

Cinematography 8.0: VR (best of blog posts, 2016)part 1

Cinematography 8.0: light and motion in the age of VR, AR, AI, 4K, 8K, AI and drones... the name of the book I am working on. The experiences and information in these posts will shape the book. Comments and questions are always welcome. Please note that the book will consist of two parts: Philosophy and Compendium. The Philosophy section will be theoretical, poetic and hopefully a source of inspiration. The Compendium consists, in part, of descriptions and explanations. In a very open and transparent sense, they can be paid pieces of content, as long as the subject is related to the topic. In the crowdfunding campaign these will be available as rewards. If you would like to discuss this before the campaign begins, get in touch. The pricing structure will be very flexible and besides writing about companies, softwares, aps and products, I would enjoy writing about a VR artwork , film or project that may not have budget. THANK YOU... And now, ladies and gentlemen, ... the blog posts you have all been waiting for! http://www.blacksteps.tv/stephen-black-vr-art-books-and-singapore/ (Hey, who's driving this thing?) http://www.blacksteps.tv/riffs-on-vives-vr-development-bootcamp-at-digipen-part-1/ (If you know nothing about VR content, take a few weeks and really go over this. If you have been making VR content, especially CG-generated, this is a great review of state of the art in 2016.) http://www.blacksteps.tv/riffs-on-viveasiavrs-vr-development-bootcamp-at-digipen-part-2/ (see above) http://www.blacksteps.tv/cinematography-8-0-light-and-motion-in-the-age-of-vr-360-4k-8kar-ai-cg-and-drones/ ( A bit about the book) http://www.blacksteps.tv/he-once-hitchhiked-morning-chat-with-reed-hastings-ceo-netflix-disruption-culture-people-and-leadership/ (Netflix, obviously, are but one of the millions of companies that benefit from the art of cinemotography.) http://www.blacksteps.tv/facebook-livewhat-would-andy-warhol-do/ http://www.blacksteps.tv/notes-on-my-first-two-facebook-live-shoots/ http://www.blacksteps.tv/vr-what-would-picasso-do-notes-and-links/ http://www.blacksteps.tv/what-should-the-new-york-times-sound-like/ http://www.blacksteps.tv/aspects-of-vr-in-bali-wave-ghost-the-novel-by-stephen-black/ http://www.blacksteps.tv/mee-young-photography-project-internal-logic/ http://www.blacksteps.tv/the-cinematography-booknotes-and-eugene-soh/ http://www.blacksteps.tv/the-cinematography-booknotes-and-a-reviewer/ http://www.blacksteps.tv/kind-of-the-vr-state-of-the-union-as-of-march-30-2016-part-1-of-2/ (Things change so much and I became so busy that writing the second part didn't happen) END OF PART 1 PART 2 IS HERE          

Stephen Black: VR, Art, Books and Singapore

This blog post chronicles some of the activities I have been involved with since 2002, when I began being based in Singapore. Previous to 2002, I lived in Manhattan,Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong.I have a BFA degree in Photographic Illustration from the Rochester Institute of Technology, with a minor in Film and Video and have been employed by companies such as Fuji TV, Cartoon Network, Fox, MTV, France 2 and Turner Classic Movies. I have directed, created promos and written scripts in addition to my activities as a photographer, artist and writer. 2002-2007 Creative Director, Producer, Cameraman, Instructor and Writer for WalkerAsia/Compudia/Blacksteps This story is quite cinematic but to simplify, the CEO who was the guiding force of WalkerAsia and  Compudia passed away unexpectedly, without a succession plan in place. The business plan of WalkerAsia was to be something like Youtube--but at the time we were unaware of Youtube, as it began 3 years later, in 2005.The business plan of Compudia was to create a platform that included email, chat, character licensing and a very very powerful educational/gaming SDK that was both simple enough for inexperienced children and advanced enough for professional game designers. CDK Landing pageI formed Blacksteps to to carry the project forward. However, despite the fact that Compudia had been set up with over $3 million dollars worth of funding and had positive, working relationships with the Singapore Ministry of Education, the Singapore Science Center  and other Singapore agencies, as well as the beginning of public acceptance, issues surrounding the IP made further successes impossible. I then decided to spend more time with art and began writing books-- a lifelong dream of mine. (My father was a book salesman.) I was certain I would return to VR once mobile technology stabilized and VR headsets were finally accessible to the public. Details about the books I wrote can be found elsewhere on this blog. The titles include: The Agaricus blazeii Murrill Notebook, Obama Search Words, Furikake, Contact With Shadow, Bali Wave Ghost and i ate tiong bahru which is a national bestseller in Singapore. The following projects are VR-related Secret Donut World is a collaboration with David Severn a British artist/resident of Japan. The Secret Donut World characters and the world they live in are designed specifically for VR. We are now reviewing SDW in light of recent stabilized technologies, such as those which made Pokemon Go and Job Simulator possible. We are preparing materials for partnerships, licensing and investors.
lance from Secret Donut World

Flame Magnet is go! Art by David Severn

SPOKEN www.gallery.sg Inside of a virtual gallery(Unity) built by Eugene Soh are a number of works which I curated. There was also a writing component. Participants were from all over the world, some very famous, some not. More details can be found on this blog.   Cinematography 8.0 light and motion in the age of VR, AR, AI, 360, 8K and drones is the title of a book work in progress. Information is available elsewhere on this blog.cinematography_cover_221116_576_1024_v3   3how: the Riverwalk Session As co-founder of 3how, I am fortunate to work with exceptionally talented people of all kinds. The musicianship on this album is outstanding and the recording technique provided valuable experience for future audio projects, VR included.
a circle with veins

3how: a table in front of a wall

Lee Wen: Ping Pong Go Round and Seasons Without Seasons Although SWS is not 360, the idea of 360 space was one of the concerns while shooting and editing Beach Road Produced with Hiverlab, this short film was featured at the 2015 Brisbane Film Festival and nominated for Best Experimental Film at the 2016 Las Vegas VR Fest.
360 video still

Stephen Black sits in a parking lot. Image is in 360. Beach Road is a coproduction between Stephen Black and hiverlab

Norm Black was the name of a photo exhibition and the public debut of Beach Road. 3how performed. 2015 ay4ya-woman-with-vr-goggles The Sudden VR Fest at Ay4ya art space at Isetan, Wisma Atria, Singapore.2016 Informal and full of surprises, the Sudden VR Fest was organized by Stephen Black and included the participation of Hiverlab, Lionel Chok/ImmersivelyPicture Perfect Productions,  Jo Joshua/Viziofly and Aram Pan. Related post:  http://www.blacksteps.tv/the-2016-sudden-vr-festival-360-videos-on-youtube/ jo-joshua-at-the-sudden-vr-festival   w-lionel-chok-at-isetan jo-joshua-pointing-at-jane-the-sudden-vr-festival  

Riffs on Vive/AsiaVR’s VR Development Bootcamp at DigiPen (part 2)

Part  1 of this post is here, and includes the list of presenters as well as links to their companies, topics, etc. If you are interested in VR, I would also like to let you know about a book I have been working on: you can be part of it! Thanks again to Vive and AsiaVR for putting together such an inspiring event! OK, again, these notes are in no particular, and in some cases I am just sharing fragmented thoughts and or links. The Nvidia Funhouse was introduced by  Delia Hou, nVidia , in her presentation entitled NVIDIA  VR Works: Accelerating and Enhancing VR Experiences. I was captivated and took few notes. This article from GEforce, however, summarizes what Funhouse is and talks about the back end. A brief description of Funhouse, from Youtube:

NVIDIA VR Funhouse highlights what NVIDIA Pascal-based GeForce GTX 1080 GPUs can do for VR. Built using Epic's UE4, VR Funhouse brings a new level of immersion to VR by enhancing what you see, hear and touch through a combination of great graphics, fully interactive audio and simulated physics.(the red coloring is my doing; I want to emphasize this...) As for the following clip, I reluctantly have to say that, as one who has produced hundreds of promos, this one falls short...)

Now...this video has got the FUNHOUSE HEAT! Finally, from The Verge:

Nvidia's VR Funhouse is a tech demo to test your PC's limits

Another presenter was Martin Eklund, from Space Plunge. Part of his presentation was about GPU-coding for animation and certain effects, but the highlight for me was Art Plunge, which is now in a Kickstarter  campaign. Douglas Lee, from Fantahorn Studio (HTC Vive)shared his experiences in VR Game Development Related articles: VR and game development is not a grocery store by Joe Radak on Medium) An Engadget article on a Breakdown on the costs of Character Development, by Jessica Conditt Weiging, from HTC Vive, gave a presentation on the New Era of VR Another presentation: Asset Creation Process for Front Defense. By Ethan Tsao, Fantahorn Studio Vive X, the Accelerator Program. Discovered this...(ultimate empathy machine?NOT!) Joe McGinn, from DigiPen Institute of Technology, shared insights into  Presence in VR. "Presence" is what it is all about. Immersion. The technical side must become so good that it is invisible. One glitch, one dropped frame and the illusion vanishes. Joe's talk highlighted ways to put the "real" into virtual reality. A TechCrunch article on Presence I would like to deeply thank all of the presenters and the organizers. Starting from 2002 I was deeply involved with VR, gamememaking and educational uses of VR. In 2007, because of unforeseen circumstances with the company that I was employed with, as well as new opportunities, I shifted my focus to art and writing. The Kindle (a device built by a megacompany; a device dedicated to only ebooks!) was launched in 2007 and with it, my book writing began. I've since written five books, including a Singaporean bestseller. My plan was to wait until mobile had stabilized and VR  was almost ready for mass adoption..and here we are! This bootcamp brought me up to speed. Some things haven't changed:  although computational power has increased,  graphics are still a challenge. I was thrilled to discover, with an open mind, the state of physics engines and haptics. Now we have HMDs and hand controllers! WOW!.......It's 2017... I have characters, artworks and ideas for VR experiences and am more than ready to help define VR cinema... Let's go! SB vr-haptic-demo