BAN JIN BA LIANG (《半斤八兩》), Magic Dumpling Entertainment’s animated Chinese stone lion buddy comedy and Disney’s first Chinese TV co-production, is now China Central Television’s #1 children’s program, topping the ratings on CCTV14. In reflecting upon the trials, tribulations and ultimate success of the show, I come back to three key factors: people, process and perseverance… (full article on AWN)
360 view: http://vr8.tv/88/3F1840
Earlier this month, immersive content development took an experimental step forward with China’s first improvisational VR “table read” on the interactive cinematic VR short film, FOUR DISHES AND A SOUP. (full article on AWN)
360 view: http://vr8.tv/88/3F187D
Thanks to Toony Wu and the talented team at Jelly Monster in Beijing for hosting an iAVRrc salon yesterday afternoon, featuring my presentation on “The Art of Indirection”, and a few words from Nokia’s Jill Smolin on the creative potential of the OZO virtual reality camera.
Thanks to Asa Butcher, Senior Editor at gbtimes, for his article on the inception and development of BAN JIN BA LIANG, Disney’s first Chinese TV co-production.
(A seven-year odyssey comes to fruition as Disney’s first original Chinese TV co-production.)
This week, I’m taking a break from virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality to talk about actual reality: Chinese stone lions are alive!
A “seven-year itch” was finally scratched as I watched the premiere of Ban Jin Ba Liang (半斤八兩 in Mandarin, which loosely translates to “tweedledum and tweedledee”) January 16th, 2016 on China’s Dragon TV channel. In 2009, Wen Feng, Yi Yan and I had the crazy idea to make a buddy comedy about Chinese stone lions. Initial development was bootstrapped by our Beijing-based content company Magic Dumpling Entertainment under the working title Stone Cold Lion, featuring our hearty heroes Chip and Nick.
My career in the arts and entertainment has taken me to a number of unexpected places, from The Walt Disney Company to China. In my 25+ years in the business, I’ve worked as an artist, animator, technician, teacher, consultant, entrepreneur, producer and executive. People make various assumptions about my educational background when they meet me, but everyone is uniformly surprised to learn that I graduated with a degree in painting.
The Cleveland Institute of Art’s Painting major taught me to conceptualize, visualize and apply myself in freeform creative situations where I had to rely upon my own instincts and inquiry to move forward. The skills I developed are as quantifiable as those from any design program, and have put me in good stead to handle uncertain situations where I not only need to come up with good solutions but also must determine the real issue. We are increasingly faced with such scenarios in our contemporary, multi-faceted, visually-oriented careers.
The following is a transcript of my presentation on VR storytelling principles, “The Art of Indirection”, delivered on December 1st at the 7th International Conference & Exhibition on Visual Entertainment in Beijing.
I’m here to talk about the development portion of the entertainment workflow, specifically related to virtual reality. My own background focused upon production during the first half of my career, the 12 years I spent with Walt Disney Feature Animation. After moving to China in 2008, I shifted my focus to development. This development work began in traditional areas of film and television – which I have taught here at the Beijing Film Academy – and shifted to virtual reality over the past year.
Virtual reality requires a different way of thinking. I believe you’ve heard this already. There have been great comments made today on this point, not restricted to virtual reality, but related to any new means of storytelling. When Demetri Portelli talked about shooting at 120 frames per second in 4k, he said something obvious, but also easily overlooked: the director needs to think differently about how to direct; the actors need to think differently about how to act; everybody involved in the production chain needs to review their assumptions, to adapt and expand upon what’s possible in the new media environment. This applies to VR as well. It’s easy to bring your preconceptions and old ways of working into play. In this respect – and I’m not the first person to make this observation – the current state of virtual reality is very much like the early days of… (full post on AWN)