Star Wars Hinamatsuri

Star Wars Hinamatsuri by Steve Nagata

March 3rd in Japan is a holiday called Hinamatsuri or Dolls Festival. It’s a holiday where families erect displays in their home for with traditional Japanese dolls reflecting the Imperial court. The dolls an be very pricey and are passed along within the family from mother to daughter often augmenting the collection along the way with more or nicer dolls.
I remember having one of these displays in the house that belonged to my sister. But what do you do if your little girl is more into lightsabers and spaceships than fancy dresses and princesses? (other than receive constant high gives for having the coolest daughter ever)

Well I found a shop in Nihonbashi that has you covered. Cool dolls here from an entirely different Imperial court there are Vaders and troopers with full Samurai armor and what I am sure are laser sword Katana.

But get it fast cause at $4,000 for a 1 meter high Sith Lord Doll I’m sure they will sell out fast!

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Coming soon, the New Tokyo Station

Coming soon, the New Tokyo Station by Steve Nagata

Still scheduled to be completed this year, the renovation work on the Marunouchi side of Tokyo Station is still under way. The new domes over the North and South entrances can now be seen popping up from the scaffolding surrounding the building.

For as long as I have known it, Tokyo Station has been an underground building. The Marunouchi side was a quick post war knock off of the original building and has for all intents and purpose been a condemned building for years. This new renovation is supposed to return the building to its pre war original state. I’m dreaming of a new, but classic design that will add visibility and access to the tracks and bring ye station out of its underground cocoon. Tokyo needs a signature station like Grand Central in New York or Moscow subway station. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to see this landmark rise again in a few months.

Read more on Tokyo station here. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tōkyō_Station

Livestreaming Report: Belgian Beer Weekend

Three days and 26 hours in the can. I’m writing this on the train to my last day live streaming the Belgian Beer Weekend Tokyo event at Roppongi Hills Arena. Just 8 hours left!

Had a very fun trial run this week with my gypsy Internet TV studio. I think I’m liking the name “Studio@stevenagata” for this monster of mismatched parts from my closet, computers and electrical tape. So far no major hiccups, but a few minor technical glitches I’ll have to work on.

The biggest problem so far has been errors on the Roland VR-5 mixer causing some of the saved streams to corrupt on closing. I lost a few bits I had meant to save including a music act that I thought went pretty well. Since we are not archiving online the video, I’m afraid, is lost forever. Will have to run some endurance tests to try and nail down the problem. Otherwise I might look into on off board video recorder like an Atmos Ninja.

It’s been fun to see so many friends stop by the event. Hoping a few more might make it by today. Keeping the stream up can be pretty draining so I wasn’t able to chat much, but hope that today will be a bit lighter as I starting together the hang of things.

The event itself has been super cool. Great bands, good food, 62 types of beer and a crowd expected to top 20,000 for the four days. Early metrics showing we’ll beat that number decisively with online viewers. Super thanks to Akoni KK, Rob Van Nylen and Dean Fujii for bringing me on board for this event. Hope to do more like it in the future (I hear talk of a possible fashion show! (^_^) ). Also big props to ace Cameraman and super geek Joseph Tame for putting in 4x hours over the agreed work and covering all the concerts like a pro.

Definitely stop by if you have time today. It’s really a great atmosphere. Or tune in on the livestream at http://bit.ly/bbw2011. More detailed reports on my studio later *I hope*

Studio Steve

Ok, first of all I need to come up with a better name than that.

Some work recently has given me the chance to play around with higher level AV gear and in typical fashion I kinda got a bit carried away. A couple of years ago, comrade Danny Choo convinced me to give live streaming a shot, Ustream had just published their iPhone app and I had great fun running around Akihabara streaming micro tours.

I’ll be honest. Personally I watch very little on Ustream, and I NEVER watch my own stuff. The jarring motion when I move the iPhone around makes me carsick in about three seconds. But I do see a strong value there if things are done well, and simply put, I love the gadgets.

In the world of content, the combination of real time and video is the tip of the sword, and combining valuable content, modern technology, and logistical planning can create a new level of communication never before seen. Yeah, it’s basically cable access tv spliced onto the Internet, but think about it. Cable access tv spliced to the Internet. The potential to waste time in vain pursuits shared equally with the power to topple governments.

But I digress. What I am really talking about is the opportunity for Steve to play with gear. And Steve likey the toys.

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Invention: Here’s my new wireless camera custom tripod (beta ver)

Just put the finishing touches on my new wireless camera platform. It’s still a bit rough and I know there’s a revision on the way, but it came out surprisingly well for a first draft.

The head is a .3 MP CCD camera attached to a 1.2 ghz wireless transmitter. The antenna for the transmitter makes up the right arm and I threw in an LED lamp for a left arm for balance. Loose cables and a monster 6,800 maH LiOn battery fill the backpack.

Range is a bit of a problem. I think it will reliably transmit about 10 meters with Line of sight, maybe further, but indoors through walls that’s about the limit. I need to work on an improved antenna for the receiver to improve that range.

It’s basically just a webcam on a tripod (an old Gorillapod I had lying around) but I wanted to do something fun with it. It’s pretty fun to put it on a table somewhere and have people say “hi”. I guess future versions can add things like a pivot head and facial recognition, as well as a mobile base to turn it into a full robot, but overall not a bad project with some random parts I had lying around and about $10 in pieces for the body.

What do you think? What does the next draft need?