The New Video King: Facebook (Sorry YouTube)

Michael Data & Graphics, Video April 28, 2016

This genius rapper and YouTuber has been a massive inspiration, an eloquent communicator and has caught my attention time and time again. What’s also becoming interesting to me is that even though YouTube should have been the primary platform for such an amazing artist, yet Facebook has emerged as the new overload on the scoreboard, by a LOT!

The first piece that wowed me was “Dear Future Generations: Sorry” about our need, as a species, to care for the planet and our environment, registering 108 million views on Facebook, and 2.8 million views on YouTube, as of today. (See some more of his awesome pieces at the end of this post)


Here below are the scoreboard tallying YouTube (red) and Facebook (blue) views of some of his videos:

More here… (You can always follow him on Facebook and YouTube)


Ogilvy’s Vertical: Viewing the World Right-side Up Report

Michael Data & Graphics, Video April 27, 2016

An absolute fascinating read and data crunching from Ogilvy & Mather’s social team, with Kristen Rodriguez and Robert John Davis, Executive Director of Strategy for Content and Social. Highlights:

  • Mobile devices will account for 58% of online video watching worldwide in 2017, according to ZenithOptimedia
  • Phones are kept in portrait mode 98% of the time, according to Mobile Marketer
  • 29% of the time Americans spend watching video now occurs vertically, 5% in 2010, KPCB 2015 Internet Trends
  • Vertical content receives completion rates 9x higher than horizontal counterparts, Snapchat
  • Millenials are twice as likely to be focused on video they watch on their mobile devices as they are on video consumed on a TV, Ooyala Global Video Index Q4 2015

Audi – Audi has launched several campaigns using vertical media on Snapchat. In 2015, an Audi campaign around the brand’s involvement in the Le Mans race, a 24-hour race of endurance in France, “delivered a 36 percent video completion rate, which is 80 percent higher than automotive benchmark at Celtra, the ad tech partner on the effort.“ (Mobile Majority). The campaign repurposed TV assets by cropping them to the vertical aspect-ratio while also shortening them to 8-seconds.

Taco Bell – Taco Bell leveraged Snapchat to film a 4-minute short film called “Rush Order” starring Vine and Snapchat influencers during the 2014 MTV Movie Awards to announce the new Doritos Locos Taco. The video achieved 74 million impressions and the brand doubled its number of followers in just one day.

Viacom (below) – For the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, Viacom partnered with Snapchat for a Live Story that drew on content from users who were given exclusive access. In addition to sponsoring the story itself, they also produced four 10-second ads shown during the Live Story. Over 12 million viewers tuned into the content, exceeding actual broadcast viewership of 9.8 million.

Watch: Queen Elizabeth II in Metamorphosis Slideshow

Michael Interactive, Photo, Video April 23, 2016

Happy 90th Birthday to Queen Elizabeth II:

This has been shared over a million times on Facebook and the genius behind it seems to be a popular Facebook group called Slideshow Metamorphosis. Here are other celebrity case studies: Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Adrian Brody, among others… For those interested in their service, here’s what you need to send them:

To order your slideshow you need to send at e-mail: 15-20 pictures, (preferably a close up face shot) and indicate their order, propose your favorite music (or choose from 3 options proposed by us), and write caption text (if needed). Your slideshow will be ready within 7 days. If you have special requirements, please, contact us at

I have mastered another skill just for this trick myself, and it just costs a couple of bucks and you could do the same magic on your iPhone. The app, Motato, is self-claimed “the best face morph app for baby and celebrity!” Here’s what I did:


Watch: Yoyo’s First Piano Recital

Michael Video April 15, 2016

We were really proud that Yoyo picked up his courage and went on stage to perform his recital songs, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “My Invention.”

I did not bring a tripod but managed to stabilize the video and cropped it to a mobile-friendly square box format.



GIF: Urbanization DC and Pearl River Delta

Michael Data & Graphics, Photo, Video March 30, 2016

Watch where urbanization sprawls in and around the U.S.’s capital between 1984 and 2010, via NASA Earth Observatory:

Any surface that water cannot pass through—for instance, rooftops, roads, parking lots, and sidewalks—is considered impervious.

The maps above show the extent of impervious surfaces in 1984 (top) and 2010. Areas with the greatest concentration of impervious surfaces are depicted with dark blue; areas with the lowest concentration of impervious surface areas are white.


Here’s a much more dramatic urbanization case study, China’s Pearl River Delta area, where you can see the rapid development of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan between 1988 and 2014, also thanks to NASA Earth Observatory:


“Think Different” – the Apple Ad

Michael Video March 27, 2016

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.

— Steve Jobs, 1997

Yoyo Piano: Ode to Joy

Michael Audio, Video February 26, 2016

Less than two months into learning the piano, Yoyo has made remarkable progress. Here we proudly present his “Ode to Joy”

PIECE: 2 Numbers in 1 iPhone (the next small thing)

Michael Audio, Interactive, Video February 19, 2016

This is probably the best thing coming out of Hong Kong in a long while, since my teenage years of fascination with Cantonese pop songs.

This little devices holds a sim card and connects to an iPhone and thus enables that iPhone to call/text from two numbers. This isn’t new for many Android-based smartphones in China (as many Chinese have two or more numbers), but it is a first for the Apple fans. The trick is I ordered from Kickstarter last August and only received it over the last few days. So far it works great, and will probably save a lot of hassle when I next go to China (with my local number) by not having to carry a backup iPhone and having to charge two phones every day.


Not only powering a secondary phone number, this device also serves as an alarm for those who are afraid to lose their iPhone, nowadays the indispensable connection to their digital life. Chances are you would carry this credit card-sized gadget in your pocket or purse, if you leave a meeting or meal forgetting about your iPhone, when you walk a few steps away and the devices loses touch with the iPhone, its alarm goes off. See below for the demonstration:

Oh, there’s also a button on this thing that you can remote control your iPhone’s camera, but you need to open up the PIECE app on your iPhone first to use that function.

If you are interested in this product, you can visit their site. (This is not a paid post.)

Gravitational Waves Explained

Michael Film, Video February 14, 2016

Wow, humanity is awesome. Here are some of the great explanations about this major breakthrough, a few video clips (the first TED talk where you could hear the sound of the gravitational waves, starting 7;20-7;44) and a Chinese social post sum-up in a visual way, although I don’t know whether it’s appropriate to embed a real graphic in the end.

Now this below is the juicy part, thanks to a Chinese friend’s WeChat post, which I think explains the discovery of gravitational waves pretty on point:

There was that legendary love-making episode over a billion years ago; a billion years later, we are finally seeing the wrinkled bed sheet.

Lunar New Year at The Met 2016

Michael Video February 7, 2016

The Metropolitan Museum of Art really nails it when it comes to celebrate the Lunar New Year with thousands of families in New York City. It is also an optimal opportunity to check out the unbeaten paths in this gigantic and sometimes disorienting structure. Yet the shows and their awesomeness are totally worth the trip, especially for something that happens just once a year. And the venue attracts pretty much most of the Lunar New Year-related cultural institutions in town. Here below are some of our favorites.

This is some really amazing drum beating from Korea:

Here below is a show opener with lions spitting out calligraphy New Year greetings:

And there was some pro Kung Fu going on too, with this guy whipping his sword with authentic metal-cracking sounds:

And he also did this awe-inspiring superpower-like trick of bending two red-tasseled spears with his throat, just like seen in a Jackie Chan movie:

IMG_9757 copy

Happy Year of the Monkey!

Video: Yoyo Eats Cherries

Michael Video January 30, 2016

Yeah, we’ve done that cute little thing called feeding him cherries by cutting them in half and taking out the stones. Here is Yoyo eating cherries like an adult, almost…

Climate Central: Sea Level Rise Visualized

Michael Interactive, Photo, Video January 23, 2016

Here’s what I write in a recent post on ChinaFile about sea level rise in interactive imagery and maps by Climate Central:

I think a big part of the reason why citizens of the world have not rallied to deal with climate change is the lack of a certain deadline that would warrant our immediate response to the grave consequences of our warming planet. There is no discussion of a specific hurricane or other specific imminent event. As a species we are very good at procrastinating. But Climate Central has published a series of shocking graphics that show the danger of rising sea levels faced by Shanghai, Hong Kong, London, New York, and many other cities.

Here are all the amazing slider images by Climate Central showing how much sea level rises 2C and 4C temperature rises will lock in in the coming centuries, enjoy sliding and playing:

Now here below is one map called “Surging Seas: Mapping Choices” also done by Climate Central. Zoom in and out, drag the map, and many other things to compare the two temperature rise scenarios and what they will do to sea levels and the city streets, in this case Greater New York City area:

Actually, in all the slider interactive images above, you can click/tap the link below each image to see the comparative interactive maps for that location.


Now I’d like to give a big shout out to the visual artist Nickolay Lamm who did the interactive city street images. And his big hit project of late is Lammily, or what a Barbie Doll should really look like in a normal woman:

Here below is what real 2nd-graders in a school in Pittsburgh, PA thinks about Lammily, the normal Barbie doll:

Doc Film “Death By Design” Coming Soon

Michael Film, Video January 7, 2016

A few years in the making, this investigative documentary film explores the unintended environmental, health and social consequences of our addiction to our digital devices. Veteran filmmaker Sue Williams presents the other, ugly side of the electronics industry, which may sound as clean as a biotech lab. I helped with the film as a China producer, and went with a camera to China’s e-waste capital, Guiyu in Guangdong Province.


Death by Design poster

Poster of documentary film “Death By Design” by Sue Williams, for which I was a China producer. Click/Tap for Facebook page.

Web & Video: China Air Daily

Michael Data & Graphics, Film, Photo, Video December 1, 2015

Flying back between Berkeley, CA and Beijing, China on graduate school projects, an idea struck me to record air quality with a picture every day, initially out of a friend’s apartment window. Then that project grew and took roots at Asia Society and now China Air Daily tracks five cities in China and the U.S. on an hourly basis.

Here below are two videos about China’s notorious air pollution issue I produced with Emmy Award winning studio MediaStorm:


Here below is the homepage of the site, a visual record of daily air quality in China and the U.S., featuring Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, New York City and Phoenix:

pic chinaairdaily home

Homepage of China Air Daily, click/tap to visit full site

I write in The Atlantic: A Stunning Visualization of China’s Air Pollution

The debate over whose statistics are most “accurate” can be confusing — how to sort out truth from spin? That’s why a group of us at the Asia Society decided to launch China Air Daily, a website that provides up-to-date information on air pollution in the country’s largest urban sectors, and even compares them to major cities from elsewhere in the world.

I write in Foreign Policy: Watch China’s Silent Assassin in Action

For the past eight years in Beijing, as well as four years spent in other Chinese cities, I have recorded impressions of daily air quality by taking photographs from fixed points. I thought I had seen the worst smog a developing country had to offer — then came the so-called “Airpocalypse” of January 2014. Finally, in March 2014, the Chinese government declared an all-out “war against pollution.” For a few months, as my photo archive suggests, Beijing’s air quality appeared to improve. But this winter, it is getting bad once again:January 15 saw an AQI measurement near 500.

Forbes: How Dirty Are China’s Skies? A Daily Photo Archive Shows The Truth

Air quality improved after the Olympics, and there have been good days since, but why August was this bad is something of a mystery. Trying to get to the bottom of the air-quality-in-China issue is the work of China Air Daily, a web site produced by the Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations. The site is produced by the journalist-programmer Michael Zhao. China Air Daily publishes near-hourly snapshots several times a day. You can see how blue it was for most of March 2011.

Forbes: Asia Society Has Opened Window on China’s Environment

One of its useful devices is the China Air Daily site, which allows Web users to track the sometimes awful state of smog in three Chinese metropolises, as well as two in the U.S.

Last but not least, I blog about the issue on and here are some slides from the blogging:

China Air Watch

#ProjectingChange on Empire State Building

Michael Film, Video August 2, 2015

Recorded on Aug. 1, 2015 from Rooftop @230 Fifth Avenue. The best live experience of an outdoor projection.

By Academy-winning photographer and documentary filmmaker Louis (LouiePsihoyos for his 2015 documentary Racing Extinction. Also see below a projection over the buildings at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, by Obscura Digital: