Constructing a 3D Storyboard – Contours of Stories

A Contour Map

By: Heero Yuy

In my previous post I presented the idea that Vonnegut’s Shapes of Stories needed an update. Video below will get you up to speed on the concept of Shapes of Stories.

I watched Casey Neistat’s videos because I found [VR 360] to be fascinating and that that particular space is the future of ALL popular video as more VR headsets get distributed to the general public.

This particular video from Casey is his guide to Film Making which I thought was fascinating:

What drives everything as Casey says is this:

Story is the center of Film Making, period.

So stories should flow and engage the audience!

In the attempt to rent out my house, and having no real bidders for the past few months, I’ve resolved to DIY. Last night, I went and purchased a Samsung Gear 360 from Best Buy after they price matched the linked price of $273.00! (Was going to get taxed either way so I went to Best Buy to pick it up instead of waiting)

A buddy of mine, Clay, was fascinated about the new dimensions that VR brings to the table in the history of cinematography. This is shooting color when everyone else shot black and white. This is shooting with sound when everyone else produced silent films. This is it! My challenge to Clay and others is to do a daily VRLog (Virtual Reality Video Blog) of 2-5mins to enhance storytelling and give the audience something cool to think about while being visually inspired. Most of my friends find [VR 360] to be comical at best and don’t really get it. When this becomes the standard, others will look back at on this post will think it was obvious where they are currently oblivious.

Why am I bringing up the Shapes of Stories and [VR 360] at the same time? Well… to tell a multidimensional story, one needs to utilize a multidimensional storytelling equipment such as the Samsung Gear 360! It only feels appropriate the give the audience that added layer of infinite degrees of freedom and option to rewind and re-watch the story to get infinite different angles and perspectives as the narrator moves through each scene. Watching a 2D movie would give you only one universal angle and infinite interpretations where as a [VR 360] film provides infinite angles and interpretations.

Before I start to manually analyze this idea of 3D Shapes of Stories, or Contours of Stories (sounds better), I need to formalize the system by which we talk about Contours of Stories.

There are Three Dimensions to any Story (which makes up our Axis for x-y-z planes):

  1. Time
  2. Fortune
  3. Practicality

We can assign ranges to describe each so that we know the beginning and end as well as the degree of Fortune (Misfortune) and Practicality (Theoretical).

  1. Time (A-Z; 26 Letters with A the beginning and Z the end)
  2. Fortune (0-10; 0 being total devastation and 10 being absolutely blessed and 5 being neutral)
  3. Practicality (1-5; 1 being Theoretical [Impractical] and 5 being Very Pragmatic [Practical] and 3 being neutral)

Some storytelling can jump back and forth chronologically so letters can be repeated. The sequence of referring to all three dimensions is


i.e. (3A5) which stands for neutral practical, start of story, and neutral fortune.

The first number will always refer to Practicality and the last will always refer to Fortune. The last number of Fortune can have up to two digits and the first letter will only be single digit. Memory cue is you can always be MORE Fortunate than being simply being Practical (Fortune can have extra digit).

I will put this idea to practice as I execute my storyboard and advertise my home for rent. Let’s see how this project turns out! 🙂 Hopefully I can get some buy-in from Casey on these ideas and more so that my first ever [VR 360] project can be a success. Wish me luck!

How to Rent out a Home – [VR 360] Vonnegut Contour of Stories Style!

3D Shapes of Stories – Spicing up a Classic Idea from Vonnegut

By: Heero Yuy

Kurt Vonnegut’s Shapes of Stories (Harvard Business Review) deals with the Axis of Time and Fortune. This is the audience or the reader’s perceived feeling as the story unfolds. In the story itself the actual character deals with internal and external conflicts where he or she has to apply theoretical or applied solutions in resolving each conflict to move onto the next milestone.

Imagine the following as the 3-Dimensional Shapes of Stories.

No automatic alt text available.

The Labels of the X, Y, and Z Axis:

  • X-Axis: Time
  • Y-Axis: Theoretical for Y>0, Applied for Y<0
  • Z-Axis: Fortune Z>0, Misfortune Z<0 (Perceived)

Most telling of stories deals with the mental aspect on how characters overcome obstacles using a combination of the Y-Axis to yield the items on the Z-Axis while the X-Axis constantly moves from 0 (beginning) to 100 (end). Datamining various stories (MIT Technology Review), lines plotted in 3D, based on the above axis would yield contours of stories not simply plots to give story telling of humans true shapes.

I am sure there are infinite Axis that can be added onto the general X-Axis of time such as:

  • Character’s emotional response to Z-Axis
  • Accumulation, or not, of knowledge or wisdom
  • Change, or not, of each character
  • Etc

Generally speaking, the audience is most in tune with the How and Why the character managed to shift or remain stagnant on the Z-Axis. Why makes the story interesting to read and the How is explained by the Y-Axis.

This is the 3-Dimensional update to Kurt Vonnegut’s 2-Dimensional Shapes of Stories.

Experiences – Learning from Others

By: Heero Yuy


A Chinese Philosopher named Lao Tzu (老子) once wrote:

“Without going outside, you may know the whole world.

Without looking through the window, you may see the ways of heaven.
The farther you go, the less you know.

Thus the sage knows without travelling;
He sees without looking;
He works without doing.”
– Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – chapter 47


Asians are known to be the geeky bookworm type and this quote gives a good reason for this hypothesis! There is a wealth of content that can be extracted from the wisdom of the Ancient Chinese Philosophies. A lot can be learned from the experiences of others either living or dead, captured in writing, seen in a video, or heard from radio/audiobook/conversations.

Watching UFC Champion Conor McGregor speak about MMA training during an interview I noticed he placed a huge emphasis on sparing and training working on the precision of his strikes and training the mind. He said this is upgrading the “software” to his “hardware” which is his body. You don’t necessarily NEED to be beaten to a pulp in order to learn how to fight! There are smarter and better ways to get the same if not better training if you know how to upgrade your software.

In the military we drill and train to fight. This repetitive discipline keeps us very sharp and ready to respond to various scenarios effortlessly so that we can smoothly carry out the mission with minimum mistakes. This quote from the post-war debrief of a German General captures the spirit of training:

“The reason the American Army does so well in wartime, is that war is chaos, and the American Army practices it on a daily basis.”

As individuals, we also can find a lot of life’s intricate answers through self reflection rather than seeking out the advice of gurus who found the same solutions by doing the same introspective meditation by themselves. When you find out this truth for yourself it is many folds more rewarding than getting it regurgitated from others. Once the veil comes off, pharisees abolished, and truth liberated we can seek the direct path to our own truths through meditating and using critical thinking.

Society is filled with the concept of outsourcing everything to increase margins. On the subject of self development and reflection we can benefit greatly from the practice of insourcing. For every solution found externally must be internalized for any change to take place and solutions found by oneself within is one step closer to attaining a better direction for life.

Before asking what would XYZ Guru/Person do next time simply ask:

What would YOU do?
What can YOU do?

Then go out and find the answers from within.

Market Making – Salesman and the Modern World

By: Heero Yuy


The other name that we best know for Market Makers is “Middle Man.” Someone steps in the middle to broker (make the deal happen) any particular business transaction of a service or product. Market Making is the business of these Market Makers or “Middle Man” in attempts to provide that product or service to other individuals.

A real estate agent/broker for instance makes a market for those who are looking to buy or sell a home. They do this for a set percentage (%) of the value of the Real Estate being sold and this commission is charged to the seller of the home to be split between the two respective agents (buyer and seller agents).

i.e. A 6% commission split down the middle (3%/3% for buyer/seller agent) for a house sold at $400,000 comes out to a payday of $12,000 for each realtor. On a house that’s worth $2.4 million the same 6% commission for a 3%/3% split would come out to be about $72,000 for EACH realtor!

Key take away from the above example is that the higher dollar item you buy or sell, the larger the commission. Obviously, there is a higher chance of selling more houses at $400,000 vs houses at $2.4 million. Relative success of the Market Makers depend on the volume of goods they sell at a respectable price point and the commission structure for doing the business.

In the stock market the Market Maker buys stock from clients who are looking to sell and then sells stock to clients who are looking to buy. Much of this is done by machines these days but the bid-ask spread is how a stockbroker makes a living. The difference between the buy and sell price is the commission that the stockbroker makes on top of the flat commission fee charged for a buy or sell transaction OR they have a commission per share structure. This topic is explored in many popular culture movies such as:

Bankers are simply buyers (Hedge Funds, Private Equity, Venture Capital) and sellers (Investment Banking – think IPO) of business and institutions and it’s credit and debts. For further reading on market making in the stock market please reference Max Dama on Automated Trading. Max works as a low latency algorithmic trader now at Headlands Technologies in Chicago. His piece on automated trading elegantly explains all markets and leads the reader through the history of markets from ancient Bazaars to the modern day algorithmic battlefields of Wall Street.

In inventory control they talk about market making in terms of turnover rates and throughput rates in a manufacturing or warehousing setting. All the pieces that makes the market can be machines (conveyor systems, forklifts, etc) or human operators that puts items into boxes for shipments. In the military it is about: How many rounds can you get down range, how many hits on target, and how fast can you take down the enemy force? Our entire economy depends on this life-cycle of brokering different products or services to different markets at the right price for a fee. Market Makers are essentially salesman. Apple sells phones, Tesla sells cars, celebrities through the canvas of film sell dreams.

Let’s follow that last analogy of being a salesman. Sales has a negative connotation in society because we think about used car dealers or door to door sales man when we hear the word salesman. However, people who sell enterprise software ($200k+ salary), medical devices ($150k+), high-end car ($150-300k), real estate agents ($100k+), and commercial machinery ($100k+) are also considered salesman. What other individuals can be counted in this category of salesman?

Most of us are lead to believe that we have to go to college in order to make a decent wage, then get a Masters (MBA, MS, etc), Doctorate (PhD), become a Doctor (MD) or Lawyer (JD) in order to become successful and revered in life. The product here are the varying levels of degrees/education, the pushers (advertisers and promoters) being journalists that review and rank the relative prestige of these schools, teachers who tell (sell) students this idea as the true path to financial well-being, parents who promote the ideologies of the teacher and journalist as it is well known to them, financial institutions and Federal government handing out money with interest (Student loans) to make this market happen, and then the individual student being shuffled through this assembly line(s) on his or her way to worldly success.

How important we are is gauged by our relative success in how we navigate through this multi-layered market making process and what value society assigns us for our efforts ($/hr, salary/year, etc). Teacher sells ideas and dreams, journalists sell schools and products or services related to the school finding and admissions process, financial institutions and the Government sells student loans (debt), and we as individuals buy it all up with the hope of paying off all the principal, fees, and interest associated with taking this (long) position in the educational process. The (monopolistic) market is made.

We can find salesman or Market Makers in all walks of life using the above vantage point. The priests sell salvation thru religious texts, the rapper sells music, the mechanic sells services, airlines sell tickets for individuals on travel, Sporting events sells entertainment, Social-media sells clout and social acceptance, the news and media sells fear, etc. This can ONLY happen if there is some significant financial upside for the Market Makers. If there were none then we would go back to a non-Capitalistic society that involves clubbing people on the head to eat their lunch (sarcasm).

“Anything worth doing is worth doing for a buck” – Gordon Gekko, Wall Street (1987) 

This post explains broadly the process of Market Making and Market Makers. It is crucial to understand this concept as you read future posts so that you can track who is the winner and loser of each transaction (trade) and how much risk each party takes on for doing (brokering) the deal. Knowing the background information on how markets are made will allow you to make better decisions, financially and otherwise, so that you know how to come out on top more times than getting the short-end of the stick! (Positive expected returns or Alpha)