ETC@USC Posts New vNAB Conference Videos on YouTube

More than 30 videos from the 3rd annual Entertainment Technology Center@USC vNAB Conference are going live for viewing on the ETCenterVideos YouTube channel. This year’s vNAB featured thought leaders and catalysts from the entertainment, consumer electronics, technology, and service industries presenting their insider’s perspective on emerging and disruptive technologies. The talks were recorded March 20-21 at Google’s offices in Venice, California. The vNAB Conference is a prelude to the Next Generation Media Technologies sessions scheduled for the upcoming NAB Show in Las Vegas, April 25-26. Continue reading ETC@USC Posts New vNAB Conference Videos on YouTube

AMC, Discovery, Viacom Mull a Sports-Free Streaming Bundle

Cable programmers such as AMC Networks, Discovery Communications and Viacom find themselves in competition with streaming Internet TV services. Consumers are cutting off expensive pay TV bundles in favor of skinny ones, and streaming services such as YouTube TV and Hulu are among those that pare down the offerings, leaving cable programmers in the lurch. In response, four to six pay TV providers are now in negotiations to create a new online service devoid of sports programming that would cost less than $20 per month.

Continue reading AMC, Discovery, Viacom Mull a Sports-Free Streaming Bundle

Disney Tests Prototype, Pursues Patent for Soft-Bodied Robot

Disney recently submitted a patent application for “a robot that will move and physically interact like an animated character.” The prototype sketch with the application shows a round body similar to the soft-robot character in Disney’s 2014 “Big Hero 6.” Before soft-body robots can be employed at Disney theme parks, the company will have to deal with the issue of robotic interaction safety, since the patent application implies that theme park guests will be able to hug the soft-body characters. Continue reading Disney Tests Prototype, Pursues Patent for Soft-Bodied Robot

Escape Rooms Feed Appetite for More Immersive Experiences

Millennials are paying as much as $50 per hour to be locked in a room that they can only exit by cooperatively solving puzzles. This kind of immersive entertainment has similarities with games, live theater and virtual reality experiences, and is becoming increasingly popular. Among the most notable examples is Sleep No More, a UK immersive theatrical experience that has been a huge hit since it opened in 2011. Director and live experience entrepreneur Michael Counts is making the most of the trend. Continue reading Escape Rooms Feed Appetite for More Immersive Experiences

Netflix Dominance Pushing Studios to Earlier Release Window

Big spending digital players Netflix and Amazon are shaking up traditional TV stalwarts. Netflix is expected to spend $6 billion on original and acquired programming this year, up $1 billion from last year. That figure is five times more than what cable outlets FX (owned by 21st Century Fox) and Showtime (owned by CBS Corp.) spend and more than twice that spent by Time Warner’s premium channel HBO. TV actors are demanding $250,000 an episode, twice their previous rate, and there’s a feeding frenzy for A-list below-the-line crews. Continue reading Netflix Dominance Pushing Studios to Earlier Release Window

Vudu’s Mobile App Converts DVDs, Blu-rays into Digital Copies

Vudu will now let people convert their DVD and Blu-ray Disc content into digital copies for use on various Internet-connected devices by simply scanning the UPC barcode via their smartphones. One caveat, however, is that the Vudu Mobile Disc-to-Digital feature requires the user to be physically located at their home billing address. That requirement is an anti-fraud measure put in place by Walmart, which bought the premium video-streaming service in 2010. The feature is also limited to transfer 100 titles per year per account. Continue reading Vudu’s Mobile App Converts DVDs, Blu-rays into Digital Copies

Adobe’s AI-Enabled System Could Replace Greenscreen Tech

The traditional bluescreen/greenscreen method of extracting foreground content from the background for film and video production may be on its way out. That’s due to research that Adobe is doing in collaboration with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, to develop a new system that relies on deep convolutional neural networks. A recent paper, “Deep Image Matting,” reports that the new method uses a dataset of 49,300 training images to teach the algorithm how to distinguish and eliminate backgrounds. Continue reading Adobe’s AI-Enabled System Could Replace Greenscreen Tech

MGM Television Is the First Major Studio to Ink Deal with Snap

MGM Television became the first major studio to ink a deal with Snap Inc. to create original short-form programming for its Discover platform; there were no details on the exact nature of the upcoming shows or when they would premiere. The deal marks the latest in Snap’s many media partnerships, which include ABC, NBC, ESPN, the NFL, Turner, the BBC, Vice Media, A+E Networks and Discovery Communications. MGM also recently made a co-production pact with Jukin Media to produce competition shows using user-generated content. Continue reading MGM Television Is the First Major Studio to Ink Deal with Snap

Hulu TV Service Will Likely Offer Simultaneous Streams, Alerts

Hulu’s upcoming live TV service will compete for cord cutters with offerings such as Dish’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Sony’s PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV. While details of the new service have been limited, the company’s marketing site (where it’s currently taking sign-up requests) has teased a few tidbits. The service will likely offer a combination of Hulu’s on-demand content with the option of live TV for a monthly fee below $40. It will also feature a DVR option; a new interface with user profiles, guest profiles, and recommendations; the ability to pause a live TV show for later viewing; real-time custom alerts for events and programs; and support for multiple, simultaneous streams on live TV. Continue reading Hulu TV Service Will Likely Offer Simultaneous Streams, Alerts

Katzenberg Envisions Next Wave of Entertainment for Mobile

Jeffrey Katzenberg, who left DreamWorks Animation last summer, is launching WndrCo, a new media and tech venture that has already raised nearly $600 million. During a Q&A in New York with Hearst Magazines president David Carey, Katzenberg said he is interested in the next wave of television, which he sees as a mobile experience. He cited the roughly $200,000 per minute that Netflix spends on content and the less than $100 a minute needed to produce most YouTube content, suggesting there’s an opportunity that falls between the two approaches. “He said a few companies have been successful at producing mobile-oriented original video for a few thousand dollars per minute — citing Vice Media, BuzzFeed and AwesomenessTV,” reports Variety. Continue reading Katzenberg Envisions Next Wave of Entertainment for Mobile

TV Ratings Companies Help Marketers Find Engaged Viewers

As Americans change their viewing habits, watching content on TVs, laptops, smartphones and a dozen other devices, TV networks and marketers among others want more information. TVision is one such company that’s answered the call. With a Microsoft Kinect device on top of a receiver, TVision can track the movement of participants’ eyes in relationship to the TV, recording tiny shifts for everyone in the room. TVision then matches viewing patterns with shows and commercials via technology that “listens” to the TV broadcast. Continue reading TV Ratings Companies Help Marketers Find Engaged Viewers

HPA Tech Retreat: Washington Update Examines IP, FCC, FAA

At the HPA Tech Retreat, Thompson Coburn attorney Jim Burger delivered his annual Washington Update, opening with a clip of President Trump suggesting that his government is operating like a well-oiled machine. “I have nothing to say,” said Burger in response, reporting that Marco Rubio told him, “every day something is new in the Senate.” Burger’s update focused on intellectual property issues, including litigation, as well as actions of the FCC regarding net neutrality and set-top boxes, and the FAA regarding drones. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Washington Update Examines IP, FCC, FAA

HPA Tech Retreat Panel Examines the Spectacle of the Theater

At the HPA Tech Retreat in Indian Wells, Walt Disney Studios executive/HPA founder Leon Silverman opened the discussion with a look at PLF (premium large format) cinemas. “We have unprecedented levels of quality and immersiveness today,” he said. With the new technologies in resolution, color gamut, dynamic range and brightness, however, comes more work in post production houses. “For the people in the [post production] ecosystem, there’s now an exploding variety of color versions,” he said. The panel also addressed trends in theatrical distribution, exhibition, virtual reality and more. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat Panel Examines the Spectacle of the Theater

The Void, IMAX Pioneer Successful Virtual Reality Experiences

The Void, a VR startup newly headed by former Lucasfilm manager Cliff Plumer, is earning accolades as an experience that could jump-start mass acceptance of the new entertainment medium. For The Void, the user dons an untethered VR headset, a vest outfitted with haptic sensors and small backpack, picks up a plastic gun, and enters interconnected rooms to play a 10-minute “Ghostbusters” adventure zapping apparitions. The first IMAX VR Experience Centre also recently opened in Los Angeles, with more to come. Continue reading The Void, IMAX Pioneer Successful Virtual Reality Experiences

Dreamscape Raises $11 Million to Fund Retail VR Experiences

Dreamscape Immersive has raised $11 million to push forward its goal of opening a VR storefront at a Los Angeles shopping center. Investors include director Steven Spielberg, three Hollywood studios (Warner Bros., 21st Century Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer), IMAX, venture capital firm Bold Capital Partners and mall chain Westfield Corp. Dreamscape co-chairman and former DreamWorks motion picture chief exec Walter Parkes says the VR content will include original experiences and others tied to movies. Continue reading Dreamscape Raises $11 Million to Fund Retail VR Experiences

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