Disney to Move Its Classic Movies to New Streaming Service

At Disney’s annual meeting, chair/chief executive Bob Iger made several upbeat announcements to shareholders. First, he assured them that regulatory approval of the 21st Century Fox acquisition will close “soon” and that the expanded company will “hit the ground running.” He also revealed that Disney will debut its immersive Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge experience earlier than expected: May 31 at in Disneyland, and August 29 at Disney World. Other big news was that Disney Plus (also known as Disney+) will carry the company’s entire “Vault” program. Continue reading Disney to Move Its Classic Movies to New Streaming Service

Disney Brings Immersive ‘Star Wars’ Experience to its Parks

When Disney opens Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (which will debut this summer at Disneyland in California and this fall at Disney World in Florida), visitors will discover a multi-faceted, immersive experience that lets them build a droid, learn how to construct a lightsaber, and use their phones to hack data ports. All the while, they will also engage in a struggle for control of the fictional town of Black Spire Outpost. Walt Disney Imagineering exec Scott Trowbridge noted that visitors now want to be more of a participant than a spectator in experiences. Continue reading Disney Brings Immersive ‘Star Wars’ Experience to its Parks

Google Clips Camera Relies on AI to Capture Familiar Faces

The marriage of cameras and artificial intelligence opens the doors to all kinds of interesting capabilities. For now, however, Google is introducing its Clips wireless smart camera with the pitch that AI will enable it to take better pictures than a dumb camera. While the $249 Clips uses machine learning to automatically capture short clips (motion photos without audio) of people and pets, Apple’s latest iPhone relies on face recognition to unlock, and now startup Lighthouse AI plans to add intelligence to a security camera to analyze the results. Continue reading Google Clips Camera Relies on AI to Capture Familiar Faces

The First Reviewers Laud Apple iPhone X’s Screen, Camera

Apple only gave reviewers 24 hours to test out the iPhone X, so the reviews aren’t in-depth — but most of them are thumbs-up for the Silicon Valley company’s most expensive iPhone ever. Apple has positioned the iPhone X (pronounced “ten”) as its most cutting edge phone, with an almost full edge-to-edge 5.8-inch screen, no physical home button and new Face ID facial recognition to unlock it. The phone, which will be in stores on November 3, is priced at $999 for 64 gigabytes of storage and $1,149 for 256 gigabytes. Continue reading The First Reviewers Laud Apple iPhone X’s Screen, Camera

‘Star Wars’ VR Experience to Open at Disneyland by Holidays

This holiday season, Disneyland Resorts in Anaheim and Orlando will debut “Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire,” a multi-player virtual reality experience based on “Star Wars,” and produced by VR start-up The VOID, Lucasfilm and ILMxLAB, Lucasfilm’s immersive entertainment division. Prior to this production, ILMxLAB built “Trials on Tatooine,” which was available to consumers on VR headsets and in IMAX VR centers. The VOID calls its experiences “hyper-reality,” as the participant can explore, pick up props and open doors. Continue reading ‘Star Wars’ VR Experience to Open at Disneyland by Holidays

Disney Plans Immersive ‘Star Wars’ Attraction for Two Parks

At last week’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, The Walt Disney Company unveiled the first look of a 3D model for its new “Star Wars” attraction, “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge,” which was first announced at the same Expo two years ago. The planned exhibitions, to be housed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando and Disneyland in Anaheim, will cost $1 billion each and open in 2019. The exhibitions will be the most immersive the company has offered in a theme park, and will include a themed hotel, allowing guests to have a “Westworld”-like experience. Continue reading Disney Plans Immersive ‘Star Wars’ Attraction for Two Parks

Disney Partners with Alibaba to Bring OTT Service to China

Having inked a multi-year licensing agreement, Alibaba and The Walt Disney Company will begin pre-sales of DisneyLife, an OTT system aimed to increase sales of movie-related toys and trips to Disneyland. The system’s device will be sold on Alibaba’s online shopping site Tmall starting December 28. Priced at $125, the Mickey Mouse-shaped device comes with a free one-year subscription and lets customers connect to Disney and Pixar movies, cartoon series, e-books, music and games, as well as plan a trip to the Shanghai and Hong Kong Disneyland theme parks.

Continue reading Disney Partners with Alibaba to Bring OTT Service to China

Disney COO Defends the Programming Bundle as TV Evolves

In the wake of pay TV subscriber losses and a falloff in content stocks, industry news has recently focused on the impact of the Internet, mobile apps and streaming services on traditional television. Disney chief operating officer Tom Staggs, who most analysts believe will be the successor to CEO Bob Iger, defended the future of ESPN and the programming bundle at an industry conference in Beverly Hills on Thursday. Staggs also suggested that Wall Street had overreacted to recent changes in the business and should not be so quick to dismiss the current model. Continue reading Disney COO Defends the Programming Bundle as TV Evolves

Industrial Light & Magic Creates VR/AR Projects in ILMxLAB

Earlier this summer, we reported that Industrial Light & Magic was launching its new ILMxLAB division to develop virtual reality and augmented reality experiences for movie fans. The experimental division has now shown off three of its VR and AR proof of concept projects. In addition, ILMxLAB houses a team from Walt Disney Imagineering that’s working on futuristic Disneyland attractions. None of it would be possible without ILM’s unique blend of creative staff, cutting edge technology and years of expertise. Continue reading Industrial Light & Magic Creates VR/AR Projects in ILMxLAB

EXCLUSIVE: Bran Ferren Q&A Part 2 — We’re Just Getting Started

Bran Ferren, creative consultant to the Envision Symposium taking place September 19-21 in Monterey, sat with ETC for an exclusive look at the issues and context that inspired and provided the guiding principle for this first of its kind gathering of leaders and visionaries in the fields of storytelling, performance, cinema, television and games. This is the second and concluding part of our interview with the legendary designer and technologist. Continue reading EXCLUSIVE: Bran Ferren Q&A Part 2 — We’re Just Getting Started

Walt Disney Imagineering Redefining Alternate Reality Games

“The Optimist,” developed by Walt Disney Imagineering, is the latest take on the multi-platform experience known as the alternate reality game (ARG). Linked to the Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird film due in 2014 called “Tomorrowland,” the new ARG is part of Disney’s efforts to create new interactive experiences that place its audience members directly in the action and reach beyond the niche ARG audience to attract more people. Continue reading Walt Disney Imagineering Redefining Alternate Reality Games

Waiting in Long Lines at Theme Parks Can Actually Be Fun

Our community member Lee Lanselle of the Entertainment Development Group and AsiaParks Partners Limited forwarded interesting news regarding how theme parks are ensuring that guests are not bored while waiting in long lines. Disneyland, Universal Studios and Six Flags are among those that have incorporated interactive elements, animatronic characters, and even play areas for kids so that park attendees can be entertained while they wait in line for a ride. Continue reading Waiting in Long Lines at Theme Parks Can Actually Be Fun