HPA Tech Retreat: Pitfalls and Epiphanies in Cloud Production

Walden Pond CEO and former Warner Bros. exec Wendy Aylsworth led an HPA Tech Retreat panel on how companies are finding benefits working in the cloud due to increased bandwidth and Wi-Fi reliability. Cloud productions aren’t just about collaboration, but also are creating new levels of automation from pre-production through post. Despite the new benefits — and adoption by a host of users — early proponents still have pain points, said Ayslworth, who brought together the panelists to discuss the pros and cons of their experiences. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Pitfalls and Epiphanies in Cloud Production

HPA Tech Retreat: Security Threats, Strategies for Film and TV

Motion Picture Solutions CTO Laurence Claydon addressed issues of security during the HPA Tech Retreat, not always the most interesting issue to a crowd of film and TV technologists. Claydon’s experience comes from more than 20 years of content localization, and working in digital cinema for Technicolor, Deluxe and others. “This is based on those workflows,” he said, “but some of it is those principles can be applied to any workflow.” Advances in technology have increased the risks of piracy, even before the advent of videotape, he noted. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Security Threats, Strategies for Film and TV

HPA Tech Retreat: Impact of OTT Video on TV/Film Production

The Digital Production Partnership (DPP), formed and funded by UK broadcasters BBC, ITV and Channel 4 to help broadcast companies maximize the potential benefits of digital TV production, conducted in-depth research into how OTT video is produced. It reports that more audiovisual content is now commissioned for uses other than broadcast distribution, with many production companies now producing entirely for the non-broadcast market. At the HPA Tech Retreat in Indian Wells, DPP managing director Mark Harrison addressed how this is impacting the film/TV production industry. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Impact of OTT Video on TV/Film Production

TheTake Looks to Convert Product Recognition to B2B Service

TheTake, a startup that helps viewers purchase the products that they see in movies and television shows, is now turning its image recognition technology into a business-to-business service. The company is selling the service to major studios and entertainment sites so that they can generate extra revenue from identifying marketable products and locations. TheTake built the technology by training an AI to look for matches from the company’s database of more than 10 million products. Continue reading TheTake Looks to Convert Product Recognition to B2B Service

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

Amazon: Prime, Other Subscription Services Earn $6.4 Billion

For the first time, Amazon is revealing earnings from its Prime membership program as well as other subscription services, in a 77-page document. Up until now, the company has been tight-lipped on such numbers, leaving investors to wonder how these important services are faring. The last time Amazon revealed numbers, in April 2015, it detailed the profitability of its Amazon Web Services, resulting in analysts and investors bumping the company’s value upwards. Since then, shares in Amazon have more than doubled. Continue reading Amazon: Prime, Other Subscription Services Earn $6.4 Billion

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

EU’s Digital Single Market Strategy Concerns Film/TV Industry

To help create a unified digital market, the European Union just agreed to so-called portability, which will allow subscribers to access their online services as they travel from one EU country to another. When the EU introduced its Digital Single Market (DSM) in May 2015, Europe’s film/TV industry, which licenses its content territory-by-territory, promptly opposed it, especially the provision that would allow people in the EU to buy content on other countries’ digital platforms. The Motion Picture Association of America shares these concerns. Continue reading EU’s Digital Single Market Strategy Concerns Film/TV Industry

HBO Now Service Has More Than 2 Million Subscribers in U.S.

During a conference call yesterday with analysts detailing HBO’s strong 2016 earnings, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes announced that the cable network’s standalone streaming service HBO Now, which launched in April 2015, has officially surpassed the 2 million domestic subscriber mark. “Wall Street has been keenly attuned to the pace of subscriber growth for HBO Now as a bellwether of how major media giants will evolve their businesses in the digital era,” reports Variety. The service is vital to Time Warner since “HBO is in the midst of carriage renewal deals with major MVPDs, including the two largest cable operators, Comcast and Charter Communications.” Time Warner is also looking to merge with AT&T, parent of DirecTV. Continue reading HBO Now Service Has More Than 2 Million Subscribers in U.S.

Plex Integrates Alexa Voice Control with Popular Media Player

Media player Plex, joining many device manufacturers, has added Alexa voice control for its first foray into home automation. Now, via the company’s Plex Skill for Alexa, the user can ask for favorite content, even music, from her Plex media library without a remote control. But Alexa for Plex isn’t as simple as it is for Spotify or Pandora, which rely on the Alexa mobile app. Instead, users have to enable Remote Access for their media server in the software’s setting, to turn requests into API calls in Plex’s cloud services. Continue reading Plex Integrates Alexa Voice Control with Popular Media Player

Media Industry Opts to Pull the Plug on Copyright Alert System

Internet service providers, Hollywood studios and record labels have opted not to extend their pact to combat peer-to-peer piracy via the voluntary program that involved issuing “copyright alerts” to offenders. The voluntary program was launched in 2013 as a means of fighting piracy without calling for congressional legislation. Internet users who accessed pirated P2P content were issued warnings, and “six-strike” repeat offenders faced penalties such as the slowing of their Internet delivery. In the end, however, the system was not equipped to deal with hardcore repeat infringers. Continue reading Media Industry Opts to Pull the Plug on Copyright Alert System

Nvidia Updates Shield TV to Offer 4K HDR Streaming and More

Nvidia’s new Shield TV features 4K HDR streaming and improved gaming capabilities — and now, many of the new hardware benefits are also available for free on the original Shield TV via an over-the-air software update. Users can access 4K HDR streaming from Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, and 4K support from Google Play offerings and additional sources. The update also features “support for upgraded GeForce Now game streaming, and the new Nvidia Games app which centralizes all the various gaming endpoints,” reports TechCrunch. To add Google Assistant interaction, users will need to purchase the new $60 Shield Controller with built-in microphone. Continue reading Nvidia Updates Shield TV to Offer 4K HDR Streaming and More

Amazon Is First Internet Company with Best Picture Oscar Nom

About a year after debuting its original movies division, Amazon became the first Internet company to garner an Academy Award nomination for best picture, with “Manchester by the Sea.” In addition to best picture, “Manchester by the Sea” earned five other nominations for writer and director Kenneth Lonergan, lead actor Casey Affleck, supporting actress Michelle Williams and supporting actor Lucas Hedges. Amazon also holds U.S. distribution rights to foreign language nominee “The Salesman,” from Iran. Continue reading Amazon Is First Internet Company with Best Picture Oscar Nom

Android Users Can Download Netflix Content onto SD Storage

Netflix is accommodating Android users who are interested in offline downloads but face storage limitations with their mobile devices. The streaming video service now allows users to store TV shows and movies on microSD cards. “The latest version of the Netflix app gives you a choice of saving things to internal storage or, if your phone supports SD, picking the external option instead,” reports The Verge. Previously, customers could only save to internal memory, which frustrated those “with 32GB of built-in space and a ton of expandable storage.” The offline Netflix content has time limits, however, and eventually expires. Continue reading Android Users Can Download Netflix Content onto SD Storage

Oculus Story Studio Uses VR Drawing Tool for New Animation

Oculus Story Studio, launched in early 2015 to tell virtual reality stories, has a winner on its hands with “Dear Angelica,” a 12-minute animated experience that features the voice (and life story) of actress Geena Davis. Debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, “Dear Angelica” was drawn in VR with a new tool called Quill. The project follows Oculus Story Studio’s previous VR efforts — “Lost,” about a robot that gets lost in the woods; and the Emmy-winning “Henry,” an animated story of a hedgehog who sought love (and hugs), the latter directed by Pixar animator Ramiro Lopez Dau. Continue reading Oculus Story Studio Uses VR Drawing Tool for New Animation

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