Google Expands Its YouTube TV Service to 10 New Markets

On Thursday, Google launched its YouTube TV service in 10 new markets, including Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Phoenix and Washington D.C. The company says it is now streaming live local programming to more than a third of the U.S. The $35-per-month Internet TV service offers live local feeds from major broadcast networks ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC, in addition to cable networks such as AMC, ESPN, IFC and USA. The new service, which initially launched in April, is now available in 15 U.S. markets. Continue reading Google Expands Its YouTube TV Service to 10 New Markets

Google Play Movies & TV Now Offers High Dynamic Range

For consumers with an HDR-compatible TV and Chromecast Ultra, Google Play Movies & TV has introduced support for high dynamic range video. A number of video services now support HDR in order to provide richer colors and improved contrast, even though the tech has not made its way to many living rooms yet. While top services such as Netflix, Amazon and YouTube offer HDR video, viewers still need an HDR-ready TV from companies including Hisense, LG, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sony, TCL and Vizio. “People don’t upgrade their television as often as they do other technologies, like smartphones,” notes TechCrunch, “which means broad adoption of HDR in the living room could take years.” Continue reading Google Play Movies & TV Now Offers High Dynamic Range

Facebook Developing Two Wireless Virtual Reality Headsets

Facebook will debut a cheaper wireless version of its Oculus Rift VR headset in another attempt to bring virtual reality to the masses. The current Oculus Rift costs $400 and must be paired to a $1,000 computer to work properly, whereas Samsung’s Gear VR goes for $130. The new Oculus headset from Facebook, which will sell for a mid-range price of about $200, will also not need to be hooked up to a PC or smartphone. The headset, expected to release in 2018, is aimed at gaming, video and social networking. Continue reading Facebook Developing Two Wireless Virtual Reality Headsets

Sony Music Reaches New Licensing Agreement with Spotify

Sony Music Entertainment has agreed to a new licensing deal with Spotify, which should be finalized in the coming weeks. “The agreement helps to clear the way for Spotify’s long-anticipated public offering, which is expected later this year or early next year,” reports Variety. An inside source suggests the deal is similar to the current Spotify agreements with Universal Music Group and digital rights agency Merlin. A major component of the deal is a windowing option, “whereby artists can withhold their releases from its free, ad-supported service for up to two weeks.” Continue reading Sony Music Reaches New Licensing Agreement with Spotify

Facebook Offers New Price Reduction for Oculus Rift Bundle

For the second time this year, Facebook is hoping to jumpstart sales of its Oculus Rift VR headset with a price reduction. Facebook’s Oculus VR unit will offer the Rift, Oculus Touch motion controllers, seven VR games and more as a $399 bundle over the next six weeks. The bundle was earlier offered for $598, which was $200 less than the combined launch prices. According to Jason Rubin, head of content at Oculus, the new bundle price is meant to leverage the increased number of apps and games available for the Rift (700+ today, compared to 400 in March). Continue reading Facebook Offers New Price Reduction for Oculus Rift Bundle

Charter and CenturyLink to Debut Streaming Skinny Bundles

Charter Communications and CenturyLink are the latest operators to introduce streaming skinny-bundle options for consumers looking for alternatives to conventional pay TV. The new services join a crowded field as an increasing number of companies face the challenges involved with attracting cord cutters and new customers. Charter will test its $20 per month Spectrum Stream that offers local broadcast and cable channels, VOD titles and optional premium channels. Meanwhile, CenturyLink Stream has introduced bundles that range from $15 per month to the Ultimate 45+ channel package for $45 per month. Continue reading Charter and CenturyLink to Debut Streaming Skinny Bundles

Sony Expands Scope of VR Innovation Program This Summer

The ETC@USC helped Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment establish their summer 2016 VR Innovation Program. Over the course of 10 weeks, 14 USC student associates pitched, rapid-prototyped, and delivered seven proof-of-concept projects of interest to Sony executives. The students worked under the supervision of Sony execs and two advisors from the USC faculty. Sony generously supplied a presentation deck describing the program’s goals and process for distribution by the ETC. Building on their positive experience, Sony is currently running a 2017 summer program with the scope expanded to include AR and live action narrative VR. Continue reading Sony Expands Scope of VR Innovation Program This Summer

Spencer Stephens Honored With ETC Tech Leadership Award

The Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California held its 2017 Studio Technology Leaders Dinner at NeueHouse in Hollywood. Sponsored by Western Digital, HGST and Equinix, the event honored former Sony Pictures CTO Spencer Stephens with the Bob Lambert Technology Leadership Award. The evening featured a panel of studio execs discussing new directions in film production, and a screening of “Wonder Buffalo,” the third R&D short produced under the auspices of ETC@USC’s Project Cloud to explore and test next-generation production processes.  Continue reading Spencer Stephens Honored With ETC Tech Leadership Award

Sling TV Debuts Enhanced DVR, Availability on More Devices

Sling TV’s DVR is one of its more attractive features to consumers, and the company just rolled out DVR enhancements, as well as the option to record TV shows on more devices and channels. The company reports it took customer requests into consideration in tweaking the DVR, which now also protects recordings from deletion, a feature found on hardware-based DVRs. Being able to protect against deletions, however, is not commonly found on cloud-based DVRs for streaming video services. Continue reading Sling TV Debuts Enhanced DVR, Availability on More Devices

Microsoft Xbox One X Console Offers 4K, HDR, Dolby Atmos

Microsoft’s next videogame console, the Xbox One X, is its smallest gaming console ever, with advanced capabilities in power, speed and resolution, offering true 4K. The new console will be compatible with games made for the Xbox One and Xbox 360, which will benefit from the Xbox One X’s increased speed and improved resolution and graphics. The new console, which also features HDR (high dynamic range) playback and Dolby Atmos sound, will go on sale November 7th for $499. Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro debuted in November for $399. Continue reading Microsoft Xbox One X Console Offers 4K, HDR, Dolby Atmos

Sony Reveals Details of its Full Frame Digital Cinema Camera

At Sony’s Cine Gear Expo press conference, marketing and production manager Peter Crithary outlined available details of the company’s upcoming addition to its CineAlta line of digital cinema cameras. Key to this CineAlta is that the entire camera is being built new, from the ground up, and that it will feature a large full frame sensor, the first of its kind aimed at professional movie makers. The full sensor, at 36x24mm compares to the more commonly used Super 35mm sensor, at 24x18mm. The camera will be available in early 2018. Continue reading Sony Reveals Details of its Full Frame Digital Cinema Camera

TV Holds Top Spot, While Smartphone Adoption On the Rise

According to new research figures, TV still holds the top spot in tech devices. The Consumer Technology Association reports that 96 percent of U.S. homes have at least one television, while 80 percent have a smartphone. However, the total number of TV sets — 308 million — was down 3 percent, while the number of homes with smartphones jumped six percent over the previous year. DVD/Blu-ray players dropped 7 percentage points and relinquished the No. 2 spot to smartphones. Not surprisingly, the majority of most popular tech devices are products that feature screens. Meanwhile, ABI Research predicts that HDR TV shipments will reach 245 million units in 2022. Continue reading TV Holds Top Spot, While Smartphone Adoption On the Rise

Samsung to Roll Out New DCI-Compliant LED Cinema Screen

Samsung’s LED digital cinema display, first unveiled during invitation-only events at CinemaCon in March, has passed DCI compliance tests. The company is expected to have a commercial product available before the end of the year. Keio University in Japan, one of the affiliated partners of Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI), completed the compliance test plan certification. Until now, only cinema projectors from Barco, Christie and NEC based on Texas Instruments DLP Cinema tech and Sony’s LCoS SXRD (Silicon X-tal Reflective Display) panel were considered DCI-compliant display devices.

Continue reading Samsung to Roll Out New DCI-Compliant LED Cinema Screen

NAB 2017: M&E Companies Describe Their Move to the Cloud

Another NAB panel in partnership with ETC@USC looked at several large-scale, high-resolution implementations in the cloud. Moderator Brian Campanotti, global director of business development for Oracle Digital Media Solutions led panelists through a discussion on how a major media organization can successfully make the paradigm shift from IT center to cloud infrastructure, leaving behind traditional on-prem storage and processing. Company case studies included Sony, Technicolor and Fox Network Groups. Continue reading NAB 2017: M&E Companies Describe Their Move to the Cloud

NAB 2017: Digital Domain Demos VR Camera and New Tools

Visual effects studio Digital Domain is launching a new suite of platform agnostic “creation, production, and distribution tools for virtual reality experiences — including a VR camera,” which it is demonstrating at NAB this week, reports VentureBeat. Digital Domain’s portable spherical camera features “advanced live-streaming capabilities, new integrations with post-production suites, and a cloud-based VR distribution platform. It enables visual effects production, 360 capture hardware and software, real-time stitching and encoding, livestreaming, application development, and content distribution.” Continue reading NAB 2017: Digital Domain Demos VR Camera and New Tools

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