NAB 2018: Potential Impact of AI on Storytelling, Moviemaking

Do Androids dream of making movies? That was the provocative question posed in a conversation at the Future of Cinema conference track at NAB. Universal Pictures head of creative technologies Annie Chang led a discussion with ETC@USC data scientist Yves Bergquist, who is also chief executive of the AI firm Novamente, and IBM Watson Media senior product manager David Kulczar. Bergquist began with the definition of AI: “the design of optimal behavior of agents in known or unknown computable environments.” Continue reading NAB 2018: Potential Impact of AI on Storytelling, Moviemaking

ETC@USC to Present Sessions at the NAB Show in Las Vegas

ETC is participating in a restructured/streamlined NAB Show schedule (April 7-12, Las Vegas Convention Center). ETC directors Yves Bergquist (data & analytics), Phil Lelyveld (immersive media) and Seth Levenson (adaptive production) have programmed sessions for the Next-Generation Media Technologies education track, focusing on AI and machine learning, immersive media and cloud technology. The sessions are scheduled for Monday-Wednesday in North Hall 257. In addition, ETC will present Future of Cinema sessions in South Hall 222/223 on Sunday, April 8, prior to Monday’s official NAB Show floor opening. Continue reading ETC@USC to Present Sessions at the NAB Show in Las Vegas

Number of OTT-Only Households in the U.S. Continues to Rise

According to a new report from the Video Advertising Bureau, the number of households in the United States that are now using only OTT streaming services to watch movies and TV shows has reached 14.1 million, a figure that has almost tripled over five years. However, that number makes up just 11 percent of all U.S. TV households. The report also found that over-the-top services are often used in tandem with pay TV subscriptions; 70 percent of those with OTT services also pay for cable, satellite or telcos.

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Google Play Makes It Easy to Track Streaming Movies and TV

This week, Google is rolling out an updated Google Play Movies & TV app, including changes to the Google Play Store that will help consumers more easily identify which streaming services feature their desired content and whether that content is available for rent or purchase. “The end result is something that’s similar to Apple’s own TV app,” reports TechCrunch, “which combines users’ own library of movies and TV with the ability to seek out what’s trending and available in the world of online video.” Continue reading Google Play Makes It Easy to Track Streaming Movies and TV

Startup Using AI to Help Create Effects for Movies, TV, Games

Palo Alto-based startup Arraiy is developing methods for automating part of the often-tedious process of producing visual effects for movies, TV shows and video games. “Filmmakers can do this stuff, but they have to do it by hand,” said CTO Gary Bradski, who has worked with tech companies such as Intel and Magic Leap. The Arraiy team, led by Bradski and CEO Ethan Rublee, “are building computer algorithms that can learn design tasks by analyzing years of work by movie effects houses,” reports The New York Times. “That includes systems that learn to ‘rotoscope’ raw camera footage, carefully separating people and objects from their backgrounds so that they can be dropped onto new backgrounds.” Continue reading Startup Using AI to Help Create Effects for Movies, TV, Games

Report: Worldwide Piracy for TV and Music Increases in 2017

According to the latest figures from London-based piracy tracking firm MUSO, entertainment media piracy continues its ascent. Globally, consumers made more than 300 billion visits to piracy websites in 2017, up 1.6 percent from the previous year. Despite the popularity of legal streaming options such as Netflix and Spotify, MUSO found that the illegal streaming and downloading of television content and music increased last year, up 3.4 percent and 14.7 percent, respectively. However, movie piracy decreased by 2.3 percent. Continue reading Report: Worldwide Piracy for TV and Music Increases in 2017

Americans Now Spend $2 Billion Monthly on Streaming Video

According to Deloitte’s 2018 Digital Media Trends Survey, U.S. consumers are now spending about $2 billion per month to watch their favorite TV shows and movies via streaming video services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. The survey notes that 55 percent of U.S. households subscribe to at least one such service — a significant increase from 2009, when it was just 10 percent — and the average customer pays for three. Conversely, the survey found that pay-TV subscriptions like cable and satellite are down to 63 percent from 74 percent in 2016.

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TV Time Adds Personalized Recommendations to its Features

The TV Time app, which boasts a million daily users, now offers filterable, personalized recommendations to help organize your viewing selections. With programming spread across multiple services, it is often a challenge to keep up with what’s out there, what’s new, and what you might enjoy. Based on a user’s viewing habits and behaviors across multiple services (such as Netflix, Hulu and cable), the app makes recommendations and helps users track what they’re watching while connecting with other fans after episodes.

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Capitol Hill Panel Explores Piracy Threat of Streaming Boxes

President Trump recently explained that the United States is “acting swiftly on intellectual property theft,” adding that we cannot “allow this to happen as it has for many years.” Meanwhile, a panel of experts met on Capitol Hill last week to examine intellectual property theft and the growing threat of streaming media boxes. The MPAA revealed that the Department of Justice is looking into criminal action for several “candidates” that peddle pre-configured set-top boxes enabling piracy. The United Kingdom has already arrested numerous individuals accused of this behavior.

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Netflix Creates Apps for Production, Doubles Down on Mobile

With a team of 30 to 35 people, Netflix is creating apps to streamline parts of the production process, such as crew management, scheduling and budgeting. One app, dubbed Move, has been in beta with a few Netflix productions since November. Move, which was built as a progressive web app, replaces all the paperwork related to scheduling shoot days and distributing the script, sending email and SMS to notify the crew of any schedule changes. It was first tested on the second season of “Glow,” and since used on 10 different shoots. Continue reading Netflix Creates Apps for Production, Doubles Down on Mobile

Netflix Has No Plans to Offer Live TV Such as News or Sports

From Netflix’s 280,000-square foot studio in Hollywood, chief executive Reed Hastings revealed that the company has no plans to enter the live TV market in news or sports, as its rivals Hulu and Amazon Video have done. Instead, the company is investing $8 billion in original content this year, part of its larger strategy to fend off competition from these popular services and a growing list of emerging competitors. Hastings also explained that Netflix has no plans to introduce advertising. Continue reading Netflix Has No Plans to Offer Live TV Such as News or Sports

Google Plans to Maintain Current Spending on YouTube Red

Google plans to maintain its current level of spending on the YouTube Red streaming service for the next two years, unlike Amazon and Netflix, both of which continue to up their investments. After switching its video strategy more than once, YouTube is currently approaching entertainment in three ways: its YouTube Red on-demand streaming service, live video service YouTube TV, and a new music streaming product. YouTube Originals are a “driving force” on YouTube Red, says the company’s chief business officer Robert Kyncl. Continue reading Google Plans to Maintain Current Spending on YouTube Red

Epix to Offer 4K Support, Explores New Subscription Service

Epix is scheduled to roll out support for 4K Ultra HD video on its apps this year. The cable network is also exploring the creation of a direct-to-consumer subscription service. “Direct-to-consumer is very important,” Epix VP and GM Monty Sahran told Variety. “We will be in that space.” While he didn’t specify a launch date or pricing, he confirmed the network’s plans. “It’s on our roadmap and we are working towards it,” he explained. Epix would join a growing field of such offerings from premium networks; HBO, Showtime and Starz currently offer their own standalone streaming services. Continue reading Epix to Offer 4K Support, Explores New Subscription Service

IMDb and Paramount Network Introduce Alexa Flash Briefing

IMDb, the Internet Movie Database owned by Amazon has teamed up with Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV) to launch its first Alexa skill. The Flash Briefing is a customizable news alert that gathers information from several online sources; the “What’s on TV” Flash will also list the airtime and network information of the day’s top five trending TV shows, as rated by IMDb page views. The user activates the briefing by saying, “Alexa, what’s my Flash Briefing?” Amazon banned ads in Alexa skills except for Flash Briefings and within music. Continue reading IMDb and Paramount Network Introduce Alexa Flash Briefing

HPA 2018: Real Networks Explores the Future of T-Commerce

T-Commerce, which allows consumers to buy items they see on TV shows directly from their set, is not new. Predicted since the 1980s, it’s appeared as Enhanced TV, T-Commerce and Shopification. The idea that a viewer could simply click on a sweater worn by her favorite sitcom character and purchase it is heady, but the difficulty of making items clickable frame-by-frame was (and is) a massive stumbling block. At the HPA Tech Retreat, RealNetworks described its T-Commerce solution, powered by computer vision. Continue reading HPA 2018: Real Networks Explores the Future of T-Commerce

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