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

UPDATE: FandangoNOW Joins Movies Anywhere Ecosystem

Yesterday we reported that FandangoNOW had become the latest retailer to join the Movies Anywhere digital ecosystem. FandangoNOW is the fifth participating retailer, joining iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play and Vudu. While the announcement was accurate, we mistakenly suggested that Movies Anywhere is a Disney-branded service. While Movies Anywhere is owned by Disney, and some of its underlying tech was developed for the previous Disney Movies Anywhere platform, it should be clarified that the current Movies Anywhere is jointly controlled by five studios: Fox, Sony, Universal, Warner Bros. and Disney. Continue reading UPDATE: FandangoNOW Joins Movies Anywhere Ecosystem

At CES 2018, Fox Innovation Lab Highlights Movies Anywhere

During CES 2018, the Fox Innovation Lab unveiled a VR experience tied to director Wes Anderson’s upcoming “Isle of Dogs” and discussed the newly launched Movies Anywhere. The VR experience, which features the voices of actors Bryan Cranston, Scarlett Johansson and Jeff Goldblum, will be unveiled later this month tied to the Sundance Film Festival and initially for Google Daydream VR headsets. At CES, some of the executives for the Disney-owned Movies Anywhere were available to discuss the digital locker service. Continue reading At CES 2018, Fox Innovation Lab Highlights Movies Anywhere

HBO Experiments with Branching Narrative TV Series and App

Against the backdrop of eroding live TV viewership and the expansion of video games and Web video, acclaimed filmmaker Steven Soderbergh (“Traffic,” “The Knick”) has directed “Mosaic,” an interactive series with branching narratives. Co-developed by Soderbergh and former Universal Pictures head Casey Silver with screenwriter Ed Solomon, “Mosaic” is a multi-episodic mystery that allows audiences to choose the story threads they experience. The series is now available for free download from Android and Apple stores and for viewing with Apple TV. Continue reading HBO Experiments with Branching Narrative TV Series and App

Hollywood Studios Join Disney for Movies Anywhere Service

While a formal announcement is pending, insiders report that 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures are among the Hollywood studios that will be joining Disney’s Movies Anywhere service, which enables consumers to purchase movies from authenticated platforms — including Amazon Video, Fios by Verizon, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft and Vudu — and store them in a digital locker so that they can be viewed on multiple devices. Disney Movies Anywhere, powered by KeyChest storage technology, was first introduced in 2014 when other studios were supporting the UltraViolet format. Continue reading Hollywood Studios Join Disney for Movies Anywhere Service

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

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

Brands Experiment with 360-Degree Video Tech on Snapchat

After making a splash on Facebook and YouTube, 360-degree videos have made their way to Snapchat. Major brands such as Chick-fil-A, Netflix and Universal Pictures have been experimenting with virtual experiences on the social platform. Universal took users on a tour of a masquerade ball from “Fifty Shades Darker,” while Netflix rolled out a 360-degree trailer for “Ultimate Beastmaster.” Michael Rucker, co-founder and COO of VR firm OmniVirt, notes that clients are seeing two to three times higher swipe-up rates when using the format. Engagement is also on an upswing, with the average user spending more than a minute with these experiences. Continue reading Brands Experiment with 360-Degree Video Tech on Snapchat

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

Comcast Signs Deals with Four Studios to Offer Movie Extras

Comcast inked deals with Universal Pictures (which it owns), Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment for “movie extras” to accompany those studios’ film titles. The cable company, which will offer a free sample of the enhanced extras during the 10 days leading up to Christmas, says it is working on adding more studios and movies in the coming year. With the extra content, Comcast hopes to better compete with other digital movie providers, including Apple, which added extra content two years ago. Continue reading Comcast Signs Deals with Four Studios to Offer Movie Extras

Studios Consider Options for Early Movie Release to the Home

Apple is reportedly in conversations with numerous Hollywood studios for earlier access to movies. The goal would be to offer a higher priced home video rental of movies shortly after they are released in cinemas, a move that has been vigorously resisted by motion picture theater owners, who have occasionally and en masse boycotted movies given an early home release. 21st Century Fox, Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures have all confirmed they are looking into this kind of early release. Continue reading Studios Consider Options for Early Movie Release to the Home

Amblin and Alibaba Ink Mutually Beneficial Moviemaking Deal

Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment just inked a deal with Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group to produce, finance and distribute movies. The relationship gives Alibaba an entrée into the Hollywood moviemaking industry, and Amblin a pipeline to distribution in China. Although the financial details of the deal were not disclosed, Alibaba will now have a minority equity stake in Amblin and a seat on its board, and Amblin will have access to the Chinese company’s massive database on consumers there. Continue reading Amblin and Alibaba Ink Mutually Beneficial Moviemaking Deal

Streaming ‘Warcraft’ in China Could Lead to New Marketplace

Chinese online-video network PPTV paid about $24 million for the streaming rights to fantasy feature “Warcraft,” based on the popular videogame series by Blizzard Entertainment. The film has so far grossed more than $433 million worldwide and has been successful with Chinese audiences. It will begin streaming next month on PPTV as a result of the record high deal, in what could also mark a significant milestone in film distribution. “This could be one of the beginning steps in having China become a huge marketplace for streaming services,” said comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian. Continue reading Streaming ‘Warcraft’ in China Could Lead to New Marketplace

ETC Hosts Digital Town Square on Digital Archiving, Storage

As the latest in its ongoing Digital Town Square series, the Entertainment Technology Center at USC held a symposium on “Rethinking Digital Archiving and Storage” on June 9 at Amazon’s Santa Monica facilities. Approximately 80 people from all the major Hollywood studios, archivists and post production professionals participated in the interactive forum that examined the challenges in current archiving and storage practices, the pressures to change those practices, and emerging solutions. Continue reading ETC Hosts Digital Town Square on Digital Archiving, Storage

‘The Suitcase’: Unpacking Lessons in Cloud-Based Workflows

During the ETC Cloud Innovation Conference at NAB 2016, writer/director Abi Corbin discussed “The Suitcase,” a short film produced in the cloud, about a baggage handler who innocently steals a suitcase that contains terrorist plans. The film was a follow-up to “Luna,” a run-and-gun test on producing in the cloud. Daniel De La Rosa, director of film production technologies at Universal Pictures explained, “The goal was to test next-gen cloud-based workflows as well as the C4 framework which served as the glue.”
Continue reading ‘The Suitcase’: Unpacking Lessons in Cloud-Based Workflows

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