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

The Void, IMAX Pioneer Successful Virtual Reality Experiences

The Void, a VR startup newly headed by former Lucasfilm manager Cliff Plumer, is earning accolades as an experience that could jump-start mass acceptance of the new entertainment medium. For The Void, the user dons an untethered VR headset, a vest outfitted with haptic sensors and small backpack, picks up a plastic gun, and enters interconnected rooms to play a 10-minute “Ghostbusters” adventure zapping apparitions. The first IMAX VR Experience Centre also recently opened in Los Angeles, with more to come. Continue reading The Void, IMAX Pioneer Successful Virtual Reality Experiences

8i Demos Hologram Production, Set to Debut Holo Mobile App

Hologram production studio 8i plans to show off its technology and Holo, its new mobile app, at Recode‘s Code Media conference in California. The company, which gained visibility recently by creating a holographic video of actor Jon Hamm and NBA player D’Angelo Russell, also just received a $27 million series B round led by Time Warner Investments and including Baidu Ventures, Hearst Ventures, Verizon Ventures, German businessman Carsten Maschmeyer and others. That brings total funding up to $41 million. Continue reading 8i Demos Hologram Production, Set to Debut Holo Mobile App

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

Microsoft Camera Rig Gives HoloLens Developers Video Hack

Microsoft has come up with a new camera rig that allows HoloLens mixed reality app makers to capture video from a HoloLens and make it easier to show a person interacting with that app, something Microsoft dubs “spectator view.” The details of the hardware-software combo were published as open source on the HoloLens’ GitHub page. The HoloLens headset is wireless, which lets the user move around the room freely, and is based on four cameras, lightly tinted lenses and a holographic processing unit. Continue reading Microsoft Camera Rig Gives HoloLens Developers Video Hack

Facebook Eyes Success with Mobile Ads and Focus on Video

In its Q4 earnings report, Facebook revealed that sales rose 51 percent to $8.81 billion, above the $8.51 billion average analyst prediction. The bump in revenue is largely attributed to advertising on mobile phones. Also, within the space of a year, monthly active Facebook users increased 17 percent to 1.86 billion people, with 1.23 billion checking daily and 1.74 billion accessing the social network via their smartphones. Facebook has now cemented its No. 2 position in the mobile advertising market behind Google. The company is also making a major move into video content. Continue reading Facebook Eyes Success with Mobile Ads and Focus on Video

Facebook Loses Oculus IP Lawsuit in $500 Million Jury Verdict

Facebook lost its intellectual property lawsuit with video game publisher ZeniMax Media yesterday and was ordered to pay $500 million in damages. ZeniMax had contended that a former employee helped develop the Oculus Rift VR headset with knowledge that he gained while working for the game publisher, and that the company had developed a prototype prior to Facebook acquiring Oculus VR for $2 billion. While Oculus was not found guilty of stealing trade secrets, the jury determined the company was guilty of copyright infringement and violating a confidentiality agreement. An appeal is expected. Continue reading Facebook Loses Oculus IP Lawsuit in $500 Million Jury Verdict

Alphabet: Search is Strong, Future Bets on YouTube, Pixel, IoT

Alphabet’s Q4 revenue increased almost three times faster than profit, leading the tech titan to look for new growth areas. The company says that a one-time tax adjustment accounted for the missed Wall Street expectation. Google’s largest global advertising business and the very popular YouTube account for most of the revenue, but Alphabet is looking to mobile search, YouTube and automated ad buying as newer forms of advertising; its new smartphone Pixel and digital assistant-powered Google Home also show promise. Continue reading Alphabet: Search is Strong, Future Bets on YouTube, Pixel, IoT

Sundance Festival VR Offerings Include Sensory Experiences

At the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, the New Frontier exhibit features 20 VR experiences and 11 installations touting the latest in technology, with new VR headsets, haptic controllers and even vibrating suits. The Synesthesia Suit, with its 26 vibrating actuators, was created by a Japanese team and Tetsuya Mizuguchi, who, 15 years ago, created a “trance vibrator” accessory for his Sega Dreamcast game “Rez.” Now, in Enhance Games’ “Rez Infinite,” the Synesthesia Suit wearer “feels” the game, flying through cyberspace to a techno beat. Continue reading Sundance Festival VR Offerings Include Sensory Experiences

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

IMAX Plans to Create Big Screen Immersive VR Experiences

The 45+ year-old IMAX is now setting its sights on virtual reality, with the company’s chief executive Richard Gelfond seeing VR as the future of movies. In fact, IMAX is hoping to lead the charge into this new medium for storytelling, investing $50 million into VR content. The plan is to finance more than 25 VR experiences in the next three years; the company is already in discussions with directors and studios. IMAX also inked a deal with Google to build a new and improved VR camera, which it plans to unveil in 2018. Continue reading IMAX Plans to Create Big Screen Immersive VR Experiences

Eonite Perception Debuts VR Headset with Inside-Out Tracking

Palo Alto-based startup Eonite Perception has developed its Vantage Head Tracker, next-generation VR headset software that uses “inside-out-tracking” technology to track the user’s position and movements without external sensors or cameras. Founded in 2015 by Youssri Helmy, currently the company’s chief executive, and Stanford University computer vision experts Anna Petrovskaya and Peter Varvak, Eonite’s technology is quite different from current VR headsets. Helmy notes that the startup’s tech mimics how human perception works. Continue reading Eonite Perception Debuts VR Headset with Inside-Out Tracking

HTC Announces Wireless Tracking for Vive, Adds Peripherals

The HTC Vive, a room-scale virtual reality headset, is expanding its feature set to include wireless functionality and peripheral devices. The company has announced that the TPCast adapter will grant the Vive fully wireless capabilities without introducing noticeable latency or degraded image quality. Developed internally and produced by TPCast, the device promises up to two hours of battery life, with the possibility of upgrading to an “XL” battery providing up to five hours. The included transmitter sends an uncompressed signal directly to a receiver mounted on top of the strap that holds the Vive to the user’s head, and the battery pack fits easily in a pocket. The TPCast will ship in Q2 of this year, and will cost $249. Continue reading HTC Announces Wireless Tracking for Vive, Adds Peripherals

Intel Demos Merged Reality Headset, Compute Card, 5G Modem

Intel demonstrated the first version of its Project Alloy headset, a “wearable” computer that enables a combination of virtual and augmented realities, or “merged reality.” At CES 2017, Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich announced Project Alloy will ship in Q4 this year, a fairly quick turnaround for a headset/project only first made public in August 2016. Project Alloy is evidence of Intel’s effort to position itself as a leader in wearable computing, in which the device contains all its essential computing components. Continue reading Intel Demos Merged Reality Headset, Compute Card, 5G Modem

Tech Startups Pitch Innovative New Drone Concepts at CES

The VR, AR and Robotics Pitch Competition at CES in Las Vegas included three drone-related entertainment tech startups. The Fotokite, from Zurich-based Perspective Robotics, is a tethered drone camera system. The $249 consumer version unfolds from an easy-carry tube and flies like a kite, but unlike a kite it works to maintain its position and camera angle relative to the handheld ‘kite’ tether. Dotterel “takes the drone out of drones” with technology that was developed to make it possible to record audio from a drone without the loud background buzz. And Boxfish Research showed a simple-to-operate submarine ROV with two universal camera mounts for capturing 360-degree video. Continue reading Tech Startups Pitch Innovative New Drone Concepts at CES

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