‘Trolls’ Sequel Tests PVOD Model While Theaters Are Closed

“Trolls World Tour,” produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Universal Pictures, was due to release in movie theaters on April 10. But when the coronavirus pandemic closed theaters, Universal decided to release it as a $19.99 digital rental on platforms including Apple TV, Amazon and Comcast’s Xfinity. Three weeks later, “Trolls” has generated almost $100 million, more than the original 2016 movie. That has encouraged Universal execs to consider digital release as a real alternative to postponing a theatrical release. Continue reading ‘Trolls’ Sequel Tests PVOD Model While Theaters Are Closed

ASWF Announces Its Next Project: Open Shading Language

The Academy Software Foundation (ASWF), developed by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and the Linux Foundation to provide a neutral forum for open source software developers, announced that its sixth hosted project is Open Shading Language (OSL), originally developed by Sony Pictures Imageworks. OSL, which was honored with an Academy Scientific and Technical Award in 2017, is now the de facto standard shading language for VFX and animation. ASWF also stated that AMD and DockYard have joined as new members. Continue reading ASWF Announces Its Next Project: Open Shading Language

ETC@USC Mourns the Loss of Industry Veteran Jim Houston

We are deeply saddened by the loss of Jim Houston, a longtime friend and supporter of The Entertainment Technology Center. In addition to attending our events and contributing to many of our programs, Jim served as a moderator and panelist for several of ETC’s Digital Town Square symposiums. He was a two-time Academy Award-winning engineer, SMPTE member, and 34-year veteran of the industry, serving senior positions at media leaders including Sony Pictures Entertainment, Pacific Title & Art, Walt Disney Feature Animation and, most recently, Samsung Research America. Continue reading ETC@USC Mourns the Loss of Industry Veteran Jim Houston

HPA Tech Retreat: Latest From Academy Software Foundation

In 2018, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences established the Academy Software Foundation, with the mission of increasing the “quality and quantity of open source contributions … [to] lower the barrier to entry for developing and using” it. Its genesis was a survey conducted by the AMPAS Science and Technology Council that found 84 percent of those in the media & entertainment industry used it — but had challenges. At HPA Tech Retreat, ASWF executive director David Morin updated the group’s activities. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Latest From Academy Software Foundation

HPA Tech Retreat: Academy Color Encoding System Updates

Under the aegis of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, hundreds of motion picture and TV technologists created ACES (Academy Color Encoding System), a color management system to enable color decisions to be successfully retained throughout the workflow. Since ACES debuted in 2014, the system has achieved SMPTE standardization and continues to evolve, under the leadership of chair Annie Chang and vice chairs Rod Bogart and Joachim “JZ” Zell. Chang listed some recent updates found in ACES 1.2. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Academy Color Encoding System Updates

Apple, Microsoft Latest to Join Academy Software Foundation

Apple and Microsoft signed on as premier members of the Academy Software Foundation (ASWF), founded in 2018 to promote the use of open source software in the movie industry. By joining ASWF, Apple and Microsoft pushed annual funding for the organization over $1 million. Microsoft also joined ASWF’s governing board and technical advisory council. ASWF is a joint project of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Linux Foundation. ASWF executive director David Morin welcomed both companies into the fold. Continue reading Apple, Microsoft Latest to Join Academy Software Foundation

DOJ Warns Academy New Netflix Rules Could Violate Laws

As the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences mulls over rule changes that would limit the eligibility of content from Netflix and other streaming services, the U.S. Department of Justice weighed in with a warning that doing so could violate competition law and raise antitrust issues. Academy board member Steven Spielberg reportedly has encouraged changes to Oscar eligibility rules, prompting the DOJ’s response. At CinemaCon, movie theater owners are also discussing how Netflix is changing the landscape. Continue reading DOJ Warns Academy New Netflix Rules Could Violate Laws

Steven Spielberg Criticizes Oscar Noms for Streaming Films

As the Academy Governor representing directors, filmmaker Steven Spielberg is intent on changing the rules so that movies made by streaming content creators won’t be eligible for Oscars but would only be considered for Emmys, along with other TV fare. Spielberg — and the studios — were motivated most recently by how close Netflix-produced “Roma” came to winning Best Picture. As it was, “Roma” director Alfonso Cuarón won Academy Awards for best director and best cinematographer. One complaint is the lopsided spending for Oscar competition. Continue reading Steven Spielberg Criticizes Oscar Noms for Streaming Films

HPA Tech Retreat: Academy Color Encoding System Update

The Academy Color Encoding System (ACES), first introduced in late 2014, has made increasing inroads in the film industry. Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) Science and Technology Council managing director Andy Maltz said at least three of this year’s Academy Awards nominees in the Best Picture and Best VFX categories used ACES; SMPTE also has created seven standards related to the use of ACES. According to AMPAS’ ACES project chair Annie Chang, the group released ACES 1.1 this last year. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Academy Color Encoding System Update

DP Curtis Clark Awarded Academy Sci-Tech’s Bonner Medal

Cinematographer Curtis Clark, ASC was presented with the John A. Bonner Award at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science’s annual Scientific and Technical Awards ceremony on February 9. The award, which began in 1977 and is not awarded every year, acknowledges Clark’s “dedicated work in helping to shape the future of motion-picture technology and educate the industry at large.” Sixteen years ago, Curtis founded the ASC Motion Imaging Technology Council (MITC), which he continues to lead. Continue reading DP Curtis Clark Awarded Academy Sci-Tech’s Bonner Medal

Photoshop and After Effects Honored With Sci-Tech Awards

On February 9, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented Scientific and Engineering Awards to the teams behind Adobe’s After Effects and Photoshop. David Simons, Daniel Wilk, James Acquavella, Michael Natkin and David M. Cotter accepted the award for After Effects for motion graphics. Thomas Knoll and John Knoll accepted the award for the original architecture, design and development of Photoshop, and Mark Hamburg for its continued development and engineering. Both tools are a mainstay in the film and television industry. Continue reading Photoshop and After Effects Honored With Sci-Tech Awards

Netflix Is Joining the MPAA, ‘Roma’ Nominated For 10 Oscars

Netflix continues to define itself as a significant player in the film industry. Shortly after it revealed plans to continue investing heavily in original content, the streaming media giant has joined major Hollywood studios as a member of the Motion Picture Association of America. The move marks the first time an Internet company has joined the MPAA. “Joining the Motion Picture Association further exemplifies our commitment to ensuring the vibrancy of these creative industries and the many talented people who work in them all over the world,” explained Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. Continue reading Netflix Is Joining the MPAA, ‘Roma’ Nominated For 10 Oscars

ASWF Debuts Open Source Project and Adds New Members

The Academy Software Foundation (ASWF), a neutral forum to develop and collaborate on open source software for images, VFX, animation and sound, debuted its first hosted project, DreamWorks Animation’s OpenVDB, an open source C++ library for volumetric representations including fluid simulations, animated volumes and environmental effects. The Foundation also added Sony Pictures Entertainment/Sony Pictures Imageworks, Warner Bros., Blender Foundation and the Visual Effects Society (VES) as new members. Continue reading ASWF Debuts Open Source Project and Adds New Members

The Reel Thing: Prime Focus and HBO Test 10K Scans of Film

At The Reel Thing, an annual conference at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood on “current thinking and most advanced practical examples of progress in the field of preservation, restoration and media conservation,” Prime Focus Technologies executive director of cloud media services Anthony Matt and HBO director of remastering and alternate versions Laurel Warbrick described the results of their testing of 10K scans vs. 4K scans of 35mm film. Fittingly, they titled their presentation “The Burden of 10K Dreams.” Continue reading The Reel Thing: Prime Focus and HBO Test 10K Scans of Film

The Reel Thing: Machine Learning Powers Restoration Engine

During last week’s The Reel Thing at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood, Video Gorillas managing director/chief executive Jason Brahms, formerly a Sony Cloud Media Services executive, and chief technology officer Alex Zhukov described the Bigfoot “Frame Compare” solution that leverages machine learning to speed up preservation, asset management, and mastering workflows. The engine, whose development dates back to 2007, relies on a proprietary, patented technology, frequency domain descriptor (FDD). Continue reading The Reel Thing: Machine Learning Powers Restoration Engine

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