Disney+ Shares the ‘Future of Storytelling’ with New AR Short

Disney+ has unveiled a new app for viewing augmented reality, inviting subscribers to test drive “the future of storytelling, in your own living room” with the new short “Remembering: The AR Experience.” Created by an award-winning duo (“Captain Marvel” star Brie Larson, who also produces, and writer/director Elijah Allan-Blitz), the 8-minute film is meant to be viewed “through” an iOS tablet or iPhone that you hold up to your TV screen, allowing its camera to activate a QR code that triggers the AR, bringing fanciful objects (trees, rainbows, shooting stars and clouds) to your IRL surroundings. Continue reading Disney+ Shares the ‘Future of Storytelling’ with New AR Short

TikTok Launches Effect House for User-Generated AR Filters

TikTok has officially gone live with Effect House, the augmented reality tool that allows users to create AR filters and share them with the community. The ByteDance company has been testing the feature since last summer. Since then, at least 450 creators have used Effect House to create more than 1.5 billion videos that generated over 600 billion global views, according to TikTok. “Whether you’re teleporting into new worlds with Green Screen or freeze-framing with Time Warp Scan,” Effect House empowers expression “through a wide array of engaging and immersive formats.” Continue reading TikTok Launches Effect House for User-Generated AR Filters

Epic’s Unreal Engine 5 Out of Preview and Into Wide Release

After nearly a year in preview, Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5 is now in general release. Availability of the next-generation real-time 3D platform was announced at Tuesday’s State of Unreal 2022 event. Empowering “both large and small teams to really push the boundaries of what’s possible, visually and interactively,” UE5 offers more fidelity and flexibility than previous iterations. Although it has been battle-tested on “Fortnite” and “The Matrix Awakens” demo for PlayStation 5, Epic says some UE5 features “have not yet been validated for non-games workflows.” Continue reading Epic’s Unreal Engine 5 Out of Preview and Into Wide Release

Disney+ Service to Debut in 42 More Countries This Summer

The Disney+ streaming video service, which launched in November 2019 and is already available in 64 countries, plans to launch in 42 additional countries and 11 new territories sometime this summer. The announcement did not include exact release dates or regional pricing, but the scope of the expansion should help the platform jumpstart subscriber growth to better compete with other streaming services such as Netflix and HBO Max. The expansion plans should also steer Disney toward its previously predicted target of 230 million subscribers before the end of 2024. Disney+ already had 118 million global subscribers by the end of last year. Continue reading Disney+ Service to Debut in 42 More Countries This Summer

Adobe’s Sensei AI Powers New Tech Previewed at MAX 2021

New technology previewed this week at Adobe MAX 2021 included Project In-Between. The app generates new still-frames, bridging sequential photos to create “living images” that can be shared socially as GIFs. Drawing on the Adobe Sensei artificial intelligence tool, In-Between is a one-click animation engine that links two or more similar frames. Also teased was Project Morpheus, a “smart portrait” feature that facilitates individual video frame editing within Photoshop. Morpheus changes a scowl to a smile, adds anger or surprise, thickens hair or adjusts age, transitioning morphing out of the VFX studio and into the hands of everyday users. Continue reading Adobe’s Sensei AI Powers New Tech Previewed at MAX 2021

Thinking About CES: Increasing Computational Sophistication

The entertainment industry has traditionally piggybacked on primary development in other sectors to fuel our own innovative adoption of practical and compelling technologies. History shows that we consistently benefit from numerous advances across industries for reuse or adaption in our key areas ranging from internal communication all the way to distribution of content. As we start compiling our wish lists for emerging standout technologies to be featured at CES 2022 (returning to Las Vegas January 5-8), we anticipate that an expanded computational sophistication of consumer devices will be in the cards. Continue reading Thinking About CES: Increasing Computational Sophistication

ETC Execs to Discuss Future of Production at Makers Pop-Up

Makers Pop-Up is a 2-day virtual conference for the creative community that explores the merger of technology with storytelling in film, TV, advertising, interactive and animation. The event, scheduled for Wednesday-Thursday this week (June 9-10), will provide a digital space to make connections, meet potential partners and share ideas and resources. Two executives from ETC@USC will offer their expertise on panels: Yves Bergquist will address the “Virtual Creative Muse: The Evolution of AI as Artistic Mentor and Production Assistant” and Erik Weaver will discuss “Fix it in Prep: How Virtual Production Front Loads Creative Decisions and Costs.” Continue reading ETC Execs to Discuss Future of Production at Makers Pop-Up

Netflix Rolls Out ‘First Laughs’ Comedy Clips for Mobile Users

Netflix just added First Laughs to its iPhone app, offering comedy clips from movies, TV shows and its own stand-up comedy specials, with the full-screen vertical video running via an auto-playing feed. The company stated it will debut up to 100 curated clips per day. Fast Laughs also includes social features and lets users add titles to their watch list or start watching a program immediately. The length of each video segment will run from about 15 seconds to up to 45 seconds or longer. The idea of watching content on the go echoes TikTok and the now defunct Quibi. Continue reading Netflix Rolls Out ‘First Laughs’ Comedy Clips for Mobile Users

Disney Premieres Interactive Short at Sundance Film Festival

During Sundance Film Festival 2021 (January 28 – February 3), Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution and Disney Television Animation is showcasing an interactive short — “Baymax Dreams of Fred’s Glitch” — that plays via Nvidia’s GeForce NOW streaming service. The game-like short features the cast from “Big Hero 6” and challenges the viewer to fix Fred’s destructive “glitch” and Baymax’s programming. “Baymax Dreams” is part of the New Frontier Alliance Showcase at Sundance. GeForce NOW, officially unveiled in 2015, recently launched for the Chrome web browser and M1 Macs in beta. Continue reading Disney Premieres Interactive Short at Sundance Film Festival

CES: Consumers Follow Brands That Align with Their Beliefs

At a CES 2021 panel, Insider Inc. chief marketing officer Jenifer Berman described a surge of “consumers that put their purchasing power behind brands that represent their beliefs,” such as racial equity and sustainability. She noted that, with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, brands shifted their messaging so as not to appear tone deaf. Nissan U.S. vice president and chief marketing officer Allyson Witherspoon reported that her company, for the first time, wasn’t trying to sell cars but instead to how to support consumers. Continue reading CES: Consumers Follow Brands That Align with Their Beliefs

Fable Studio Bets on a Future with AI-Powered Virtual Beings

San Francisco-based Fable Studio, a VR studio that won an Emmy Award for its “Wolves in the Walls” project, has debuted its first efforts in creating conversational AI virtual beings. Charlie and Beck, two characters that can converse as if they were real people, are Fable Studio’s bet in the future of such virtual beings for entertainment and even companionship. Its first AI being was Lucy, an 8-year-old girl, who starred in “Wolves in the Walls” and is now a standalone online character after the company debuted her in alpha tests last month. Continue reading Fable Studio Bets on a Future with AI-Powered Virtual Beings

VFX House Weta Digital Aims to Become a Content Producer

New Zealand-based Weta Digital, a visual effects company that has worked on such high-profile films as “Avatar” and “Avengers: Endgame,” is making a play to create its own original content. Co-founded by “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson, Weta Digital recently added firepower to its board of directors, including former Disney chief operating officer Tom Staggs, and is also searching to make strategic purchases in the special effects and animation business since animation can be produced remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading VFX House Weta Digital Aims to Become a Content Producer

Academy Software Foundation Unveils Updated OpenColorIO

The Academy Software Foundation (ASWF) debuted OpenColorIO version 2 (OCIO v2) for developers to integrate into their applications. OCIO is an industry standard for consistent color management across VFX and animation pipelines that has been used on hundreds of feature film productions. One major enhancement is native implementation of ACES, replacing the requirement for finite LUT files with precise algorithms. In addition, new foundation members include Unity Technologies, Conductor Technologies and SMPTE. Continue reading Academy Software Foundation Unveils Updated OpenColorIO

TV Ad Budgets Dwindle, Productions Shut Down in Pandemic

With the presidential election and the Tokyo Summer Olympics, television networks expected robust advertising in 2020. But MoffettNathanson noted that, with the Olympics postponed and presidential campaigns muted due to the coronavirus pandemic, advertising revenue is expected to drop 12 percent; the WARC research group predicted that will pencil out to a $25.5 billion loss in spending. Although viewership has exploded during the shutdown, research firm Kantar said that companies have cut advertising budgets more than 40 percent. Continue reading TV Ad Budgets Dwindle, Productions Shut Down in Pandemic

Executive Spotlight: A Talk with Tony Driscoll of Warner Bros.

For the third week of ETC’s Executive Spotlight series, in which we interview leaders from our member companies about how they are adapting business operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, we had an opportunity to speak with Tony Driscoll, SVP of emerging technology strategy & data services at Warner Bros. Technology. Previously with AT&T, Driscoll is currently responsible for his studio’s strategies involving emerging trends and tech-driven innovation opportunities. He also works in close coordination with the WarnerMedia Innovation Lab. Warner Bros. has been using various technologies for remote collaboration since the offices began closing due to the pandemic in early 2020. We caught up with Tony at his home office. Continue reading Executive Spotlight: A Talk with Tony Driscoll of Warner Bros.