Google’s Imagen AI Model Makes Advances in Text-to-Image

Google has released a research paper on a new text-to-image generator called Imagen, which combines the power of large transformer language models for text with the capabilities of diffusion models in high-fidelity image generation. “Our key discovery is that generic large language models (e.g. T5), pretrained on text-only corpora, are surprisingly effective at encoding text for image synthesis,” the company said. Simultaneously, Google is introducing DrawBench, a benchmark for text-to-image models it says was used to compare Imagen with other recent technologies including VQGAN+CLIP, latent diffusion models, and OpenAI’s DALL-E 2. Continue reading Google’s Imagen AI Model Makes Advances in Text-to-Image

Are DAOs About to Revolutionize the Film and TV Industries?

Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) are riding the crypto wave, with some asking if their notion of distributed decision-making marks an evolution from crowdfunding through platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to crowdsourced creativity on a blockchain. It’s already been demonstrated that tokens can be used for smart contracts and to designate property ownership. The film and television industries are just becoming aware of the potential impact of NFTs, which have already disrupted the worlds of art and gaming, driving creator economies. The wisdom of the crowd might be tapped to find fresh stories, too. Continue reading Are DAOs About to Revolutionize the Film and TV Industries?

Epic Pitches Big Tent in Metaverse with Bandcamp Purchase

Epic Games has purchased online music store and community Bandcamp. Citing a shared “mission of building the most artist friendly platform that enables creators to keep the majority of their hard-earned money,” the blockbuster game developer explained in a statement that Bandcamp will play an important role in the gamer’s “vision to build out a creator marketplace ecosystem for content, technology, games, art, music and more.” It’s an interesting strategic move. Competitor Electronic Arts has had success with music, getting its “Star Wars” scores released and creating hits through its “FIFA” and “Madden NFL” games. Continue reading Epic Pitches Big Tent in Metaverse with Bandcamp Purchase

ETC Examines Realities of Multiverse at Digital Town Square

“Preparing for the Multiverse” was the subject of ETC@USC’s latest virtual Digital Town Square event. As the culture, art and commerce spaces rebalance to incorporate blended physical and virtual options, it is clearly important that we understand early on how changes will impact our business and creative endeavors. Our speakers spend their days thinking about how the emerging metaverses will impact creativity, business development and the fabric of society. We chose the word “multiverse” because we expect many metaverses to develop and compete — some designed top-down by multinational corporations and others developed bottom-up by DAO communities. Continue reading ETC Examines Realities of Multiverse at Digital Town Square

Cybercriminals Target NFTs on OpenSea, Other Marketplaces

Nearly $30 billion was spent on NFTs last year, according to analytics firm Chainalysis, and one of the companies that’s benefitted from the boom is OpenSea. The firm has a $13 billion valuation thanks to its well-timed entry into the hot new sector, becoming one of the biggest NFT marketplaces in the world. With success has come headaches, as scam artists began to target NFTs and the people who buy and sell them. Now the four-year-old New York firm and other marketplaces are struggling to find a balance between boomtown and lockdown. Continue reading Cybercriminals Target NFTs on OpenSea, Other Marketplaces

Instagram Unveils Explore Shopping Tab, Stickers for Stories

Instagram plans to debut a standalone Shopping app, a move that could rival Pinterest and Wish. Ahead of the move, it is adding a shopping tab to the Explore page, which will allow users to look through a dedicated feed of merchandise from a wide range of vendors. Those sellers will be able to add stickers to their Stories for the first time, letting consumers shop from the Stories feed by tapping on the product. With this feature, shoppers will let people consider possible purchases before heading to the seller’s website. Continue reading Instagram Unveils Explore Shopping Tab, Stickers for Stories

Apple’s New iPad Aims to Top Google’s Classroom Dominance

In an effort to catch up to Google’s classroom dominance, Apple unveiled a new 9.7-inch iPad on Tuesday “aimed at classrooms and other education tools,” reports The New York Times. It has a faster processor and the ability to support its education-minded stylus, the Apple Pencil (which previously only paired with pricier iPads), as well as 200 gigabytes of storage. It’ll be priced at $299 for schools and $329 for consumers. Additionally, Apple announced new classroom software and new curriculum.

Continue reading Apple’s New iPad Aims to Top Google’s Classroom Dominance

Google to Explore Using AI Systems to Produce Art and Music

During the Moogfest music and technology fest in North Carolina, Google Brain researcher Douglas Eck outlined a new artificial intelligence research project at Google called Magenta. The group, expected to publicly launch next month, plans to use the company’s machine learning engine TensorFlow to explore new ways that computers and AI systems could be trained to create original art and media such as music or video. The initiative should prove challenging; so far, the most advanced AI systems have struggled to replicate styles of existing artists. Continue reading Google to Explore Using AI Systems to Produce Art and Music

MIT Media Lab Director Ito Explores Transformative Research

Joichi “Joi” Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, explored how radical new approaches to science and technology can transform society in his SIGGRAPH 2015 keynote presentation. Ito’s remarks addressed what he and his colleagues at the Media Lab view as a fundamental shift in the way we need to work, collaborate, think, imagine and create. He calls it the “Creativity Compass” and unites science, art, design and engineering. Several of the Media Lab’s futuristic projects were also featured. Continue reading MIT Media Lab Director Ito Explores Transformative Research

“This” Social Network Takes New Approach to Selective Sharing

The new invite-only social network “This” lets users share one link per day of a stand-out Internet post, such as a compelling article or a podcast episode or a video. Rather than inundating the community with a flood of posts (a common model of other social networks), users on This only get the best-of-the-best on the Web. As a result, tech types and news junkies are clamoring for an invite. The new social network is a project of Atlantic Media and Andrew Golis. It is less than three months old and currently has about 4,500 users. Continue reading “This” Social Network Takes New Approach to Selective Sharing

SGN Releases Mobile Game for Fox’s New ‘Book of Life’ Movie

Mobile game maker SGN and 20th Century Fox released “Book of Life: Sugar Smash,” a companion mobile game for Fox’s new animated film. The two companies are sharing revenue from the game’s in-app purchases, which could translate to long-term revenue and marketing for both businesses. This revenue-sharing deal could also become a new model of partnership for future gaming and film companies. “Book of Life: Sugar Smash” is a free game available for iOS and soon Android. Continue reading SGN Releases Mobile Game for Fox’s New ‘Book of Life’ Movie

Guggenheim Museum Testing Beacon Technology for Exhibits

The Guggenheim Museum, a premier art museum in New York City, is making its exhibits more interactive by integrating beacon technology. The beacons are small, box-like sensors that use Bluetooth technology to detect when a smartphone is in proximity. The museum will use its 20 to 30 beacons to track traffic flow through the building. In the future, the beacons may transmit informational alerts to visitors’ phones as they approach a painting or sculpture. Continue reading Guggenheim Museum Testing Beacon Technology for Exhibits

Canopy Aims to Showcase the Beautiful Products on Amazon

While Amazon has almost anything that most consumers need, the volume of products can be daunting for those who want to casually browse the site or discover well-designed or high-end products. Canopy is a website created by former Google designers that hopes to solve this problem by offering a curated storefront for products available via Amazon. Canopy offers a front-end alternative, while relying on Amazon’s back-end to make products available in just a few clicks. Continue reading Canopy Aims to Showcase the Beautiful Products on Amazon

USC Cinematic Arts Professors Installed in New Endowed Chairs

In a ceremony at the Ray Stark Theater on USC’s Cinematic Arts campus last Thursday, Dean Elizabeth Daley joined George Lucas in welcoming three USC film professors to their new endowed chairs. Made possible by a generous gift from Lucas, the three new chairs — The Sergei Eisenstein Endowed Chair for Cinematic Design, the George Mélies Endowed Chair in Visual Effects, and the William Cameron Menzies Endowed Chair in Production Design — are now held by Bruce Block, Michael Funk, and Alex McDowell respectively. Continue reading USC Cinematic Arts Professors Installed in New Endowed Chairs

ILM Has Plans to Open New Visual Effects Facility in London

Carolyn Giardina of The Hollywood Reporter forwarded us news that Industrial Light & Magic, the visual effects division of Lucasfilm, has major expansion plans including a new facility in central London, just outside of Soho, and a move for the Vancouver team to a larger space that will allow the group to double from 100 to 200 employees. Lucasfilm also recently opened an ILM facility in Singapore. The VFX arm is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. Continue reading ILM Has Plans to Open New Visual Effects Facility in London