Twitter Intros Ephemeral Tweets, Gathering Spaces for Audio

Twitter is launching Fleets, a feature that allows users to post photos or text that will disappear after 24 hours. Snapchat pioneered the ephemeral post, followed by Instagram and Facebook. Rollout of the Stories-like feature is moving forward, but has been scaled back as Twitter addresses “some performance and stability problems.” The platform’s “global town square” continues to be its “marquee product” but, said Twitter director of design Joshua Harris, the Fleets feature creates a space with less pressure for users who lurk but don’t post. The company is also testing Spaces, a new audio feature similar to Clubhouse, a startup that debuted earlier this year. Continue reading Twitter Intros Ephemeral Tweets, Gathering Spaces for Audio

Twitch Responds to a Flood of Copyright Takedown Notices

Last month, the Recording Industry Association of America, the Recording Academy, the National Music Publishers Association, the Music Managers Forum, the American Association of Independent Music and SAG-AFTRA chastised Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos for his company Twitch’s copyright violations. Twitch finally conceded that it ignored the use of unlicensed recorded music by its video creators and issued a blog post urging them to no longer do so and to delete any older VODs and Clips with unlicensed music. Continue reading Twitch Responds to a Flood of Copyright Takedown Notices

New AI-Based Google System Converts Webpages to Video

Google announced it has developed URL2Video, an AI-enabled system that automatically converts webpages into short videos by extracting text and images. The system also harvests design styles such as colors, fonts, graphics and layouts from HTML sources and organizes all the elements into a sequence of shots that looks and feels similar to the original webpage. Google is targeting businesses with websites for their products and services, enabling them to easily create marketing videos out of existing resources. Continue reading New AI-Based Google System Converts Webpages to Video

Music Is the Focus in Spotify’s New ‘Original Shows’ Format

In response to learning that listeners want to discover and save music in their favorite podcasts, Spotify is debuting “Original Shows,” a new spoken word format that combines music with particular themes featuring a monologue or conversation with guests. But, unlike a typical podcast, each song inside an Original Show will redirect the listener to that artist’s Spotify official audio files. That means the artist will make the same money as if a listener sought out his or her music. Listeners can also like and save a song while they’re listening to it. Continue reading Music Is the Focus in Spotify’s New ‘Original Shows’ Format

WiSA: Wireless Speaker and Audio Advances Home Theater

WiSA — wireless speaker and audio — offers the promise of changing and simplifying home theater setups by getting rid of speaker wires and even the A/V receiver. WiSA, which has support from 60+ manufacturers of home theater gear, including LG, TCL, Toshiba, Klipsch, and Bang & Olufsen, is a hardware and software specification for high resolution digital audio. As such, it can send audio wirelessly from a sound source to up to eight powered speakers within the same room, using 24-bit 48kHz or 96kHz signals. Continue reading WiSA: Wireless Speaker and Audio Advances Home Theater

AI-Powered Movies in Progress, Writing Makes Major Strides

In the not-so-distant future there will likely be services that allow the user to choose plots, characters and locations that are then fed into an AI-powered transformer with the result of a fully customized movie. The idea of using generative artificial intelligence to create content goes back to 2015’s computer vision program DeepDream, thanks to Google engineer Alexander Mordvintsev. Bringing that fantasy closer to reality is the AI system GPT-3 that creates convincingly coherent and interactive writing, often fooling the experts. Continue reading AI-Powered Movies in Progress, Writing Makes Major Strides

Executive Spotlight: A Talk with Lance Podell of Iron Mountain Entertainment Services

For the latest installment in ETC’s Executive Spotlight series, we had a fascinating conversation with Lance Podell, senior vice president and general manager of Iron Mountain Entertainment Services (IMES), a leader in media archiving for the entertainment industry. IMES steers its film, music, broadcast and sports clients in media preservation, restoration and distribution. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Podell’s group has focused on safety and remote productivity while developing innovative methods for protecting assets and serving as an extension of its clients’ businesses. Iron Mountain has also created a “digital studio in a box” so that projects can stay on track during this challenging time. Continue reading Executive Spotlight: A Talk with Lance Podell of Iron Mountain Entertainment Services

Facebook Reveals New AI-Powered Text-to-Speech System

Facebook introduced an AI text-to-speech system (TTS) that produces a second of audio in 500 milliseconds. According to Facebook, the system, which is used with a new approach to data collection, powered the creation of a British accent-inflected voice in six months, versus over a year required for other voices. The TTS is now used for Facebook’s Portal smart display brand. The system can be hosted in real time via ordinary processors and is also available as a service for other apps, including Facebook’s VR. Continue reading Facebook Reveals New AI-Powered Text-to-Speech System

Pandemic Shutdown Leading to Major Shifts in E-Commerce

When the U.S. shut down in March, people went online to shop. Adobe’s Digital Economy Index reported that U.S. e-commerce skyrocketed 49 percent in April, compared to the baseline period in early March. Some e-commerce companies have become stronger during the shutdown. But buying patterns have been volatile, with the latest uptick sparked by government stimulus checks that were sent out April 11. Many experts believe that consumer habits are changing in ways that will continue beyond the threat of the coronavirus. Continue reading Pandemic Shutdown Leading to Major Shifts in E-Commerce

Executive Spotlight: Interview with Vubiquity’s Darcy Antonellis

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant operational changes as businesses adjust to new, often experimental or untested processes. ETC has taken this unprecedented time to interview executives from our member companies who generously agreed to share their experiences, information and ideas about how they are adapting to the crisis. The following is the first in a limited series to be published Tuesdays and Thursdays over the coming weeks. We begin with a conversation with Darcy Antonellis, division president of Amdocs Media and CEO of Vubiquity, an Amdocs Company. Vubiquity delivers premium content to viewers on any screen, device or platform. Continue reading Executive Spotlight: Interview with Vubiquity’s Darcy Antonellis

Work-at-Home Software on the Rise Amid COVID-19 Concerns

As more companies ask employees to work from home due to the global spread of the coronavirus, Google, Microsoft and Zoom have responded by providing their workplace software for free. Microsoft’s Teams saw a 500 percent increase in meetings, calls and conference usage in China since the end of January, and demand is rising in the U.S. as work-from-home policies are instituted. Many Microsoft employees have been instructed to work from home and, last week, their Teams chat volume rose 50 percent, with video/audio meetings up 37 percent from a week earlier. Continue reading Work-at-Home Software on the Rise Amid COVID-19 Concerns

HPA Tech Retreat: Immersive Audio Standards Ready For Use

Immersive audio standards are complete, said Sony Pictures Entertainment executive director of audio Brian Vessa, and now the task is to encourage widespread use. Immersive Audio Bitstream (IAB) is the interoperable system that allows one mix — the IAB DCP — to play back in multiple immersive sound systems in movie theaters. “For home entertainment, a single mix can be transcoded to multiple deliverables,” Vessa said. Most tentpole movies are already being mixed natively in immersive audio, he added. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Immersive Audio Standards Ready For Use

Researchers Create AI Technique to Generate Video Captions

Researchers at Microsoft Research Asia and the Harbin Institute of Technology have come up with a new technique to use artificial intelligence to generate live video captions. In the past, technologists have used encoder-decoder models, but didn’t model the interaction between videos and comments, resulting in mainly irrelevant comments. The new technique — based on a model that iteratively learns to capture the representations of audio, video and comments — outperforms current methods, according to the research team. Continue reading Researchers Create AI Technique to Generate Video Captions

Apple Researchers Improving Accuracy of Virtual Assistant

Over 50 million people worldwide use Apple’s virtual assistant Siri. Apple, focused on improving Siri’s capabilities, published research on how to improve voice trigger detection, speaker verification and language identification for multiple speakers. Apple researchers suggest that an AI model be trained for automatic speech recognition and speaker recognition. Rather than approach it as two independent tasks, the researchers proved that those tasks might actually help one another to “estimate both properties.” Continue reading Apple Researchers Improving Accuracy of Virtual Assistant

Spotify Plans to Run Targeted Ads in its Exclusive Podcasts

During CES 2020, Spotify revealed plans to leverage its massive amount of user data in order to introduce targeted advertising in its exclusive podcast content. With its proprietary Streaming Ad Insertion (SAI) tech, Spotify will analyze data based on user location, type of device, gender, age and more to insert advertisements in real time (Spotify already automates dynamic ad insertion for its music streaming). The company could eventually become a major podcast ad network if it ends up placing ads in other networks’ content as well. Continue reading Spotify Plans to Run Targeted Ads in its Exclusive Podcasts

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