Amazon Music Debuts Voice Feature to Customize Playlists

Amazon Music debuted a voice feature that lets Amazon Music Unlimited and Prime Music customers on Echo devices and in the Amazon Music iOS and Android apps converse with Alexa to find playlists and music for specific moods. The listener can identify songs by lyrics, among other features, and reject or “like” individual songs. Amazon’s overall aim is to allow each listener to create a more customized listening experience. Amazon is also in trials with a feature that allows Alexa Answers to be shared worldwide. Continue reading Amazon Music Debuts Voice Feature to Customize Playlists

Netflix Makes Major Commitment to Canada With New Studio

Netflix is planning to invest a minimum of 500 million Canadian dollars ($400.8 million U.S.) over the next five years to build a studio in Canada, revealed Canada’s Heritage Minister, Melanie Joly. The studio will create original Canadian productions, some of which will be French-language, in recognition of Canada’s status as a bilingual country. Canada, which was the first foreign country where Netflix launched, is also home to the third most global subscribers. The Canadian studio will be Netflix’s first global content outpost. Continue reading Netflix Makes Major Commitment to Canada With New Studio

Facebook Open-Sources fastText Tools That Stifle Clickbait

To keep track of the massive amount of data shared on Facebook, the company’s Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) lab created fastText, which offers a variety of techniques that make it more accurate and easy to do. Today, Facebook is making fastText open source, available on GitHub, so developers can use its libraries anywhere. Among the techniques fastText uses are “bag of words” and “subword information.” Facebook will use fastText to cut down on “clickbait,” an ever-present irritation on the Internet. Continue reading Facebook Open-Sources fastText Tools That Stifle Clickbait

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

Mario Batali to Kickstart New Dailymotion Original Programming

In an effort to attract more U.S. viewers, Paris-based online video site Dailymotion is pushing new original programming that it hopes will help the service compete with Google’s YouTube. Dailymotion plans to initially commit between $3 million and $4 million to produce up to six series this year that will include leading personalities from industries such as food, music and entertainment. The company is also courting U.S. firms as potential investors. Continue reading Mario Batali to Kickstart New Dailymotion Original Programming

Research Suggests Strikes Systems Not Curbing Online Piracy

Several countries have launched “graduated response” initiatives in an effort to reduce online piracy, but new findings from U.S. and French researchers suggest the measures do not have the intended effect. Last year, the U.S. implemented its six-strikes system to warn infringing file-sharers, and then penalize them after multiple warnings. Although the penalties range from a fine to a prolonged Internet disconnection, the study suggests this does not prevent piracy.  Continue reading Research Suggests Strikes Systems Not Curbing Online Piracy

Ubisoft CEO Envisions New Wave of Interactive Entertainment

French video game developer Ubisoft is pushing for a more interactive television experience, one in which viewers have more control over what happens, similar to the control players have with games. As a new generation of game consoles get ready to hit the market, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot hopes to join forces with Hollywood to help make this happen. Game developers say consumers have a growing appetite for new entertainment experiences. Continue reading Ubisoft CEO Envisions New Wave of Interactive Entertainment