Illuminarium to Launch ‘Wild’ Immersive Experience in Atlanta

On July 1, experiential entertainment company Illuminarium Experiences will open its first location in Atlanta, Georgia, offering “Wild,” a virtual safari shot by RadicalMedia. The company’s immersive entertainment is intended to offer a kind of virtual reality — but without the clunky headsets. Instead, visitors walk through exhibits with 4K video on giant screens, spatial sound systems, haptic flooring and other interactive features including scent. Tickets for “Wild,” at $35, give the visitor an hour to walk through an 8,000-square-foot room. Continue reading Illuminarium to Launch ‘Wild’ Immersive Experience in Atlanta

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

ETC Executive Coffee: Disney on Immersive Media Storytelling

Disney executives met virtually with USC students on April 7 for the fourth installment in ETC@USC’s Spring 2021 Executive Coffee with… series. Mark Mine, director of the Technology Innovation Group at The Walt Disney Studios, along with his Disney colleague Daniel Baker, senior producer of technology innovation – interactive experiences, engaged a group of nine USC students in a one-hour discussion on “The Future of Immersive Media Storytelling.” They discussed the “aura” of effective immersive media, the balance between game elements and narrative elements, the use of light and shadow for user interface and user experience design, and the importance of navigation. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Disney on Immersive Media Storytelling

Universal Character Model Detailed in Latest ETC White Paper

ETC@USC teamed with Charisma.ai, Digital Domain, Fable Studio and Write Brothers, Inc. to publish a white paper on an innovative character definition tool that enables casting audience members within a story. The goal is to help construct new immersive experiences across different narrative formats using a variety of authoring systems. The proposal features a Universal Character Model (UCM) that houses all motivations, goals and methods of any specific character in order to create consistent behavior within the fluid context of interactive and dynamic stories. The white paper is now available to the creative community. Continue reading Universal Character Model Detailed in Latest ETC White Paper

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

Former Magic Leap CEO Now Building Synthetic Characters

Rony Abovitz, who stepped down as chief exec of augmented reality company Magic Leap in 2020, is now heading Sun and Thunder, a startup focused on synthetic characters and interactive storytelling made possible by spatial computing. That latter goal leans into the work Abovitz did at Magic Leap to create mixed reality experiences. Abovitz said Sun and Thunder is building its own technology platform, the TREX101, and output isn’t tied to any specific media or platform. Meanwhile, Magic Leap is now headed by former Microsoft executive Peggy Johnson. Continue reading Former Magic Leap CEO Now Building Synthetic Characters

Virtual Event: GPT-3 and Its Implications for the M&E Industry

To fully examine the inner workings and potential impact of deep learning language model GPT-3 on media, ETC’s project on AI & Neuroscience in Media is hosting a virtual event on November 10 from 11:00 am to 12:15 pm. RSVP here to join moderator Yves Bergquist of ETC@USC and presenter Dr. Mark Riedl of Georgia Tech as they present, “Machines That Can Write: A Deep Look at GPT-3 and its Implications for the Industry.” The launch last June of OpenAI’s GPT-3, a language model that uses deep learning to generate human-like text, has raised many questions in the creative community and the world at large.  Continue reading Virtual Event: GPT-3 and Its Implications for the M&E Industry

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

Niantic and Punchdrunk Partner to Develop New AR Projects

Punchdrunk, the British theater company that produced “Sleep No More,” and Niantic, developer of popular mobile games “Pokémon Go” and “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite,” are teaming up to collaborate on several projects. In “Sleep No More” — an immersive but not interactive show — audience members walked through rooms at their own pace, with actors performing hour-long loops. Punchdrunk already produced a virtual reality project for Samsung Gear VR and a mobile game with Silverpoint. The two companies haven’t released details on their first project. Continue reading Niantic and Punchdrunk Partner to Develop New AR Projects

KidHQ: Walmart and Mattel Renting Space in Virtual Store

Online toy shopping is getting increasingly creative, as digital reality tools rise in popularity among retailers and consumers. Walmart and Mattel are now leasing “floors” at the BuzzFeed-produced interactive video experience KidHQ, a virtual reality store that allows users to browse products via choose-your-own-adventure-style videos. Both companies are looking ahead to the holiday season as they try to sell toys ranging from Barbies to “Frozen 2” merchandise, and are using interactive video to connect with consumers to do so. 

Continue reading KidHQ: Walmart and Mattel Renting Space in Virtual Store

Netflix, Doppio Games Create Voice-Controlled ‘3%’ Prequel

Doppio Games and Netflix, teaming up with Rio Games, created multiplayer game “The 3% Challenge,” a prequel to Netflix’s original Brazilian series “3%,” through a partnership to create voice-controlled games and other entertainment. The free-to-play game launched on Amazon Alexa and will appear later this week on Google Assistant, in English and Portuguese. Although Netflix’s core strengths are TV series, feature films and documentaries, it has been moving into games, including “Stranger Things 3: The Game” and “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.” Continue reading Netflix, Doppio Games Create Voice-Controlled ‘3%’ Prequel

NBCUniversal Debuts Its ‘Series’ Interactive Storytelling App

NBCUniversal became the latest media outlet to dip a toe into interactive storytelling, with “Series: Your Story Universe,” a mobile game produced by Universal Games and Digital Platforms with Endless Entertainment. The team picked IPs not easily adapted for mobile games that allow users to interact with stories based on favorite TV shows and movies, including “Vanderpump Rules,” “Saved by the Bell,” “Law & Order,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Bridesmaids,” “Sixteen Candles” and “Xena: Warrior Princess.” Continue reading NBCUniversal Debuts Its ‘Series’ Interactive Storytelling App

YouTube Taps Ben Relles to Lead Programming Innovation

Google’s YouTube is planning new original programming with a focus on live specials and interactive content. Ben Relles, former head of unscripted for YouTube Originals, will assume his new role as head of innovation to lead the initiative. Reporting to Susanne Daniels, global head of original content, Relles will be responsible for the development of new scripted and unscripted original programming intended to foster interaction and engagement with viewers. Interactive content has been getting more attention since the success of Netflix’s “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.” Continue reading YouTube Taps Ben Relles to Lead Programming Innovation

Pandora Believes Listeners Will Interact With its Voice Ads

Pandora plans to test new interactive advertising technology that would allow listeners to engage directly with its “voice ads” by speaking aloud. Pandora listeners could request additional information about a product or service being promoted, for example, or request skipping the ad altogether. The beta test, powered by ad-tech firm Instreamatic, is expected to launch later this year. Instreamatic provides an interactive ad platform built on its Voice AI Core to help brands and marketers “manage, measure and monetize voice-enabled audio advertising.” Continue reading Pandora Believes Listeners Will Interact With its Voice Ads

Netflix VP Says Viewers Can Expect More Interactive Series

Following the global success of its choose-your-own-adventure style “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch,” Netflix plans to produce more such interactive content. During his keynote at the FICCI-Frames conference in Mumbai, VP of content Todd Yellin explained that new interactive approaches could include, for example, a romantic comedy in which viewers determine whether characters get together. Yellin told the crowd that “Bandersnatch” is “a huge hit” in India and “around the world, and we realized, wow, interactive storytelling is something we want to bet more on.” Continue reading Netflix VP Says Viewers Can Expect More Interactive Series

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