OpenAI Unveils AI-Powered DALL-E Text-to-Image Generator

OpenAI unveiled DALL-E, which generates images from text using two multimodel AI systems that leverage computer vision and NLP. The name is a reference to surrealist artist Salvador Dali and Pixar’s animated robot WALL-E. DALL-E relies on a 12-billion parameter version of GPT-3. OpenAI demonstrated that DALL-E can manipulate and rearrange objects in generated imagery and also create images from scratch based on text prompts. It has stated that it plans to “analyze how models like DALL·E relate to societal issues.” Continue reading OpenAI Unveils AI-Powered DALL-E Text-to-Image Generator

TikTok Evolved to Become Major Cultural Platform This Year

TikTok debuted in the U.S. in August 2018 and by April 2020 had amassed 2+ billion downloads. By fall of this year it racked up an estimated 850 million monthly active users. While many people still think of TikTok as an app for children and young people, it has become a “rich social and entertainment network” that has impacted online dance culture, the fashion and music industries, and much more. Thousands of TikTok creators recently recreated Pixar’s “Ratatouille” animated feature in 60-second contributions of songs, dances, set designs and puppets. Continue reading TikTok Evolved to Become Major Cultural Platform This Year

Streaming Platforms Benefited from 2020 COVID Lockdowns

In 2020, many analysts expected a shakeout among the burgeoning number of streaming services. Instead, the COVID-19 pandemic led to record-breaking viewing. U.S. subscription numbers are expected to finish the year 50+ percent higher than a year ago, according to data from Moffett Nathanson and HarrisX, whose chief executive Dritan Nesho said “streaming coexistence and parallel growth” were leitmotifs for the year. Newcomers AT&T’s HBO Max and Disney+ also saw a rise in app downloads when they debuted feature films. Continue reading Streaming Platforms Benefited from 2020 COVID Lockdowns

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

Studios Adapting to Pandemic Limitations with Film Releases

WarnerMedia chief executive Jason Kilar revealed that his company plans to release blockbuster “Wonder Woman 1984” simultaneously in theaters and on its HBO Max streaming service on Christmas Day. He noted the changed environment, in which box office revenue alone doesn’t measure a film’s success but also by the number of new subscribers it generates for the studio’s streaming service. The distribution plan for the much-anticipated release is a sign of how much media companies have evolved to put more emphasis on streaming. Continue reading Studios Adapting to Pandemic Limitations with Film Releases

Disney Doubles Down on Success of New Streaming Service

Last Thursday, The Walt Disney Company celebrated the one-year anniversary of its Disney+ streaming service, which reached 73.7 million subscriptions as of October 3, up from the 60+ million reported in August. That positive news has offset losses, much of it due to COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on tourism and movie-going, reported in the quarter ending June 27. “The real bright spot has been our direct-to-consumer business,” said Disney chief executive Bob Chapek, pointing to the division that includes streaming operations. Continue reading Disney Doubles Down on Success of New Streaming Service

In Major Reorg, Disney Moves Streaming Services to Center

The Walt Disney Company is reorganizing to put more emphasis on its streaming video services Disney+ and Hulu. The company is creating content groups for movies, general entertainment and sports, with a distribution unit that will determine the best platform — streaming, TV network, movie theater — for every piece of content. According to Disney chief executive Bob Chapek, the move acknowledges that consumers now are more likely to watch content on a streaming service than broadcast and cable channels or movie theater screens. Continue reading In Major Reorg, Disney Moves Streaming Services to Center

Nvidia Intros Open Beta of Its Omniverse Virtual Environment

In his keynote address at Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference, chief executive Jensen Huang demonstrated Omniverse, a virtual environment described as a “metaverse” for engineers, announcing an open beta. With Omniverse — which was inspired by the sci-fi concept of the metaverse — engineers can collaborate on and simulate designs in a photoreal 3D virtual environment. Nvidia has been providing early access to Omniverse for 18 months; it will be available for download this fall. Continue reading Nvidia Intros Open Beta of Its Omniverse Virtual Environment

Disney’s Streaming Services Hit 100 Million Subscriber Mark

Disney’s new streaming businesses — Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ — have now accrued more than 100 million subscribers worldwide. With the release of blockbuster “Hamilton” on Disney+, that service hit 60.5 million subscribers after only nine months. That was a (low-end) number that Disney originally hoped to achieve at the end of five years. Disney has also announced that it would release its $200 million feature “Mulan” on Disney+, on a premium basis rather than movie theaters, in the U.S., Canada and parts of Europe. Continue reading Disney’s Streaming Services Hit 100 Million Subscriber Mark

Home Robot ‘Moxie’ Teaches Kindness and More to Children

Although most home robots have failed, iRobot’s Roomba, the autonomous vacuum cleaner, became the most successful one thus far. People began to relate to the device like it was a person, even giving it names. Former iRobot chief technology officer Paolo Pirjanian explains, “there’s something innate in our mind that triggers when we see something move on its own.” He is now founder/chief executive of Embodied, which is in beta with Moxie, a robot designed to help children improve basic social and cognitive skills. Continue reading Home Robot ‘Moxie’ Teaches Kindness and More to Children

Pixar’s Catmull, Hanrahan Honored With ACM’s Turing Award

Computer graphics pioneering researchers Ed Catmull and Pat Hanrahan were awarded the A.M. Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery and are splitting the $1 million prize money. Catmull recruited Hanrahan, a fellow computer graphics researcher, to found Pixar in 1986. Catmull started his work as a grad student at the University of Utah’s graphics lab in 1970 and vowed to create a feature film from computer generated imagery. Catmull and Hanrahan, between them, have received eight Academy Awards. Continue reading Pixar’s Catmull, Hanrahan Honored With ACM’s Turing Award

HPA Tech Retreat: Perceptual Difference Between 4K and 8K

Warner Bros. vice president of technology Michael Zink described the results of a test, conducted with several partners, to resolve questions about the impact of higher resolution displays with larger screen sizes on the user experience. The test did so by assessing the perceptibility of 4K vs. 8K on a consumer 8K TV displays at a typical viewing distance for various types of content. Partners included the ASC, with content from Pixar and Amazon Prime, and LG for its 88-inch 8K OLED TV display. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Perceptual Difference Between 4K and 8K

Netflix Grows Globally but Disney+ Takes Limelight at Home

New streaming service Disney+ signed up 10 million customers on the first day it debuted in November. Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings acknowledged the new streamer’s compelling content, saying that Disney+ “takes away a little from us.” It did: in Q4 2019, Netflix posted 420,000 new customers, less than the projected 600,000, noting that the slump may be due to Disney+. Disney, meanwhile, has moved up its launch date for Disney+ in the United Kingdom and parts of Western Europe, from March 31 to March 24. Continue reading Netflix Grows Globally but Disney+ Takes Limelight at Home

Netflix Ramps Up Team, Content Ahead of Disney+ Launch

As the November 12 launch of Disney+ approaches, Netflix is aiming to impress in order to stave off the competition. Disney+ will offer a wide range of content, including 7,500 episodes of Disney TV shows, 25 original series, National Geographic specials, 30 seasons of “The Simpsons,” and movies from Disney, Lucasfilm, Marvel and Pixar. Disney will no longer be licensing its content to Netflix. With that in mind, Netflix has been hiring top industry talent and the Netflix Animation team now includes veterans behind numerous successful projects. Continue reading Netflix Ramps Up Team, Content Ahead of Disney+ Launch

Apple, Microsoft Latest to Join Academy Software Foundation

Apple and Microsoft signed on as premier members of the Academy Software Foundation (ASWF), founded in 2018 to promote the use of open source software in the movie industry. By joining ASWF, Apple and Microsoft pushed annual funding for the organization over $1 million. Microsoft also joined ASWF’s governing board and technical advisory council. ASWF is a joint project of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Linux Foundation. ASWF executive director David Morin welcomed both companies into the fold. Continue reading Apple, Microsoft Latest to Join Academy Software Foundation

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