Virtual Production Is on Track to Replace More Costly Tools

In virtual production, filmmakers marry actors and digital environments in real time. Now, in the United Kingdom, video game developer Rebellion Developments has completed what it says is the first “all virtual” film, the five-minute “Percival,” which was broadcast on Rebellion’s YouTube channel. The company built a studio to create more such virtual productions out of its library of intellectual property. Rebellion said “Percival” was shot entirely in front of large flat screen displays connected to PCs running Unreal Engine. Continue reading Virtual Production Is on Track to Replace More Costly Tools

Join the ETC-SMPTE Survey: Artificial Intelligence in Media

We need your input! SMPTE and the Entertainment Technology Center have joined forces to investigate potential areas of standardization around Artificial Intelligence in media. We are currently surveying the industry in order to gain a better understanding of where there are the greatest needs for new standards. You can help by filling out our online survey. Feel free to answer as many or as few questions as you would like, and we invite you to forward the survey to anyone either inside or outside your organization who might be able to provide input. Continue reading Join the ETC-SMPTE Survey: Artificial Intelligence in Media

Weta Digital Opens Virtual Production Service in New Zealand

Visual effects company Weta Digital — founded by Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor and Jamie Selkirk — joined forces with production facility Avalon Studios and live event, production and broadcast specialist Streamliner Productions to develop an LED-stage virtual production service based in Wellington, New Zealand. That country has done a good job of controlling COVID-19, making it an appealing destination for new TV and film productions. Similar to ILM’s StageCraft platform, Weta Digital’s system is based on Epic Games’ real-time Unreal Engine. Continue reading Weta Digital Opens Virtual Production Service in New Zealand

ETC Publishes Specification for Naming VFX Image Sequences

The Entertainment Technology Center (ETC@USC) VFX Working Group has published a specification for best practices naming image sequences such as plates and comps. File naming is an essential tool for organizing the multitude of frames that are inputs and outputs from the VFX process. Prior to the publication of this specification, each organization had its own naming scheme, requiring custom processes for each partner, which often resulted in confusion and miscommunication. ETC’s specification, which aims to standardize the process for media production, is available online for anyone to use. Continue reading ETC Publishes Specification for Naming VFX Image Sequences

Executive Spotlight: A Talk With Tony Driscoll of Warner Bros.

For the third week of ETC’s Executive Spotlight series, in which we interview leaders from our member companies about how they are adapting business operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, we had an opportunity to speak with Tony Driscoll, SVP of emerging technology strategy & data services at Warner Bros. Technology. Previously with AT&T, Driscoll is currently responsible for his studio’s strategies involving emerging trends and tech-driven innovation opportunities. He also works in close coordination with the WarnerMedia Innovation Lab. Warner Bros. has been using various technologies for remote collaboration since the offices began closing due to the pandemic in early 2020. We caught up with Tony at his home office. Continue reading Executive Spotlight: A Talk With Tony Driscoll of Warner Bros.

Executive Spotlight: A Talk with Paramount’s Anthony Guarino

Welcome to the second week of ETC’s Executive Spotlight series, in which we interview execs from our member companies about how they are adapting business operations during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Today we have Anthony Guarino, EVP of Worldwide Technical Operations at Paramount Pictures, who explained that his studio had the necessary infrastructure and processes in place to smoothly transition their global archive, mastering and content distribution operations when social distancing went into effect. From the start of the safer-at-home orders, Paramount’s Tech Ops team has effectively worked from home since most of their operating processes utilize software systems that are web enabled. Continue reading Executive Spotlight: A Talk with Paramount’s Anthony Guarino

HPA Forms Task Force to Guide Return of Film & TV Industry

COVID-19 stopped film and television production in its tracks. Now, the Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) formed an HPA Industry Recovery Task Force to examine how to move forward with new content creation and sustainably restart the production and post-production industries as the world wrestles the pandemic. HPA president Seth Hallen announced that the task force’s “focus is to understand how to get our industry back to work.” The Hollywood film and TV industry directly employs about 927,000 people across the country. Continue reading HPA Forms Task Force to Guide Return of Film & TV Industry

Pandemic Hastens M&E Industry Adoption of Cloud Workflows

ETC program director Erik Weaver introduced a live Equinix/ETC@USC webinar on “The Future of Media & Entertainment in a Time of Radical Change.” The opening keynote address on cloud workflows, moderated by film/TV media workflow engineer Michael Kammes, featured Microsoft Azure chief technology officer of media & entertainment Hanno Basse and Avid chief executive & president Jeff Rosica. Kammes opened the conversation by asking Basse and Rosica to describe how their companies are experiencing the move into the cloud. Continue reading Pandemic Hastens M&E Industry Adoption of Cloud Workflows

The State of AI in Media & Entertainment: Pedal to the Metal

As the world turns its sights on the “new normal,” the future of the media and entertainment industry is starting to come into focus. Cloud-based everything. Internet of Production. Digital distribution. Automation. Truth is, most of these changes were already in progress. It’s the timeline that has been dramatically shortened: 5-year plans now have to be implemented in 5 months. And among the handful of technologies being fast-tracked, artificial intelligence holds a special place because of its ability to solve two of the industry’s most pressing post-COVID challenges: (1) how to better manage its inherent product risk, and (2) protect and optimize its precious financial, human and technological resources. Continue reading The State of AI in Media & Entertainment: Pedal to the Metal

ETC@USC Mourns the Loss of Industry Veteran Jim Houston

We are deeply saddened by the loss of Jim Houston, a longtime friend and supporter of The Entertainment Technology Center. In addition to attending our events and contributing to many of our programs, Jim served as a moderator and panelist for several of ETC’s Digital Town Square symposiums. He was a two-time Academy Award-winning engineer, SMPTE member, and 34-year veteran of the industry, serving senior positions at media leaders including Sony Pictures Entertainment, Pacific Title & Art, Walt Disney Feature Animation and, most recently, Samsung Research America. Continue reading ETC@USC Mourns the Loss of Industry Veteran Jim Houston

HPA Tech Retreat: Universal Unveils New Production Workflow

Like any movie franchise installment, Universal Pictures’ “Fast & Furious 8” (also known as “The Fate of the Furious”) relied on footage and data from the sequels that were produced before it. This movie was the proof of concept for Production 3.0, a new platform enabling quick access to assets like 3D VFX models for use in sequels, as well as theme park and AR/VR experiences.“Our production asset archive isn’t organized enough and doesn’t hold all production assets,” said Universal VP of creative technologies Annie Chang, who headed the team that developed it. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Universal Unveils New Production Workflow

HPA Tech Retreat: Evolving Security for Media & Entertainment

An increasing concern over content security was the subject of HBO/WarnerMedia productions and content security head Marc Zorn’s talk on “Why Traditional Information Security Doesn’t Fit in Most of Media & Entertainment.” “Film security was based on physical controls,” he said. “Post production began after photography, and threats were primarily from post onwards.” Once the workflow became digital, he added, threats to digital media looked like IT security, “from an IT security professional’s perspective.” Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Evolving Security for Media & Entertainment

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

HPA Tech Retreat: The Latest Workflows for Virtual Production

The HPA Tech Retreat kicked off with an ambitious daylong demo that highlighted innovations in content creation, management and distribution technology and workflows. Supersession chair Joachim Zell, VP technology for EFILM walked the audience through numerous elements of an HDR production: filming, editing and finishing two scenes that provided the final chapters for a short film. The process, much of which involved workflows in the cloud, featured multiple cameras, on-set management and collaboration platforms, editorial, dailies and digital intermediate color grading systems, as well as online mastering and distribution platforms. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: The Latest Workflows for Virtual Production

Adobe Reveals AI-Enabled One-Click Audio Enhancement

At the Adobe MAX conference in Los Angeles this week, the company gave a sneak peek of its Project Awesome Audio, which will clean up problematic audio recordings in Adobe Audition with the click of a button. The project is the brainchild of Adobe research scientist Zeyu Jin who, back in 2016, demonstrated a tool that allows the user to easily insert speech into an existing clip. For Project Awesome Audio, Jin, with Princeton University computer science PhD student Jiaqi Su, leveraged Adobe’s Sensei AI for “end-to-end audio enhancement.” Adobe also showcased a mobile Photoshop app, a new AR authoring app, and more. Continue reading Adobe Reveals AI-Enabled One-Click Audio Enhancement

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