Three Tech Titans Up the Ante in Scripted TV Programming

This year, 500 scripted TV shows will vie for viewers’ attention. Now, some tech leaders are turning up the heat by entering the original programming market: Apple has budgeted more than $1 billion for original content; Google will spend up to $3 million per episode; and Facebook said it is willing to spend $3 million to $4 million per episode. A few cable companies, including A&E and WGN, are withdrawing from scripted content but, with three tech titans in the game, the competition for eyeballs will be fierce. Continue reading Three Tech Titans Up the Ante in Scripted TV Programming

Apple Earmarks $1 Billion to Buy, Produce Original TV Shows

According to sources, Apple has a budget of about $1 billion to acquire and produce original content this next year, an amount that is roughly half of what Time Warner’s HBO spent on content last year and equal to what Amazon spent in 2013. Apple hopes that with its enormous global purview and marketing capabilities, it can be a serious competitor in the original content arena. With this budget, Apple could purchase or produce as many as 10 TV shows, which could be distributed on Apple Music or a video streaming service. Continue reading Apple Earmarks $1 Billion to Buy, Produce Original TV Shows

Nvidia Integrates Computer Graphics and Artificial Intelligence

At this week’s SIGGRAPH 2017 conference in Los Angeles, Nvidia showed off a variety of technologies connecting graphics and artificial intelligence, delivering 10 research papers relevant to the company’s developers, including an AI-empowered method to create realistic facial animations. The company also showed off its Isaac robots, which vet AI algorithms inside its Project Holodeck virtual environment. By doing so, the robots will be able to learn inside a virtual space for collaboration, minimizing the potential of causing problems in the real world. Continue reading Nvidia Integrates Computer Graphics and Artificial Intelligence

Animation Studios Thrive With Big Orders from SVOD Clients

Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming services are ushering in a golden age of animation, with shows for adults and children. The rising demand for original content for all those services is also spurring the development of animated shows and the resulting need for more animators. Veteran animators say there’s a record demand that continues to be robust. Animation is a desirable genre of content because it doesn’t age as quickly as live action and always has a new audience of pre-schoolers and other young children. Continue reading Animation Studios Thrive With Big Orders from SVOD Clients

Netflix Subs and Revenue Are Up, Operating Profit Is Down

Netflix has always wanted Wall Street to judge it based on revenue and global operating-profit margins rather than subscription growth. But the company’s Q2 report shows just how unpredictable those results can be. Netflix added 5.2 million subscribers, much more than the 3.2 million it predicted, for a total of 104 million global subscribers. But its global operating profit margin was down 4.6 percent from 9.7 percent in Q1, while revenue skyrocketed 32 percent to $2.79 billion. Continue reading Netflix Subs and Revenue Are Up, Operating Profit Is Down

Disney Selects 11 Companies for 2017 Accelerator Program

The Walt Disney Company announced 11 tech and media companies will receive funding and support as part of the Disney Accelerator program, now in its fourth year. The companies will be given access to work space at Disney’s L.A. creative campus and guidance from entertainment and media technology leaders. The 2017 class covers a range of compelling areas such as artificial intelligence, eSports, messaging, online learning, robotics, video games and virtual reality. Among the 11 startups are Epic Games, creator of Unreal Engine tech, and location-based VR firm The VOID. Continue reading Disney Selects 11 Companies for 2017 Accelerator Program

Unity’s Cinemachine Designed for Animation, Games, Movies

At the Unite Europe conference in Amsterdam, more than 1,400 game developers examined tools and innovations from game engine company Unity. Among those was the virtual camera system Cinemachine, which makes it easier for even neophyte content creators to get creative with animation, games, eSports, cinematics and movie pre-visualization. Unity’s Asset Store offers free 3D models and environments, including the Adam character from last year’s impressive tech demo. The engine also offers generic animations that can be applied to characters. Continue reading Unity’s Cinemachine Designed for Animation, Games, Movies

Netflix Launches Two New Interactive Digital Shows for Kids

Netflix is embarking on an experiment in interactive online storytelling with children’s programs “Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale” (available now) and “Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile” (debuting July 14). With thousands of possible story paths, the shows allow viewers to choose his or own adventure. Whereas books and videogames have offered this kind of storytelling for years, it’s been difficult — and, from the point of view of the studio or TV network, not financially viable — to do so for video. Continue reading Netflix Launches Two New Interactive Digital Shows for Kids

Facebook Introduces Video Series, Targeting TV Ad Market

Facebook is in production on new video series, with an eye on the $70 billion TV advertising market. First up from the social media company are reality competition series “Last State Standing” and a second season of comedy “Loosely Exactly Nicole,” which first appeared on MTV. Facebook hopes that if it adds original programming to the site, it will encourage cable networks and ad-supported, youth-oriented online services to upload their own premium video content. Facebook executives have compared its efforts to priming the pump. Continue reading Facebook Introduces Video Series, Targeting TV Ad Market

YouTube Intros Heatmaps, Production Tips for VR, 360 Video

YouTube creators who want to see specifically where people are looking in their 360-degree and VR videos are in luck. The company is introducing a new analytics tool that does just that, via heatmaps, available for any such videos that exceed 1,000 views. YouTube is also sharing tips on 360-degree videos aimed to help video producers. Making these videos is particularly challenging since viewers can watch in a variety of ways, including via a VR headset, the YouTube smartphone app or desktop web browsers, where they can rotate the video. Continue reading YouTube Intros Heatmaps, Production Tips for VR, 360 Video

Sony Reveals Details of its Full Frame Digital Cinema Camera

At Sony’s Cine Gear Expo press conference, marketing and production manager Peter Crithary outlined available details of the company’s upcoming addition to its CineAlta line of digital cinema cameras. Key to this CineAlta is that the entire camera is being built new, from the ground up, and that it will feature a large full frame sensor, the first of its kind aimed at professional movie makers. The full sensor, at 36x24mm compares to the more commonly used Super 35mm sensor, at 24x18mm. The camera will be available in early 2018. Continue reading Sony Reveals Details of its Full Frame Digital Cinema Camera

Panasonic Intros Compact, Lightweight Super 35mm Camera

Panasonic debuted its 5.7K cinema camera, the AU-EVA1, at Cine Gear Expo in Hollywood last week. The camera, which is meant to fill a gap between the Panasonic Lumix GH5 4K mirrorless camera and the VariCam LT 4K cinema camera, is aimed at handheld shooting, making it ideal for commercials, documentaries and music videos. The compact camera, which can easily fit in a backpack, weighs 2.65 pounds (body only), sports a newly designed sensor and will be priced under $8,000 when it ships in the fall. Continue reading Panasonic Intros Compact, Lightweight Super 35mm Camera

Canon Announces New Cameras in EOS Digital Cinema Line

At Cine Gear Expo on the Paramount Pictures lot, Canon unveiled the much-anticipated Canon EOS C200 and Canon EOS C200B Digital Cinema Cameras, the latest in its EOS digital cinema line. Key new features are two 4K video formats, Canon’s  Cinema RAW Light and MP4, targeting HDR productions. The cameras also have a dual DIGIC DV6 image processing system, which was developed for these cameras as well as Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF system. Both cameras are slated to deliver in August 2017. Continue reading Canon Announces New Cameras in EOS Digital Cinema Line

Amazon’s Twitch Weighs Original Programs With Interactivity

Twitch, the live streaming video and gaming site purchased by Amazon for $1 billion almost three years ago, is thinking about streaming original programming, says its chief operating officer Kevin Lin. But unlike all other new platforms streaming original content, Twitch is looking for its users to have input on the programs as they are written and produced. Twitch already lets its users comment on the videos in real time and Lin believes these comments can help guide a scripted show as it evolves from episode one onward. Continue reading Amazon’s Twitch Weighs Original Programs With Interactivity

NAB 2017: ETC Panel Tells the Producer’s Perspective on VR

The final panel at ETC’s conference on VR/AR convened producers who have worked on virtual reality projects. Producers Guild of America vice president, new media council John Canning moderated the discussion with producers from ETC@USC, StoryTech Immersive, Digital-Reign and The Virtual Reality Company. StoryTech Immersive president/chief storyteller Brian Seth Hurst spoke about his experiences creating “My Brother’s Keeper,” a 360 spin-off of PBS’s “Mercy Street.” “We were able to get close and intimate with our actors,” he said. Continue reading NAB 2017: ETC Panel Tells the Producer’s Perspective on VR

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