A Deep Dive into Media & Entertainment in China and India

China and India are the world’s most populous nations. Although most people in the industry know at least a bit about media & entertainment in these countries, an NAB 2019 panel brought in two native experts to paint a fuller, more realistic and even surprising picture. A discussion moderated by Corto founder/chief executive and ETC project lead Yves Bergquist brought together two leading experts: Whistling Woods’ Chaitanya Chinchlikar from India and Dr. Charles Lee from China, both of whom gave in-depth presentations. Continue reading A Deep Dive into Media & Entertainment in China and India

OpenAI Beats Human-Player Team at Complex Video Game

OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research group backed by Elon Musk, stated that its software can beat “teams of five skilled human players” in Valve’s video game “Dota 2.” If verified, the achievement would be a milestone in computer science and a leap beyond other AI researchers working on mastering complex games. IBM’s software mastered chess in the late 1990s, and Alphabet’s DeepMind created software that dominated “Go” in 2016. “Dota 2” is a multiplayer sci-fi fantasy game where teams advance through exploration. Continue reading OpenAI Beats Human-Player Team at Complex Video Game

Hanson Robotics Is Seeking Experienced Product Managers

Hanson Robotics — which develops robot products and artificial intelligence technology to serve consumer, medical and entertainment markets — is currently looking to fill two positions: robotics product manager and software product manager. The company is seeking a robotics product manager to lead product development and manage hardware, arts and software teams. The company’s software product manager will lead software development in collaboration with the hardware, arts and executive teams. Details and contact information for each position are available on ETCentric. Continue reading Hanson Robotics Is Seeking Experienced Product Managers

Fan-Built Virtual Reality Starship Has Trekkies Wanting More

Sci-fi fans and others have tried before to recreate the Enterprise-D starship from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” in virtual reality. Although some of these VR experiences have been impressive, another one has just arrived on the scene that stands far above the rest, say some VR enthusiasts. The Enterprise Construction Project is spearheaded by a 3D artist identified only as Jason, whose obsession is to create a VR version of the entirety of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D and all its 42 decks. Continue reading Fan-Built Virtual Reality Starship Has Trekkies Wanting More

Viewers Turn to Time-Shifting, Except for Sports and Animation

TiVo Research & Analytics has released its first “TiVo State of TV Report,” which provides insights into television viewing habits, advertising and commercial retention rates, and the top streamed and time-shifted programs. The team analyzed viewing data from multiple datasets, including TiVo and non-TiVo households, from July to September. The results point to a significant increase in time-shifted viewing and binge watching, while sports programming and primetime animation led the charge for live viewing. Continue reading Viewers Turn to Time-Shifting, Except for Sports and Animation

Failed Video Game Underlines the Perils of Using Kickstarter

Neal Stephenson announced that “Clang,” his sword-fighting video game project launched via Kickstarter, is dead in the water. In 2012, the author of sci-fi classics Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon raised $526,000 on Kickstarter. Stephenson originally set out to create a game that was more engaging than existing sword-fighting games, but ultimately realized that while innovative, the end result was not fun to play. The game and some pledge rewards were not delivered, which frustrated some backers. Continue reading Failed Video Game Underlines the Perils of Using Kickstarter

Radius-TWC is Experimenting with ‘Snowpiercer’ VOD Release

“Snowpiercer,” a sci-fi film starring Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton, was released June 27 in eight theaters. Just weeks following its theatrical release, the Bong Joon-ho helmed movie was made available via video-on-demand. This new distribution model is part of Radius-TWC’s strategy to bring the movie to a larger audience. The Weinstein Co.’s boutique division is hoping that the early VOD release will keep the buzz going as its release expands to additional theaters. Continue reading Radius-TWC is Experimenting with ‘Snowpiercer’ VOD Release

Amazon Fire TV to Feature Android Games Created In-House

Amazon’s new Fire TV will serve as a game console in addition to streaming movies and TV shows. To help distinguish itself from industry giants such as Xbox One or PlayStation 4, Amazon plans to develop some of its own Android games. While Amazon Game Studios has not released a full list, sci-fi shooter “Sev Zero” has the potential to be the most popular. Amazon recently acquired Double Helix Games, the company that made the Xbox One launch title “Killer Instinct.” Continue reading Amazon Fire TV to Feature Android Games Created In-House

Heavy Metal and 3D Movie Join Forces To Rock Comic-Con

The art film company Picturehouse, which folded in 2008, will mark its return with the debut of an unusual combination of concert footage and scripted fantasy in “Metallica Through the Never” at next week’s Comic-Con in San Diego. The 3D IMAX film will be a loud re-introduction of the company as it looks to rebuild itself and make more films. Picturehouse is not generally known for music, but neither is Comic-Con. Continue reading Heavy Metal and 3D Movie Join Forces To Rock Comic-Con

Television Fans Edit Their Own Versions of Favorite Shows

Television viewers are uploading episodes of their favorite shows and re-editing them, marking the next step in the increasingly interactive relationship with media content. One viewer unpacked the nesting-doll narrative of “Arrested Development” when the new season was released on Netflix, and re-edited it in chronological order before posting links on Reddit. Fans of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” recently posted their versions of a particularly violent scene to YouTube, after setting it to pop music and cartoon sound effects. Continue reading Television Fans Edit Their Own Versions of Favorite Shows

Ridley Scott Teams with Machinima to Produce Sci-Fi Shorts

Acclaimed film director Ridley Scott has partnered with video entertainment network Machinima to produce 12 short science fiction films. Scott will serve as executive producer, while directors will be tapped from his commercial production company RSA. Martin Scorsese, Sam Mendes, Kathryn Bigelow and Neill Blomkamp are on the list of possible directors. Gaming and streaming site Machinima reaches 262 million unique viewers. Continue reading Ridley Scott Teams with Machinima to Produce Sci-Fi Shorts

Panel Notes from FoE 5: The Futures of Serialized Storytelling

The following are some notable comments from a panel at last week’s Futures of Entertainment conference at MIT.

Panel: “The Futures of Serialized Storytelling”

  • Science fiction is perfect for serialized storytelling because of a large story world that can generate.
  • Today’s distractions are forcing TV to focus on its best skill, large live events.
  • Serialized drama is really moving to time-shifted. About 50-60 percent of a drama (in theUK) is moving to time-shifted viewing.
  • The large challenge for storytellers is how to deal with asynchronous drama. Do writers and show runners still use mechanisms such as cliffhangers, when a large amount of viewing happens 6-12 months after the show?
  • Three types of audiences: skimmers, dippers and divers. Skimmers watch the show but offer no other engagement. Dippers will engage beyond the TV, and watch clips and other content online. And divers are the hardcore fans that engage with each other and all the content you put out.
  • You spend the most time and energy to produce content for divers. Even though divers are a small slice of the audience, they are the most active. They are the core of your “word of mouth campaign.”
  • TV producers are out of touch, they have been too focused on ratings. They have to get back into the crowd. They have to rebuild their skills of “listen and response.”
  • For the past five years dramas have been produced in a bubble, driven by executives and ratings. Or copying formulas that may have worked in the past. Very little has happened to create new stories.
  • It’s important to pace your engagement with the audience. It’s not always about putting out loads of content up front. You must fold in content for the hardcore fans but not alienate the regular fans.
  • The more we move into a digital world, the more important the physical tangible experience becomes. It can be a great tool to engage with audiences. For example, “Game of Thrones” food trucks. But on the flip-side, distribution is very difficult.
  • Twitter (social media) serves to amplify the liveliness of TV.
  • Dramas are not built for Twitter during the show; we see much more Twitter activity after the show.
  • “The X-Factor” seems to be designed for half of your attention. It allows for audiences to tweet during the show.
  • In social media, we know that the audience members aren’t directing their comments to the show, they are talking to their friends.
  • We’re going back 150-200 years ago, during the age of Shakespeare, when a story was told in front of an audience that reacted and talked and commented openly.
  • The TV or the movie screen should be the primary source of storytelling. The reason being, those sources will build the most attention from audiences.
  • The primary source has to be the best place that can cut into the audience’s attention. With time, that may shift away from the TV screen.

Laurie Baird (Georgia Tech)

Matt Locke (Storythings, UK)
Steve Coulson (Campfire)
Lynn Liccardo (Soap opera critic)
Denise Mann (University of California-Los Angeles)

From Reddit Comments Thread to Screenplay to Warner Bros. Movie

  • A short story originally posted as a series of comments on social news site Reddit will become the basis for a Warner Bros. feature film.
  • “Rome, Sweet Rome” is an historical sci-fi tale written by James Erwin, a two-time “Jeopardy!” winner.
  • Erwin (as Prufrock451 on Reddit) was responding to another user who asked the community, “Could I destroy the entire Roman Empire during the reign of Augustus if I traveled back in time with a modern U.S. Marine infantry battalion or MEU?”
  • The posts Erwin subsequently composed as a short story became the top-rated comments on Reddit and “inspired fan-art, fiction spin-offs and even a mock-up movie trailer.”
  • Madhouse Entertainment caught wind of the RsR subreddit community and pitched the story to a Warner Bros. exec, who pushed to “move aggressively” to acquire the rights.