SMPTE: ETC Producing Team Will Discuss Virtual Production

SMPTE Hollywood will offer a glimpse into moviemaking in a post-COVID world this evening when it hosts the producing team behind the live-action, sci-fi short “Ripple Effect.” The virtual meeting is scheduled for April 22nd at 6:00 PM PDT on Zoom. Producers Erik Weaver, Greg Ciaccio and Kathryn Brillhart will discuss virtual production, remote workflow and on-set safety for post-COVID production. “Ripple Effect” is ETC@USC’s latest R&D short film; its goal was to test virtual and remote production techniques and tools in this era of social distancing. Registration for tonight’s event is available online. SMPTE Hollywood meetings are free and open to all, even non-members. Continue reading SMPTE: ETC Producing Team Will Discuss Virtual Production

High-Profile Comic Book Creators Flourishing on Kickstarter

Comic books are thriving at the moment, with creators raising funds on crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter. Boom Studios is working with Keanu Reeves and “Spawn” comic book creator Todd McFarlane on one such a project. Comic book writer Greg Pak, author of “Kickstarter Secrets,” noted that, in that platform’s early days, big-name creators were thought to be stealing opportunities from up-and-comers. But, said Pak, Kickstarter has changed. “There is an understanding now that Kickstarter is for anybody,” he said. Continue reading High-Profile Comic Book Creators Flourishing on Kickstarter

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

Netflix to Offer Interactive Feature, Starting with ‘Black Mirror’

Netflix, famous for disrupting the traditional TV model by delivering all episodes of a new TV season at once, is readying experimentation with interactive TV. The company is reportedly developing a series of specials that will allow viewers of the streaming service to select the next storyline of a movie or television episode. According to people with knowledge of the plans, the new feature will be introduced later this year when viewers can select storylines for an upcoming episode of Emmy-winning sci-fi series “Black Mirror,” a show noted for its examination of tech and its social implications. Continue reading Netflix to Offer Interactive Feature, Starting with ‘Black Mirror’

South by Southwest Festival Highlights Latest VR Productions

Virtual reality productions are making a splash at SXSW in Austin, Texas. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the festival is featuring shooter game “Archangel,” Skydance Interactive’s first original; a trailer for the interactive, sci-fi experience “Trinity” directed by Patrick Boivin, the first VR series from UNLTD; and alternative reality project “Wonder Buffalo,” made possible by ETC’s “2016 Innovative Technology Award granted to filmmaker Christine Berg and writing partner Simon Shterenberg.” THR also notes that Skydance Interactive is “developing ‘Life VR’ in conjunction with Skydance’s sci-fi thriller ‘Life,’ which is opening March 24 through Columbia Pictures” and “Sony Pictures VR released its first virtual reality project, ‘Passengers VR,’ on Tuesday, timed with the digital and Blu-ray release of the motion picture.” Continue reading South by Southwest Festival Highlights Latest VR Productions

‘Aliens’ Panel to Stream from Comic-Con via YouTube Service

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will be at Comic-Con International in San Diego this week celebrating the 30th anniversary of James Cameron’s sci-fi thriller “Aliens.” According to Variety, “Fox is for the first time using YouTube’s new mobile live streaming service to let the original cast of the movie talk to a global audience.” Streaming the Saturday panel will mark the first time a Hollywood studio uses the service. The panel will feature Cameron, producer Gale Anne Hurd, and actors Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Paul Reiser, Michael Biehn and Carrie Henn. The “Aliens” 30th anniversary limited edition Blu-ray and digital release will be available September 13. Continue reading ‘Aliens’ Panel to Stream from Comic-Con via YouTube Service

Lucasfilm Shows Off ‘Star Wars’ VR Experience with HTC Vive

Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB R&D unit just did a limited demonstration of its new “Star Wars” virtual reality experience: “Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine,” using the HTC Vive headset. The user, by walking around in a 15×15-foot space, explores the planet’s surface, does some maintenance on a Millennium Falcon, meets R2-D2 and fight offs a group of attacking Stormtroopers with a lightsaber. After unveiling the experience to a group of journalists, Lucafilm plans to allow other “select audiences” to also experience it. Continue reading Lucasfilm Shows Off ‘Star Wars’ VR Experience with HTC Vive

Sundance 2016: VR’s Coming-of-Age as a Storytelling Medium

At the recent Sundance Film Festival, virtual reality was a big hit for the second year running. But the changes in just a year were also evident: rather than the conversation focusing on the technology enabling the VR experiences, the focus was on storytelling. Virtual reality, in other words, has become a medium, as demonstrated in projects such as “Grease” director Randal Kleiser’s sci-fi VR drama “Defrost,” which tells the story of a woman just awaking from a coma. The series is a full season with another in development. Continue reading Sundance 2016: VR’s Coming-of-Age as a Storytelling Medium

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

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)