HPA Tech Retreat: ETC, SMPTE Collaborate on AI Standards

Yves Bergquist, director of ETC@USC’s AI & Neuroscience in Media Project, described how ETC’s task force is working in concert with SMPTE to develop standards for AI and machine learning (ML) in the media and entertainment industry. During the HPA Tech Retreat, Bergquist noted how the two organizations successfully collaborated to develop standards in digital cinema, interoperable media, and cloud production. “We thought it was an opportunity to step up and help the media community better understand the scope of the AI technology,” he said. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: ETC, SMPTE Collaborate on AI Standards

CES: Sony Integrates Movie Streaming to Promote Bravia TVs

Sony announced during CES 2021 that its new line of Bravia XR television sets would provide consumers with the Bravia Core platform for streaming select movies from Sony Pictures Entertainment. The company indicates that its Pure Stream tech enables “near lossless” ultra high-def Blu-ray Disc quality. The Bravia Core platform comes pre-loaded on new Bravia XR models including Sony’s 8K LED, OLED and 4K LED models. Access to film titles is based on a type of voucher system in which customers are given credits depending on which Bravia XR model is purchased. Continue reading CES: Sony Integrates Movie Streaming to Promote Bravia TVs

CES: Sony Promotes Glasses-Free 3D Spatial Reality Display

Sony first teased its Spatial Reality Display at last October’s CES Unveiled Conference. Experts have alternately described the experience as taking 3D to the next level, virtual reality without the headset and, simply, mind-blowing. In essence it relies on Sony’s Eye-Sensing Light Field Display (ELFD) technology to create an experience somewhere between virtual reality and next-gen 3D. The Spatial Reality Display was named a CES 2021 Innovation Awards Honoree. A shipping product, the display’s suggested retail price is $4,999.99. Continue reading CES: Sony Promotes Glasses-Free 3D Spatial Reality Display

Sony Showcases Modular, Hi-Resolution Virtual Set Displays

Sony plans to sell modular “virtual set” displays similar to those used by Industrial Light & Magic and Epic Games to create the sets for “The Mandalorian.” The C-Series displays, which rely on MicroLEDs, will be part of its Crystal LED line aimed at the digital signage market. The modular panels can be connected to a controller. The B-Series displays will be marketed for use in movie production. According to Sony, they can operate at 1,800 nits. In comparison, Apple Pro Display XDR peaks at 1,600 nits. Continue reading Sony Showcases Modular, Hi-Resolution Virtual Set Displays

Quibi Misses Paid Subscriber Goal, Looks at Funding Options

Quibi, the OTT streaming service focused on short-form mobile video founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg and launched in April 2020, is struggling to gain subscribers in a crowded marketplace. According to sources, the company is considering its options, including raising more money, going public via a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that helps fund deals, or a sale. Sources added that the company has enough cash for several months and is not expected to shut down in the near future. Continue reading Quibi Misses Paid Subscriber Goal, Looks at Funding Options

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: 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

IMDb Rebrands Its New AVOD Service and Triples Content

Amazon-owned IMDb — the popular online database featuring information related to movies, television and video games — is rebranding its recently launched Freedive video service as IMDb TV. Thanks to new deals with MGM, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Warner Bros., the ad-supported VOD service will add thousands of new titles in the upcoming months, essentially tripling the number of TV shows and movies available to U.S. viewers for free. The company also plans to expand its audience with a European launch later this year. Continue reading IMDb Rebrands Its New AVOD Service and Triples Content

VOD Platform Inks Licensing Deals With Hollywood Studios

Los Angeles-based startup ROW8 has signed licensing deals with Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. as part of its strategy to compete with transactional VOD offerings from the likes of Apple and Amazon. The streaming movie service, which launched last year with foreign and indie titles, is now targeting mainstream audiences with library titles and new releases from major Hollywood studios. It is taking an industry standard approach with $5.99 new-release rentals and $2.99-$3.99 catalog titles, but is also adding a feature that offers customers the ability to receive future credits for movie rentals they did not enjoy. Continue reading VOD Platform Inks Licensing Deals With Hollywood Studios

DCI Examines HDR, Direct View Displays for Digital Cinema

At NAB in Las Vegas, Warner Bros. vice president of technology Michael Zink presented DCI’s perspective on two major technology changes in recent years: the advent of high dynamic range (HDR) and direct view displays. First Zink described how Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) was created in March 2002 as a joint venture of Disney, Paramount, Sony Pictures, Universal and Warner Bros. Studios to “establish and document voluntary specifications for an open architecture for digital cinema … to achieve interoperability and compatibility.” Continue reading DCI Examines HDR, Direct View Displays for Digital Cinema

Amazon’s IMDb Debuts Free Ad-Supported Movie, TV Service

Amazon launched Freedive, a free, ad-supported streaming video channel on its Internet Movie Database (IMDb) site, featuring 130 movies and 29 TV shows licensed from CBS, NBCUniversal Television, Sony Pictures Entertainment/Columbia Pictures, Warner Bros. Television and others. Movies include “Awakenings,” “A Few Good Men,” “Adaptation,” “Memento,” “True Romance,” “The Last Samurai” — and TV shows include “Fringe,” “The Bachelor,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “Duck Dynasty,” “Quantum Leap,” “Born This Way,” “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Without a Trace.” Continue reading Amazon’s IMDb Debuts Free Ad-Supported Movie, TV Service

ASWF Debuts Open Source Project and Adds New Members

The Academy Software Foundation (ASWF), a neutral forum to develop and collaborate on open source software for images, VFX, animation and sound, debuted its first hosted project, DreamWorks Animation’s OpenVDB, an open source C++ library for volumetric representations including fluid simulations, animated volumes and environmental effects. The Foundation also added Sony Pictures Entertainment/Sony Pictures Imageworks, Warner Bros., Blender Foundation and the Visual Effects Society (VES) as new members. Continue reading ASWF Debuts Open Source Project and Adds New Members

NewTV Plans to Bring Hollywood’s A-Game to Mobile Video

Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman formed NewTV to offer short original programming designed for smartphones. They believe they’re creating the next-generation HBO or Netflix, and many big players in Hollywood are betting they’re right. Katzenberg said that the holding company he co-founded, WndrCo, closed a $1 billion seed-funding round on July 31. Other backers include Disney, 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Viacom, AT&T’s WarnerMedia, Lionsgate, MGM, ITV and Entertainment One. Continue reading NewTV Plans to Bring Hollywood’s A-Game to Mobile Video

Film/TV Restoration Costs Lead to Outsourcing, Say Experts

Thousands of film and TV titles from every decade require restoration, but the money isn’t there to fund much of it, and current restoration jobs are more likely to take place in China or Poland than Los Angeles. That was revealed at an event co-produced by SMPTE and the Visual Effects Society (VES) at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater. Restoration executives and practitioners from the major studios gathered to discuss the technological, artistic and business challenges of bringing classic film and TV titles back to life. Continue reading Film/TV Restoration Costs Lead to Outsourcing, Say Experts

ETC Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Studio Tech Leaders

On June 26th at USC’s Town & Gown, ETC@USC convened its annual dinner with studio technology leaders that celebrated the think tank’s 25th anniversary, and honored Dean Elizabeth Daley with the Bob Lambert Technology Leadership Award. The event was presented by Western Digital, with supporting sponsors Equinix and Salesforce, and featured a panel discussion with the technology leaders of 20th Century Fox, Marvel Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Continue reading ETC Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Studio Tech Leaders

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