Another Perspective on Deep Fakes: Threat and Opportunity

At the NAB 2019’s Broadcast Cybersecurity course, Emblematic Group founder/chief executive Nonny de la Peña introduced deep fakes by showing pairs of images and asking the audience to call out which was fake and which was real. From paired images of Presidents Obama and Trump, among others, audience members were consistently unable to pick the correct “fake” image. University of Washington researchers created a very convincing — but fake — video of Barack Obama, she revealed, by using neural network AI and 14 hours of Obama footage. Continue reading Another Perspective on Deep Fakes: Threat and Opportunity

Vice Media Is the Latest to Announce Trimming Its Workforce

Vice Media’s new CEO Nancy Dubuc plans strategic changes to help limit spending and increase company profits. Part of the reorganization will involve laying off about 10 percent of staff (roughly 250 people) across all departments. The Canadian digital media and broadcasting company is expected to shift its focus to film, television and branded content, in addition to restructuring its international teams. The news follows Vice’s hiring freeze in 2018 and recent announcements from other media companies regarding layoffs. Continue reading Vice Media Is the Latest to Announce Trimming Its Workforce

VR Filmmakers Explore New Platforms at Sundance Festival

At the Sundance Film Festival, there was evidence that that some of the pioneering virtual reality companies are expanding — or shifting — their purview from VR movies into other genres. Sundance’s New Frontier program, which launched five years ago, highlighted VR filmmaking. At this year’s festival, long-time VR producers such as Felix & Paul are still engaging in virtual reality projects, but others are exploring augmented reality, connected devices and artificial intelligence in their interactive stories. Continue reading VR Filmmakers Explore New Platforms at Sundance Festival

Dropbox, Google and Sony Debut Tech at Sundance Festival

At the Sundance Film Festival, tech companies now pitch new tools to the M&E industry. This year, Dropbox is offering a time-based commenting feature for video files, and Google and Sony are open-sourcing a tool that will simplify cloud rendering. Dropbox’s new feature will aid audio and video review by adding time-based commenting. Google, in partnership with Sony Picture Imageworks, will introduce OpenCue, which breaks down rendering steps and then schedules and manages the job across rendering farms. Continue reading Dropbox, Google and Sony Debut Tech at Sundance Festival

Oculus Team Developing VR Experience Featuring Live Actors

At Facebook’s Oculus, a new project team is developing a VR experience powered by live actors. Oculus executive producer of experiences Yelena Rachitsky, who worked on Pixar’s first VR experience based on the movie “Coco,” describes it as a melding of indie video game “Journey” and immersive play “Sleep No More.” Rachitsky said the company is interested in creating the experience of live actors “without needing to be in a site-specific location.” The experience, tentatively slated for next year, could also create a new revenue stream for the nascent technology. Continue reading Oculus Team Developing VR Experience Featuring Live Actors

Why Netflix, Amazon Didn’t Buy Movies at Sundance Film Fest

For the last two years, Amazon Studios and Netflix dominated in acquisitions of films at the annual Sundance Film Festival, purchasing six titles each at the 2016 festival and, last year, Netflix leaving with 10 titles and Amazon with five. This year was a notable difference, with neither streaming giant buying a single title (yet) from the 2018 fest. Because of that, more traditional distribution companies and foreign sales agents were able to compete, the latter because the streamers bought worldwide rights. Continue reading Why Netflix, Amazon Didn’t Buy Movies at Sundance Film Fest

VR Series ‘Spheres’ Sells for Seven Figures at Sundance Fest

At this year’s Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier, VR financing/distribution company CityLights purchased “Spheres: Songs of Spacetime,” a three-part virtual reality series that explores the depth of space. The exact purchase price was not revealed, but it is reportedly in the seven figures, and is being hailed as the first VR film to be acquired for such an amount. The series, presented by Oculus Studios and Protozoa Pictures, and directed by Eliza McNitt, is slated for release on the Oculus Rift sometime this year. Continue reading VR Series ‘Spheres’ Sells for Seven Figures at Sundance Fest

MoviePass Ventures Plans to Acquire Films With Distributors

During the Sundance Film Festival, theater subscription service MoviePass announced the launch of MoviePass Ventures, part of a new strategy to co-acquire films with distributors. Data firm Helios and Matheson Analytics Inc. (HMNY), now the majority owner of MoviePass, claims its new service is already boosting domestic box office. HMNY plans to invest in movies so that it can share in downstream revenues, including streaming, pay TV, Blu-ray, DVD, EST, PPV, and ancillary and foreign markets. HMNY could also eventually sell subscriber data to Hollywood studios for targeted marketing. Continue reading MoviePass Ventures Plans to Acquire Films With Distributors

At CES 2018, Fox Innovation Lab Highlights Movies Anywhere

During CES 2018, the Fox Innovation Lab unveiled a VR experience tied to director Wes Anderson’s upcoming “Isle of Dogs” and discussed the newly launched Movies Anywhere. The VR experience, which features the voices of actors Bryan Cranston, Scarlett Johansson and Jeff Goldblum, will be unveiled later this month tied to the Sundance Film Festival and initially for Google Daydream VR headsets. At CES, some of the executives for the Disney-owned Movies Anywhere were available to discuss the digital locker service. Continue reading At CES 2018, Fox Innovation Lab Highlights Movies Anywhere

VR and AR Expected to Further Redefine Experiences at CES

Virtual reality, augmented reality and immersive experiences crossed over the apex of the hype curve and are now tracking the slope of enlightenment as they develop into niche market applications or pivot into location-based entertainment. Resolution, frame rate, horizontal and vertical field of view in the HMDs (head mounted displays), and head and body tracking technology, have all improved over the last year with further advances expected next month at CES 2018 in Las Vegas. This applies equally to next generation HMDs, projection, and heads-up approaches to immersive experiences. Continue reading VR and AR Expected to Further Redefine Experiences at CES

Qualcomm, Machinima Partner to Produce VR Reality Series

Qualcomm recently launched a reality TV show competition for its new virtual reality platform, using the Snapdragon 835 VR developer kit. “VR Developer Challenge” matches game developers with YouTube celebrities to create VR experiences. The series goes behind the scenes, showing how producers create the programs. So far, the series features Sam Maliszewski, Jordan Mann and E McNeill, three VR developers chosen by Warner Bros.-owned Machinima. Qualcomm co-produced the series with Machinima. Continue reading Qualcomm, Machinima Partner to Produce VR Reality Series

NAB 2017: Oculus Details Journey to VR Film ‘Dear Angelica’

Oculus Story Studio founder/technical director Max Planck was invited to the ETC conference on AR/VR at NAB to discuss his company’s creation of “Dear Angelica,” a 13-minute dreamlike VR tale of how we remember our loved ones. The film, which played to great acclaim at the last Sundance Film Festival, is notable for the fact that it was entirely hand-painted inside VR space, by illustrator/art director Wesley Allsbrook, and written and directed by Saschka Unseld. Planck described how the inspiration for the film came out of graphic novels. Continue reading NAB 2017: Oculus Details Journey to VR Film ‘Dear Angelica’

Hollywood Creatives Starting to Explore New VR Experiences

The studios are getting serious about VR productions, infusing them with more talent, money and time, and focusing on higher production values, original stories and a bit of celebrity. At the Tribeca Film Festival, virtual reality productions from director Kathryn Bigelow, musicians John Legend and Pharrell Williams, and producer Megan Ellison among others will be showcased. IMAX is also investing in venues for experiencing VR, with a center opening in Los Angeles, and plans to open more in the U.S., U.K., and China. Continue reading Hollywood Creatives Starting to Explore New VR Experiences

Amazon Is First Internet Company with Best Picture Oscar Nom

About a year after debuting its original movies division, Amazon became the first Internet company to garner an Academy Award nomination for best picture, with “Manchester by the Sea.” In addition to best picture, “Manchester by the Sea” earned five other nominations for writer and director Kenneth Lonergan, lead actor Casey Affleck, supporting actress Michelle Williams and supporting actor Lucas Hedges. Amazon also holds U.S. distribution rights to foreign language nominee “The Salesman,” from Iran. Continue reading Amazon Is First Internet Company with Best Picture Oscar Nom

Sundance Festival VR Offerings Include Sensory Experiences

At the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, the New Frontier exhibit features 20 VR experiences and 11 installations touting the latest in technology, with new VR headsets, haptic controllers and even vibrating suits. The Synesthesia Suit, with its 26 vibrating actuators, was created by a Japanese team and Tetsuya Mizuguchi, who, 15 years ago, created a “trance vibrator” accessory for his Sega Dreamcast game “Rez.” Now, in Enhance Games’ “Rez Infinite,” the Synesthesia Suit wearer “feels” the game, flying through cyberspace to a techno beat. Continue reading Sundance Festival VR Offerings Include Sensory Experiences

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