Oculus Story Studio Uses VR Drawing Tool for New Animation

Oculus Story Studio, launched in early 2015 to tell virtual reality stories, has a winner on its hands with “Dear Angelica,” a 12-minute animated experience that features the voice (and life story) of actress Geena Davis. Debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, “Dear Angelica” was drawn in VR with a new tool called Quill. The project follows Oculus Story Studio’s previous VR efforts — “Lost,” about a robot that gets lost in the woods; and the Emmy-winning “Henry,” an animated story of a hedgehog who sought love (and hugs), the latter directed by Pixar animator Ramiro Lopez Dau. Continue reading Oculus Story Studio Uses VR Drawing Tool for New Animation

Flix Premiere: New Online Movie Platform Streams Indie Films

Flix Premiere — “the world’s first online Cineplex” featuring international and indie films — has launched in the U.S., two months after its debut in the U.K. Available online and via iOS and Android apps, the streaming service offers exclusive “curated theatrical releases” for $4.99 per title (or five tickets for $19.99). The website describes the service as “the single point of discovery for the 95 percent of films that ‘never’ find their audience.” Flix Premiere plans to introduce 8-9 new films every 10-14 days that will be exclusive to the platform for 12 months. Continue reading Flix Premiere: New Online Movie Platform Streams Indie Films

Amazon Profits from AWS, Doubles-Down on Original Content

Boosted by Amazon Web Services, Amazon just posted its most profitable quarter in its nearly 22-year history. The company’s revenue is often on a roller coaster; for Q1 2016, it showed net income of $513 million ($1.07 a share), compared to losses of $57 million (12 cents a share) in the same quarter last year. Revenue has bumped to $29.13 billion from $22.72 billion a year ago, with share prices rising more than 12 percent. This compares with less-than-stellar Q1 reports from Apple, Google, Microsoft and Intel. Continue reading Amazon Profits from AWS, Doubles-Down on Original Content

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

Immersive Journalists Talk Real-Time and Long-Form VR News

Award-winning filmmakers and video reporters Nonny de la Peña, Sandy Smolan and Ben Solomon, along with ABC News Digital executive Dan Silver, took part in a wide-ranging discussion about immersive journalism at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival this past week. Among the ideas expressed were the importance of choosing the right stories for the virtual reality medium, of telling them with filmic finesse to maintain audience interest, and of designing the role of the on-screen reporter. Noted as on the near horizon for immersive reportage were real-time streaming, interactivity, and live action capture with the aid of videogrammetry. Continue reading Immersive Journalists Talk Real-Time and Long-Form VR News

Amazon and Netflix Acquire Movies and Visibility at Sundance

After coming up empty at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, streaming services Amazon and Netflix made some significant acquisitions at this year’s indie film festival in Utah. Prior to the festival, Netflix spent $5 million for the streaming rights to “Tallulah,” starring Allison Janney and Ellen Page, and almost $7 million for “The Fundamentals of Caring,” starring Paul Rudd and Selena Gomez. Amazon inked a deal for Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester by the Sea,” with Kyle Chandler, Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges. Continue reading Amazon and Netflix Acquire Movies and Visibility at Sundance

Must-See VR at Sundance: Volumetric Capture, Empathic Tales

At the Sundance Film Festival, the latest in virtual reality appears at the New Frontier, the Sundance Institute’s showcase for virtual reality, immersive cinematic works, and media lab innovations. 2016 is no exception, and the buzz is already out about some of the must-see virtual reality movies and experiences. Among them, “The Wasteland” from 8i is one recommendation. Other notable VR experiences at Sundance include “American Bison,” “Kiya” and “Wave of Grace.” Continue reading Must-See VR at Sundance: Volumetric Capture, Empathic Tales

VR Exploding at Sundance Fest, to Reach $70B Value by 2020

At the Sundance Film Festival in January, the New Frontier program will host 30 virtual reality experiences, more than double the number from last year. Those 30 were chosen from a pool of 200 to 300 submissions. Most projects are artistic or experimental but two came out of Hollywood, highlighting continued interest there. Now, pointing to Facebook and Google’s big investments and recent VR experiments by the National Basketball Association and The New York Times, one market researcher projects virtual reality’s value at $70 billion by 2020. Continue reading VR Exploding at Sundance Fest, to Reach $70B Value by 2020

VR Storytelling: Oculus Story Studio Debuts Animated Short

Oculus Story Studio premiered “Henry,” its second virtual reality movie, at an event in Beverly Hills yesterday. The San Francisco-based company is attempting to define the parameters of VR content by making short movies. The studio’s first movie, “Lost,” which was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, focused on immersing the viewer in an environment. “Henry,” however, focuses on creating a character — a hedgehog with a problem — and figuring out how to use that character’s presence in virtual reality. Continue reading VR Storytelling: Oculus Story Studio Debuts Animated Short

David Cross Partners with BitTorrent for Distribution of “HITS”

Starting this Friday, viewers will be able to name their price to see “HITS,” the latest feature film from actor/director David Cross. Rather than pursue a traditional distribution deal, Cross and his producing team opted to partner with BitTorrent. They felt that the indie film deserved to be showcased differently than a push into select cities with a VOD release to follow. According to Cross, the flexible pay option, which will run for two weeks, is an approach he hopes will help eliminate piracy of the film. Continue reading David Cross Partners with BitTorrent for Distribution of “HITS”

Oculus Launches Movie Studio to Make Content for its Headset

Oculus VR is expanding its focus from video games to virtual reality films. The Facebook-owned Oculus has created a new in-house movie studio called Story Studio to create films and find the best practices for VR storytelling. The new content created by Story Studio intends to help attract more users to the Oculus Rift headset, while also encouraging other filmmakers to make similar VR films. Story Studio’s first work is a short film called “Lost,” which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. Continue reading Oculus Launches Movie Studio to Make Content for its Headset

Vimeo Announces Launch of its New VOD Publisher Network

Streaming video platform Vimeo announced during the Sundance Film Festival yesterday that it has launched a new publisher network for content creators to reach their audiences directly. The Vimeo On Demand Publisher Network will provide partners with the ability to rent or sell premium, ad-free content from the Vimeo library via a transactional video player. While Vimeo already allows publishers to embed content on other sites, partners can now sell videos directly on their sites within articles or from VOD storefronts. Continue reading Vimeo Announces Launch of its New VOD Publisher Network

VR Films Are Expected to Make a Splash at Sundance Festival

At the Sundance Film Festival in Park City next month, attendees can expect to watch both great films and virtual reality experiences. Ten of the 13 installations in the festival’s New Frontier program involve VR or other digital interactive technology. These projects use several different brands of headsets, from Oculus Rift to Google Cardboard and Samsung’s Gear VR, and for one of the first times, the content for these devices will be original, not a promotion for an existing movie. Continue reading VR Films Are Expected to Make a Splash at Sundance Festival

Tribeca and Lionsgate to Launch Video on Demand Service

In the wake of HBO and CBS announcing online subscription offerings, Tribeca Enterprises and Lionsgate announced yesterday that they plan to offer a new online VOD service by June 2015. The Tribeca Short List service will focus on prestige titles curated from their libraries, in addition to a selection of foreign films. The move is the latest by media companies looking to leverage the Netflix-dominated SVOD market. Univision is joining networks HBO and CBS with its plans for a standalone streaming video service. Continue reading Tribeca and Lionsgate to Launch Video on Demand Service

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