USC Students Have Opportunity to Speak with Media Execs

On December 2, senior media executives gathered on Zoom to answer questions from USC students about industry trends, company strategies and career direction. The students had submitted winning pitches in the ETC@USC Future of Themed Experiences Challenge and their reward was time with the media executives. The questions ranged from “Do you need to learn to code to break into entertainment technology?” to “What are some visionary directions you see your company investing in over the next 4-5 years?” Video of the discussions, along with the lists of questions, students, and executives, is available online. Continue reading USC Students Have Opportunity to Speak with Media Execs

Short-Form Video Platform Triller Creates a New Virtual World

Triller, a short-form video sharing app acquired in 2019 by Hollywood financier Ryan Kavanaugh’s Proxima Media, is launching a platform called Metaverz for immersive experiences ranging from sports and concerts to social events that take place “past the velvet rope” in virtual nightclubs populated with influencers, creators and celebrities. Right now, the company is previewing a video that showcases what looks like basic video game graphics, although Triller is touting a partnership with Singapore-based Epik, a blockchain-focused firm described in the Metaverz announcement as “a leading global platform for AR/VR and gaming experiences.” Continue reading Short-Form Video Platform Triller Creates a New Virtual World

Summer Blockbusters Bringing Moviegoers Back to Theaters

U.S. audiences have been showing up at theaters to see summer blockbusters, a happy plot twist for an industry that saw the bottom fall out during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Films such as Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick” and Universal’s “Jurassic World Dominion” and “Minions: The Rise of Gru” have proven that despite the surge in streaming, audiences will trek out of the home for content that rises to the level of an event. “There’s no question that we’re coming back — in relevance, and in actual behavior,” said Warner Bros. domestic distribution president Jeff Goldstein. Continue reading Summer Blockbusters Bringing Moviegoers Back to Theaters

Netflix Said to Be Retooling Deals as it Readies New Ad Tier

Netflix has reportedly entered into discussions with studios including Warner Bros., Universal and Sony Pictures Television to revise licensing terms to include their content on the streamer’s planned ad-supported tier. The talks include shows created specifically for Netflix — like Sony’s “The Crown” and Universal’s “Russian Doll” — as well as second-run programming like Sony’s “Breaking Bad” and Paramount Global’s “NCIS.” Sources say the studios will likely be angling for a premium of 15 percent to 30 percent for duplexing the shows on the new tier. While Netflix self-produces some original content in-house, much of it is acquired externally. Continue reading Netflix Said to Be Retooling Deals as it Readies New Ad Tier

ETC Pushes Boundaries of Virtual Production with ‘Fathead’

“A world without synthetic humans is not an option anymore,” the audience at the 2022 HPA Tech Retreat in Rancho Mirage were advised by “Fathead” virtual production producer Tom Thudiyanplackal. Equally unimaginable is a world without synthetic sets, as was obvious at Tuesday’s daylong HPA Super Session, themed “Immerse Yourself in Virtual Production.” “Fathead,” the fifth short from the USC Entertainment Technology Center’s Annual ETC Innovation and Technology Grant, was all about in-camera VFX, captured in real-time on a stage lined and lidded with LEDs — 280-degrees around and on the ceiling, too. Continue reading ETC Pushes Boundaries of Virtual Production with ‘Fathead’

Intel’s 8K HDR Live Streams ‘Way Beyond Proof of Concept’

On the heels of several successful tests that included Tokyo 2020 Olympics telecasts in Brazil and Japan, Intel is moving full steam ahead to bring live, end-to-end 8K HDR streaming to audiences across the globe. The company sees the future of 8K HDR as revolutionizing the worlds of sports, entertainment and gaming by delivering spectacular, immersive events at stadium scale, augmented by 3D, VR, AR and UHD audio. The key to this brave new broadcast world is Intel’s Xeon Scalable processors for local encoding and delivery over-the-top. And of course, the slickest compression algorithms. Continue reading Intel’s 8K HDR Live Streams ‘Way Beyond Proof of Concept’

Movies Anywhere Debuts Feature for AI-Enabled List Making

Movies Anywhere, the cloud-based digital locker and OTT streaming platform that allows users to pull together streaming movies from multiple digital stores into a single hub, is now adding an AI-enabled ability to generate personalized lists of those movies. Users have wanted a list-making capability, which will allow them to streamline their lockers, removing multiple listings of the same movie and funneling them into categories. An AI algorithm will keep track of user behavior and organize the list. The “My Lists” tab will be located next to “My Movies.” Continue reading Movies Anywhere Debuts Feature for AI-Enabled List Making

Movie Theaters Report Upswing for Strong Holiday Weekend

U.S. movie theaters brought in nearly $100 million in ticket sales over the four-day Memorial Day weekend. The top two titles were Paramount’s “A Quiet Place Part II,” which earned $48.4 million in three days (and $57 million over the full four days) and Disney’s “Cruella,” which made $27 million in four days, after an earlier Disney+ release. This performance has been the best box office since the advent of the global COVID-19 pandemic, although it was less than half of the $232 million earned in the same holiday period in 2019. Continue reading Movie Theaters Report Upswing for Strong Holiday Weekend

Florida Passes Legislation to Restrict Social Media Platforms

Florida just passed a new law, signed by Governor Ron DeSantis, that makes it illegal for Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social media platforms to permanently bar political candidates from their sites. The law, which was crafted in response to Facebook’s and Twitter’s ban of former President Donald Trump in January, will impose a $250,000 per day fine. The law also makes it illegal to prevent posts in response to stories on their platforms. The law will likely face a constitutional challenge in the courts. Continue reading Florida Passes Legislation to Restrict Social Media Platforms

HPA Tech Retreat: ETC Details Its Executive Coffee Program

During the HPA Tech Retreat, ETC Immersive Media Initiative program lead Phil Lelyveld presented highlights from the Entertainment Technology Center’s “Executive Coffee With…” program, a series of discussions between ETC industry members and USC students on a range of topics related to the future of entertainment. To date, executives from Verizon, Universal, Fox, Equinix, Vubiquity and Dolby have posed questions to the USC students, on topics from production during COVID-19 to the future of the theater experience. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: ETC Details Its Executive Coffee Program

AMC Expresses ‘Substantial Doubt’ About its Chain’s Survival

AMC Theatres told its investors that “substantial doubt exists about our ability to continue as a going concern for a reasonable period of time.” In a new 8-K filing, ahead of its earning call next week, the company described how it is trying to survive but also stressed how badly the coronavirus pandemic is eroding its financial stability. The movie theater chain had $5 billion in debt by the end of 2019 and continues to borrow more. Adding to its woes is the worry that distributors will postpone new film releases. Continue reading AMC Expresses ‘Substantial Doubt’ About its Chain’s Survival

Coronavirus Leads to an Increase in TV Viewing and Streaming

Nielsen revealed that, as coronavirus cases rose in South Korea, TV viewership increased 17 percent. In Italy, it rose 6.5 percent, with a 12 percent spike in Lombardy, particularly hit hard by the virus. That trend has arrived in the U.S. where, said Nielsen, in the Seattle area total television use (which includes live TV, on-demand viewing, streaming and gaming) rose 22 percent on March 11 from the week before. Streaming also increased 20 percent globally. Still, it may be a short-lived panacea for many media companies. Continue reading Coronavirus Leads to an Increase in TV Viewing and Streaming

HPA Tech Retreat: ETC Outlines Adaptive Production Projects

ETC’s director of adaptive production Seth Levenson described the USC think tank’s array of projects under this umbrella, which include archiving, blockchain, and visual effects standards. The working group on archiving, co-chaired by Paramount Pictures senior vice president asset management Andrea Kalas, is developing best practices for cloud preservation. Levenson pointed to the white paper on “Guidelines for Digital Audio-Visual Assets in the Cloud,” which in part focused on fixity, or getting out the same assets that were uploaded. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: ETC Outlines Adaptive Production Projects

AMC Joins the Streaming Business with On-Demand Movies

AMC Theatres is launching an iTunes-style digital video store today in the U.S. that will allow AMC Stubs members to rent or purchase movies for home viewing. Similar to the model introduced by Amazon, Apple and other VOD retailers, AMC Theatres On Demand will offer about 2,000 movies following their theatrical runs, despite the fact that chains have generally been at odds with online video. A major theater chain joining the expanding collection of studios, networks, tech companies and popular platforms already embracing this technology illustrates the impact of streaming video on entertainment media. Continue reading AMC Joins the Streaming Business with On-Demand Movies

ETC’s Spring/Summer Newsletter Is Now Available Online

The Entertainment Technology Center’s latest newsletter is currently posted online with updates to new and ongoing projects. Among the key announcements: ETC recently held its Studio Technology Leaders Dinner at USC’s Town & Gown. During the event, Ken Williams announced that Michael Wise of Universal has been named the new ETC Executive Board chairman. Additionally, ETC presented Leon Silverman of Netflix with the Bob Lambert Technology Leadership award. ETC selected four projects to continue with the development phase of its inaugural Immersive Media Challenge, and during a recent All Members Meeting, USC students discussed their opinions about media consumption. Visit the newsletter to read more about these topics and updates to ETC projects involving 5G, AI, adaptive production, quantum computing, archiving and preservation, production in the cloud, and more. Continue reading ETC’s Spring/Summer Newsletter Is Now Available Online