Streaming Drives Massive Hollywood Soundstage Expansion

The streaming wars are spurring a content surge that is driving a demand for production space. The latest beneficiary of that is Television Center, a six-acre Art Deco complex on Romaine Street in Hollywood. The former home of the Technicolor Hollywood film lab is being remade as Echelon at Television Center in a $600-million makeover courtesy of Bardas Investment Group and Bain Capital Real Estate. Plans are underway for a complex of offices and a 620,000-square-foot studio with four soundstages and underground parking for more than 1,000 cars, spanning two city blocks. This is one of several production facilities in the planning stages. Continue reading Streaming Drives Massive Hollywood Soundstage Expansion

Big Ten Rights Deal Most Lucrative in College Sports History

Comcast announced that Peacock and NBC will “become the exclusive home of ‘Big Ten Saturday Night’ football” beginning in 2023. CBS and FOX also get a piece of Big Ten action in a rights deal that also includes basketball. The college mega-conference will reportedly reap more than $7 billion over seven years, beginning July 1, 2023. CBS and FOX will share the remainder of the Saturday football schedule, with FOX broadcasting the noon games and CBS (and Paramount+) getting mid-afternoon play. The arrangement concludes ESPN’s 40-year run of Big Ten football programming. Continue reading Big Ten Rights Deal Most Lucrative in College Sports History

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’

USC Students Compete in Second ETC Metaverse Challenge

University of Southern California students were invited to participate in the second of two scheduled Metaverse Experience Challenges, hosted by ETC@USC. Making use of current and emerging tools, students were tasked with developing original ideas for compelling metaverse experiences. Ten teams started work at 1:00 pm on Friday, October 8 and presented their ideas to judges from Epic Games, Universal Pictures, Disney Studios, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud at 3:00 pm on Saturday, October 9. Each member of the winning teams — MetaversEdu and MetaMall — received a Nintendo Switch “Fortnite” Edition, courtesy of Epic Games. Continue reading USC Students Compete in Second ETC Metaverse Challenge

ETC Launches First of Two Metaverse Experience Challenges

University of Southern California students were invited to participate in the first of two scheduled Metaverse Experience Challenges, hosted by ETC@USC. Making use of current and emerging tools, students were tasked with developing original ideas for compelling metaverse experiences. Six teams of randomly-grouped students started work at 1:00 pm on Friday, October 1 and presented their ideas to judges from Epic Games, Universal Pictures and Disney Research at 3:00 pm on Saturday, October 2. Each member of the winning teams — Meetaverse and Virtual Vinyl — received a Nintendo Switch “Fortnite” Edition, courtesy of Epic Games. Continue reading ETC Launches First of Two Metaverse Experience Challenges

Amazon Profits Rise as Do Fake Reviews and Inflated Ratings

Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Amazon added 50 million Prime members and made $26+ billion in profits. Also surging, however, are fake reviews that bolster ratings for vendors but sow mistrust among shoppers. Amazon made it easier to leave a rating, such as one-tap ratings that allow the consumer to submit a star rating without accompanying text, but the attempt to instill confidence among consumers has largely backfired. Amazon’s one-day shipping has also made it much harder for small businesses to survive the transition to online sales. Continue reading Amazon Profits Rise as Do Fake Reviews and Inflated Ratings

ETC Executive Coffee: Warner on Future of Virtual Production

Ryan Beagan, vice president of virtual production at WarnerMedia, met virtually with USC students on April 21 for the fifth installment in ETC@USC’s Spring 2021 Executive Coffee with… series. Beagan engaged a group of six students and one recent alumnus in a one-hour discussion on “The Post-Pandemic Future of Virtual Production.” Graduate and undergraduate students in computer science, industrial engineering, theater, applied data, and film and television production discussed topics including sophisticated game engines, collaborative processes and new tools, and adapting to evolving compliance rules. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Warner on Future of Virtual Production

ETC Executive Coffee: Disney on Immersive Media Storytelling

Disney executives met virtually with USC students on April 7 for the fourth installment in ETC@USC’s Spring 2021 Executive Coffee with… series. Mark Mine, director of the Technology Innovation Group at The Walt Disney Studios, along with his Disney colleague Daniel Baker, senior producer of technology innovation – interactive experiences, engaged a group of nine USC students in a one-hour discussion on “The Future of Immersive Media Storytelling.” They discussed the “aura” of effective immersive media, the balance between game elements and narrative elements, the use of light and shadow for user interface and user experience design, and the importance of navigation. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Disney on Immersive Media Storytelling

ETC Executive Coffee: Warner Executives Discuss AI, Ethics

“AI and Ethics” was the topic of ETC@USC’s March 30th Executive Coffee with… discussion, the third installment of the Spring 2021 series. WarnerMedia’s Renard Jenkins, vice president of content transmission and production, and Michael Zink, vice president of emerging and creative technologies, led the discussion with 12 graduate and undergraduate USC philosophy, cinema, engineering and innovation majors. They explored how diversity and bias impact AI development, and how AI is expected to impact entertainment experiences. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Warner Executives Discuss AI, Ethics

ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon Execs Discuss Life After Zoom

During ETC@USC’s second Executive Coffee with… installment of the Spring 2021 series, Sanyogita Shamsunder, VP of product strategy, innovation and operations at Verizon engaged a group of eight USC students from cinema, engineering and business in a one-hour discussion of the question: “What comes after Zoom and entertainment apps?” Shamsunder, whose team is focused on new technology innovation and bringing new products and experiences to consumer and enterprise customers, was joined by team members Andrew Herson, who is focused on B2B2C applications, and Zachary Drossman, who heads concept development at Verizon’s 5G Labs. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon Execs Discuss Life After Zoom

USC Researchers Find Bias in Deepfake Detectors’ Datasets

The advent of deepfakes, which replace a person in a video or photo by likeness of someone else, has sparked concern that the ease of using machine learning tools to create them are readily available to criminals and provocateurs. In response, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft sponsored the Deepfake Detection Challenge, which resulted in several potential tools. But now, researchers at the University of Southern California found that the datasets used to train some of these detection systems demonstrate racial and gender bias. Continue reading USC Researchers Find Bias in Deepfake Detectors’ Datasets

ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon on the Future of Entertainment

To kick off ETC@USC’s five-part Spring 2021 Executive Coffee with… series, Serhad Doken, executive, innovation and product realization at Verizon, led a Zoom discussion on March 15. “Expectations for the Future of Entertainment and UI/UX design” was the framing question for a wide-ranging discussion. Six students from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, Viterbi School of Engineering, and the Iovine and Young Academy participated. Topics included user experience expectations, VR and 5G, “gaming” the algorithm, recommendations versus serendipity, artists earning a living, and what experiences have yet to be adopted. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon on the Future of Entertainment

Hollywood VFX Experts Gravitate to AR/VR Jobs in Big Tech

Apple, Facebook and Google are among the Big Tech companies that are hiring technologists behind Hollywood movies like “Avatar” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” All three companies are developing headsets or glasses for AR/VR or so-called extended reality, and the most cutting-edge Hollywood visual effects create needed photoreal computer-generated characters and landscapes. VFX veteran Paul Debevec, now a professor at the University of Southern California, was recruited by Google four-and-a-half years ago. Continue reading Hollywood VFX Experts Gravitate to AR/VR Jobs in Big Tech

Video: NAB Panel on ETC Film Project and Virtual Production

Last week, NAB and sponsor Grass Valley hosted a day of online sessions covering various “Production in a Pandemic” topics. ETC@USC’s Erik Weaver moderated a compelling panel during which industry experts discussed the methods used to produce the short film “Ripple Effect,” a live-action project testing the limits of virtual production. The production focused on how Previz, Techviz and Safetyviz can help limit crew and cast to create a safer work environment. Video of the panel — “In Harm’s Way: Using Safetyviz to Mitigate Onset Liability” — is now available on the NAB Show site. Continue reading Video: NAB Panel on ETC Film Project and Virtual Production

NAB Panel to Address Virtual Production of ETC Film Project

NAB Show, with sponsor Grass Valley, will offer online sessions September 2 that address topics related to “Production in a Pandemic.” In partnership with the Entertainment Technology Center @ USC, the day’s first session — “In Harm’s Way: Using Safetyviz to Mitigate Onset Liability” (10:00 am PT) — will feature a panel of industry experts discussing the methods used to produce the short film “Ripple Effect.” The project focused on how Previz, Techviz and Safetyviz can help limit crew and cast to create a safer work environment.  Continue reading NAB Panel to Address Virtual Production of ETC Film Project