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

MxR Lab: Travel Back in Time 25,000 Years For AR User Study

Have you ever been curious about what Los Angeles looked like during the Ice Age, or how animals got stuck in the tar at the #TarPits? Be the first to try Tar AR at Pit 91, a special augmented reality experience running March 2-15. Participation is free for those who RSVP. Participants will receive free #TarPits Museum admission, 10 percent off at the Museum Store during the day of participation, and limited edition Ice Age Animal stickers. Plus, you’ll be helping #TarPits and the University of Southern California in important scientific research about AR. Continue reading MxR Lab: Travel Back in Time 25,000 Years For AR User Study

Big Tech, Academics Launch Deepfake Detection Challenge

A coalition of Big Tech companies and academics have banded together to fight deepfakes. Facebook, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, the Partnership on AI, and academics at Cornell Tech, MIT, University of Oxford, UC Berkeley, University of Maryland College Park and the State University of New York at Albany just launched the Deepfake Detection Challenge announced in September. The problem is serious; deepfakes have swindled companies and could sway public opinion during upcoming elections. Continue reading Big Tech, Academics Launch Deepfake Detection Challenge

Netflix Tops Golden Globe Nominations With 34 Total Nods

Netflix scored 17 film nominations for the 77th Golden Globes, a major jump since its first movie Globes nod in 2016 for “Beasts of No Nation.” This go-round, Netflix campaigned hard — and successfully — with six nominations for Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story,” including Best Drama, Actress (Scarlett Johansson), Actor (Adam Driver), Supporting Actress (Laura Dern), Screenplay (Baumbach) and Score (Randy Newman). “The Irishman” and “The Two Popes” were also nominated for Best Drama. Additionally, the company received 17 nominations in television for a total of 34 nominations. Continue reading Netflix Tops Golden Globe Nominations With 34 Total Nods

Companies Test Out Internal Crowdsourcing For Best Ideas

Some companies are changing their model for picking out the best new ideas to develop. In most industries, the typical path of a new product begins in the R&D department and is led by senior staff. But that’s beginning to change, said USC Marshall School of Business chaired professor Ann Majchrzak, who noted that companies are starting to realize that the R&D department “might not be the best predictor of what is a good idea.” Instead, some companies are experimenting with internal crowdsourcing, which lets any employee pitch an idea. Continue reading Companies Test Out Internal Crowdsourcing For Best Ideas

USC Will Host Full-Day Blockchain Symposium This Friday

USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Center for Cyber-Physical Systems and the Internet of Things (CCI) is hosting the second International Symposium on Foundations and Applications of Blockchain (FAB 2019). The event will take place on Friday, April 5, 7:00 am – 8:00 pm at USC. This one-day symposium builds on the previous success of FAB 2018, attended by close to a hundred participants and featuring presentations by distinguished speakers from academia and industry. To register, visit the symposium’s Eventbrite page. Continue reading USC Will Host Full-Day Blockchain Symposium This Friday

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