Intel Leads Investment Round in IRIS.TV Video Data Platform

Intel’s investment division Intel Capital led a new $18 million Series B investment round in IRIS.TV, a data technology company that offers an alternative to cookies and third-party identifiers. IRIS.TV, founded in 2013, analyzes the topics of individual videos of any kind or length, providing information for advertisers on contextual relevance rather than the viewer’s personal data. IRIS.TV’s tech works on videos on mobile phones and computers and, notably, for content on streaming television apps. Continue reading Intel Leads Investment Round in IRIS.TV Video Data Platform

Sony Unveils 4K Streaming Service for Latest Bravia XR TVs

Sony debuted its Bravia Core (the ‘CORE’ stands for ‘Centre of Real Entertainment’), a 4K streaming service exclusive and free to owners of its 2021 Bravia XR TVs. Its content draws from the Sony Pictures library for new releases and older movies. Sony stated that Core provides lossless 4K streaming at a much higher bitrate than Netflix and other streaming services,” HDR, DTS sound and “the largest IMAX Enhanced movie collection.” The service, accessed through the Bravia Core app, is not available on older Sony smart TVs or other devices. Continue reading Sony Unveils 4K Streaming Service for Latest Bravia XR TVs

Facebook Counters AI Bias with a Data Set Featuring Actors

Facebook released an open-source AI data set of 45,186 videos featuring 3,011 U.S. actors who were paid to participate. The data set is dubbed Casual Conversations because the diverse group was recorded giving unscripted answers to questions about age and gender. Skin tone and lighting conditions were also annotated by humans. Biases have been a problem in AI-enabled technologies such as facial recognition. Facebook is encouraging teams to use the new data set. Most AI data sets comprise people unaware they are being recorded. Continue reading Facebook Counters AI Bias with a Data Set Featuring Actors

Pew Research Study Finds Social Media Use Remains Stable

A new report from the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of U.S. adults use social media, a number that has been stable over the past five years. The survey drilled down into use of a variety of individual sites and apps, finding that YouTube and Facebook still are dominant, with 81 percent and 69 percent respectively of those surveyed reporting using those sites. YouTube and Reddit were the only platforms that saw “statistically significant” growth since 2019. Forty percent said they ever use Instagram. Continue reading Pew Research Study Finds Social Media Use Remains Stable

Supreme Court Allows FCC to Relax Media Ownership Rules

In a 9-0 ruling authored by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the U.S. Supreme Court loosened local media ownership restrictions, which could enable more industry consolidation. It’s viewed as a victory for broadcasters that wanted to overturn the 2017 decision of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that found the FCC did not sufficiently consider the effect of changes on minority and female owners. The FCC appeal was supported by News Corp, Fox Corporation, Sinclair Broadcast Group and the National Association of Broadcasters. Continue reading Supreme Court Allows FCC to Relax Media Ownership Rules

ETC White Paper Details Best Practices for Virtual Production

The Entertainment Technology Center@USC produced a live-action short, “Ripple Effect” to test new technologies and workflows, including the cloud, virtual production, and remote editing and visual effects. The project also introduced and evaluated a variety of tools and procedures that meet or exceed industry standards for a safe set during the COVID-19 pandemic. Executive producer Erik Weaver, the team at ETC, and tech partners have published a white paper that outlines recommendations for virtual production and critical lessons learned during the making of “Ripple Effect.” Continue reading ETC White Paper Details Best Practices for Virtual Production

New Report Finds TikTok Does Not Pose a U.S. Security Risk

University of Toronto’s cybersecurity group The Citizen Lab just released a report with the finding that TikTok’s underlying code does not pose a threat to U.S. national security. Former president Donald Trump and leaders in other countries accused ByteDance’s TikTok of spying for China but The Citizen Lab, which reports on censorship and surveillance by Chinese social media apps, found no evidence of “overtly malicious behavior.” However, they added that there could be undiscovered security issues. Continue reading New Report Finds TikTok Does Not Pose a U.S. Security Risk

YouTube Debuts Would-Be TikTok Rival ‘Shorts’ in U.S. Beta

YouTube Shorts, intended to rival video-sharing social media platform TikTok, rolled out in beta to a small group of U.S. users, after debuting first in India last fall. Shorts project lead Todd Sherman said the company plans to experiment with advertising and monetization features for creators “later this year.” In beta, Shorts offers the ability to add text to points in the video and sample audio from other Shorts. Similar to TikTok, YouTube Shorts is focused on music. Shorts, however, integrates with the larger YouTube platform. Continue reading YouTube Debuts Would-Be TikTok Rival ‘Shorts’ in U.S. Beta

New TikTok Personalized Ad Policy Ends Choice to Opt Out

Beginning April 15, TikTok’s policy on personalized ads is changing. According to notices that TikTok users are seeing on their feeds, personalized ads will be mandatory — and users will no longer have the ability to opt out of such ads based on their actions — although the users will still be able to opt out of ads based on data TikTok gets from its advertising partners. Not included in this policy change are users in the European Union who are protected from personalized ads by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that requires user consent for such ads. Continue reading New TikTok Personalized Ad Policy Ends Choice to Opt Out

Netflix Running Test to Curb Unauthorized Password Sharing

Netflix is reportedly considering a move to enforce one of its terms of service: that a customer’s account credentials cannot be shared with individuals beyond the account holder’s household. The company recently introduced a limited test that displays a warning that reads, “if you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching.” It next prompts viewers with three options: to get an email or text verification code to authenticate the account, click on a button to verify later, or sign up for a new account. Continue reading Netflix Running Test to Curb Unauthorized Password Sharing

South Korean E-Commerce Powerhouse Raises $4.6B in IPO

Seoul-based startup Coupang is South Korea’s version of Amazon and the country’s biggest e-commerce retailer. Its IPO last week raised $4.6 billion and valued the company at about $85 billion, while its share offering price of $35 rose 41 percent to close the day at $49.25. Although Coupang plans to expand, it will soon face competition from South Korean family-owned conglomerates, called chaebol, which are building their own delivery networks. Another looming problem for Coupang are accusations of poor labor practices. Continue reading South Korean E-Commerce Powerhouse Raises $4.6B in IPO

Disney+ Achieves 100 Million Subscriber Mark in Record Time

The Walt Disney Company’s streaming service Disney+ reached 100 million subscribers in its first 16 months of operation, after reporting 94.9 million subscribers on January 2. With the latest announcement, Disney+ is clearly on track to reach the goal of 260 million subscribers by 2024. At a shareholder meeting, Disney chief executive Bob Chapek again stressed that Disney+ is a company priority and that it still plans to add 100+ new titles each year. In comparison, Netflix has 203.7 million subscribers. Continue reading Disney+ Achieves 100 Million Subscriber Mark in Record Time

Study Suggests Deepfakes Fool Top Facial Recognition Tech

Deepfakes, in which a person in a video is swapped for another person via AI-enabled tools, are on the rise. Deeptrace reported that, between October 2019 and June 2020, the number of deepfakes on the Internet jumped 330 percent, reaching 50,000 at the peak. Deepfakes have been used to place celebrities in embarrassing and inappropriate content, defraud a major energy producer and many other disruptive or criminal uses. Tools to create deepfakes are readily available, and a recent study said deepfakes can reliably fool commercial facial recognition services. Continue reading Study Suggests Deepfakes Fool Top Facial Recognition Tech

New Camera-to-Cloud Technology Available for Productions

Feature film “Songbird,” directed by Adam Mason, is a thriller based on the COVID-19 pandemic. Shot last summer in Los Angeles, the production used new camera-to-cloud technology that enabled remote participation — including live feedback — by any crew member that couldn’t be on set. Cloud-based video review company Frame.io had been working on the concept, streaming footage from connected cameras over 4G or LTE to remote crew. The company’s C2C solution launches this month. “Songbird” co-producer Max Votolato dubbed it “like having a video village in your pocket.” Continue reading New Camera-to-Cloud Technology Available for Productions

Square Acquires Majority Stake in Jay-Z’s Tidal Music Service

Digital payment firm Square is spending $297 million in cash and stock for a majority share of the subscription-based Tidal streaming music service. Tidal owner Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, will join Square’s board. Now, musicians on Tidal will be able to use Square’s Cash App payment service to digitally store and transfer money. Square hardware lead Jesse Dorogusker, who will temporarily lead Tidal, said, “we’re interested in a 360-degree view of artists as small-business owners,” noting live performances, merchandise and collaborations. Continue reading Square Acquires Majority Stake in Jay-Z’s Tidal Music Service

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