Category Archives: Entertainment
At the beginning of the year it was announced that Star Trek The Next Generation’s Jean Luc Picard was on this year’s list to received a knighthood. And today in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, the Queen made it official. Details and photos from the event. Plus we have an update on the latest from Sir Patrick.
Make it Sir
According to the BBC, Sir Patrick Stewart paid tribute to a former teacher at the ceremony where he was knighted by the Queen, saying he owed “literally everything” to an English teacher who first encouraged him to perform. Stewart also spoke about the company he now finds himself in:
…as I grew up as a child, falling in love with the theatre and Shakespeare, my heroes were Sir Laurence Olivier [and] Sir John Gielgud. The knights of the theatre represented to me not only the pinnacle of the profession but the esteem in which the profession was held. To find myself, to my astonishment, in that company is the grandest thing that has professionally happened to me.
More details at BBC.co.uk
Sir Patrick Updates
PS Narrated Planetarium Show at Greenwich [through July 22nd]
The new “Violent Universe” show at the Harrison Planetarium at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England is narrated by Patrick Stewart. The show “takes visitors on a journey through supernovae, black holes and gamma ray bursts, as well as the possibility of an asteroid collision with Earth” and runs from May 22nd until July 22nd. More info at nmm.ac.uk.
90-minute interview with Stewart at Edinburgh Film Festival [June 21st]
Patrick will be the subject of the BAFTA in Scotland Interview at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. The 90-minute live event takes place at the Cineworld 2 on June 21st. More info at edfilmfest.org.uk.
PS on Broadway with “A Life in The Theatre” [previews start September 17th]
Patrick Stewart is returning to Broadway to star in David Mamet’s A Life in The Theatre. The show will run in the fall at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater, with previews starting September 17, 2010 ahead of a October 14th opening.
In this photo taken Monday, May 10, 2010, a pair of 3-D glasses are seen across the cover of the June 2010 edition of Playboy magazine. The newest edition of magazine will feature a centerfold model whose picture was taken with a 3-D camera, and a pair of 3-D glasses, the first time the magazine has done such a thing. The edition will be on newsstands Friday May 14. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
By DON BABWIN
CHICAGO — Playboy readers who can only imagine what it would look like if a centerfold jumped right off the page are getting new specs to help them see into Hef’s world. The magazine’s June edition hits newsstands Friday equipped with 3-D glasses. Now the toy that has kids dodging dragons, meatballs and tall blue aliens at the movies will help adults focus on what is, at first glance, a very blurry Playmate of the Year.
“What would people most like to see in 3-D?” asked Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. “Probably a naked lady.”
Hefner makes no secret of hoping to capitalize on the popularity of 3-D movies such as “Avatar” and “How to Train Your Dragon,” even as he makes no secret of not quite getting what all the fuss is about.
“I’m not a huge enthusiast of 3-D,” he said in a telephone interview. “I leave real life to go to the movies and 2-D is fine with me.”
If the thought of grown men sitting back in their recliners with a pair of 3-D glasses doesn’t quite say “Playboy,” it should be noted that a few months ago the magazine put Marge Simpson – yes, the blue-haired animated mother of Bart – on the cover and in a two-page centerfold.
“In today’s print environment you have to create newsstand events,” said the editorial director of the Chicago-based magazine, Jimmy Jellinek. “Marge Simpson was one of those.”
Playboy certainly must do something to get more people, especially younger people, to buy a magazine that has seen circulation plummet from 3.15 million in 2006 to 1.5 million today.
Jellinek said he hopes the issue featuring centerfold Hope Dworaczyk in 3-D also reminds people that for all the infatuation with the Internet, there is nothing quite like having a magazine in your hands.
“People want things that last and have meaning,” he said.
The thought hadn’t occurred to Hefner. But, now that you mention it:
“This particular picture is one example of how books and magazines are different (than computer images),” he said. “You can hold it in your hands, save them, and as Dad used to, put them under the mattress.”
Hefner notes there also are plenty of good old-fashioned 2-D pictures of Dworaczyk – the 51st Playmate of the Year, for those counting at home.
3-D may be all the rage, but Hefner said he first thought of using it when he launched his magazine in the 1950s.
“I actually signed a photographer to shoot two nude women in 3-D in Chicago,” he said. But he scrapped the idea when he discovered how expensive it would be to include the glasses.
This time around, HBO is helping out. HBO wanted a creative way to promote its show “True Blood,” and having Playboy include 3-D glasses with the show’s name on them seemed a good way to do it, said Playboy spokeswoman Theresa Hennessey.
So, do the glasses work? Well, it does kind of look like Dworaczyk is handing you the wine glass she’s holding. And she says the photograph makes everything a little, well, bigger.
“It’s kind of like it says on the rearview mirror,” Dworaczyk joked. “Things may appear larger.”
by: Naresh Chauhan
Being unique from the crowd in both thought and implementation is what makes a good designer, and a fine outcome from him is a great design. When a designer thinks of revolutionizing computer speakers, it’s true he’s stepped in a league different to us, this, with a motive to produce sound in a different way. Drawing the benefits of Wi-Fi to run the Levitating superconductor speakers wrapped-around in a multitouch touchscreen, James Coleman has certainly got an inspirational design readied for his university project.
Surround sound? That’s old technology. How about surround vision?
The folks at the MIT Media Lab have developed a new system called surround vision that can let you follow objects outside of your regular TV screen by viewing them on smartphones and handheld Internet devices. Imagine you’re watching a movie on your regular TV, and a car drives off the screen. You could follow and view that car as it drives away by looking at and pointing your smartphone or tablet in its direction.
The person leading this promising new project is Santiago Alfaro, a graduate student at the lab. To kick-start his testing, Alfaro attached a magnetometer to an existing handheld device. A type of digital compass, magnetometers are already used in smartphones like the iPhone to detect the direction the device is pointing. He then created the necessary software to sync the magnetometer with other sensors on the device.
After outfitting the handheld with motion sensors, Alfaro shot video on campus from three different angles–center, left, and right. Watching the TV screen straight on played video from the center. But by pointing the handheld to the left or right, Alfaro was able to view the footage shot from both side angles.
As a further test of the technology, Alfaro took advantage of the alternate takes found on many DVDs. He created a demo that let him switch between the final footage and the alternate takes and angles by changing the direction of the handheld device.
Though the technology may sound like it needs further development, it’s designed to work with existing Internet-enabled portable gadgets, including smartphones and tablets. Since a lot of today’s handheld devices already have magnetometers, no modifications would be necessary. Further, TV stations wouldn’t have to change their broadcasts or equipment, according to Alfaro and his adviser, Media Lab research scientist Michael Bove.
“In the Media Lab, and even my group, there’s a combination of far-off-in-the-future stuff and very, very near-term stuff, and this is an example of the latter,” said Bove in a news release Friday. “This could be in your home next year if a network decided to do it.”
The MIT researchers plan to test surround vision on other users this spring and summer using content developed by Boston Public TV and other partners. They’re keen to try it out on sporting events and live TV shows since those broadcasts already shoot footage from different angles. Even crime shows like “CSI” could benefit from the surround vision, said Bove, by letting people view what the medical examiners see when they peer through a microscope.
Follow link for Video Demo ->http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20002246-1.html?tag=newsEditorsPicksArea.0
The specifications for the BDXL (High Capacity Recordable and Rewritable discs) format for commercial use and IH-BD (Intra-Hybrid discs) for consumers are expected in the next few months, the Blu-ray Disc Association stated in a press release posted on its website.
The BDXL specification is targeted at filling the data archiving needs of broadcasting, medical and document imaging companies.
Discs meeting the specs will have write-once, read many (WORM) options with 128GB capacity discs and rewritable capability on 100GB discs. A consumer version of BDXL will be offered particularly in those regions where BD recorders have achieved broad consumer acceptance, the association added.
Today’s Blu-ray discs come with single or dual recording layers with 25GB or 50GB capacity, respectively. The new formats will have three to four recordable layers.
“Professional industries have expressed a desire to find optical disc solutions that enable them to transition away from magnetic media for their archiving needs,” said Victor Matsuda, Blu-ray Disc Association Global Promotions Committee chair, in a statement. “Leveraging Blu-ray Disc to meet this need provides professional enterprises with a compact, stable and long term solution for archiving large amounts of sensitive data, video and graphic images using a proven and widely accepted optical technology.”
The IH-BD disc discs will incorporate a single BD-ROM layer and a single BD-RE layer, which allows a user to view, but not overwrite, data while providing the ability to include relevant personal data on the same physical disc.
‘This allows for consumer specific applications where combining published content with related user data on a convenient, single volume is desirable,” the association said.
Because both BDXL and IH-BD are specially designed formats with specific market segments in mind, newly-designed hardware is required to play back or record BDXL or IH-BD media. However, because the new media specifications are extensions of current Blu-ray Disc technology, future BDXL and IH-BD devices can be designed to support existing 25GB and 50GB Blu-ray Discs.
By Darren Quick
With the TV heavyweights unleashing a torrent of 3D LCD and plasma TVs upon us this year it would be easy to assume that those are the only technologies capable of providing 3D viewing in the home. A small Los Gatos, California-based startup called HDI is out blow such assumptions out of the water with what it says is a superior 3D alternative. By all reports the company’s laser-driven 100-inch 2D/3D Switchable Dynamic Video Projection Television delivers a stunning 3D picture, thanks in part to its boasting the highest refresh rate of any mass-produced television or projector.
Laser TVs aren’t new, and although they’ve attracted praise for their impressive picture quality and energy efficiency, they haven’t really set the world on fire in the sales department. HDI is hoping to change that with its laser-driven 3D offering. HDI says its display delivers a 2D image with a 50 percent greater resolution than today’s digital cinemas and derives its high definition stereoscopic 1920 x 1080p “3D” image quality from two RGB laser-illuminated Liquid Crystal on Silcon (LCOS) micro display imagers.
At full 1080p HD, the HDI Ltd. screen refreshes at 360 fields per-second on each eye. According to the company this high refresh rate eliminates the adverse effects, such as migraines, dizziness, and nausea, long associated with substandard 3D display technology. For conversion of 2D content to 3D HDI TVs will utilize real time converter technology from HDlogix.
The projection technology that can be found in HDI’s TV’s, as well as it’s projection systems, relies on three low wattage lasers that transmit laser light, (red, green and blue), to a controller via fiber optic cables. This controller combines the different colors to sends a full-color image through prisms that separate the laser lights into two channels – one for each eye. Two LCoS imagers then capture the high definition 3D images and they’re ready for projection.
The two overlapping images are projected at a rate of 360 frames per second for each color for a grand total of 1080 images per second – far greater even than the 480Hz LED 3DTV unveiled by LG last month. In another point of difference to the current crop of 3D TVs being released the HDI offering can be viewed using passive polarized glasses instead of the more expensive active shutter glasses. And an added bonus of using lasers is that energy consumption can be kept down to less than 200 watts for a 100-inch set.
Initially HDI had hoped to license its 3D technology to existing TV manufacturers but no one was interested so HDI decided to start a TV company and produce the sets itself. It will be aiming its 100-inch TV at high-end, custom install users as well as corporate boardrooms, studios and sports bars.
HDI’s 3D solution has already been attracting high praise from those who have been lucky enough to witness it in person. Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computers, calls HDI Ltd., “Without a doubt, the best demonstration of 3D technology I have ever seen,” Technology journalist Richard Hart states, “The smoothest yet, and smoothness means no headaches,” and Sean Portnoy of ZDNet.com, wrote, “We could be looking at a Holy Grail of sorts for the next generation of television.”
If you’re one of the fortunate ones to be attending NAB 2010 in Las Vegas later this month then you can decide whether the accolades are well founded as HDI will be debuting its laser-driven 100-inch 2D/3D Switchable Dynamic Video Projection Television there. Everyone else will have to wait until the HDI 3D sets start appearing in high-end AV retailers. There’s no word of when that is expected to happen or how much the new TVs will be when they do.
By Jeff Salton
To take full advantage of stereo sound, many consumers will install their AV equipment to suit the room’s furniture – sound and vision pointing to the best seat in the house so you can take full advantage of that stereo “sweetspot”. That’s fine when you’re sitting watching a movie, but what happens you start playing the latest active games on Nintendo’s Wii, Sony’s PlayStation3 and Microsoft’s Project Natal? If you’re standing off-center in the room, you won’t get full stereo sound because you’ll be closer to one loudspeaker which will dominate your aural senses.
Now researchers at the Technology University of Dresden, Germany, have overcome this problem by creating software called SweetSpotter that uses a webcam to determine where you are positioned in the room and adjusts the loudspeakers in real time to give you perfect stereo on-the-go. What’s more, it’s Open Source software that’s yours free to download.
Using a webcam (or your game console’s camera) and face recognition technology, SweetSpotter calculates the amount of delay and amplification in the corresponding audio channels and adjusts both loudspeaker signals to give the listener a stereo sweet spot.
Technically, the university says the spatial reproduction of sound in a conventional stereo system works in a small area that is located on the symmetry axis between the loudspeakers – the so-called sweet spot. But outside of this area, the stereo effect is lost and the stereo image moves to the nearer loudspeaker because the signal arrives both louder and sooner. In other words, the closer you get to one speaker, the more pronounced the sound will be until the only sound you hear will be from one speaker in mono.
To grab your free download of Sweetspotter, download the code from the website.
After announcing that it would support Nintendo’s Wii this past January, Netflix has finally started shipping out instant streaming discs to lucky Wii owners.
E-mail alerts regarding the discs went out today, and Netflix subscribers will start receiving them as early as tomorrow. Just like with Netflix’s Playstation 3 instant streaming offering, subscribers need to request the disc at netflix.com/wii before it gets mailed out.
The Wii is the last gaming system to receive support for Netflix’s instant streaming service. Microsoft was the first to jump on the service for the Xbox 360 in July 2008, and that offering remains the best user interface for instant streaming on a console. PS3 users finally gained access to it in late 2009.
We don’t know much about what Netflix’s user interface will look like on the Wii, aside from what we can tell in the tiny screenshot above. It’ll likely have support for browsing with the Wii remote, and I’m hoping that there’s also some interesting gesture integration for browsing your Netflix queue. I’m also hoping that the interface is less clunky than the PS3’s instant streaming interface, which is often slow and a chore to use.
Unlike the Xbox 360 or PS3, the Wii won’t be able to play high-definition streaming content. That will have to be something reserved for a next-generation Wii console — something that many hope to see Nintendo announce soon.
Next Story: Cisco buys into WiMax for Smart Grid, acquires stake in Grid Net
Previous Story: Bing to start roll-out of new search features
It seems like the Ferrari 458 Italia will have to learn Autobot as it will be a part of their ranks in Transformers 3. Michael Bay, the director of the Transformers series, posts on his blog that he’s decided to go Italian for the next installment of the saga, by introducing the Ferrari 458 Italia as a new character in the movie.
We’re wondering how well will it fit between the American, GM branded Autobots. One thins is sure however. It will be the fastest of the bunch. The Ferrari 458 Italia is powered by a 4.5-liter V8 mid-mounted engine that sends 570 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. Fitted with a 7-speed dual-clutch Formula 1 style transmission, the Ferrari 458 Italia can top 100 km/h in 3.4 seconds and has a top speed of 202 mph.
Michael Bay got the idea for the new character while he was attending a fund raiser held by Ferrari for building a hospital in Haiti.
[Source: Michael Bay]
Built to promote the 2008 film, ‘Watchmen,’ the interactive, multi-media project ’6 Minutes to Midnight’ was a form of a new storytelling genre known as transmedia entertainment. (Credit: Fourth Wall Studios)
In Hollywood, everyone knows that movies are king. Television makes money, and video games are a fantastic way to extend a franchise, but movies get the prestige. Vanity Fair doesn’t have an annual Emmys party.
That’s been the way it is for years, but the fault lines under the entertainment industry are shifting rapidly in favor of a more cohesive and multimedia approach to storytelling, and those who refuse to adapt may well be victims of a major shake-up in the way things work.
The protagonist in this story? A relatively new and increasingly popular concept called transmedia storytelling, which at its most basic and fundamental means telling stories across a variety of kinds of media and letting people interact in the ways that are most comfortable to them.
And while the early rounds of the transmedia revolution have consisted of an increasing number of video game and comic book projects being built up around popular films, the next stage is revolving around creative people designing multimedia stories from the ground up in which movies, video games, Web sites, smart phone applications, comic books, and other media are equal partners and all elements of a complete story.
That’s the vision, at least, of a slew of new transmedia production companies. These are firms founded by people with rich backgrounds in entertainment who believe that there are better opportunities than ever before to get audiences actively involved on many levels and who think that the broad stories that come out of projects like this are altogether more interesting.
Transmedia, said Jordan Weisman, a founder of Smith & Tinker, one of the start-ups, is “when you are taking a single story and distributing components of that single story through a wide array of media. When you collect those pieces of the media, it tells the [whole] story…When [you have] a text message and a video clip on YouTube, and a toy, or even a movie, when those things add up to a larger single story, that’s a transmedia experience.”
Transmedia for ‘Watchmen’ fans
A year ago, as the world was being primed by Warner Bros. for the imminent release of its big-budget adaptation of “Watchmen,” fans of the graphic novel and those excited for the movie were invited into the story’s world through an online project called “6 Minutes to Midnight.”
There, fans were treated to a 10-minute interactive trailer for the film, as well as to a series of Rorschach tests that would bring them inside the “Watchmen” story and reveal exclusive content unavailable to the public at large. Those diving into the site were encouraged to communicate with “Watchmen” characters by phone and over the Web.
This is transmedia entertainment. So, too, was “Why so Serious,” a project built around the release of the mega-hit “The Dark Knight.” The movie came out in 2008, but a year before, with the launch of the film’s Web site, astute fans were presented with different directions they could go in order to dive into what appeared to be an alternate-reality game built around the film’s marketing.
“Clicking on the bat symbol [on the film's site] brought a user to the [fictional] Harvey Dent campaign website, which simply contained [actor] Aaron Eckart’s picture and the slogan, ‘I believe in Harvey Dent,’ recalled the blog Asmedia. “Meanwhile, in California, a comic book [store] employee reported defaced Joker cards appearing in his shop with ‘I believe in Harvey Dent too! Hahahah!’ stamped all over them. Sure enough, when users went to ibelieveinharverydenttoo.com, they found a Jokerized Harvey Dent image. Participants typed in their email address and received their first exposure to Heath Ledger’s Joker.”
And on it went, a multifaceted experience built around “The Dark Knight” that would get millions of people involved in the world of the film, long before it ever hit a silver screen.
The fourth wall
In the theater, there is a term called “the fourth wall,” which is the imaginary boundary separating the audience from the actors. And to Weisman, transmedia storytelling is all about eroding that barrier. “The characters…communicate with you through all the same mechanisms that your real life communicates with you,” Weisman said, “through a billboard on the street, through a newspaper advertisement, through email, and Web sites, all mechanisms where you gain information about the real world and friends. Now, the characters are using the same mechanisms.”
For Elan Lee, like Weisman a former executive at 42 Entertainment, the pioneers of the alternate-reality game genre, the fourth wall is more than just a concept. It’s also the basis for a company.
Indeed, Lee’s new firm–which designed “6 Minutes to Midnight,” as well as “Eagle Eye: Free Fall,” a transmedia project tied to the movie “Eagle Eye,” and which has several Hollywood projects currently in the works–is called Fourth Wall Studios.
To Lee, transmedia storytelling is simply an extension of the kinds of entertainment we’re used to onto a much broader canvas. “Imagine your favorite movie as a series of scenes,” Lee said. “The transmedia version of that would tell the same story, just with each scene on a different form of media.”
In this picture, Lee explained, scene one from a transmedia story is on TV. The next minute, scene two, your cell phone rings, and a character from the TV is on the other end of the line. And in scene three, an e-mail comes in from that character, tying it all together. “It’s just using your life as the focal piece as the new form of storytelling,” Lee said.
And Hollywood is definitely taking notice.
At Blacklight Transmedia, a company launched six months ago by several veteran Hollywood executives, the model is creative cohesion. According to partner Zak Kadison, Blacklight is the world’s first company capable of crafting, from the ground up, a transmedia experience that includes a feature film, a video game, a comic book, and more and has 25 such projects in the works and a rare “first-look” deal with Imagine Entertainment, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s production company. And instead of the game and the comic book being based on the movie, the story begins and ends with components of all the different media.
Fourth Wall, too, is writing the scripts for its film-oriented projects, said Lee, and consistently, the company is being brought into the picture earlier and earlier.
You might think that Hollywood would resist a paradigm shift like this, but that seems not to be the case, even as building film projects seems to also mean working on the formerly ancillary games, comic books and other media at the same time. “All of the major studios absolutely get transmedia storytelling,” Kadison said, “and have been eager to work with us.”
Excited but cautious
Clearly, there is a lot of energy around transmedia in Hollywood these days. And in a risk-averse town famous for mirroring successful projects, as more studios launch their own versions of “6 Minutes to Midnight” or “Why so Serious,” there’s little doubt the genre will pick up steam.
But some would like to see transmedia storytelling stand on its own, without big corporate backers. And that was one of the biggest discussion topics at Transmedia/Hollywood, a one-day symposium put together recently by the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Televsion and USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and School of Cinematic Arts.
“A number of people in production companies see this as a new and unique media platform,” said Denise Mann, a co-organizer of the symposium. “But the paradox from my vantage point is that it’s hard to see how these can function in the world outside their role as promotions because in order to get the big budgets, you need a big” partner.
Of course, as an academic, Mann brings a historical perspective to the medium. She said that in its earliest forms, transmedia entertainment can be traced back to Orson Welles’ 1938 broadcast of “The War of the Worlds,” to the 1969 “Paul is Dead” conspiracy or, more recently, to the 1999 film “The Blair Witch Project.”
Other projects that most Transmedia experts consider part of the genre include the ABC show “Lost” and the “Matrix” films, both of which had multimedia elements that engaged large numbers of fans.
But because of the high costs of putting together a multimedia project that can involve thousands, or millions, Mann worries that the genre is too dependent on deep-pocketed benefactors interested in it solely for promotional purposes.
Still, Mann said that the symposium’s packed house demonstrated that transmedia storytelling “seems to have captured the imagination of a lot of people who are interested in what’s the bleeding edge of new entertainment today.”
But while there have been some big transmedia marketing successes, Mann said, the genre needs to be firmly in the hands of storytellers if the projects are to continue to be strong enough to attract big audiences. Those storytellers, she added, need to be in the mix from the get-go of a new project, so that when someone is conceiving of a film, they’re also talking about how the story will spread out to the game, the comic, the alternate-reality game and the Web.
And that, of course, is what companies like Blacklight Transmedia, as well as Lee’s Fourth Wall and Weisman’s Smith & Tinker are all about. And it seems like, after a little bit of educating, Hollywood is listening.
“The first six months of our business has been a lot of education of Hollywood studios, the agencies, [and] the creative talent,” Kadison said. But the reality is that once the creative talent and the agencies have seen this concept realized, as evidenced by some of the projects we’ve developed…they really did get it, and it hasn’t been a problem convincing people of the benefit of this approach.”
Or, as Lee put it, “It’s gotten a lot easier lately. Hollywood’s in trouble. They’re watching their revenues dwindle [in the face of] competition like Web sites and video games, Twitter, Facebook, and Xbox. It’s [Hollywood's] own special brand of insanity to run away from that stuff scared. What has become much easier lately is to get them to embrace that stuff. Instead of running away scared, embrace it.”