News Stories

USC Students Discuss M&E at ETC

ETC’s Student Forum, part of its April 6th All Members Meeting talked with 9 USC students from Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, The Iovine/Young Academy for Arts, Technology and The Business of Innovation, and Marshall School of Business about their M&E consumption habits, the future of content and viewing.  Hear the highlights from the forum held at ETC.

Digital Town Square

Can Machine Intelligence Solve Entertainment’s Data Challenges? What are the latest developments in visual and sound recognition, natural language processing, machine learning and artificial intelligence and how are entertainment, finance, retail and insurance integrating these tools into their services? Do entertainment datasets, pipelines and workflows present a one-of-a-kind challenge or do other sectors share similar pain points and bottlenecks? Are there ways that content owners, distributors, service providers, and technology companies can collaborate to jumpstart the application of signal analysis and neural networks to their mutual benefit? Read More

virtual NAB Innovation Conference

vNAB Innovation Conference The Entertainment Technology Center @ USC will host its third annual NAB Virtual Conference on March 20th & 21st, 2017 at Google in Venice, CA. This year, the 2-day extension of the April NAB Innovation Conference presents “Next Generation Media Technology: AI, VR and Cloud Innovations”. Join thought leaders and catalysts from the entertainment, and service industries for an insider’s look into the emerging technologies disrupting everything from the creative process to business models and consumer behavior. Topics covered include: Emergence of Artificial Intelligence Innovations in Cloud Read More

Lifting the Veil on Chinese Film Audiences

An Entertainment Technology Center forum, Friday, March 3rd, 2pm to 5pm at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. It’s become a truism to say that China is the New Frontier of Hollywood. What has not been properly assessed is the specificity of Chinese film audiences, and the challenges of capturing relevant and actionable insights about them. By bringing together the world’s two biggest experts on this topic (Professors Michael Berry of UCLA, and Stanley Rosen of USC) this ETC event seeks to directly address Hollywood’s “knowledge gap” about Read More

ETC Reports on CES

ETC covers CES each year beginning with a 3-week series of previews on the top trends, anticipated technologies, and early product announcements. Through the 2017 show, which ran from January 5 through January 8, 2017, ETC published almost 100 original posts and abstracts of articles in twice-daily editions of its ETCentric Daily News Brief.  Following the show, ETC produced an extensive report and presentation, both of which are now available online. CES 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the conference. Since the first Consumer Electronics Show in 1967, more than Read More

The Business of VR

One hundred and four business people with direct involvement in Virtual Reality attended The Business of VR workshop co-produced by the Entertainment Technology Center at USC and the Advanced Imaging Society.  Over the course of the afternoon the attendees heard seven 10-minute presentations, participated in one of four moderated discussion groups, and had the opportunity to experience seven VR demos while networking. The event was held at the Skirball Center, Los Angeles, on November 17, 2015. What follows is a summary of each of the seven 10-minute Read More

Highlights

The Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California held its 2017 Studio Technology Leaders Dinner at NeueHouse in Hollywood. Sponsored by Western Digital, HGST and Equinix, the event honored former Sony Pictures CTO Spencer Stephens with the Bob Lambert Technology Leadership Award. The evening featured a panel of studio execs discussing new directions in film production, and a screening of “Wonder Buffalo,” the third R&D short produced under the auspices of ETC@USC’s Project Cloud to explore and test next-generation production processes. 

“Wonder Buffalo,” a coming-of-age story, was made possible through ETC’s 2016 Technology Award to filmmaker Christine Berg, who wrote the script with Simon Shterenberg.

The duo developed the project at the Writers Guild Foundation’s Veterans Writing Project, with the support of Disney/ABC Television Group, Warner Bros., NAGRA Kudelski Group, Technicolor, 8i, Realtra, Equinix, Sony Electronics, Amazon Web Services, the Creative Visions Foundation, The World Building Institute and the USC School of Cinematic Arts. It was also executive produced by Erik Weaver, HGST global director of M&E strategy and market development and former head of ETC’s Project Cloud.

ETC executive director Ken Williams noted that the short tested not only cloud production and post production technologies, but was also processed entirely in HDR, and tested volumetric capture, photogrammetry, ambianic sound and interactivity, via a room-scale virtual reality component. “Wonder Buffalo” was shown at Sundance and invited to SXSW.

Williams (below left) presented the Bob Lambert Technology Leadership award to Spencer Stephens (below right), whose early career involved data communications and photography.
ETC_Williams_Stephens_AwardStephens joined Disney TV Animation in 1997, as the company transitioned from traditional to digital production. He later joined Chris Cookson’s Technology Operations at Warner Bros., ultimately building the 4K production capability for Warner’s Motion Picture Imaging post house, which he then ran. He followed Cookson to Sony Pictures where he became CTO. He’s left Sony, but is not retired.

Walden Pond chief executive Wendy Aylsworth, a previous Bob Lambert Technology Leadership awardee; Sony Pictures Home Entertainment senior vice president Richard Berger; and former Sony Pictures Technology president Chris Cookson all spoke about Stephens’ achievements.

“If I’m in a crisis, I want Spencer by my side,” said Berger. “The scope of his knowledge knows no bounds.”

Stephens thanked Williams, the ETC board and Dean Elizabeth Daley of the USC School of Cinematic Arts for the award, and Cookson for hiring him twice. He also recalled his close connection with Lambert, who recommended him for the Disney job and then introduced him to Cookson.

Last, ETC hosted a panel of studio executives, including 20th Century Fox CTO Hanno Basse, Sony Pictures Entertainment CTO Don Eklund, Paramount Pictures EVP Anthony Guarino, Warner Bros. Technology EVP Justin Herz, Walt Disney Studios CTO Jamie Voris and Universal Pictures CTO Michael Wise. Moderated by Williams, the panel addressed pain points in the production process, significant opportunities opened up by technology, and how studios are handling change.

Panelists described the challenges of handling thousands of VFX shots from multiple cameras with differing resolutions, color spaces and formats, and putting it all together under increasingly tight deadlines. They noted that “Wonder Buffalo” has helped to shine a light on the issues, which also include the sheer size of files and massive number of deliverables. They also identified security as a “huge issue.”

New technologies have produced automated workflows and enhanced global creative collaboration, as well as significantly accelerated real-time rendering. Panelists noted that physical media isn’t going away any time soon, and that consumers are the big winners in an era in which there are so many platforms and distribution is not getting in the way of finding and enjoying content.

They also underlined that the studios have gone through many technology changes over the decades and that their resilience in managing change bodes well for the future, even as viewers redefine entertainment.

ETC Events

ETC Board Meeting- By Invitation Only
ETC at USC
June 8, 2017

Studio Technology Leaders Dinner- By Invitation Only
NeueHouse (Hollywood)
June 13, 2017

ETC All Member Meeting- By Invitation Only
USC School of Cinematic Arts (SCA 465)
June 22, 2017

Industry Events

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