News Stories

Toronto Star–David prominently featured in article about Avatar

David Wertheimer, CEO and executive director of the Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California, said Cameron’s use of newly developed CGI and “stereoscopic” 3-D technologies is going to change audience expectations and spur other filmmakers to follow his lead.

“Whether or not this film does huge numbers at the box office or just okay numbers, Jim Cameron will have moved the industry forward in terms of a new track from an entertainment perspective and greatly accelerated the pace of change and the audience acceptance of 3-D,” Wertheimer said.

Since the 1950s, Wertheimer said, 3-D has largely been viewed by audiences and filmmakers as part novelty, part gimmick.

The technology had a resurgence of 3-D in the 1970s and 1980s and even a third wave in recent years, with movies like My Bloody
Valentine and Final Destination 4 along with a host of animated films aimed at younger audiences.

The latest wave of 3-D, led by Avatar, will guarantee the technology is not only here to stay but ready to reach a new level of respectability, Wertheimer predicted.

The “fundamental leap” in Avatar will be Cameron’s ability to meld the performances of actors against a highly realistic visual backdrop, he said.

Video games, for example, have been able to replicate the movement of human characters accurately. But giving those characters an emotional life – the flush in the cheeks, the glimmer in the eyes, for example – is what Wertheimer believes Cameron is set to achieve.

“When you look at (video game characters) up close, they don’t seem human to you because they don’t have that level of realism in the facial features and in the eyes.”

“It’s that emotional quality that Jim Cameron is really trying to capture in this movie that represents a quantum leap forward in terms of how he’s creating the 3-D characters and the 3-D world.”

Wertheimer said research done by his centre has already shown attitudes towards 3-D change dramatically once people see films using the latest technology. The future of 3-D will no longer be confined to horror movies or kids’ films.

“So Avatar will do something really dramatic from that perspective. It will expose a huge group of people to 3-D that have not seen the new 3-D and that will change the landscape,” Wertheimer said.

“It will also open up the floodgates in terms of filmmakers saying, `I want to make my next film in 3-D.'”

Link to coverage
Link to PDF Apple Tablet coverage mentions David

According to the analysts surveyed: Laura DiDio, principal analyst at ITIC; David Wertheimer, executive director of the University of Southern California’s Entertainment Technology Center; and Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with Yankee Group, the device is being prepared to fill the gap between the iPhone/iPod touch and a low-end Mac Book.

Link to PDF


Data & Analytics Project

The Storytelling Cipher: Mapping Precise Story and Character Mechanics to Box Office Returns

Our Data & Analytics Project held “The Storytelling Cipher: Mapping Stories & Characters to Box Office Revenue” Tuesday, December 6, 2016 at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

This study leverages the Dramatic taxonomy of film narrative to infer which scene-level character and story attributes generate more box office returns, by genre. We are extending this study to ads and movie trailers.

The project researchers used machine learning to map 70+ story attributes for 300 films to their box office returns to extract which story mechanics or character features in film generated the most revenue. This was the first time granular story and character mechanics have been used to predict box office returns, which opens up many avenues to make more data-driven creative and development decisions throughout the industry.

What’s a good story? The question has been hanging without a scientific answer since the dawn of man. It seems that a story’s lack of clear mathematical structure and universal taxonomy would relegate such classification of stories to the qualitative – and highly subjective- empire of critics and … people.

Until now.

The event presented results from the research, discussed applications for the development and creative process, and outlined next steps.

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