News Stories

New MPEG Surround Format Demonstrated

The Fraunhofer Institute, credited with the development of the seminal MP3 coding algorithms, was showing off their new MPEG Surround format on the show floor at CES.


MPEG Surround allows for multi-channel audio to be compressed into a stereo stream that is fully backwards compatible with existing receivers. The encoding process creates a stereo downmix of the a 5.1 or 7.2 source that includes a metadata stream that describes to the decoder how to fold back out the surround channels. This results in a very low bit-rate representation of high quality, multi-channel signals perfect for Internet broadcasting. They played several demos that sounded as good as one can expect on the show floor and also had a prototype MPEG Surround iPod Dock with an optical output.

Looks promising for the future of surround audio for Web distribution.

DLNA’s Connected Home Demo

The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA), an organization of over 240 CE companies created to develop an interoperability framework for consumer electronics devices, parked a DLNA-enabled connected home out in front of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The home demonstrated how to share and access digital media easily across a variety of wired and wireless technologies, such as MoCA, Wi-Fi and Ethernet, and showed streaming content between CE devices, mobile handsets, STBs and PCs.


Over 300 new DLNA compliant products were announced at the show.  Some of the biggest news is that any device that wants to be Windows 7 certified must be DLNA certified first which should help to accelerate the number of devices available.


The DLNA was also showing a product endcap for retail locations that helps the consumer understand the capabilities of the system and the value-add for DLNA certified products.  In the past, DLNA marketing has been sparse so it is nice to see expanded efforts on this front.  Ray Berardinelli who is leading the DLNA marketing and PR efforts assured me that this year there would be greater visibility for DLNA products and that several retailers were onboard to help with the effort.

Where to see it:

  • Central Plaza


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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