News Stories

ETC@USC Immersive Media Challenge

On February 7th, 2019, 17 member company representatives and USC SCA faculty gathered at Disney to develop the plan for an ETC@USC Immersive Media Challenge. The two-fold goal of the IM Challenge is to challenge students to come up with new defendable concepts for engaging experiences that could be buildable in 3-5 years, and for ETC member company reps to have a structured opportunity to interact with students who are preparing to be the next generation of creatives.

Why judge submissions in the 3-5 year timeframe?  If an idea can be realized in less than 3 years, it can probably be built now.  This is not a hackathon, it is a ‘futurist’ challenge.  Part of the judging criteria of submissions will be how well the submitter can describe what needs to happen in order to build their idea, and of equal importance, how likely is it that those things will happen?  What technology, infrastructure, standard, or feature needs to be developed? What consumer behavior needs to be adopted or deemed socially acceptable?

The best ideas will embrace the idea of ‘audience engagement’ at their core, and should not be constrained by current ideas or products. The best ideas will have at least one element that is conceptually new and unique.

Students can submit ideas under any one of four broadly stated categories; city play, for good, for fun, and for health.  There is a standard format for submitting ideas that is based on a form already used by the SCA gaming division.

The ETC member company participants will have opportunities to engage with the students as submission screeners, mentors during the submission development process, judges at the pitch event, and advisors and co-creators for the projects selected and funded for pre-viz.  They can also work with and support students interested in presenting their ideas at festivals and conferences.

The IM Challenge faculty advisors met at the ETC on February 26thto draft a timeline for the challenge that will attract the most student involvement without interfering with their school work. April 25this the proposed kick-off event date.  There will be a few rounds of reviews and filtering before the ideas are pitched and 3-5 projects selected for further development at a May 24thevent. The students who submitted the selected ideas will be funded to form a team and work on a pre-viz of their idea over the summer under the guidance and support of ETC and member representatives. The resultant pre-viz’s will be presented at an August 29thevent that will also act as the kick-off for a Fall semester IM Challenge, assuming sponsorship from member companies and outside sources to continue the program.


ETC’s Upcoming Digital Town Square to Discuss 5G

The Entertainment Technology Center at USC will be hosting a half-day forum on 5G as the next wave of media transformation. The symposium will take place on March 28, 2019, 1:00 PM – 5:30 PM, in Downtown Los Angeles.

The advent of 5G technologies is poised to transform entertainment supply chain, workflows, Hollywood enterprise relationships, and the very nature of the content itself. The goal, through explorative talks, panels, and presentations, is to define the 5G system of technologies, its transformative prospects for content creation, distribution, and consumption, raise discussion over the technology’s allowance of new types of live and immersive content, and the potential for these transitions to disrupt traditional Hollywood business models.

Attendees will include professionals from each industry that this new technology touches joining fellow production executives, technologists and business strategists, and senior technologists from the consumer electronics industry in this exciting new conversation.

This free event is invitation-only and closed-door with no media attendance.


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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