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Media News Digest June 25, 2021

admin   June 25, 2021

Focus on Toyconomy: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that the Indian toy industry has the capacity to bring growth to the neediest segment of the society. Calling it ‘Toyconomy’, he said that the global toy market is about $100 billion and India has only 1.5 per cent of this market. Noting that India’s share in global toy market is only around one-and-a-half billion dollars, Modi advised the country’s gaming and toy industry to play a big role in this sector. Addressing participants of Toycathon-2021 via video conferencing, he said, “Today, we import around 80 per cent of our toys as well. That is, crores of rupees of the country are going out on these. Today, the world wants to understand the present potential of India, the art-culture of India, the society of India in a better way. Our Toys and Gaming Industry can play a big role in this.”

Mukesh Ambani Bets Big on 5G

Reliance Jio, together with partners, has tested its 5G solutions in India, successfully demonstrating speeds of over 1 GBPS, and its ‘Made in India’ solution is “globally competitive”, RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani said on Thursday at AGM. He also exuded confidence that the company will be the first to launch full-fledged 5G services in the country. He announced the launch of JioPhone Next, a fully featured smartphone, that is developed in partnership with Google. “JioPhone Next is one of the most affordable smartphones globally, which has cutting-edge technology,” Ambani said. JioPhone Next will be launched first in India on September 10, and later it will be taken to many other countries.

Producers Plan Theatrical Releases Amid 3rd Wave Fears

With the second wave of Covid-19 flattening, producers are busy planning theatrical releases of their movies, as over 50 films are waiting to see the light of the day. Amid fears of a third wave, many producers are lining up offerings as they hope that State governments will lift curbs on operating cinema halls by the middle of July amid a decline in Covid cases. While Akshay Kumar’s Bell Bottom is scheduled for 27 July release, Mohanlal’s Malayalam film Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham has confirmed an Independence Day weekend release on 12 August. Three Tamil films- Laabam, Doctor and Border – are looking at an August release. Also, the release of Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi, John Abraham’s Satyameva Jayate 2 and Hollywood film Fast and Furious 9 are also imminent.

Marriage Between Theatres and OTTs?

Though it was feared that the reach of OTT would eventually put an end to theatre-going culture, it is not happening. It is becoming clear that films will need to release in theatres at least for two weeks and leading OTT platforms would want to see audience reaction. This is something similar to old days of movies getting published in print and trades before getting to theatres. Except mid-budget and few independent films, other movies would hit the big screens first, especially with the Covid restrictions being eased. There is also a buzz in the market to have some OTT web series streamed into theatres, as it would feed theatre’s hunger for content.

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No Commission on New Microsoft’s Windows App Store

Microsoft, which recently took its place in the history books as just the second US public company to reach a $2 trillion market value, has launched Windows 11. Chairman Satya Nadella has brought in a real transformation to Microsoft — giving an alternative to Google and Apple with Windows Store. Windows App Store will enable software developers to use their own in-app payment system and no commission to Microsoft. This will also let users run it in Android Mobile Application, Laptops and desktop PCs.

Peacock to Add Colours to Amazon Fire TV

Nearly a year after NBCUniversal launched Peacock, the streaming service is now coming to Amazon’s Fire TV set-tops and Fire tablets. As per an agreement between NBCU and Amazon, Peacock was launched on the Amazon devices in the US starting Thursday, June 24. In addition, the two companies reached a distribution agreement for NBCU’s 15 network apps for Amazon Fire TV and Fire tablet devices including NBC, Bravo, NBC News, NBC Sports and Telemundo. The Peacock pact for Amazon’s family of devices comes just a month before the start of the Tokyo Summer Olympics, for which NBCU holds the US. media rights.

Tarun Katial Unveils Tech Platform for Writers, Production cos

Former chief executive officer at video streaming platform ZEE5 Tarun Katial and former head of content and communication at The Walt Disney Co. for APAC (Asia and Pacific region) in Hong Kong Keertan Adyanthaya have joined forces to launch Serendipity Media Technology, an AI (Artificial Intelligence) powered platform for writers, producers and entertainment companies. The service will help writers with insights and tips on how to make their scrips better besides providing them timelines of topical events that could make for interesting stories and the characters that could feature in them. At a later stage, the platform will also have critics on board that will evaluate and rate scripts sent in by writers and production houses.


With AI, Machines Write Now

admin   August 5, 2020

Artificial intelligence research outfit OpenAI Inc. recently made the latest version of its GPT-3 general-purpose natural language processing model available in private beta, and its capabilities are astounding early testers. Input any text, and GPT-3 would complete it

  • In July, OpenAI, an artificial-intelligence research lab based in San Francisco, began allowing limited access to a new software called GPT-3. It is being claimed as by far the most powerful “language model” ever created. GPT stands for “generative pre-trained transformer”
  • A language model is an artificial intelligence system that has been trained on an enormous corpus of text; with enough text and enough processing, the machine begins to learn probabilistic connections between words. In other words, GPT-3 can read and write well.
  • GPT-3 is a machine learning system that has been fed 45TB of text data, an unprecedented amount. Training allows it to generate written content: stories, code, legal jargon, all based on just a few input words or sentences. And the beta test has already produced some jaw-dropping results.
  • However, after some initially promising results, GPT-3 is facing more scrutiny. The model faced criticism recently when Facebook’s AI head Jerome Pesenti called out bias coming out of a program created with GPT-3. The program was a tweet generator; anyone could type in a word and the AI would come up with a relevant, 280-characters-or-less sentence.
  • But these issues are expected to be rectified soon. Once it is officially launched, GPT-3 could be enormously useful and it is expected to change the way how a lot of things are being done now.
  • Machines that can understand and respond to humans in our own language could create more helpful digital assistants, more realistic video game characters, or virtual teachers personalized to every student’s learning style.
  • GPT-3’s flexibility is a big advantage. Matt Shumer, the chief executive of a company called OthersideAI, is using GPT-3 to build a service that responds to email on your behalf — you write the gist of what you’d like to say, and the computer creates a full, nuanced, polite email out of your bullet points.
  • From a single sentence, or even a few words, it can generate a full five, well-written paragraphs. It unleashes a lot of creativity.
  • GPT-3 was trained off of 175 billion parameters from across the internet, including Google Books, Wikipedia, and coding tutorials etc.
  • GPT-3 is the third generation of OpenAI’s Generative Pre-trained Transformer, which is general-purpose language algorithm that uses machine learning to translate text, answer questions and predictively write text. It works by analyzing a sequence of words, text or other data, then expanding on these examples to produce entirely original output in the form of an article or an image.
  • After originally publishing its GPT-3 research in May, OpenAI gave select members of the public access to the model last week via an API. And over the past few days, a number of samples of text generated by GPT-3 have begun circulating widely on social media.
  • A company called Latitude is using GPT-3 to build realistic, interactive characters in text-adventure games. It works surprisingly well — the software is not only coherent but also can be quite inventive, absurd and even funny.


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Meet, ERICA. AI Actor in a SCI-FI Film

admin   July 28, 2020

What India saw in ‘Robot’ (‘Enthiran’) and its sequel ‘2.0’, both starring Rajinikanth, has become a reality now, with Erica, world’s first fully autonomous artificially created intelligent actor (robot), created by famed humanoid roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro, along with fellow scientist Kohei Ogawa. Here are 10 interesting things about Erica.

BEAUTY & BRAIN

Erica was created by Hiroshi Ishiguro, a roboticist at Osaka University in Japan, to be ‘the most beautiful woman in the world’. He modeled her after images of Miss Universe pageant finalists — and the most humanlike robot in existence. But she’s more than just a pretty face: When she makes her debut, producers believe it will be the first time a film has relied on a fully autonomous artificially intelligent actor.

BIG ‘B’

The film Erica will star in is simply called b, and is being backed by Bondit Capital Media, which previously financed titles including Oscar-nominated Loving Vincent.

SYNTHETIC SMILE

Despite her flawless features and easy smile, her pupils are clearly plastic. Her synthesized British voice has a slight metallic tone that sounds like she’s speaking into a pipe. When she walks, the motion of her air compressor joints makes it look as though she’s performing either a sped-up or slowed-down version of the robot. For that reason, a majority of her scenes will be filmed while she’s sitting down. But she does have one advantage over the Margot Robbies and Brad Pitts of the world: She’s immune to the coronavirus.

HUMAN TOUCH

Ishiguro developed Erica with the goal of creating an android that people wouldn’t just relate to, but also confide in and feel affection for. According to him, the more humanlike he could make her appear, the more people would trust her. When he unveiled her in 2015, she was the most advanced of the dozens of androids he had produced over his career that have performed in plays, sung in malls and even delivered the news. Sam Khoze of LIFE Productions, was looking for an android to headline a feature film in 2017, he entertained pitches from several robotics companies. But the moment he met Erica, Khoze said he knew she was their star, because she ‘really looks like a human’ including such small details as her tongue and eyelids.

SCI-FI STORY

In the story, which was written by Khoze, Eric Pham, the visual effects supervisor, and Tarek Zohdy, Erica plays an artificially intelligent woman, b, who can surge into the body and mind of any human host. The film follows her creators’ efforts to gain control of her as she becomes self-aware. But while she awaits her human counterparts, Erica is rehearsing. There’s just one problem: She has no emotional memories.

ACTING SCHOOL FOR ANDROIDS

When Helderman initially met her, Erica’s acting chops were nonexistent. At first, she didn’t understand what acting was. It was like teaching a child why we respond the ways we do. The team taught her how to perform over more than two years of daily sessions using what Helderman calls a ‘Marlon Brando’ method. Some stars might draw on their own experiences to create a character, but they instructed Erica to emulate other actors’ performances. Actors explained out loud how they were feeling in each scene to Erica.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE

Their biggest challenge was hardly memorization — she immediately mastered her lines. But it took her months to grasp the concept of not just reciting a line, but speaking it softly or in full voice depending on the context, and bolstering the words with body language. They taught her the dialogue for a scene in one session, then worked on the emotions, character development and body language in another.

GETTING READY

While she awaits co-stars, Erica continues to run lines with amateur local actors. The script calls for three supporting human lead actors, but the makers are also looking at several other robots for supporting roles and are in negotiations to hire a robot for a crew position.

DUAL DELIGHT

She speaks both English and Japanese, and can talk to a stranger in Japanese for 10 minutes on more than 80 topics. But they’re still working toward conversations that are deeper or involve multiple people. Given that Erica has no emotions of her own, she would have to rely on the algorithm integrated into her operation to simulate whatever emotions are required.

PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE

Erica was originally set to debut in a different project that was to have been directed by Tony Kaye (American History X), but producers parted with Kaye over scheduling. The director of b and the human co-star for Erica are not yet attached, but producers filmed some of her scenes in Japan in 2019. They expect to shoot the rest of b in Europe in June of 2021.


Blockchain, Diversity, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence – the Future in Focus at EFM

admin   February 14, 2018

The future of film business and pioneering developments in the media and entertainment worlds are the focus of “EFM Horizon”, successfully launched at last year’s European Film Market (EFM). The progressive market platform has been expanded and will take place this year over the course of five days, from February 16 – 20 at Berliner Freiheit (Berliner Freiheit 2, 10785 Berlin), across the street from the Berlin Marriott Hotel. In keynotes, talks and workshop events, “EFM Horizon” will spotlight hot new themes such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, blockchain, and diversity in the film industry. In addition to digital innovations and current developments in technology, “EFM Horizon” will focus on the storytelling of tomorrow and ideas for new business models and strategies. “EFM Horizon” is supported by Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.

The “EFM Industry Debates” – officially hosted by IFA, the leading global fair for consumer electronics and home appliances – will take place this year for the first time as part of “EFM Horizon”. The “EFM Industry Debates” highlight improvements and contemporary transformations in the industry. Themes will focus on “The Future of Sales Business”, in cooperation with Screen International and “The Financing and Monetization of Virtual Reality Content” in cooperation with Variety. „Why Diversity Matters“ is the title of the debate in cooperation with Knowledge Partner McKinsey & Company and The Hollywood Reporter. Dame Vivian Hunt, Head of McKinsey UK and Ireland will be presenting the Diversity Report of which she is co-author.

“EFM Horizon” will be also dedicated to a variety of aspects of virtual reality, one of the most exciting technological developments in recent years, and which raises a number of questions for the film industry regarding financing, practicality, technology and storytelling. The “VRNEXT Investors Club”, hosted in cooperation with VRNEXT, will bring together investors, producers, distribution representatives, tech experts and creatives. The “VR NOW Summit”, held in cooperation with Virtual Reality e.V. Berlin Brandenburg, will be made up of keynotes, presentations and a moderated talk on the scope of virtual reality as a technology, as a platform and as a medium. For the first time, the EFM 2018 in cooperation with INVR.Space will present official market screenings for 360° VR projects in the newly constructed “VR Cinema at Marriott”.

“EFM Startups” – the market initiative that brings the film industry into contact with original and lateral thinkers in the creative industries and technology scene – will present ten selected startups from Berlin and Europe as well as two startups from Canada, the focus country at the EFM 2018.

“Propellor FilmTech Hub”, the cooperative project by the EFM, the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), the International Documentary Festival Copenhagen (CPH:DOX), and the Berlin innovation studio Cinemathon, invites this year’s EFM visitors to a meetup – a fireside talk with an industry visionary, moderated by Alex Stolz for the podcast series FILM DISRUPTORS.

A new “EFM Horizon” partner this year is the Frankfurt Book Fair, with its innovation platform THE ARTS+, an event with five spotlight presentations and roundtable discussions on artificial intelligence (AI) and its effects on creative processes in literature, art, film and TV. Another new format this year is the event in cooperation with Téléfilm Canada as part of the “Canada in Focus” 2018 programme, which will highlight blockchain in presentations, case studies and a co-creation workshop, presenting participants from film, TV and digital media with the newest applications and technologies. In cooperation with Creative Europe MEDIA, “EFM Horizon” will also host a roundtable networking format for the first time, with the theme “Building a Bridge between Tech & (Online) Distribution”, where film distributors, VOD platforms, online aggregators, startups and tech firms come together to start a conversation about how they want to shape the future of entertainment services and experiences together.

“EFM Horizon” events are open to Market Badge holders (priority) and accredited festival visitors.