News & Updates
By Lexy Savvides
Two adorable aliens are standing in front of me, waiting to zap me into oblivion.
The logical part of my brain knows they're not actually there. But thanks to the power of virtual reality, I feel like they actually exist.
This is the world of "Invasion," an animated VR short film by Baobab Studios. Founded by Maureen Fan, former Zynga vice president of games, and Eric Darnell, director of films like "Antz" and "Madagascar," the pair are passionate about VR as a storytelling medium.
"The first thing we do is look at how to tell that story in a way that can be staged for a viewer who's actually inside the story as well," Darnell told me as we sat in Baobab's offices in Redwood City, California, to discuss the making of the film.
As I put the headset on for the first time, Fan told me to look at my feet. I saw the bunny's body instead of my own -- I was part of the story too.
When the film's bunny protagonist appeared, she spotted me from a distance and hopped over to stare me in the eyes. "On the more advanced headsets that track your position through space, she will actually track you as you move around," said Darnell. "This is much more powerful than I ever anticipated."
Making a VR animation
Live action VR is filmed using a 360-degree camera array. This can be made up of multiple cameras in the case of the GoPro Omni, or a single camera with multiple lenses in the case of the Nokia Ozo. Footage then needs to be stitched together in post-processing to create the final 360 video.
In animated VR, the Baobab team uses an imaginary camera that "films" everything at the same time, so no stitching is required. The entire world can be generated in every single frame, but the viewer only needs to sees what's in their point of view so that's loaded in the headset.
"There's no reason why a viewer couldn't look up and watch the clouds roll by for the entirety of this piece," said Darnell, "so we need to do things to help the viewer know where they should be looking."
Spatialized audio helps direct the viewer's attention, but visual cues are also important too. For example, after spotting the viewer and making eye contact, Chloe -- the fuzzy main character -- looks off screen which prompts the viewer to turn and look at what she's seeing.
Darnell and Fan discuss more of the making of the film in the video above.
You can watch "Invasion" on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or Samsung Gear VR, with more platforms coming soon. Baobab plans to release additional episodes in the series.
Check this out on cnet.com
By Motley Fool
Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) just spent $583 million for a 10% stake in Hulu in large part because the streaming service intends to launch a live-TV cable alternative.
Original partners Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), Disney (NYSE: DIS), and FOX(NASDAQ: FOX)won't be contributing to the original Hulu subscription product. That service offers network content a day after it airs -- a model Time Warner has been critical of. Instead, the company will offer many of its channels including TBS, TNT, and CNN as part of a new live-streaming Hulu service.
Hulu has not shared much information on the product, other than saying it launches next year. On this episode of Industry Focus: Consumer GoodsOpens a New Window.,host Vincent Shen is joined by Fool contributor Daniel Kline to dig into why Time Warner has paid up to be part of a service it has criticized in the past. They also discuss the future of the cable industry and where it's going to go in the next few years.
Check the rest of this story at Fox Business!
'Cry Now' a lyrical love story emerging form LA rockabilly and street art scenes, is being made available on Amazon Prime and VOD through Video Direct. Title marks the feature debut of Alberto Barboza a consulting producer and dialogue coach on five-time Daytime Emmy nominated Hulu series 'East Lost High.'
The film, produced by Cinético Productions in coproduction with Troy Entertainment, was part of NALIP signature program Latino Media Market on 2010. Nalipsters Miguel Angel Caballero, Luis Aldana and Jana Diaz Juhl are producers of the film along with Andrew Troy, Jen Wu and Archie Hernandez.
"It was exciting to develop a script that captured Los Angeles multiple personalities unknown and unseen to many. The characters of 'Cry Now' are both real and stylized and they move through this urban landscape with youthful urgency and grace. To see this film finally being available to a wide audience is an ode to hard work and perseverance.” Producer Jana Diaz Juhl commented.
'Cry Now' stars Miguel Angel Caballero as Vincent, a street poster artist who meets Luzy (Illiana Carter, 'Walkout,’ 'Primo'), a muse-like tattoo designer only to get chased by the energies of a highly motivated ex-girlfriend (Mina Olivera, 'Shrink').
'Cry Now' also features supporting performances by Alex Meraz ('Twilight', 'Suicide Squad') Sal Lopez, ('American Me.''Luminarias') and the last performance by the late Lupe Ontiveros ('Real Women Have Curves,' 'Desperate Housewives').
Sales agent: Princ Films.
"Fresh, exuberant! Inhabiting a distinct heightened magical street reality" - Christine Davila -- Indiwire.
"Deeply romantic, Chicano Rockabilly ode to artistic practice” - Roya Rastegar-- American Quarterly.
“A multifaceted and stylish portrait of the eclectic Latino/a urban realities rarely seen on the big screen” - Alegria Magazine
DARK PROPHET, the Emmy nominated digital series written, created, directed and executive produced by Evette Vargas is now available on Amazon Prime. The series stars, Henry Rollins, Chase Fein and Rick Gonzalez. The Virtual Reality series is set to premier on the Sony PlayStation VR. Vargas has recently sold her one-hour series, MUSES, to Turner Broadcasting’s Super Deluxe network.
NO BUDGET FILM SCHOOL presents its famed two-day micro-budget filmmaking seminar in Los Angeles August 20-21, 2016. Designed for writers, directors, producers and actors who are planning to make their own self-financed films, this class will maximize limited resources and minimize critical errors that can doom otherwise worthy projects. Producer Mark Stolaroff--former principal of IFC's Next Wave Films--teaches the specific methods, models and priorities unique to micro-budget filmmaking, whether the budget is $200,000 or $200, in this in-depth, one-of-a-kind class. All attendees receive Movie Magic Screenwriter software for FREE! ($250 value). Visit: http://nobudgetfilmschool.eventbrite.com/
NALIP members get a 20% discount! Use Promotional Code: NALIP
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Submission Deadline: August 19Full fee waiver for NALIP members promo code: 7CZEDKPitchLatino is a regional pitch that seeks to find new projects and voices that highlight Latino culture and themes within the community. PitchLatino will provide support to the selected project for the next phase in their production process, while connecting filmmakers to mentors and industry professionals.Submissions will be narrowed down to 5 projects. The Denver Film Society will assemble a panel of industry professionals to listen to 5 pitches during CineLatino. The panel will review all pitches and select a winner. The winner of PitchLatino will receive a $2500 production grant, courtesy of Coors Light Lideres, CineLatino and the Denver Film Society.General Rules:***Note, all submitters and production teams must be 21 years of age or older***
-Only short form narrative (60 minutes and under) projects will be considered
-Production team, or production itself, must be based in either Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, or Utah-Films must have a Latino focus – centering on fresh innovative story telling that reflects Latino culture and experience.-Ideal production teams are bilingual and/or bicultural Latinos-The film may be in the development, pre-production or production stages.About CineLatino:CineLatino is a 4-day, cultural celebration of Latino Cinema in Denver, Colorado. With a healthy mix of feature and documentary films, along with new and repertory titles, the Festival will place during Hispanic Heritage month on September 22-25 at the Denver Film Society’s Sie FilmCenter. The Denver Film Society is proud to recognize the contribution of Latinos in the world of cinema and celebrate the culture with premieres, a free family screening, receptions and special events.Withoutabox Link for full submission requirements and to submit your project:
by Maureen Ryan
Though many networks, particularly in cable and streaming, have similarly spotty track records, FX’s was the worst, and a 2015 Variety article drawing attention to widespread inequality in the hiring of directors prompted the network to take action.
At the moment, 51% of the directors booked by FX and FXX are men and women of color, or white women.
“We set a goal that wasn’t incremental but quantum, in terms of what we wanted to achieve,” FX CEO John Landgraf said in an interview with Variety. “Part of it is, if you’re going to go from a laggard to a leader, try to get to something you can actually achieve and sustain that looks like real change.”
Landgraf has been trying to expand FX’s array of creators as well. Donald Glover’s “Atlanta” and Pamela Adlon’s “Better Things,” both of which premiere in September, are among the results of those efforts. But Landgraf noted that it’s “easier to solve the problem more quickly with directors than with writers,” given that most directors are freelancers who don’t stay with one series full-time.
“I hadn’t been really focused on directors, I had been more focused on this question of storytellers in the broad sense, and how do we get everyone’s story told — not just white males,” Landgraf said. “How do we get the right shows, the right executive producers? Because ultimately that changes the composition of the way a story is told and presented and it does ultimately change the composition of the employee base.”
Regarding directors, “we just happened to all be working in a system that was racially biased, and weren’t taking responsibility for stepping up and acknowledging that and saying, ‘OK, we will be the change,’” he added.
It’s worth noting that the statistics released annually by the DGA and the numbers FX shared with Variety have been tabulated differently; it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. DGA stats are published on a year-to-year basis (and the guild will be releasing its report in a few weeks). FX, on the other hand, considered the most recent seasons of its comedy and drama series and the upcoming seasons of shows that have not yet debuted; thus the time frame covered by their data set is longer than a single year.
On their 17 series — from “The Americans” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson” to the upcoming “Legion,” “Atlanta” and “Better Things” — there are a total of 170 director slots. Twenty-one of those slots are as yet unfilled. Of the 149 directing jobs that have been booked, 76 — more than half — have gone to men and women of color and white women. The breakdown is as follows: 73 slots went to white men (49%); 32 directing gigs went to men of color (21%); 11 jobs went to women of color (7%); and 33 helming jobs went to white women (22%).
“I wish I had done it years ago,” Landgraf said. “The thing that’s most exciting to me about this is that this group of people has proven that it’s just a matter of priorities. It’s just a matter of will, and it can be done. Nobody really can say, ‘It can’t be done,’ or ‘It’ll take 10 years to do it.’ It can be done now.”
Landgraf’s first step was to send a letter to showrunners in January telling them that diversifying the pool of directors was a significant priority. “I don’t like to bigfoot the showrunners,” Landgraf said. The letter conveyed the idea that showrunners retain final decision-making power and that “We are not basically swinging a sledgehammer at you and your process.”
That said, the letter connoted the urgency of the desire for change, stated that FX executives would extend every possible resource to showrunners who wanted help finding diverse candidates, and encouraged creators to step up their own searches as well.
The credit for the turnaround, Landgraf said, goes to the showrunners themselves; to the team led by Jonathan Frank, FX’s executive vice president of current series; and to Nicole Bernard, executive vice president of audience strategy for the Fox Television Group.
“They’re the ones that went out and did it,” Landgraf said. “I think what Jonathan did and Nicole Bernard did is test the theory that there isn’t a large enough and available enough pool to fill these slots. And I was very heartened by the showrunners’ willingness to put their time and their energy in service of this — to take it seriously.”
“No one can rightly argue that this cannot be achieved or that achieving it would cause some hardship from a commercial standpoint or qualitative standpoint,” he added. In 2016, the year in which it set out to expand its directorial talent pool, FX set a record for the number of Emmy nominations received by a basic-cable network.
Frank said he and his team looked for candidates who may or may not have had TV-directing experience, but who could show, through some past work, that they had “an aptitude for finding character moments and emotional moments and could execute them and translate them so that they shine through,” he said.
“A lot of networks care about, did they make their days, are they on budget?” Frank said. “If someone’s horrible and always goes over budget, that’s a red flag. But for me, the onus of that falls more on the production, to make sure the train’s moving smoothly. For me, it’s about how they communicate with the producers, how they take the showrunner’s vision and execute it, and how they work with actors.”
Though Frank and his team met with a wide array of directors, some of whom had been stuck in “procedural jail” and wanted to break into the kind of character-driven stories FX and FXX are known for, part of the idea was to feed new TV directors into the system so that FX (and other networks) can continue to hire them. That goal is starting to pay off. Hiro Murai, who came from the world of music videos and who directed the pilot for “Atlanta,” impressed Frank so much that he recommended him to an executive producer of another FX show.
Thomas Schlamme, a director and executive producer of “Snowfall” met Murai, “looked at his stuff and booked him onto ‘Snowfall,’ which is by all accounts a very different show than ‘Atlanta,’” Frank said.
“I think we’ve worked with more first-time showrunners than probably any channel, and here we sit right at the top of the heap in terms of quality,” Landgraf said. “We haven’t done that by hiring blue-chip brand names, we’ve done that by breaking” talent.
“White males are only, depending on how you count them, somewhere between 31% and 36% of the U.S. population. There’s nothing in my mind that says they ought to have 50% of the directing jobs,” Landgraf noted of the network’s yearlong efforts. “It’s not a panacea. It’s a beginning.”
Check out the rest on Variety.com