• Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021
IBC cancels Amsterdam event as COVID cases surge
Commuters and tourists, some wearing face masks, take a free ferry across IJ river to Amsterdam North, Netherlands, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. The Dutch government announced Tuesday Nov. 23, 2021, that it is making social distancing mandatory again for all adults Wednesday after coronavirus infection numbers hit a new weekly record Tuesday, climbing 39% while hospital and intensive care unit admissions also rose sharply. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
LONDON -- 

IBC has announced that the in person IBC2021 broadcast technology event has been canceled. The move follows growing concerns about the COVID-19 situation in The Netherlands, which has deteriorated over the past week, and feedback from the IBC exhibitor and visitor community-

The IBC Partnership Board made the decision today (11/23) in order to prevent exhibitors and visitors from traveling to The Netherlands.

Due to take place on December 3-6 at The RAI in Amsterdam, IBC20201 will now focus on bringing the content and technology community together online.

Dutch coronavirus infection numbers reached a new weekly record today, climbing 39% while hospital and intensive care unit admissions also rose sharply, prompting the government to make social distancing mandatory again for all adults.

The latest report by the country’s public health institute on a surge in COVID-19 cases came a day after the Dutch government introduced legislation that would clear the way to restrict access for unvaccinated people to indoor venues such as bars, restaurants and museums if infections keep rising.

The legislation would limit the country’s COVID-19 pass system to people who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from a coronavirus infection. People could no longer get the health pass with negative tests. The bill is expected to be debated by lawmakers next week.

--additional reporting by AP writer Mike Corder

  • Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021
Amazon-sponsored artwork that "learns" debuts at Smithsonian
This Oct. 27, 2021, photo shows, from left, artist Suchi Reddy and Swami Sivasubramanian, VP of Amazon Machine Learning at Amazon Web Services, in front of the interactive artwork "me + you" in Washington, D.C. The sculpture uses machine learning to interpret viewers' expressions about the future and incorporate them into the artwork. It is a featured piece of art in the exhibit Futures, which will welcome visitors to the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building for the first time in 20 years when the exhibition opens. (AP Photo/Matthew Barakat)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- 

The artificial intelligence at the heart of a new art exhibit, "me + you," does not judge you necessarily, but it does analyze and interpret what you have to say.

Sponsored by Amazon Web Services, the sculpture by artist Suchi Reddy listens to what you have to say about the future and renders your sentiment in a display of colored lights and patterns.

The artwork is a centerpiece of a new exhibit at the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building, which is opening to the public for the first time in 20 years. The exhibition, called Futures, opens Nov. 20.

Viewers are invited to interact with the sculpture, which listens for the words "My future is ..." at several circular listening posts integrated into the sculpture.

The words and the sentiments behind them are then reinterpreted as a pattern of colored lights. On a very basic level, positive emotions tend to translate into soothing blends of blue, green and purple. Words that suggest anger might prompt a cascade of colors on the opposite spectrum of the color wheel. If you use a swear word, the lights will turn red.

No matter the sentiment, Reddy said, "I want to show all human emotion as beautiful."

And the interpretations will evolve and become more nuanced over time as the artificial intelligence progresses. Swami Sivasubramanian, vice president of Amazon Machine Learning at Amazon Web Services, said the artwork incorporates sentiment analysis that not only decodes the meaning of words but a speaker's sentiment behind the words.

Sivasubramanian said Amazon contributed 1,200 hours of programming to serve as the backbone of the artwork's machine learning.

"Machine learning is one of our most transformative technologies," he said. "I'm excited for people to engage with machine learning in an artistic setting."

The artwork utilizes various aspects of machine learning, including basic speech-to-text technology.

A companion website lets people enter their thoughts over the internet and receive a visual interpretation of their sentiment that is also added to the archive.

In an era of deep skepticism over the data collected by Big Tech, Reddy and her team were careful to avoid data collection of any kind other than people's thoughts about the future. No video is recorded and there is nothing that tracks people's expressions back to them, Reddy said.

Other highlights in the exhibition include costumes from the Marvel Studios film "Eternals," part of an interactive exhibit that shows how movies help us imagine our future, and objects including an experimental Alexander Graham Bell telephone and the first full-scale Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome built in North America.

"In a world that feels perpetually tumultuous, there is power in envisioning the future we want, not the future we fear," said Rachel Goslins, director of the Arts and Industries Building.

The exhibition is scheduled to remain open through July 6. Eventually, the "me + you" sculpture will be relocated to Amazon's new HQ2 headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021
Adorama Rental Company hires Mike Nichols as VP of sales & marketing
Mike Nichols
NEW YORK -- 

Adorama Rental Company (ARC), an equipment rental house for high-end digital cinematography, has brought Mike Nichols aboard as VP of sales and marketing. Nichols will be responsible for building a five-year strategy with a focus on growth and expansion of the company. He will identify new areas of revenue which look beyond the transactional rental business as well as develop services for ARC’s high-end digital cinema market with a customer service mindset.

Nichols comes to Adorama Rental Co. with 13 years of experience managing rental company AbelCine, and has feature film and television credits spanning 27 years. Prior to managing AbelCine, he worked for Zooma Zooma, a boutique commercial production company co-founded by director Sam Raimi and executive producer Joseph Mantegna. 

Glenn Kornfeld, president of Adorama Rental Company, said, “Coming out of the pandemic, ARC will be focusing on expanding our high-end optics inventory as well as servicing the wider high-end digital cinema market. Mike’s passion, vast technical knowledge and acute business acumen will be integral in this shift of focus and building ARC into the national rental house we aspire to be.”

Nichols shared, “In addition to helping reshape the ARC brand, I hope to find new and exciting opportunities between Adorama’s family of Business Units, such as Adorama, SunnySports, Scuba.com, and Printique.”

  • Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021
Augmented reality project brings Olympics birthplace to life
School students use a mobile app at the ancient site of Olympia, southwestern Greece, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Microsoft launched a digital restoration project at the ancient birthplace of the Olympic Games in southern Greece Wednesday to provide visitors an immersive recreation of temples and competition areas as they walk through the ruins. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
OLYMPIA, Greece (AP) -- 

What would it be like to walk around the ancient religious sanctuary of Olympia when the Olympic Games were held?

An unusual partnership between Microsoft and Greece's Ministry of Culture and Sport is offering visitors the answer, launching an immersive tour Wednesday at one of the world's major archaeological sites.

The program at ancient Olympia harnesses augmented reality technology that designers say has the potential to transform education, business and entertainment. Critics warn it will extend the invasive power of U.S. tech giants. 

The culture ministry helped Microsoft map and build virtual representations at Olympia, a site used for nearly a thousand years to host the games in ancient Greece that served as the inspiration for the modern Olympics. 

"It's a milestone ... that helped us bring technology and culture and history together so we can preserve it," Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a video message at the launch event. 

Users can tour the site remotely or in person with an online presentation and an augmented-like mobile app at Olympia, seeing a virtual re-creation of temples and competition areas as they walk through the ruins. At the Olympic Museum in Athens, they can use Microsoft's mixed-reality HoloLens headsets that overlay visual information on top of what the viewer sees. 

Tilt up and a towering statue of Zeus plated in ivory and gold comes into view; turn left and peer into the workshop used by the famed sculptor Phidias at the ancient sanctuary more than 2,400 years ago. 

"I'm absolutely thrilled that we're able to present to the world a completely new cultural experience using technology to re-create the ancient world of Olympia," Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told The Associated Press after joining a group of schoolchildren using the app for the first time.

Seventh and eighth-graders from a local school pinched, zoomed and rotated the monuments that had been brought to life on their smartphones, flipping between inside and outside views as they toured the site where athletes in antiquity competed in running, javelin throwing, wrestling, boxing, horse racing and other events. 

"The app is really impressive. I think it can help with teaching in schools," one of the children, Panagiotis Christopoulos, said. 

Microsoft started the project 18 months ago, scouring Olympia with drones and sensors, after reaching an agreement with the Greek government to build three data centers in greater Athens in an investment to reach up to $1 billion.

Tech companies are racing to deliver mixed reality platforms and gear that would blend the internet with everyday experience, with glasses doubling as personal projectors to provide extra information like route options for bicyclists, player stats for fans at sports venues, or virtual fitting rooms at home for shoppers. 

It's part of what's being called the "metaverse," a futuristic online world aimed at merging real and virtual life. 

Microsoft's HoloLens headset costs around $3,500 and is typically used by people like doctors or those maintaining jetliners but a convergence of cheaper eyewear, ever-shrinking processing power and faster internet connections is starting to put it within mainstream reach, experts say.

"I think we're very close to a tipping point where we will see the kind of glasses that feel ordinary and that aren't abhorrent in terms of their physical size," said David Rose, author of the new book "SuperSight: What Augmented Reality Means for Our Lives, Our Work, and the Way We Imagine the Future."

"They'll have a decent battery life, most of the computing will be in the phone. And I think those will jump to tourism and education and other mainstream things like that, certainly within a couple of years," said Rose, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher and tech product designer.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen warned that the metaverse was likely to become addictive and rob people of yet more personal information.

Rose said augmented reality could add "cognitive crutches" that would erode personal calculation skills and further segment societies, with each user immersed in their own realities. But despite the dangers, he remains optimistic. 

"They can be empathy machines and the most powerful educational tool ever invented," he said. "They can help with training and helping people develop new skills so that they're not out of the job. There are so many forces of potential here that I think it's mostly exciting." 

  • Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021
Unity reaches deal to acquire Weta Digital's tools, tech, engineering talent
Sir Peter Jackson
SAN FRANCISCO -- 

Unity (NYSE: U), a platform for creating and operating interactive, real-time 3D (RT3D) content, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Weta Digital’s tools, pipeline, technology, and engineering talent. Ultimately, this acquisition is designed to put Weta’s exclusive and sophisticated visual effects tools into the hands of millions of creators and artists around the world, and once integrated onto the Unity platform, enable the next generation of RT3D creativity and shape the future of the metaverse.

Weta Digital will join Unity’s Create Solutions focused on the continual evolution of Weta Digital’s dozens of proprietary graphics and VFX tools, such as Manuka, Lumberjack, Loki, Squid, Barbershop, HighDef, CityBuilder, and many more. In the future, with Unity’s deep expertise in real-time, these world-class artist tools will be available to creators through an accessible cloud-based workflow.

Weta Digital’s Academy Award-Winning VFX teams will continue to exist as a standalone entity known as WetaFX and is expected to become Unity’s largest customer in the media and entertainment space. WetaFX will still be under majority ownership by Sir Peter Jackson and helmed by CEO Prem Akkaraju.

“Weta Digital’s tools created unlimited possibilities for us to bring to life the worlds and creatures that originally lived in our imaginations,” said Sir Jackson, chairman and co-founder, Weta Digital. “Together, Unity and Weta Digital can create a pathway for any artist, from any industry, to be able to leverage these incredibly creative and powerful tools. Offering aspiring creatives access to Weta Digital’s technology will be nothing short of game changing and Unity is just the company to bring this vision to life.”

“We are thrilled to democratize these industry-leading tools and bring the genius of Sir Peter Jackson and Weta’s amazing engineering talent to life for artists everywhere,” said John Riccitiello, president and CEO, Unity. “By combining the power of Unity and Weta Digital, the tools and technology that built characters and scenes from the world’s most iconic films such as Avatar, Lord of the Rings, and Wonder Woman, will enable an entirely new generation of creators to build, transform, and distribute stunning RT3D content.”

Weta Digital is a leading creator and innovator of visual effects and animation, pushing what is possible in pursuit of artistic vision and delivering high-quality, ultra-realistic characters, objects, and worlds for a wide variety of award-winning movies and television shows, such as Avatar, Black Widow, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Planet of the Apes, The Suicide Squad, and more. Weta Digital achieves this with a world-class creative team of VFX artists and engineers, who helped build an extremely sophisticated artist pipeline and set of tools to conduct advanced facial capture and manipulation, anatomical modeling, advanced simulation and deformation of objects in movement, procedural hair and fur modeling, and many more techniques that have been galvanized, developed, and perfected through hundreds of properties across thousands of shots for more than 20 years.

“Unity is the best at delivering world-class tools and technology to creators. Together we have the opportunity to make Weta Digital’s award-winning, high-end artist pipeline and tools, which are in a class by themselves, accessible to a much broader audience of artists than what has been historically possible,” said Akkaraju. “Weta’s goal has always been to inspire and motivate a whole new generation of creators and it’s exciting to pass the mantle over to Unity. I see a future where more and more content shares the same level of visual fidelity as Avatar and Game of Thrones and Unity is the ideal company to lead us into this future.”

With this transaction, Unity will acquire:

  • Weta’s world-class engineering talent consisting of 275 engineers who are known for architecting, building, and maintaining Weta Digital tools and core pipeline;
  • Dozens of  tools such as Manuka, Gazebo, Barbershop, Lumberjack, Loki, Squid, Koru, and more, all integrated seamlessly into Weta’s industrial strength production pipeline;
  • A foundational data platform for interoperable 3D art creation, making it easy for hundreds of artists to work seamlessly together; and
  • A library of thousands of assets that the WetaFX team will continue to accumulate as they create world class VFX in the years to come.

“Weta Digital’s sophistication is represented by dozens of tools that all build on the same, unified pipeline. Alone, each tool is uniquely powerful, but as a complete platform, they represent a quantum shift in our ability to make it easy for artists to bring their imagination to life and work together like never before,” said Marc Whitten, SVP and general manager of Unity Create. “We are excited to work closely with WetaFX to continue to push the edge of the art of possible with these tools and to bring them to VFX, entertainment, and eventually gaming and other artists as we evolve our pipeline for content creators.”

Unity and Weta Digital are empowering the growing number of game developers, artists, and potentially millions of consumer creators with highly sophisticated content creation tools and a cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) subscription model. By moving these high-fidelity tools and assets to the cloud, Unity and Weta Digital will open new possibilities for creators to use the canvas they already know and love, while getting access to incredibly powerful artist tools, procedural building blocks, and scalable content. Creators will have the power to improve processes and simplify production, with stable, predictable results that approach perfection, while ultimately building their own part of the metaverse.

Under the terms of the agreement, Unity will acquire Weta Digital for US $1.625B in a combination of cash and stock. Akkaraju, who joined Weta Digital as CEO in early 2020 and is the creator of Weta’s cloud commercial service, will remain CEO of WetaFX. Joe Marks, Weta chief technology officer, will join Unity as chief technology officer of Weta Digital. The proposed acquisition is expected to close during Unity’s fourth quarter 2021 and is subject to customary closing conditions.

The Raine Group served as exclusive financial advisor to Weta Digital.

  • Friday, Oct. 29, 2021
Atlas, Filmotechnic, Fiilex among Cine Gear Expo Technical Award winners
Filmotechnic's Technoscope F27
LOS ANGELES -- 

The 2021 Cine Gear Expo team of judges has recognized and honored select innovations for this year’s Cine Gear Expo Technical Awards.

Here’s a rundown of the winners:

Camera Technology: Optics
Winner: Atlas for The Orion Series 25mm anamorphic prime lens

Camera Technology: Accessories
Winner: Mo-Sys Engineering for the Cinematic XR Focus
Designer/Inventor: James Uren

Support Technology
Winner: Filmotechnic for the Technoscope F17 and F27
Designer/Inventor: Anatoly Kokush

Honorable Mention: Cinema Devices for the ZeeGee
Inventor: Charles Papert
Designer: Adam Teichman

Lighting Technology
Winner: Fiilex for the Q10 Color 

Postproduction Technology
Winner: OWC for the Jellyfish

Other Winners
Wave Central for the CineVue

Luminys System Corp for the Luminayre

  • Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021
EU investigates Nvidia's purchase of chip designer Arm
In this Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014 file photo, people gather in the Nvidia booth at the Mobile World Congress mobile phone trade show in Barcelona, Spain. European Union regulators opened an in-depth investigation Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021 into graphics chip maker Nvidia’s $40 billion purchase of chip designer Arm over concerns it would limit competition, adding to global scrutiny of the deal. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, file)
LONDON (AP) -- 

European Union regulators opened an investigation Wednesday into graphics chipmaker Nvidia's $40 billion purchase of chip designer Arm over concerns it would limit competition, adding to global scrutiny of the deal. 

The European Commission said it's concerned the combined company would have the ability and incentive to restrict access to technology from United Kingdom-based Arm Ltd., whose chip designs power the vast majority of the world's smartphones. 

The commission, which is the EU's top antitrust authority, said it worried the deal would result in higher prices, less choice and reduced innovation in the semiconductor industry. 

Nvidia Corp., based in Santa Clara, California, said last year that it was buying Arm from Japanese technology giant Softbank. The deal raised concerns that Arm would abandon its neutral business model of licensing its chip designs to hundreds of tech companies, including many of Nvidia's rivals. 

"Our investigation aims to ensure that companies active in Europe continue having effective access to the technology that is necessary to produce state-of-the-art semiconductor products at competitive prices," said EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who's in charge of competition and digital issues for the bloc.

The commission said Nvidia had offered concessions to address preliminary concerns but that they weren't enough to ease "serious doubts" about the deal. 

Arm referred requests for comment to Nvidia, which said it's "working closely" with the commission. 

"We look forward to the opportunity to address their initial concerns and continue demonstrating that the transaction will help to accelerate Arm and boost competition and innovation, including in the EU," Nvidia said in a statement. 

The commission has until March 15 to decide whether to clear the deal. The EU concerns echo those cited by the U.K's competition watchdog, which opened its own investigation earlier this year. 

Nvidia has pledged to maintain Arm's open licensing model and customer neutrality, keep Arm's headquarters in Cambridge, England, and expand its British staff. Nvidia previously said the purchase would not be completed until early 2022 because of expected scrutiny, including from regulators in the U.S. and China.

  • Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021
What the metaverse is and how it will work
In this Oct. 12, 2021 file photo, Hadrien Gurnel, software engineer EPFL's Laboratory for Experimental Museology (eM+) explores with a virtual reality helmet the most detailed 3D map of the universe with the virtual reality software VIRUP, Virtual Reality Universe Project developed by Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, in St-Sulpice near Lausanne, Switzerland. The term metaverse seems to be everywhere. Facebook is hiring thousands of engineers in Europe to work on it, while video game companies are outlining their long-term visions for what some consider the next big thing on the internet. Essentially, it’s a world of endless, interconnected virtual communities where people can meet, work and play. You can go to a virtual concert, take a trip online and try on digital clothing. But tech companies still have to figure out how to connect their online platforms.(Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)
LONDON (AP) -- 

The term "metaverse" seems to be everywhere. Facebook is hiring thousands of engineers in Europe to work on it, while video game companies are outlining their long-term visions for what some consider the next big thing online. 

The metaverse, which could spring up again when Facebook releases earnings Monday, is the latest buzzword to capture the tech industry's imagination. 

It could be the future, or it could be the latest grandiose vision by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that doesn't turn out as expected or isn't widely adopted for years — if at all. 

Plus, many have concerns about a new online world tied to a social media giant that could get access to even more personal data and is accused of failing to stop harmful content.

Here's what this online world is all about: 

WHAT IS THE METAVERSE? 
Think of it as the internet brought to life, or at least rendered in 3D. Zuckerberg has described it as a "virtual environment" you can go inside of — instead of just looking at on a screen. Essentially, it's a world of endless, interconnected virtual communities where people can meet, work and play, using virtual reality headsets, augmented reality glasses, smartphone apps or other devices. 

It also will incorporate other aspects of online life such as shopping and social media, according to Victoria Petrock, an analyst who follows emerging technologies.

"It's the next evolution of connectivity where all of those things start to come together in a seamless, doppelganger universe, so you're living your virtual life the same way you're living your physical life," she said.

But keep in mind that "it's hard to define a label to something that hasn't been created," said Tuong Nguyen, an analyst who tracks immersive technologies for research firm Gartner. 

Facebook warned it would take 10 to 15 years to develop responsible products for the metaverse, a term coined by writer Neal Stephenson for his 1992 science fiction novel "Snow Crash."

WHAT WILL I BE ABLE TO DO IN THE METAVERSE? 
Things like go to a virtual concert, take a trip online, and buy and try on digital clothing.

The metaverse also could be a game-changer for the work-from-home shift amid the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of seeing co-workers on a video call grid, employees could see them virtually. 

Facebook has launched meeting software for companies, called Horizon Workrooms, to use with its Oculus VR headsets, though early reviews have not been great. The headsets cost $300 or more, putting the metaverse's most cutting-edge experiences out of reach for many. 

For those who can afford it, users would be able, through their avatars, to flit between virtual worlds created by different companies. 

"A lot of the metaverse experience is going to be around being able to teleport from one experience to another," Zuckerberg says.

Tech companies still have to figure out how to connect their online platforms to each other. Making it work will require competing technology platforms to agree on a set of standards, so there aren't "people in the Facebook metaverse and other people in the Microsoft metaverse," Petrock said.

IS FACEBOOK GOING ALL IN ON THE METAVERSE? 
Indeed, Zuckerberg is going big on what he sees as the next generation of the internet because he thinks it's going to be a big part of the digital economy. He expects people to start seeing Facebook as a metaverse company in coming years rather than a social media company. 

A report by tech news site The Verge said Zuckerberg is looking at using Facebook's annual virtual reality conference this coming week to announce a corporate name change, putting legacy apps like Facebook and Instagram under a metaverse-focused parent company. Facebook hasn't commented on the report. 

Critics wonder if the potential pivot could be an effort to distract from the company's crises, including antitrust crackdowns, testimony by whistleblowing former employees and concerns about its handling of misinformation.

Former employee Frances Haugen, who accused Facebook's platforms of harming children and inciting political violence, plans to testify Monday before a United Kingdom parliamentary committee looking to pass online safety legislation.

IS THE METAVERSE JUST A FACEBOOK PROJECT?
No. Zuckerberg has acknowledged that "no one company" will build the metaverse by itself. 

Just because Facebook is making a big deal about the metaverse doesn't mean that it or another tech giant will dominate the space, Nguyen said.

"There are also a lot of startups that could be potential competitors," he said. "There are new technologies and trends and applications that we've yet to discover."

Video game companies also are taking a leading role. Epic Games, the company behind the popular Fortnite video game, has raised $1 billion from investors to help with its long-term plans for building the metaverse. Game platform Roblox is another big player, outlining its vision of the metaverse as a place where "people can come together within millions of 3D experiences to learn, work, play, create and socialize." 

Consumer brands are getting in on it, too. Italian fashion house Gucci collaborated in June with Roblox to sell a collection of digital-only accessories. Coca-Cola and Clinique have sold digital tokens pitched as a stepping stone to the metaverse. 

Zuckerberg's embrace of the metaverse in some ways contradicts a central tenet of its biggest enthusiasts. They envision the metaverse as online culture's liberation from tech platforms like Facebook that assumed ownership of people's accounts, photos, posts and playlists and traded off what they gleaned from that data.

"We want to be able to move around the internet with ease, but we also want to be able to move around the internet in a way we're not tracked and monitored," said venture capitalist Steve Jang, a managing partner at Kindred Ventures who focuses on cryptocurrency technology. 

WILL THIS BE ANOTHER WAY TO GET MORE OF MY DATA? 
It seems clear that Facebook wants to carry its business model, which is based on using personal data to sell targeted advertising, into the metaverse. 

"Ads are going to continue being an important part of the strategy across the social media parts of what we do, and it will probably be a meaningful part of the metaverse, too," Zuckerberg said in the company's most recent earnings call. 

That raises fresh privacy concerns, Nguyen said, involving "all the issues that we have today, and then some we've yet to discover because we're still figuring out what the metaverse will do."

Petrock she said she's concerned about Facebook trying to lead the way into a virtual world that could require even more personal data and offer greater potential for abuse and misinformation when it hasn't fixed those problems in its current platforms.

"I don't think they fully thought through all the pitfalls," she said. "I worry they're not necessarily thinking through all the privacy implications of the metaverse."

O'Brien reported from Providence, Rhode Island.

  • Friday, Oct. 22, 2021
SMPTE's Barbara Lange to wrap 12-year tenure as executive director
Barbara Lange
WHITE PLAINS, NY -- 

Barbara Lange will step down as executive director of SMPTE® at the close of 2021, which marks the end of her current contract. Lange has served in this role for 12 years, guiding SMPTE through a dynamic period of growth, extending the Society’s leadership as a global standards organization, and working closely with staff, volunteers, members, and the SMPTE Board of Governors to make SMPTE a more inclusive organization that brings value to individuals and organizations across the media and entertainment industry.

“Of all that SMPTE has achieved during my tenure, I’m most proud of how we’ve transformed the Society into a modern organization that remains very relevant 105 years after its founding,” said Lange. “I’ve had the honor of working with so many impressive people to help SMPTE thrive and continue to play a vital role in supporting the media industry. Thanks to the dedication and hard work of the home office staff and SMPTE volunteers, the Society today stands ready for any future challenge.”

A short list of SMPTE achievements during Lange’s tenure includes the creation and institution of a new, more comprehensive three-year strategic business plan process; reimagination of the SMPTE brand and the Society’s web presence; the launch of the SMPTE Digital Library; completion of a successful capital fundraising campaign and celebration of the Society’s centenary; publication of more than 200 engineering documents including groundbreaking standards such as SMPTE ST 2110, SMPTE ST 2067 (IMF), and SMPTE ST 2084 (HDR); production of the first virtual presentation of the Society’s annual technical conference; successful navigation of the pandemic through the acquisition of government support and loan forgiveness; and the launch of the innovative Rapid Industry Solutions (RIS) program.

Through technical conferences and an expanding offering of educational programs and courses, SMPTE has educated tens of thousands of professionals, helping to further their knowledge and careers. Both individual and corporate membership increased in the past decade, and the number of SMPTE Sections worldwide increased to include India, Pittsburgh, Poland, and the United Kingdom, while nearly a dozen new Student Chapters were launched during Lange’s tenure.

“Under Barbara’s leadership, SMPTE has become a truly international society committed to facilitating industry interoperability through industry standards, making relevant education accessible to all industry members, and fostering a vibrant and inclusive membership community,” said SMPTE president Hans Hoffmann. “Every organization faces difficult times, and the pandemic crisis over the past 18 months presented new and unexpected challenges for all of us. Despite these challenges, and thanks to transformational work directed by Barbara over the years, the Society has truly established itself as a home for media professionals, technologists, and engineers around the world. We thank Barbara for her tremendous work in leading SMPTE into its second century, and we wish her well in her future endeavors.”

Lange will be engaged in the transition of leadership to her successor. In searching for a new executive director through an objective process, the SMPTE Board of Governors will focus on candidates with the capacity to build on the significant progress made by Lange and SMPTE’s home office team.

“For us it is important that the new leader understand non-profit organizations and the digital transformation of our industry, and that they can work with the SMPTE home office to build on their many achievements,” added Hoffmann. “We look forward to a leader who will embrace the Society’s commitment to being a diverse and inclusive society, and who can further transform SMPTE to generate value for our global membership and foster ongoing growth. As the media industry is in an unprecedented and constant evolution, this work will be both challenging and rewarding.”

Lange’s final column in the SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal as executive director will be published in the November/December issue. In it she details many of the milestones and achievements that have made SMPTE the stable, forward-looking organization it is today.

“Living through this pandemic, it really makes you think about your life. As I neared the end of my SMPTE contract, I realized I am now ready to discover the next steps of my career,” added Lange. “I am passionate and interested in several new directions. From working to increase the diversity in technology, particularly girls taking up STEM fields, to studying the growing concerns around sustainability in media tech, there are plenty of areas to focus my attention and offer my skills. While I will miss working daily with my SMPTE family, and particularly the home office team in White Plains, I look forward to new opportunities ahead.”

  • Friday, Oct. 22, 2021
Blackmagic Design unveils DaVinci Resolve 17.4
DaVinci Resolve 17.4
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design has announced and made available DaVinci Resolve 17.4 which transforms the speed of DaVinci Resolve to work up to five times faster on the new Apple Mac models with the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. With this speed increase, customers can now play back, edit and grade 8K projects even faster, and can work with up to 12 streams of 8K footage.

DaVinci Resolve 17.4 additionally increases the decoding speed of 12K Blackmagic RAW files, making it over 3 times faster and H.265 rendering is also 1.5 times faster. Plus, DaVinci Neural Engine performance is up to 4 times faster, for real time facial recognition, object detection and smart reframing! Support for ProMotion 120Hz displays makes playback and editing incredibly smooth and HDR viewers are also supported on the new Apple MacBook HDR displays.

DaVinci Resolve 17.4 also adds Dropbox Replay integration. Projects will flow smoothly from DaVinci Resolve Studio directly to Dropbox Replay for easy video review and approval. Frame accurate colored markers, comments and annotations made in Dropbox Replay are almost instantaneously synced to the DaVinci Resolve timeline. Plus with a simple login, customers will only have to sign in once. Other features include quick and easy render set up with dedicated Dropbox and Dropbox Replay presets as well as automatic background uploads that are monitored for status and confirmed when complete.

For subtitling, DaVinci Resolve 17.4 includes automatic resizing of backgrounds and cursor placement when creating captions, as well as nested timeline subtitle tracks now auto-populating the main timeline to speed up creating captions.

There are also improvements to the edit page such as better functionality for position curves in the timeline, so customers can more easily adjust the ease in and out points. This creates a more custom transition from one point to another when applying zoom or image position adjustments. Customers will also now be able to use DaVinci Resolve Speed Editor to switch between cameras in multicam clips on the edit page making it faster to cut programs together. Additional support for asymmetrical trimming allows customers to adjust a transition’s in point without affecting its out point or vice versa, enabling them to fine tune work more quickly.

With Fusion, customers get additional support for languages with combined glyphs and those that may write right to left such as Arabic and Hebrew. Combined with improved vertical layouts, rotation and line direction when working with Text+, this will enable customers to work in a wider range of languages and layouts.

DaVinci Resolve 17.4 adds greater support for automatic color management, making it faster and simpler to set up projects. Additionally, this update adds support for ACES 1.3, including gamut compression, so customers can now more accurately display wide gamut images to be certain they are getting the best representation of the source image.

A new Resolve FX called custom mixer allows customers to combine effects and make adjustments to grades with finer control. Plus, a new 3D keyer adds the ability to make finer adjustments to the key and matte finesse settings to make it easier to create clean masks with more accurate keys and finer edges. For DaVinci Resolve Studio, there’s also a new film halation which will add the effect of a glow or light reflections around high contrast edges, giving images a more filmic look.

Fairlight audio now has support for Steinberg VST3 audio plugins, giving access to more audio effects so customers can create the perfect soundtrack. Plus, there are keyboard shortcuts or click and drag to reorder, move and duplicate effects in the Fairlight mixer, displays single sided audio transitions as fades and added support for multi channel audio outputs. 

When finishing projects customers can now export projects with YouTube video chapters, improved encode settings for the YouTube render preset and the ability to use hardware accelerated H.265 on Windows.

“This amazing update gives customers massive performance gains on the new Apple MacBook Pro models with the M1 Pro and Max processors. It completely transforms workflows and unlocks some incredible creative potential. What’s exciting is simply by downloading this free DaVinci Resolve update customers will get all these features for free,” said Grant Petty, Blackmagic Design CEO. “To have the capability now to easily edit and color grade Blackmagic RAW 8K footage in HDR and all on a laptop while you’re miles away from the studio is incredible. Plus the ability to easily collaborate on projects with Dropbox Replay makes it such an exciting time for our customers to be out there creating content. We’re very excited to see what our customers can do with this amazing update to DaVinci Resolve.”

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