• Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023
Nvidia's rising star gets brighter with another stellar quarter driven by sales of AI chips
Nvidia co-founder, president, and CEO Jensen Huang speaks at the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company in Phoenix on Dec. 6, 2022. Computer chip maker Nvidia has turned the artificial intelligence craze into a springboard that has catapulted the company into the constellation of Big Tech’s brightest stars. The company reports earnings on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- 

Computer chip maker Nvidia has rocketed into the constellation of Big Tech's brightest stars while riding the artificial intelligence craze that's fueling red-hot demand for its technology.

The latest evidence of Nvidia's ascendance emerged with Wednesday's release of the company's quarterly earnings report. The results covering the May-July period exceeded Nvidia's projections for astronomical sales growth propelled by the company's specialized chips — key components that help power different forms of artificial intelligence, such as Open AI's popular ChatGPT and Google's Bard chatbots.

"This is a new computing platform, if you will, a new computing transition that is happening," Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said Wednesday during a conference call with analysts.

Nvidia's revenue for its fiscal second quarter doubled from the same time last year to $13.51 billion, culminating in a profit of $6.2 billion, or $2.48 per share, more than nine times more than the company made a year ago. Both figures were well above the projections of analysts polled by FactSet Research.

And the momentum is still building. The Santa Clara, California, company predicted its revenue for its August-October quarter will total $16 billion, nearly tripling its sales from the same time last year. Analysts had been anticipating $12.6 billion in revenue for that period encompassing Nvidia's fiscal third quarter, according to FactSet.

Nvidia's stock price surged 6% in extended trading after the numbers came out. The shares already have more than tripled so far this year, a run-up that has boosted Nvidia's market value to $1.2 trillion — a threshold that thrust the company into the tech industry's elite. If stock rises similarly during Thursday's regular trading session, it will mark yet another record high for Nvidia's shares and boost the company's market value by another $75 billion or so.

Other stalwarts that are currently or have been recently valued at $1 trillion or above are Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Google's corporate parent Alphabet.

Now all those tech giants as well as a long line of other firms are snapping up Nvidia chips as they wade deeper into AI — a movement that's enabling cars to drive by themselves, and automating the creation of stories, art and music.

Nvidia has carved out an early lead in the hardware and software needed in the AI-focused shift, partly because Huang began to nudge the company into what was then seen as a still half-baked technology more than a decade ago. While others were still debating the merits of AI, Huang already was looking at ways that Nvidia chipsets known as graphics processing units might be tweaked for AI-related applications to expand beyond their early inroads in video gaming.

By 2018, Huang was convinced that AI would trigger a tectonic shift in technology similar to Apple's 2007 introduction of the iPhone igniting a mobile computing revolution. That conclusion led Huang into what resulted in what he calls a "bet-the-company moment." At the time Huang doubled down on AI, Nvidia's market value stood at about $120 billion.

"I think it's safe to say it was worth it to bet the company" on AI, Huang, 60, said during a presentation earlier this month.

Huang's foresight gave Nvidia a head start in designing software to complement its chips tailored for AI applications, creating "a moat" that other major chipmakers such as Intel and AMD are having trouble getting around during a period of intense demand that is expected to continue into next year, said Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon. Nvidia is increasingly pitching a Lego-like combination of GPUs, memory chips and more conventional processing chips enclosed in a big package. In a demonstration earlier this month, Huang showed one such room-sized structure, joking about how it might look if delivered to a doorstep by Amazon.

"Everybody else is trying to catch them now that they see the opportunity is there." Rasgon said.

Huang's vision has prompted Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives to hail him as "the Godfather of AI," and established him as one of the world's wealthiest people with an estimated fortune of $42 billion.

While Ives still sees plenty of upside in Nvidia's future growth and stock price, other market observers believe investors are getting carried away.

"This level of hype is dangerous as it could lead investors to assume that these stocks are a silver bullet to build long-term wealth — and they are not, at least not on their own," warned Nigel Green, CEO of deVere Group.

O'Brien reported from Providence, Rhode Island.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023
Digital clones and Vocaloids may be popular in Japan. Elsewhere, they could get lost in translation
Kazutaka Yonekura, chief executive of Tokyo startup Alt Inc., demonstrates his digital clone on a personal computer at his office in Tokyo, Aug. 17, 2023. His company is developing a digital double, an animated image that looks and talks just like its owner. (AP Photo/Yuri Kageyama)
TOKYO (AP) -- 

Kazutaka Yonekura dreams of a world where everyone will have their very own digital "clone" — an online avatar that could take on some of our work and daily tasks, such as appearing in Zoom meetings in our place.

Yonekura, chief executive of Tokyo startup Alt Inc., believes it could make our lives easier and more efficient.

His company is developing a digital double, an animated image that looks and talks just like its owner. The digital clone can be used, for example, by a recruiter to carry out preliminary job interviews, or by a physician to screen patients ahead of checkups.

"This liberates you from all the routine (tasks) that you must do tomorrow, the day after tomorrow and the day after that," he said as he showed off his double — a thumbnail video image of Yonekura on the computer screen, with a synthesized version of his voice.

When his digital clone is asked "What kind of music do you like," it pauses for several seconds, then goes into a long-winded explanation about Yonekura's fondness for energetic rhythmical music such as hip-hop or rock 'n' roll.

A bit mechanical perhaps — but any social gaffes have been programmed out.

Yonekura, 46, argues that the technology is more personal than Siri, ChatGPT or Google AI. Most importantly, it belongs to you and not the technology company that created it, he said.

For now, having a digital double is expensive. Each Alt clone costs about 20 million yen ($140,000), so it will likely take some time before there's a clone for everyone.

In creating a digital double, information about a person is skimmed off social media sites and publicly available records in a massive data collection effort, and stored in the software. The data is constantly updated, keeping in synch with the owner's changing habits and tastes.

Yonekura believes a digital clone could pave the way for a society where people can focus on being creative and waste less time on tedious interactions.

For many Japanese — the nation that gave the world Pokemon, karaoke, Hello Kitty and emojis — the digital clone is as friendly as an animation character.

But Yonekura acknowledges cultures are different and that Westerners may not like the idea of a digital clone as much.

"I can't tell you how many times I've been asked: Why does it have to be a personal clone, and not just a digital agent?" he said, a hint of exasperation in his voice.

Yonekura's company has drawn mostly domestic investments of more than 6 billion yen ($40 million), including venture capital funds run by major Japanese banks, while also building collaborative relationships with academia, including the University of Southern California and the University of Tokyo.

But large-scale production of digital doubles is a long way off — for now, the company offers more affordable voice recognition software and virtual assistant technology.

Matt Alt, who co-founded AltJapan Co., a company that produces English-language versions of popular Japanese video games and who has written books about Japan, including "Pure Invention: How Japan Made the Modern World," says the digital clone idea makes more sense culturally in Japan.

Ninjas, the famous feudal Japanese undercover warriors, were known for "bunshin-jutsu" techniques of creating the illusion of a double or a helper in battle to confuse the opponent. The bunshin-jutsu idea has been adopted and is common in modern-day Japanese video games and manga comic books and graphic novels.

"Who wouldn't want a helping hand from someone who understood them intimately?" Alt said but added that in the West, the idea of an existing double is "more frightening."

"There is the 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers,' for instance, or even the brooms that multiply like a virus in Disney's 'Fantasia'," he said.

INCS toenter Co., another Tokyo-based startup, has been successful as a production company of computerized music for animation, manga, films, virtual realities and games that uses so-called Vocaloid artists. The synthesized singers or musical acts known as Vocaloid are often paired up with anime- or manga- style characters.

Like Yonekura's digital clone, Vocaloids are an example of Japanese technology that uses computer software to duplicate human traits or likeness.

Among INCS toenter's hits is "Melt," created on a single desktop in 2007 and performed by a group called Supercell, which has been played 23 million times on YouTube.

A more recent hit is "Kawaikute gomen," which means "Sorry for being so cute," by HoneyWorks, a vocaloid unit. Another is Eve, who performs the theme song of megahit animation series "Jujutsu Kaisen," and has 4.6 million subscribers on his YouTube channel.

Some wonder whether digital clones or Vocaloids could become popular outside Japan. Digital assistant and voice software, as well as computerized music exist in the West, but they are not clones or Vocaloids.

Yu Tamura, chief executive and founder of INCS toenter, says he is encouraged by the increasing global popularity of Japanese animation and manga but that one thing to watch out for is the "Galapagos syndrome."

The term, referring to the isolated Pacific islands where animals evolved in unique ways, is widely used in Japan to describe how some Japanese products, while successful at home, fail to translate abroad.

Overseas consumers could see it as quirky or too cutesy, except for Japanophiles, Tamura said.

"They simply won't get it," he said.

  • Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023
Europe's sweeping rules for tech giants are about to kick in. Here's how they work
The Facebook logo is seen on a cell phone, Friday, Oct. 14, 2022, in Boston. Google, Facebook, TikTok and other Big Tech companies operating in Europe are facing one of the most far-reaching efforts to clean up what people encounter online. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
LONDON (AP) -- 

Google, Facebook, TikTok and other Big Tech companies operating in Europe are facing one of the most far-reaching efforts to clean up what people encounter online.

The first phase of the European Union's groundbreaking new digital rules will take effect this week. The Digital Services Act is part of a suite of tech-focused regulations crafted by the 27-nation bloc — long a global leader in cracking down on tech giants.

The DSA, which the biggest platforms must start following Friday, is designed to keep users safe online and stop the spread of harmful content that's either illegal or violates a platform's terms of service, such as promotion of genocide or anorexia. It also looks to protect Europeans' fundamental rights like privacy and free speech.

Some online platforms, which could face billions in fines if they don't comply, have already started making changes.

Here's a look at what's happening this week:

WHICH PLATFORMS ARE AFFECTED?
So far, 19. They include eight social media platforms: Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Snapchat.

There are five online marketplaces: Amazon, Booking.com, China's Alibaba AliExpress and Germany's Zalando.

Mobile app stores Google Play and Apple's App Store are subject, as are Google's Search and Microsoft's Bing search engine.

Google Maps and Wikipedia round out the list.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER ONLINE COMPANIES?
The EU's list is based on numbers submitted by the platforms. Those with 45 million or more users — or 10% of the EU's population — will face the DSA's highest level of regulation.

Brussels insiders, however, have pointed to some notable omissions from the EU's list, like eBay, Airbnb, Netflix and even PornHub. The list isn't definitive, and it's possible other platforms may be added later on.

Any business providing digital services to Europeans will eventually have to comply with the DSA. They will face fewer obligations than the biggest platforms, however, and have another six months before they must fall in line.

Citing uncertainty over the new rules, Facebook and Instagram parent Meta Platforms has held off launching its Twitter rival, Threads, in the EU.

WHAT'S CHANGING?
Platforms have started rolling out new ways for European users to flag illegal online content and dodgy products, which companies will be obligated to take down quickly and objectively.

The DSA "will have a significant impact on the experiences Europeans have when they open their phones or fire up their laptops," Nick Clegg, Meta's president for global affairs, said in a blog post.

Meta's existing tools to report illegal or rule-breaking content will be easier to access, Clegg said.

Amazon opened a new channel for reporting suspected illegal products and is providing more information about third-party merchants.

TikTok gave users an "additional reporting option" for content, including advertising, that they believe is illegal. Categories such as hate speech and harassment, suicide and self-harm, misinformation or frauds and scams, will help them pinpoint the problem.

Then, a "new dedicated team of moderators and legal specialists" will determine whether flagged content either violates its policies or is unlawful and should be taken down, according to the app from Chinese parent company ByteDance.

TikTok says the reason for a takedown will explained to the person who posted the material and the one who flagged it, and decisions can be appealed.

TikTok users can turn off systems that recommend videos and posts based on what a user has previously viewed. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat users will have similar options. Such systems have been blamed for leading social media users to increasingly extreme posts.

The DSA prohibits targeting vulnerable categories of people, including children, with ads.

Snapchat said advertisers won't be able to use personalization and optimization tools for teens in the EU and U.K. Snapchat users who are 18 and older also would get more transparency and control over ads they see, including "details and insight" on why they're shown specific ads.

TikTok made similar changes, stopping users 13 to 17 from getting personalized ads "based on their activities on or off TikTok."

IS THERE PUSHBACK?
Zalando, a German online fashion retailer, has filed a legal challenge over its inclusion on the DSA's list of the largest online platforms, arguing that it's being treated unfairly.

Nevertheless, Zalando is launching content flagging systems for its website even though there's little risk of illegal material showing up among its highly curated collection of clothes, bags and shoes.

The company has supported the DSA, said Aurelie Caulier, Zalando's head of public affairs for the EU.

"It will bring loads of positive changes" for consumers, she said. But "generally, Zalando doesn't have systemic risk (that other platforms pose). So that's why we don't think we fit in that category."

Amazon has filed a similar case with a top EU court.

WHAT HAPPENS IF COMPANIES DON'T FOLLOW THE RULES?
Officials have warned tech companies that violations could bring fines worth up to 6% of their global revenue — which could amount to billions — or even a ban from the EU. But don't expect penalties to come right away for individual breaches, such as failing to take down a specific video promoting hate speech.

Instead, the DSA is more about whether tech companies have the right processes in place to reduce the harm that their algorithm-based recommendation systems can inflict on users. Essentially, they'll have to let the European Commission, the EU's executive arm and top digital enforcer, look under the hood to see how their algorithms work.

EU officials "are concerned with user behavior on the one hand, like bullying and spreading illegal content, but they're also concerned about the way that platforms work and how they contribute to the negative effects," said Sally Broughton Micova, an associate professor at the University of East Anglia.

That includes looking at how the platforms work with digital advertising systems, which could be used to profile users for harmful material like disinformation, or how their livestreaming systems function, which could be used to instantly spread terrorist content, said Broughton Micova, who's also academic co-director at the Centre on Regulation in Europe, a Brussels-based think tank.

Big platforms have to identify and assess potential systemic risks and whether they're doing enough to reduce them. These risk assessments are due by the end of August and then they will be independently audited.

The audits are expected to be the main tool to verify compliance — though the EU's plan has faced criticism for lacking details that leave it unclear how the process will work.

WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF THE WORLD?
Europe's changes could have global impact. Wikipedia is tweaking some policies and modifying its terms of use to provide more information on "problematic users and content." Those alterations won't be limited to Europe and "will be implemented globally," said the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts the community-powered encyclopedia.

"The rules and processes that govern Wikimedia projects worldwide, including any changes in response to the DSA, are as universal as possible," it said in a statement.

Snapchat said its new reporting and appeal process for flagging illegal content or accounts that break its rules will be rolled out first in the EU and then globally in the coming months.

It's going to be hard for tech companies to limit DSA-related changes, said Broughton Micova, adding that digital ad networks aren't isolated to Europe and that social media influencers can have global reach.

The regulations are "dealing with multichannel networks that operate globally. So there is going to be a ripple effect once you have kind of mitigations that get taken into place," she said.
___
AP videojournalist Sylvain Plazy contributed from Brussels.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023
Adobe, Flanders Scientific, Kino Flo named recipients of HPA Awards for Engineering Excellence
LOS ANGELES -- 

Three recipients have been honored with the 2023 HPA Award for Engineering Excellence: Adobe for Adobe Premiere Pro Text-Based Editing; Flanders Scientific for XMP550; and Kino Flo for Mimik 120. The honors will be bestowed at this year’s HPA Awards gala on November 9 at the Hollywood Legion in Hollywood, Calif. 

The HPA Awards for Engineering Excellence are a coveted and competitive honor, denoting outstanding technical and creative ingenuity in media, content production, finishing, distribution, and archive. A distinguished panel of industry judges review materials and video presentations before gathering to hear presentations from submitters and then vote on the top technologies.

HPA Awards Engineering Committee chair Joachim Zell said, “In the midst of a revolutionary time in media and entertainment, it was exciting to see the caliber and number of entries to the Engineering Excellence awards this year.  Our esteemed judges remarked on the true innovation and advancement in our industry depicted in the presentations.  Sincere congratulations to the winners, and we acknowledge the remarkable achievements represented by every submission.” 

Here’s a rundown of winners of the 2023 HPA Awards for Engineering Excellence:

·       Adobe for Adobe Premiere Pro Text-Based Editing
Premiere Pro is the only professional editing software to incorporate text-based editing, revolutionizing the way filmmakers approach their craft by making dialogue editing as simple as cutting and pasting text. Powered by Adobe Sensei, Text-Based Editing analyzes video clips and provides transcriptions that identify individual speakers. Using an in-app text editor, post-production teams can search for words or phrases, cut sentences, and rearrange dialogue to automatically shape rough cuts directly in their timeline. The feature is designed to help post-production professionals create a rough cut faster, increasing efficiency and eliminating traditional bottlenecks in locating, trimming, and moving specific clips.

·       Flanders Scientific for XMP550
The XMP550 is a 55” UHD resolution HDR and SDR reference mastering monitor built around a groundbreaking new QD-OLED panel featuring 2,000 nits peak luminance, 4,000,000:1 contrast, and FSI’s widest color gamut to date. The XMP550 qualifies as a Dolby Vision mastering monitor, bringing an end to the days of compromising between smaller reference-grade HDR displays and larger non-reference client displays. The XMP550 delivers the best of both worlds with truly reference-grade performance and professional connectivity in a form factor large enough for both the colorist and clients to view. The XMP550 is OLED without compromise.

·       Kino Flo for Mimik 120
The MIMIK 120 is a full spectrum image-based lighting fixture that can synchronize to a XR volume to provide foreground lighting. It can be assembled as a wall or ceiling or be used as individual fixtures. It’s a 7200 pixel, 10 pitch lighting tile that converts a 3 color RGB video pixel into a 5 color pixel consisting of RGB, 2700K & 6500K phosphor white LEDs. The 5-color pixel ensures better tonal and color reproduction of foreground elements. It also operates at a high frequency enabling camera speeds of up to 960 fps.

·       Honorable Mention: StypeLandXR
StypeLandXR is an innovative Unreal Engine 5 plugin, revolutionizing virtual production. This trailblazing tool, used for the award-winning FOX Sports Live MULTICAM XR Set, which won the Sports Emmy - The George Wensel Technical Achievement Award, uniquely corrects color shifts on LED walls and resolves inherent delays between LED walls and set extensions. It enables the creation of extensive virtual spaces, offering accurate color matching, seamless transitions, and precision calibration. By enhancing visual impact and immersion, StypeLandXR opens new frontiers of creative potential.

As for the overall HPA Awards, nominations honoring creative artistry in 19 categories will be announced in early autumn.

  • Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023
Television Academy unveils recipients of 75th Engineering, Science & Technology Emmy Awards
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has been named recipient of the Philo T. Farnsworth Corporate Achievement Award
LOS ANGELES -- 

The Television Academy announced the recipients of the 75th Engineering, Science & Technology Emmy® Awards honoring an individual, company or organization for developments in broadcast technology. The award ceremony will be held Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023.

“Advancements in technology are a fundamental part of television production and greatly contribute to the elevation of the storytelling process,” said Frank Scherma, chair of the Television Academy. “We are honored to recognize these distinguished and talented engineers, scientists and technologists who are at the forefront of pioneering fundamental advancements in television and storytelling.”

“The Engineering, Science & Technology Emmys have always recognized domestic ingenuity as well as major innovators from around the world,” said Committee co-chair Barry Zegel. “Half of this year’s recipients are headquartered outside of North America,” added co-chair Wendy Aylsworth, “and it’s exciting to see how they are changing the television industry.”

The following is a list of awards and recipients to be recognized:

Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award
Honors a living individual whose ongoing contributions have significantly affected the state of television technology and engineering.
Recipient: Birney Dayton
Television technology pioneer, Birney Dayton, was one of the founders as well as CEO and CTO of NVISION, which he ran for 20 years. With the goal of building products to support and drive the development of high-definition television, NVISION has been lauded for their innovative products in digital audio, HDTV routing and other broadcast facility products. Prior to NVISION, Dayton was vice president of engineering for Grass Valley Group leading the development of digital products that streamlined the routing of digital signals through production and operations centers. An innovator in bringing fiber optics to the world of television, he built the first fiber-optic transmission system for over-the-air television, used for the opening ceremonies of the 1980 Olympics. In the late 1980s, Dayton chaired the systems analysis working party of the ACATS (Advisory Committee on Advanced Television Service), which tested and selected the best-of-breed technologies to establish the digital television distribution standard that continues to operate throughout North America. In addition, he helped develop the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) analog and digital component video standards, was co-chair of the SMPTE high-definition electronic-production working group and was awarded the SMPTE Progress Medal for his numerous industry-changing digital audio products and technologies. Dayton has authored numerous industry papers and currently holds 15 patents.

Philo T. Farnsworth Corporate Achievement Award
Honors an agency, company or institution whose contributions over time have significantly impacted television technology and engineering.
Recipient: National Association of Broadcasters (NAB)
The National Association of Broadcasters is the voice for the nation’s radio and television broadcasters. As the premier trade association for broadcasters, NAB advances the interests of their members in federal government, industry and public affairs; improves the quality and profitability of broadcasting; encourages content and technology innovation; and spotlights the important and unique ways stations serve their communities.

 

Engineering, Science & Technology Emmy Awards
Presented to an individual, company or organization for developments in engineering, science and technology that are either so extensive an improvement on existing methods or so innovative in nature that they materially affect the production, recording, transmission or reception of television and thereby have elevated the storytelling process.

Recipients: Chris Deighton, Richard Mead, Adrian Jeakins and Evangelos Apostolopoulos for the Brompton Technology Tessera SX40 LED video processor
Brompton Technology’s Tessera SX40 LED (light-emitting diode) video processor has been a key enabler of the revolution in using LED screens for virtual production. To make LED screen-based virtual production even possible requires high-quality, artifact-free processing. The SX40 has become a significant ingredient in a winning recipe utilized in virtual production studios worldwide. Software upgrades have further improved performance and optimized virtual production workflows, ensuring the greatest possible flexibility for the creative team while delivering the gold standard for color accuracy and on-camera visual performance.

 

Recipients: Steve Rosenbluth, Thomas E. Burgess, Konstantin Smola and Glen Winchester for the Concept Overdrive Motion System
Concept Overdrive is a valuable tool for virtual production and augmented reality and has become a professional standard for the control of machines and animatronics in television production worldwide. With an acclaimed user interface, the system implements a streaming motion network, real-time constraints and maximally digital motion control, which make it ideal for interfacing with the real world in modern production environments.

 

Recipient: International Telecommunications Union — Radiocommunications — Study Group 6 for the Standardization of High-Dynamic Range Television (HDR-TV)
Since its first publication in July 2016, Recommendation ITU-R BT.2100 “image-parameter values for high-dynamic range television for use in production and international program exchange,” more simply known as HDR-TV, has impacted the entire television industry, from cameras, post-production (especially in color processing), delivery though traditional broadcasting OTT (over-the-top) streaming services, and both professional and consumer display/television products. BT.2100 provided the critically important international specifications that have enabled HDR to become widely practiced and enjoyed by consumers.

 

Recipients: Raymond Drewry and Jim Helman for the Entertainment Identifier Registry (EIDR)
Created by the technical staff at MovieLabs, the Entertainment Identifier Registry (EIDR) unifies the commercial film and television industry around one standardized content ID, one infrastructure for creating and sharing the ID, and one nested data model for describing the relationships between abstract titles, specific edits of each title and their packagings for distribution. EIDR has provided the mission-critical infrastructure that has enabled the explosion in digital distribution of film and television content to an increasing set of consumer devices over the last 10 years.
 

 

Recipient: David Eubank for the pCAM Pro
pCAM Pro is a mobile software application developed for Apple’s iOS devices that offers a comprehensive suite of 26 cinematography tools designed for television and film professionals. These tools include calculations to guide decisions on designing camera shots, set design and construction, selecting lenses and camera sensor formats, achieving proper exposure and color balance, creating flicker-free lighting and lighting designs, and functional eye-light and lighting effects, among others. Most notably, it allows for accurate pre-visualization of specific lens and camera pairings, making it an invaluable tool for set crews.

 
 

Recipients: Thomas Riedel, Jake Dodson, Wolfgang Fritz and Jiou-Pahn Lee for the Riedel Bolero Wireless Intercom
Riedel Bolero’s ADR (Advanced DECT Receiver) wireless intercom solution with multi-diversity and anti-reflection technology, delivers greater RF (radio frequency) robustness than ever seen before in the industry. In addition, it offers Touch ‘n Go NFC (near-field communication) belt-pack registration and versatile operation as a wireless belt pack, a wireless key panel, or (an industry first) a walkie talkie. It also features bluetooth compatibility for phone connections. It successfully provides clear communications in venues that had previously been difficult or impossible to cover due to physical venue design or competing DECT (digital enhanced cordless telecommunications) systems.

 

Recipients: Jeffrey Gray, Russell Hocken, Barrett Phillips and Greg Smokler for the SmallHD Monitor Platform
SmallHD’s rugged and daylight-viewable production monitors have become a staple on every production set, from scripted dramas to live broadcasts. SmallHD’s hardware platform features an entirely custom electronic architecture that allows for continuous expansion of features and connectivity as well as enabling the unique industry-leading PageOS 5 monitoring software system. From the compact on-camera Smart 5 and Smart 7 series to the 4K production monitor line, SmallHD has created a unified and cohesive series of monitors that allow for accurate and consistent viewing and color reproduction across different cameras and applications, ensuring a consistent creative vision from set to final output.

 

Recipients: Meir Shashoua, Yaniv Alon and Shai Fishman for the Waves Clarity Vx Pro
Clarity Vx Pro is a revolutionary noise-reduction plugin that uses the cutting-edge and powerful Neural Networks® engine developed by Waves to separate dialogue from ambience at the highest quality without artifacts and in real time, which sets a new standard in post-production. Addressing today’s post-production needs, Clarity Vx Pro allows for real-time processing and vastly speeds up and enhances the workflow of dialogue editing and mixing. Clarity works in most DAWs (digital audio workstations) to create immediate, clean results without having to render, bounce, duplicate or consolidate tracks. It allows editors and mixers to listen to the dialog processing as part of the whole mix in context.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023
DP Paulo Perez deploys Cooke Anamorphic lenses on Latin-Western series 
A scene from "La Cabeza de Joaquin Murrieta"
LEICESTER, UK -- 

Cinematographer Paulo Perez, ADFC, chose Cooke® Anamorphic/i FF SF (Full Frame Special Flair) lenses to capture the wide vistas of Mexico in the new Latin-Western series, La Cabeza de Joaquín Murrieta (The Head of Joaquín Murrieta).

In 1851, the newly established border between Mexico and the USA is the setting for a conflict fueled by the anger and xenophobia caused by the Mexican-American War. A group of immigrants forge the myth of the Latin Robin Hood, Joaquín Murrieta. La Cabeza de Joaquín Murrieta was created by Mauricio Leiva-Cock and Diego Ramírez-Schrempp, directed by David Pablos (episodes 1-4) and Humberto Hinojosa (episodes 5-8). The series was produced by Dynamo Productions and Amazon Studios.

Writing began in 2019 and Perez kept in close contact with the writers while working on other projects, all the while visualizing the concept. In 2021, as principal photography was about to start, cinematographer Ximena Amann joined the team and alongside Perez developed the visual narrative for the series. 

“We very much wanted to shoot anamorphically to really capture the space and the beautiful landscape. We had to fight for it because some companies don’t like the anamorphic aspect ratio, but Amazon allowed me to do it in full anamorphic,” Perez said. “I love the compositions you can achieve, not just of vistas but you can have three, four, five people in the frame talking to each other, and framing in different layers… it’s so beautiful and cinematic. And if you need more choices, you only need two or three more shots, no more than that.”

Perez chose to pair the Cooke lenses with two ARRI ALEXA Mini LF full frame cameras.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023
"This Hits Home" Shot with Pocket Cinema Camera 6K G2
A scene from "This Hits Home"
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Filmmaker, director, producer and actress Sydney Scotia’s new documentary This Hits Home was shot using Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K G2 digital film camera. The feature-length documentary reveals the invisible and silent epidemic of permanent traumatic brain injury in women devastated by domestic violence. Built around intimate and compelling stories of courageous women, insights from lawmakers and domestic violence authorities, and the shocking revelations from world renowned experts at the Mayo Clinic, Harvard University, Boston University, and the University of Pennsylvania, the film paints a chilling portrait of brain injury that forever changes the lives of women and their children.

The film was shot on a small budget with a crew of Scotia and cinematographers Erik Rojas and A.J. Raitano. The Pocket Cinema Camera 6K G2 was used as the primary camera for the film, shooting interviews, B roll, exteriors and inside car scenes. Due to the seriousness of the topic, Scotia needed to ensure that anyone interviewed was completely at ease and relaxed. A large camera that required extensive lighting and rigging was not possible.

DaVinci Resolve Studio editing, grading, visual effects (VFX) and audio post software was used for color correction of the documentary, as well as for preparing the film for delivery to festivals and streaming services.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023
Cluster Studio upgrades Baselight TWO systems 
A Cluster Baselight studio
LONDON -- 

Mexico-based Cluster Studio has re-invested in FilmLight by upgrading its pair of Baselight TWO systems. Cluster Studio has been a Baselight customer for more than 15 years. It currently has a Baselight ONE system, as well as two Baselight TWO systems--which they use to conform, grade, integrate VFX and render out projects.

“We are handling more and more content each month with multiple raw materials being captured across a variety of camera formats and color spaces, including 4K and HDR,” said Cluster CTO and head colorist Juan Magaña who noted that the upgrade has allowed his shop to triple its storage capacity.

  • Monday, Aug. 7, 2023
AI is gaining state lawmakers' attention
The OpenAI logo is seen on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen displaying output from ChatGPT, March 21, 2023, in Boston. As state lawmakers rush to get a handle on fast-evolving artificial intelligence technology, they're often focusing first on their own state governments before imposing restrictions on the private sector. Legislators are seeking ways to protect constituents from discrimination and other harms while not hindering cutting-edge advancements in medicine, science, business, education and more. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- 

As state lawmakers rush to get a handle on fast-evolving artificial intelligence technology, they're often focusing first on their own state governments before imposing restrictions on the private sector.

Legislators are seeking ways to protect constituents from discrimination and other harms while not hindering cutting-edge advancements in medicine, science, business, education and more.

"We're starting with the government. We're trying to set a good example," Connecticut state Sen. James Maroney said during a floor debate in May.

Connecticut plans to inventory all of its government systems using artificial intelligence by the end of 2023, posting the information online. And starting next year, state officials must regularly review these systems to ensure they won't lead to unlawful discrimination.

Maroney, a Democrat who has become a go-to AI authority in the General Assembly, said Connecticut lawmakers will likely focus on private industry next year. He plans to work this fall on model AI legislation with lawmakers in Colorado, New York, Virginia, Minnesota and elsewhere that includes "broad guardrails" and focuses on matters like product liability and requiring impact assessments of AI systems.

"It's rapidly changing and there's a rapid adoption of people using it. So we need to get ahead of this," he said in a later interview. "We're actually already behind it, but we can't really wait too much longer to put in some form of accountability."

Overall, at least 25 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia introduced artificial intelligence bills this year. As of late July, 14 states and Puerto Rico had adopted resolutions or enacted legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The list doesn't include bills focused on specific AI technologies, such as facial recognition or autonomous cars, something NCSL is tracking separately.

Legislatures in Texas, North Dakota, West Virginia and Puerto Rico have created advisory bodies to study and monitor AI systems their respective state agencies are using, while Louisiana formed a new technology and cyber security committee to study AI's impact on state operations, procurement and policy. Other states took a similar approach last year.

Lawmakers want to know "Who's using it? How are you using it? Just gathering that data to figure out what's out there, who's doing what," said Heather Morton, a legislative analysist at NCSL who tracks artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, privacy and internet issues in state legislatures. "That is something that the states are trying to figure out within their own state borders."

Connecticut's new law, which requires AI systems used by state agencies to be regularly scrutinized for possible unlawful discrimination, comes after an investigation by the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School determined AI is already being used to assign students to magnet schools, set bail and distribute welfare benefits, among other tasks. However, details of the algorithms are mostly unknown to the public.

AI technology, the group said, "has spread throughout Connecticut's government rapidly and largely unchecked, a development that's not unique to this state."

Richard Eppink, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, testified before Congress in May about discovering, through a lawsuit, the "secret computerized algorithms" Idaho was using to assess people with developmental disabilities for federally funded health care services. The automated system, he said in written testimony, included corrupt data that relied on inputs the state hadn't validated.

AI can be shorthand for many different technologies, ranging from algorithms recommending what to watch next on Netflix to generative AI systems such as ChatGPT that can aid in writing or create new images or other media. The surge of commercial investment in generative AI tools has generated public fascination and concerns about their ability to trick people and spread disinformation, among other dangers.

Some states haven't attempted to tackle the issue yet. In Hawaii, state Sen. Chris Lee, a Democrat, said lawmakers didn't pass any legislation this year governing AI "simply because I think at the time, we didn't know what to do."

Instead, the Hawaii House and Senate passed a resolution Lee proposed that urges Congress to adopt safety guidelines for the use of artificial intelligence and limit its application in the use of force by police and the military.

Lee, vice-chair of the Senate Labor and Technology Committee, said he hopes to introduce a bill in next year's session that is similar to Connecticut's new law. Lee also wants to create a permanent working group or department to address AI matters with the right expertise, something he admits is difficult to find.

"There aren't a lot of people right now working within state governments or traditional institutions that have this kind of experience," he said.

The European Union is leading the world in building guardrails around AI. There has been discussion of bipartisan AI legislation in Congress, which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in June would maximize the technology's benefits and mitigate significant risks.

Yet the New York senator did not commit to specific details. In July, President Joe Biden announced his administration had secured voluntary commitments from seven U.S. companies meant to ensure their AI products are safe before releasing them.

Maroney said ideally the federal government would lead the way in AI regulation. But he said the federal government can't act at the same speed as a state legislature.

"And as we've seen with the data privacy, it's really had to bubble up from the states," Maroney said.

Some state-level bills proposed this year have been narrowly tailored to address specific AI-related concerns. Proposals in Massachusetts would place limitations on mental health providers using AI and prevent "dystopian work environments" where workers don't have control over their personal data. A proposal in New York would place restrictions on employers using AI as an "automated employment decision tool" to filter job candidates.

North Dakota passed a bill defining what a person is, making it clear the term does not include artificial intelligence. Republican Gov. Doug Burgum, a long-shot presidential contender, has said such guardrails are needed for AI but the technology should still be embraced to make state government less redundant and more responsive to citizens.

In Arizona, Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed legislation that would prohibit voting machines from having any artificial intelligence software. In her veto letter, Hobbs said the bill "attempts to solve challenges that do not currently face our state."

In Washington, Democratic Sen. Lisa Wellman, a former systems analyst and programmer, said state lawmakers need to prepare for a world in which machine systems become ever more prevalent in our daily lives.

She plans to roll out legislation next year that would require students to take computer science to graduate high school.

"AI and computer science are now, in my mind, a foundational part of education," Wellman said. "And we need to understand really how to incorporate it."

Associated Press Writers Audrey McAvoy in Honolulu, Ed Komenda in Seattle and Matt O'Brien in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed to this report.

  • Wednesday, Jul. 26, 2023
Microsoft reports $20.1B quarterly profit as it promises to lead "the new AI platform shift"
The logo for Microsoft, and a scene from Activision "Call of Duty - Modern Warfare," are shown in this photo, in New York, Wednesday, June 21, 2023. Microsoft reports earnings on Tuesday July 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Microsoft reported a 20% spike in quarterly profits Tuesday, helping to fuel its battle to get ahead of rivals like Google, Amazon and Facebook parent Meta in selling the latest artificial intelligence technology.

The software giant said its fiscal fourth-quarter profit was $20.1 billion, or $2.69 per share, beating analyst expectations for $2.55 per share.

It posted revenue of $56.2 billion in the April-June period, up 8% from last year. Analysts polled by FactSet Research had been looking for revenue of $55.49 billion.

CEO Satya Nadella said the company remains focused on "leading the new AI platform shift," though its push to add AI features to its existing products — among them cloud computing services, workplace software and its Bing search engine — are not yet making an obvious mark on its financial results.

Microsoft was an early mover in this year's hype around "generative AI" tools that can help people write documents and create new images and other media. It capitalized on its multibillion dollar investments in ChatGPT-maker OpenAI to launch a Bing chatbot and similar tools tailored to its business customers. It said last week that it would start charging $30 per user for business accounts that sign up for its new AI "Copilot" that integrates with existing software such as Word, Excel and email.

"Organizations are asking not only how – but how fast – they can apply this next generation of AI to address the biggest opportunities and challenges they face – safely and responsibly," Nadella said in a prepared statement.

Despite beating Wall Street analyst expectations for profit and revenues, Microsoft's stock dropped slightly in after-hours trading after it released its financial report upon the market's close Tuesday.

Macquarie analyst Sarah Hindlian-Bowler said investors have been focused on Microsoft's early revenue from those artificial intelligence investments, the performance of the Azure cloud computing platform and the likelihood that Microsoft will close its deal to buy video game company Activision Blizzard, which could help boost gaming revenue and drive more users to the Xbox game system and other Microsoft platforms.

More than 18 months after announcing the $69 billion deal, Microsoft is still negotiating with a British antitrust regulator over concerns it will harm competition. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission also opposed the transaction but lost a court fight to stop it.

"We still expect a successful close as the company works toward an amenable solution that satisfies the U.K.'s concerns," Hindlian-Bowler said in an analyst note ahead of Tuesday's earnings.

Quarterly sales were highest in Microsoft's cloud business segment, which the company said grew 15% from the same time last year to $24 billion. Much of that was driven by its flagship Azure platform "and other cloud services revenue," which grew 26%.

Microsoft doesn't reveal the total revenue for its Azure business, though a document inadvertently disclosed during its recent court fight with the FTC showed it as $34 billion last year, Hindlian-Bowler said. Microsoft has declined to comment on that number. It's long been seen as the runner-up to Amazon's dominant cloud platform, Amazon Web Services.

Microsoft's second-biggest business segment — centered on productivity software led by its Office suite of workplace products — grew 10% to $18.3 billion in sales for the April-June quarter.

While AI has captivated the attention of the public and investors, Microsoft is also still heavily reliant on its personal computing business centered around the licensing fees paid by the makers of computers running its Windows software.

Microsoft made $13.9 billion from its personal computing business segment in the quarter, down 4% from the same time last year. While that segment also includes other products, including Xbox games and consoles, it's been the Windows revenue dragging the overall numbers down.

Worldwide shipments of PCs from various manufacturers in the April-June quarter dropped 16.6% from the same time last year, marking the seventh consecutive quarter of year-over-year decline, according to market research group Gartner. However, the market is starting to stabilize and demand could grow again in 2024, Gartner said.

With most of its revenue coming from sales to business clients, Microsoft hasn't been as affected by economic troubles that have hit consumer-focused sectors or advertising-dependent tech rivals like Google and Meta. But Microsoft has still laid off hundreds of workers in recent months, including many around its headquarters in Redmond, Washington, according to notices it sent to government agencies. That's on top of the 10,000 employees, almost 5% of its workforce, that it cut earlier this year.

Matt O'Brien is an AP technology writer

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