• Thursday, May. 27, 2021
Avid's Jeff Rosica elected board chair of Boston Arts Academy Foundation
Jeff Rosica
BOSTON -- 

Avid Technology CEO and president Jeff Rosica has been elected board chairman of Boston Arts Academy Foundation, an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that raises essential funds for Boston Arts Academy (BAA), the city’s only public high school for the visual and performing arts. Longtime BAA Foundation chair Lee Pelton will be recognized as chairman emeritus, as he also becomes president and CEO of The Boston Foundation.

“It is with great honor that I follow in the footsteps of Lee Pelton,” said Rosica. “Boston Arts Academy Foundation engages private donors in funding programming and opportunities that allow young artists to find their voices, express themselves, and achieve their dreams. I am grateful to serve Boston Arts Academy’s students and faculty during this critical time in our city and our school’s history.”

“It has been my privilege to serve as chairman of the BAA Foundation board of directors and the Boston Arts Academy trustees,” said Pelton, who is celebrating nine years of service to the Boston Arts Academy community. “Boston Arts Academy is an exemplary model of equity and access for underrepresented students, with exceptional support from BAA Foundation. The Foundation’s future will be bright under Jeff Rosica’s leadership.”

Under Pelton’s leadership, the BAA Foundation hired Denella J. Clark as president, who built an exceptional team to engage private donors in bridging the annual multimillion funding gap between Boston Arts Academy’s allocation from Boston Public Schools and the true cost of the school’s arts-intensive and college preparatory education--equivalent to $5,000 per student each year. The Foundation has raised more than $12 million towards its $32 million comprehensive Building Our Future Campaign, which augments the school’s budget and builds long-term financial sustainability. In 2022, Boston Arts Academy’s new school building will open directly across from Fenway Park, immediately increasing the number of students from 480 to 500 and eventually growing over the years.

Rosica has served on the BAA Foundation board since 2018, helping to raise awareness and support for the school from the media and entertainment industry. That same year, Avid Technology licensed all Boston Arts Academy students to use its music and audio creation software, Pro Tools, and in late 2020, donated state-of-the-art equipment to help outfit BAA’s new school building. Rosica served as the chair of BAA Honors 2019, which raised a record-breaking $1.3 million. Avid has made more than $800,000 in technology and Building Our Future Campaign investments for the school.

“I congratulate Jeff Rosica and Lee Pelton on their new roles and am so grateful for their leadership. Along with the entire board, I look forward to working with them as we move into the next chapter at Boston Arts Academy Foundation,” said BAA Foundation president Clark. “Jeff is deeply committed to our students. His leadership and understanding of our school and the unique challenges facing our students make him an exceptional board chair.”

Pelton will step down from the role as board chair on June 1, the same day he begins his new position as president and CEO of The Boston Foundation, after nearly 10 years as president of Emerson College.

“The Foundation will be forever indebted to the visionary leadership of Lee Pelton,” Clark said. “We congratulate Lee on his emeritus role and value our continued partnership with him in this new capacity. His commitment and contributions to BAA and the Foundation are singular in the more than 20-year history of both the school and the Foundation. We look forward to cutting the ribbon of the Lee Pelton Board Room in the new Boston Arts Academy school building next year and celebrating Lee as our Lifetime Achievement Honoree at BAA Honors 2022.”

  • Friday, May. 21, 2021
Apple CEO faces tough questions about app store competition
In this courtroom sketch Apple CEO Tim Cook, left, is cross examined by Epic Games lawyer Gary Bornstein, second from right, during a trial in San Ramon, Calif., on Friday, May 21, 2021. Cook described the company's ironclad control over its mobile app store as a way to keep things simple for customers while protecting them against security threats and privacy intrusions during Friday testimony denying allegations he has been running an illegal monopoly. The rare courtroom appearance by one of the world's best-known executives came during the closing phase of a three-week trial revolving around an antitrust case brought by Epic Games, maker of the popular video game Fortnite. (Vicki Behringer via AP)
SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) -- 

Apple CEO Tim Cook described the company's ironclad control over its mobile app store as the best way to serve and protect iPhone users, but he faced tough questions about competition issues from a judge Friday about allegations he oversees an illegal monopoly. 

The rare courtroom appearance by one of the world's best-known executives came during the closing phase of a three-week trial revolving around an antitrust case brought by Epic Games, maker of the popular video game Fortnite.

Epic is trying to topple the so-called "walled garden" for iPhone and iPad apps that welcomes users and developers while locking out competition. Created by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs a year after the iPhone's 2007 debut, the App Store has become a key revenue source for Apple, helping power the company to a $57 billion profit in its last fiscal year.

The trial focuses on Epic's contention that Apple has turned its store into a price-gouging vehicle that not only reaps a 15% to 30% commission from in-app transactions, but blocks apps from offering other payment alternatives. That ban extends to showing a link that would open a web page offering commission-free ways to pay for subscriptions, in-game items and the like.

Under friendly questioning from a company lawyer, Cook delivered polished remarks that sometimes sounded like a commercial for the iPhone and other Apple products.

But the normally unflappable CEO occasionally seemed flustered while being grilled by Epic lawyer Gary Bornstein. His unease was particularly evident when pressed about the level of profits in a store that Jobs initially thought would be lucky to break even. He seemed to stumble slightly again when when Bornstein confronted him about a deal in China that could compromise user privacy, even as the company maintains that protecting its customers' personal information is a top priority.

Cook, though, never wavered during nearly four hours of testimony from his position that Apple's grip on the app store helps it keep things simple for a loyal customer base that buys iPhones knowing they getting "something that just works."

"They buy into an entire ecosystem when they buy an iPhone," said Cook, who wore a face shield, but no mask in an Oakland, California, courtroom that has limited access because of the pandemic.

It wasn't at all clear that the federal judge who will decide the case was buying everything Cook said on the stand.

After the lawyers were done with their questioning, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers asked why Apple can't allow rival stores to offer an in-app transaction option on iPhones, iPads and iPods that might charge lower commissions. That is something Epic is fighting to make it happen, partly because it has a still unprofitable store that imposes a 12% commission.

Gonzalez Rogers seemed particularly troubled by a survey indicating 39% of iPhone app developers aren't happy with the current distribution system. She also wondered about the fairness of a commission system requiring the makers of video games pay the bulk of the commissions, while digital services offered in other industries such as banking don't pay anything, even though they are using the technology that powers iPhones.

"The gaming industry seems to be generating a disproportionate amount of money relative to the (intellectual property) that you are giving them and everybody else? In a sense it's almost as if they are subsidizing everybody else," Gonzalez Rogers said.

Cook agreed about the subsidy, but insisted there is still a fair balance because video game makers are able to reach a wider audience of consumers who become players while visiting the store looking at other apps. He took issue with the notion that most app makers are unhappy with the store's current setup.

"We turn the place upside down for developers," Cook said.

Gonzalez Rogers also didn't seem to buy Apple's explanation for a move it made last year when it lowered its commission on in-app commissions to 15% on the first $1 million in revenue. Although the price cut came after Epic filed its antitrust case in August, Apple said the discount was driven by desire to provide a helping hand during a pandemic-driven recession.

"At least what I've seen so far, that really wasn't the result of competition, (but) the pressure you were feeling," Gonzalez Rogers told Cook. Apple's app store practices are being examined by regulators and lawmakers in the U.S. and Europe while Epic pursues its case.

Gonzalez Rogers is expected to elaborate issues still weighing on her mind Monday when she plans to pose questions to lawyers on both sides while they make their final points before she takes the matter under submission. The judge said she hopes to release her decision before Aug. 13 in a written ruling that could reshape the technology landscape.

  • Wednesday, Apr. 28, 2021
AWS rolls out Amazon Nimble Studio
SEATTLE -- 

Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com, Inc. company (NASDAQ: AMZN), announced the general availability of Amazon Nimble Studio, a new service that enables customers to set up a content production studio in hours instead of weeks, with elasticity that gives them near limitless scale and access to rendering on demand. With Amazon Nimble Studio, customers can rapidly onboard and collaborate with artists from anywhere in the world, and produce content faster and more cost effectively. Artists will have access to accelerated virtual workstations, high-speed storage, and scalable rendering across AWS’s global infrastructure so they can create content faster. There are no upfront fees or commitments to use Amazon Nimble Studio, and customers pay only for the underlying AWS services used. 

To bring high-quality visual effects, animation, and creative content to life, studios historically have relied on local high-performance workstations connected to shared file storage systems over low-latency, on-premises networks. Increased consumer appetite for premium content and experiences has driven greater demand for compute-intensive rendering of visual effects and animations. This ever-growing demand causes content production studios to over-provision their compute, networking, and storage infrastructure for peak capacity, which proves expensive, difficult to manage, and hard to scale. For example, a typical animated feature film now generates 730 terabytes of data and up to half a billion files, requiring more than 150 million core compute hours and coordination from hundreds of artists and engineers. Consumer demand for more content has also required studios to onboard talent from around the world, who then require high-powered workstations, specialized software, and high-speed storage and networking. All of these constraints can result in production delays, increased expenses, and lost opportunity for content production studios.

Using Amazon Nimble Studio, customers can create a new content production studio in just a few hours. The creative talent then has immediate access to high performance workstations powered by Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) G4dn instances with NVIDIA Graphical Processing Units (GPUs), shared file storage from Amazon FSx, and ultra low-latency streaming via the AWS global network. Amazon Nimble Studio gives content production studios the ability to start with as few resources as needed, scale up those resources when rendering demands peak, and spin them back down once projects are completed. Content production studios can onboard remote teams from around the world and provide them access to just the right amount of high performance infrastructure for only as long as needed—all without having to procure, set up, and manage local workstations, file systems, and low-latency networking. Amazon Nimble Studio supports both the Windows and Linux operating systems so that artists can work with their preferred third-party creative applications. Additionally, studios can use custom software applications and bring them into Amazon Nimble Studio via Amazon Machine Images (AMIs), ensuring a seamless migration from on-premises to cloud infrastructure. Amazon Nimble Studio is the latest AWS solution for media and entertainment customers, joining the AWS Thinkbox Deadline render management application as a core capability supporting content production. Media and entertainment leaders like Discovery, Disney, EuroSport, Formula 1, FOX, HBO Max, Peacock and Weta Digital use purpose-built AWS solutions that help content creators, rights holders, producers, and distributors accelerate reinvention across five key industry business areas: content production, direct-to-consumer and over-the-top (OTT) streaming, broadcast, media supply chain and archive, and data science and analytics.

“Amazon Nimble Studio is going to change the way customers produce content using a cloud-based production pipeline,” said Kyle Roche, head of content production tech, AWS. “To date, studios struggle to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for creative content, which has driven an exponential increase in the computing power required to produce content—hastening obsolescence of workstations and straining on-premises storage and rendering capacity.”

Amazon Nimble Studio is available now in six AWS Regions and AWS Local Zones: US East (N. Virginia), US West (Oregon) Region, Canada (Central) Region, Europe (London) Region, Asia Pacific (Sydney) Region, and US Local Zone (Los Angeles), with additional region support coming soon.

Anjekumi connects gamers and enables them to play games from anywhere in the world using next generation devices. “Amazon Nimble Studio allows us to concentrate on the creative result rather than the technical journey as it solves some key issues in our production pipeline,” said Kurt Rauer, CEO, Anjekumi. “Our business is a global one and with Amazon Nimble Studio we are able to engage creative people globally without the associated friction.”

The California State University is a public university system in California with 23 campuses. “As the largest public higher education system in the nation, the California State University system pride ourselves on having an innovative mindset in media and entertainment education, empowering a majority-minority, diverse student population,” said Dina Ibrahim, executive director, San Francisco State University. “AWS is a perfect partner to represent a path forward for our creative programs, as we look to moving more of our education experience to the cloud in the near future, and solutions like Amazon Nimble Studio provide our students with easier, hands-on access to the latest tools in content creation technology, which better positions them for success in their careers.”

Evil Eye Pictures is an Oscar and Emmy award-winning animation, visual effects, and design studio based in San Francisco. “We like to go beyond the traditional and embrace emerging technologies that support innovative storytelling,” said Dan Rosen, co-founder and executive creative director, Evil Eye Pictures. “Adding Amazon Nimble Studio to our arsenal will allow us to more easily scale up and down with projects, and collaborate with the best talent, regardless of where they are located.”

Shomen Productions is a virtual animation and VFX studio that taps a global talent pool to create branded content. “We believe the future of production is dispersed teams and agile studios. Geographical access to a ready pool of talent is no longer an obstacle to creativity,” said James Bennett, founder and director of VFX and animation, Shomen Productions. “A production solution like Amazon Nimble Studio allows your team to scale production resources at will and collaborate efficiently across vast distances. There is tremendous power in the ability to collaborate remotely with creatives who are spread across the world as easily as if they where sitting next to you. We believe Amazon Nimble Studio will be as impactful to creative production as iTunes was to the music industry.”

Sinking Ship Entertainment is an Emmy award-winning production and new media company based in Toronto. “We’ve been eagerly following the development of Amazon Nimble Studio and look forward to adding it to our workflow,” said Shervin Shahidi, director of digital transformation, Sinking Ship Entertainment. “It will bring dynamic elasticity to our capabilities and allow us to expand our talent pool to include artists worldwide.”

Spire Animation Studios is a new feature animation studio. “Spire Animation was formed to empower world-class creative and technical talent to develop diverse, high-end animated entertainment for global audiences,” said Brad Lewis, its co-founder and chief creative officer. “By harnessing next-gen technology, like Amazon Nimble Studio and real-time game engines, we’re reimagining the content production process, even if our artists aren’t based in the same location.”

AWS has also announced AWS for Media & Entertainment, an initiative that makes it easier for industry customers to discover, implement, and deploy purpose-built AWS capabilities and partner solutions for their highest priority workloads—enabling them to create compelling content faster, invent new customer experiences, expand direct-to-consumer offerings, and improve media supply chain efficiency. AWS for Media & Entertainment aligns the broadest and deepest set of industry-specific cloud capabilities, including purpose-built media and creative services, hardware, solutions, tools, and partners. AWS for Media & Entertainment also establishes dedicated resources across each industry solution area to help customers accelerate time to value, aligning AWS internal resources, AWS Professional Services, and 400+ industry-specific Independent Software Vendor (ISVs) Partners and 100+ System Integrators (SIs). 

  • Monday, Apr. 26, 2021
Apple announces 1st East Coast campus in North Carolina
In this Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, file photo, the logo of Apple is illuminated at a store in the city center in Munich. On Monday, April 26, 2021, Apple announced plans to invest more than $1 billion in North Carolina to build the company's first East Coast campus, in a move that is expected to bring at least 3,000 new jobs to the state. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, File)

Apple announced plans on Monday to invest more than $1 billion in North Carolina to build the company's first East Coast campus, a move expected to bring at least 3,000 new jobs to the state.

The development comes as part of an effort by Apple to up investment as the U.S. begins rebuilding from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a statement from the company.

The North Carolina project falls under a commitment to invest $430 billion and add a total of 20,000 new jobs over the next five years, expanding teams in Colorado, Massachusetts, Texas, Washington, New York, California and other states, officials said.

The campus and engineering hub is set to be located in the Raleigh-Durham area's Research Triangle Park alongside hundreds of other science and technology firms. The hub will be home to thousands of additional jobs in machine learning, artificial intelligence, software engineering and other fields, the company said. 

The exact timeline for the project was not immediately given.

"We are excited to welcome Apple to our thriving technology ecosystem," said Michael Haley, Executive Director of Wake County Economic Development. "This is an important milestone that strengthens our position as a tech hub. Apple's decision to invest in the Triangle is a testament to our community's talent, resources, and overall quality of life."

Apple also said it plans to establish a $100 million fund to support schools and community initiatives and contribute more than $110 million in infrastructure spending to go toward broadband, roads, bridges and public schools across the state.

The company said it already employs 1,100 workers in North Carolina and expects its investments there to generate more than $1.5 billion in economic benefits annually for the state.

"As a North Carolina native, I'm thrilled Apple is expanding and creating new long-term job opportunities in the community I grew up in," said Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer. "Apple has been a part of North Carolina for nearly two decades, and we're looking forward to continuing to grow and a bright future ahead."

  • Tuesday, Apr. 20, 2021
Andy Buckland named director of product management at Cooke Optics
Andy Buckland
LEICESTER, UK -- 

Cooke Optics has appointed Andy Buckland to the newly created role of director of product management. He reports directly to CEO Tim Pugh. Buckland’s new role includes responsibility for developing Cooke’s product roadmap, including launching forums to enable the design and development team to engage more effectively with customers and users.

Buckland brings extensive experience from across the media manufacturing industry, having previously held roles encompassing product, technical, and commercial responsibility with companies including Blackmagic Design, Mark Roberts Motion Control, and Sony Professional Solutions Europe. He is a member of the technical committee of the IMAGO lnternational Federation of Cinematographers, and holds an MSc in Broadcast Futures from Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication as well as being a chartered engineer with the Institute of Measurement and Control (InstMC).

Cooke manufactures camera lenses and is the developer behind /iTechnology, the protocol enabling vital lens and camera information to be captured and passed digitally to postproduction teams. Cooke was honored with a 2013 Academy Award ® of Merit (an Oscar® statuette) for its continuing innovation in the design, development and manufacturing of motion picture camera lenses.

  • Sunday, Apr. 18, 2021
Adobe co-founder Charles "Chuck" Geschke dies at age 81
In this June 24, 1999, file photo, Dr. Charles M. Geschke, president, co-chairman and co-founder of Adobe Systems Inc., delivers his keynote address about the future of workplace information on the final day of PC Expo at New York's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Charles "Chuck" Geschke, the co-founder of the major software company Adobe Inc., who helped develop Portable Document Format technology, or PDFs, died at age 81. Geschke, who lived in the San Francisco Bay Area suburb of Los Altos, died Friday, April 16, 2021, the company said. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
LOS ALTOS, Calif. (AP) -- 

Charles "Chuck" Geschke — the co-founder of the major software company Adobe Inc. who helped develop Portable Document Format technology, or PDFs — died at age 81. 

Geschke, who lived in the San Francisco Bay Area suburb of Los Altos, died Friday, the company said. 

"This is a huge loss for the entire Adobe community and the technology industry, for whom he has been a guide and hero for decades," Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen wrote in an email to the company's employees. 

"As co-founders of Adobe, Chuck and John Warnock developed groundbreaking software that has revolutionized how people create and communicate," Narayen said. "Their first product was Adobe PostScript, an innovative technology that provided a radical new way to print text and images on paper and sparked the desktop publishing revolution. Chuck instilled a relentless drive for innovation in the company, resulting in some of the most transformative software inventions, including the ubiquitous PDF, Acrobat, Illustrator, Premiere Pro and Photoshop." 

His wife said Geschke was also proud of his family. 

"He was a famous businessman, the founder of a major company in the U.S. and the world, and of course he was very, very proud of that and it was huge achievement in his life, but it wasn't his focus — really, his family was," Nancy "Nan" Geschke, 78, told the Mercury News on Saturday. "He always called himself the luckiest man in the world."

After earning a doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University, Geschke began working at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, where he met Warnock, the Mercury News reported. The men left the company in 1982 to found Adobe, developing software together.

In 2009, President Barack Obama awarded Geschke and Warnock the National Medal of Technology.

In 1992, Geschke survived a kidnapping, the Mercury News reported. 

Arriving to work one morning, two men seized Geschke, then 52, at gunpoint and took him to Hollister, California, where he was held for four days. A suspect caught with $650,000 in ransom money eventually led police to the hideout where he was held captive, The Associated Press reported.

  • Thursday, Apr. 15, 2021
Autodesk rolls out Flame innovations
NDI video preview streaming is a key Flame update

Autodesk has unveiled more than 40 user-driven improvements to Flame that simplify the artist’s day-to-day and boost creative collaboration. Building on machine learning (ML) capabilities that address specific tasks in Flame, this update brings ML to Flame’s core toolset in the form of next-gen camera tracking technology. The new camera tracker delivers remarkable automatic camera solves and 3D geometry output in a matter of minutes. Artists also gain a more robust finishing toolset for color grading through FX and editorial, in addition to Network Device Interface (NDI®) video preview streaming for seamlessly sharing work remotely with creative stakeholders around the world. 
 

With the latest update, Flame artists can now experience:

  • Nex-gen camera tracking: Using cutting-edge scene reconstruction algorithms similar to autonomous vehicle smart ‘vision’ and reality capture-type point cloud reconstruction, Flame’s new camera tracker ‘auto masks’ or ignores moveable objects like people, cars, bodies of water, and skies, and focuses the solve on the static scene environment only, so that artists no longer have to spend time manually masking out moving objects to get a reliable result. In many cases, the new camera tracker provides artists with a one-click solve, delivering high-quality results with over 5,000 points in a fraction of the time it would take using traditional workflows.
  • Integrated finishing toolset: A new creative look up table (LUT) loader lets users import an external file-based LUT or color transform from a wide variety of file formats (.3dl .cube .ctf .ccc) directly inside Action and Image toolsets, and apply the ‘look’ to the entire picture or part of it. Additional enhancements include broadened GMask Tracer functionality, expanded support for industry-standard tactile colorist control panels (Arc, Element, Wave 2, Ripple, Element-Vs), and Blackmagic RAW media compatibility.
  • NDI video preview streaming: Artists can now share high-quality full screen video with creative stakeholders remotely, either over a closed network or public internet, using any NewTek NDI® receiver software or device for a virtual experience akin to an in-person, over-the-shoulder review session. The new feature is also compatible with webcasting software like OBS Studio and streaming services like YouTube Live, Facebook Live, and Twitch.

“2020 proved a year unlike any other for the media and entertainment industry, and although the pandemic introduced new challenges, we saw the creative finishing community come together to find new, innovative ways to continue working and deliver high quality content. Inspired by their resilience and adaptability, we’ve been listening to customers to evolve the Flame toolset so that it can help meet both current and future needs of artists,” shared Will Harris, Flame family product manager, Autodesk. “The latest updates to Flame--including new ML-powered camera tracking, an integrated finishing toolset, and enhanced support for remote workflows--are a direct reflection of these efforts and feedback from the Flame community of artists.” 

“Flame has brought forth some fantastic features that I’m very excited to bring to my VFX workflow, including the update to the camera tracker, which will be a game changer. The ability to generate geometry from point clouds and leverage machine learning in order to accomplish more consistent and powerful results is also a leap that I’m so excited for,” shared VFX supervisor Bilali Mack. “The new NDI workflow for client work and generally sharing my work in Flame with clients and other artists will be of tremendous help. It is a much needed addition as we shift to remote workflows, and BMD format support as a BMPCC4K owner is very welcome as filmmaking and VFX continues to become more accessible to us all as storytellers.”  

  • Monday, Apr. 12, 2021
Filmotechnic USA unveils Flight Head 6S
Filmotechnic's Flight Head 6S
LOS ANGELES -- 

Filmotechnic USA, provider of high performance camera car systems to the entertainment industry, has added the new Flight Head 6S to its award-winning fleet of stabilized remote heads, arms and camera car systems. Advanced features of the 6S are incorporated into the history-proven stabilized platform of Filmotechnic’s original Flight Heads.

John Urso, Filmotechnic USA’s head of sales, said that the 6S pushes the filmmaking envelope. “It’s got an unlimited 360 roll axis with HD-SDI slip ring, new joystick console and the latest electronic design.” 

Engineered for silky smooth shots with precise camera control, the 6S, continued Urso, virtually eliminates vibration and unwanted shakes during rough, fast camera moves. He added, “The latest GPS auto horizon assures rock solid horizon in high-G turns. The 6S also offered unmatched flexibility and reliability, it’s good-to-go on a variety of regular and telescoping camera cranes, dollies, camera cars, quad bikes, helicopters, cable cam rigs and other Mitchell mount platforms. Guiding it all are ergonomically engineered joysticks and handwheels for responsive, exact camera positioning.”

The 6S features an intuitive touch-screen display, quick release camera plate and lens drives interfaces for Canon and Fujinon lenses. The 6S Flight Head accepts the majority of motion picture and broadcast cameras. It can be set up in underslung/overslung configuration, in both wired or wireless modes. Its design allows for the fast mounting of fully rigged cameras without the need for moving any of the accessories. The 6S head with handle payloads of up to 122 pounds.

  • Wednesday, Apr. 7, 2021
AI tech company DGene opens operation in L.A.
Jason Yang (l) and Helena Packer
LOS ANGELES -- 

DGene, a Silicon Valley and Shanghai-based developer of AI technology, has launched operations in Los Angeles. The company is creating software and services that leverage artificial intelligence and computer vision for entertainment content creation. DGene offers proprietary solutions for virtual production, visual effects, digital restoration, volumetric and holographic capture, and the creation of virtual actors and digital influencers.

DGene is led by Jason Yang as chief technology officer and Helena Packer as sr. VP. Yang is an MIT-trained computer scientist, DGene co-founder, and a former sr. manager at semiconductor company AMD. Packer is a veteran film and television visual effects supervisor, whose credits include X2: X-Men United, 21 Jump Street, and Charlie Wilson’s War.

Yang and Packer have assembled a team of computer scientists and engineers specializing in computer vision, computational photography, computer graphics, machine learning, and related technologies. The U.S. operation will also tap into the extensive development and R&D resources of DGene, China, which has produced groundbreaking AI solutions for companies such as Alibaba, Tencent, and China Mobile.

According to Yang, DGene seeks to work with studios, streaming services, visual effects studios, and other creative partners in using AI-driven technologies to accelerate workflows, reduce costs, and create new forms of visual content. “We offer solutions that simplify routine aspects of visual effects production, film restoration, and virtual production,” he said. “We also have tools that facilitate the production of breakthrough content, such as virtual actors. AI is no longer a technology of the future; it is quickly becoming integral to many aspects of content creation.”

DGene is currently working with Academy Award-winning cinematographer and visual effects pioneer Richard Edlund on a scripted series involving historical figures. The technique could lead to virtual actors and holograms that act and communicate like real people.

Additionally, the company is partnering with Hollywood-based MTI Film to apply AI-based tools to film restoration. It has created proprietary AI algorithms for restoring color and sharpness, image stabilization, dust and scratch removal, and many other common processes. Similar tools could be used to simplify visual effects compositing and virtual production.

DGene is a provider of volumetric capture in China with its own proprietary solutions for 3D reconstruction, making it possible to capture performances and environments from multiple perspectives and convert them into 3D assets, viewable from any direction. It also has developed technology to stream holograms in real-time, an application that could be used for concerts and other live performances.

Packer said that AI technology will bring fundamental change to diverse aspects of production. “Visual effects, color correction, green screen, and digital restoration have not advanced significantly in decades,” she explained. “There have been incremental improvements, but nothing disruptive. AI, on the other hand, represents true change. It is a huge leap forward.”

DGene was founded in 2016 by a group of leading innovators in computer vision, computer graphics, and artificial intelligence. It is supported by Shanghai Alliance Investment Ltd, Alibaba, GSR Ventures, SAIF Partners, IDG Capital, and Chobe Capital.

  • Monday, Apr. 5, 2021
Supreme Court sides with Google in copyright fight with Oracle
In this Oct. 5, 2020, file photo the Supreme Court in Washington. The Supreme Court is siding with Google in an $8 billion copyright dispute with Oracle. The justices sided with Google 6-2 on April 5, 2021. The case has to do with Google’s creation of the Android operating system now used on the vast majority of smartphones worldwide. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- 

The Supreme Court sided Monday with Google in an $8 billion copyright dispute with Oracle over the internet company's creation of the Android operating system used on most smartphones worldwide.

To create Android, which was released in 2007, Google wrote millions of lines of new computer code. But it also used 11,330 lines of code and an organization that's part of Oracle's Java platform.

Google had argued that what it did is long-settled, common practice in the industry, a practice that has been good for technical progress. And it said there is no copyright protection for the purely functional, noncreative computer code it used, something that couldn't be written another way. But Oracle said Google "committed an egregious act of plagiarism," and it sued.

The justices ruled 6-2 for Google Inc., based in Mountain View, California. Two conservative justices dissented.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote  that in reviewing a lower court's decision, the justices assumed "for argument's sake, that the material was copyrightable." 

"But we hold that the copying here at issue nonetheless constituted a fair use. Hence, Google's copying did not violate the copyright law," he wrote.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a dissent joined by Justice Samuel Alito that he believed "Oracle's code at issue here is copyrightable, and Google's use of that copyrighted code was anything but fair."

Only eight justices heard the case because it was argued in October, after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg but before Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the court.

The case has been going on for a decade. 

Microsoft, IBM and major internet and tech industry lobbying groups had weighed in, in favor of Google. The Motion Picture Association and the Recording Industry Association of America were among those supporting Oracle.

The case is Google LLC v. Oracle America Inc., 18-956.

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