Sunday, March 24, 2019

Toolbox

  • Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019
EFILM's Tom Reiser brings color to HDR Dolby Vision finish of "Escape Room"
A scene from "Escape Room"
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- 

Columbia Pictures’ Escape Room is a new psychological thriller that follows six strangers who find themselves in circumstances beyond their control and are forced to use their wits to find the clues or die. The film’s director, Adam Robitel, and cinematographer, Marc Spicer, tapped EFILM sr. colorist Tom Reiser for the color finish. 

Each room in the film is a world unto itself, replete with its own look, distinct environment, and feel, all of which translate into the color finish. Reiser essentially graded a series of mini movies that comprise a whole. Having collaborated on The Fate of the Furious, Spicer and Reiser enjoyed a creative short-hand and were in synergy throughout the color finish.   

“The most challenging aspect of the film was that each room required us to retain the same look, the same flavor, and make it cohesive throughout the scene. For example, there’s a room that appears to be in the snowy wilderness. I dialed up the blue-ice look to the point where it looks a bit artificial and made the snow overly white. This look had to remain consistent for the entire long sequence. Additionally, these choices all serve the fact that we’re not really in the snow wilderness, we’re in an artificially created environment,” explained Reiser. 

The film also makes striking use of the storytelling capabilities of High Dynamic Range. In the HDR Dolby Vision finish of the film, Reiser pushed the HDR during the sequence in which the characters experience the “first room” of the movie, which is a lobby inside a building. Various surfaces and walls in the room literally heat up to make the characters uncomfortable during the sequence. 

“With HDR, you can make contrast with the highlights that you can’t see anywhere else. You can actually see the rippling heat waves and the red of the heated surfaces really pops. It’s an almost immersive experience,” said Reiser. 

The screenplay is by Bragi Schut and Maria Melnik, and the story by Bragi Schut. The film is produced by Neal H. Moritz and Ori Marmur. Rebecca Rivo serves as executive producer. The movie stars Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Deborah Ann Woll, Jay Ellis, Tyler Labine, Nik Dodani, with Yorick van Wageningen.

  • Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019
CES 2019: TV set maker LG makes its sets disappear
David VanderWaal, vice president of marketing for LG Electronics USA, unveils the LG Signature OLED TV R during an LG news conference at CES International, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- 

The CES 2019 gadget show is revving up in Las Vegas. Here are the latest findings and observations from Associated Press reporters on the ground as technology's biggest trade event gets underway.

DISAPPEARING TELEVISIONS
In this age of smartphone streaming, big television sets are no longer the centerpiece of many living rooms. Now South Korean electronics company LG is doing its part to make TVs disappear altogether.

LG has unveiled a "rollable" TV — a 65-inch screen that can roll down and disappear into its base with the press of a button. The set can still play music when the screen is rolled down completely, or display a clock when it's just partially rolled down. LG says the TV will be available later this year. It didn't say how much it will cost.

Meanwhile, LG, Samsung and others unveiled "8K" sets, with four times the resolution of today's high-definition sets and twice that of 4K sets such as LG's rollable one. 8K represents the next generation of television viewing, but one that most people won't see for themselves for some time.

So far, 8K has only been deployed for the occasional experimental broadcast, such as during the Olympics. Even 4K shows and movies are just starting to catch on.

"As always with TVs, innovations come with display hardware first and adoption of things like content and delivery always follow later," said Paul Gagnon, an analyst with IHS Markit.

But unlike past developments that never caught on, such as 3D TVs, analysts believe 8K will become more popular eventually — just not ubiquitous.

Samsung announced its first 8K TV last year, an 85-inch model costing nearly $15,000. The company unveiled four additional sizes Monday, sans prices. Also Monday, TCL announced plans for 8K sets with Roku's streaming technology built-in. LG has two 8K sets coming.

ENOUGH ABOUT SELF-DRIVING CARS
Many people at CES would rather hear about better video games. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang got a big round of applause when he told a crowd that he'd spend more time talking gaming than autonomous driving.

The Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker's computer graphics technology is used in both industries. But it was Huang's unveiling of a new gaming-oriented graphics processor that elicited the biggest cheers Sunday night. He also detailed how his company's advances in artificial intelligence and a graphics technology called "ray tracing" are helping to generate ever-more-realistic scenery in popular games.

This year's CES is less focused on autonomous cars compared with last year, though there's ongoing buzz about self-driving innovations. Ride-hailing service Lyft says that after launching a self-driving Las Vegas taxi service at last year's CES, it's now had almost 30,000 paid rides. Daimler on Monday unveiled a new self-driving truck and Bosch and May Mobility separately unveiled their concepts for a driverless shuttle bus.

Meanwhile, executives from Audi, Toyota, Cruise Automation, chipmaker Nvidia, Google spinoff Waymo and several startups are gearing up to convince the public that autonomous vehicles are safe.

They say the coalition is not a lobbying effort but a united front to invest in countering what they describe as public confusion, fears and unrealistic expectations about self-driving technology. The industry push follows a year of news about self-driving crashes, including an autonomous Uber that fatally struck a pedestrian in March. Neither Uber nor Tesla, which has also had crashes, is part of the group.

A CENTURY-OLD CES FIRST-TIMER
You wouldn't expect to find the maker of Pampers and Bounty paper towels at the world's largest technology conference.

But here's consumer goods company Procter & Gamble at CES 2019, showing off heated razors and a toothbrush that uses artificial intelligence. (Sorry if you were expecting self-changing diapers.)

Procter & Gamble, which was founded more than 180 years ago, said it's the first time it has been an exhibitor at CES. The company said it needs to infuse technology into everyday products to keep up with what customers want.

Among the goods on display: a waterproof Gillette razor that heats up to 122 degrees; an Oral-B toothbrush that tells you if you're missing areas when brushing; and a wand-like device called Opte that scans the skin and releases serum that covers up age spots and other discoloration.

Although some of the products have been sold in test runs, pricing hasn't been set yet. But expect to pay a lot more than the ordinary stuff currently on drugstore shelves.

AN ELEGANT WAY TO TEXT
People feeling overwhelmed by their array of connected devices can invest up to $700 on another device meant to feel more artisanal.

Mui Lab, based in Kyoto, Japan, has designed an internet-connected wall panel made of sycamore wood that you can touch to send messages, check the weather or control other home devices such as lights and thermostats. Lighted letters and icons appear on the wood panel when it's being used — and disappear when it's inactive.

CEO Kazunori Oki says it's about bringing a more natural feel to a connected home.

While you're at it, you can make your home smell better. Feeling like more lavender and less jasmine? Or want your holiday party to smell like a blend of Christmas tree, fireplace and cookies? The Moodo "smart-home fragrance diffusers" made by Israeli fragrance company Agan Aroma enable users to adjust blends from their smartphones. Each $139 device holds up to four capsules with different scents.

AP Technology Writer Rachel Lerman in Seattle contributed to this report.

  • Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019
CES 2019: Chinese tech firms lay lower amid trade tensions
In this Jan. 9, 2018, file photo a woman wears Huawei VR2 goggles at the Huawei booth during CES International in Las Vegas. The CES 2019 gadget show, which kicks off Sunday, will showcase the expanding influence and sway of China’s rapidly growing technology sector. But some of its firms are stepping back from the spotlight amid rising U.S. national-security concerns over Chinese tech and a trans-Pacific trade war launched by President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- 

The CES 2019 gadget show, which kicks off Sunday, will showcase the expanding influence and sway of China's rapidly growing technology sector. But some of its firms are stepping back from the spotlight amid rising U.S. national-security concerns over Chinese tech and a trans-Pacific trade war launched by President Donald Trump.

Last year, a top executive of the Chinese telecom firm Huawei delivered a CES keynote address critical of AT&T's abrupt cancellation of plans to sell a Huawei phone following espionage concerns raised by the U.S. government. This year, Huawei's chief financial officer was arrested in Canada at the behest of the U.S.; Meng Wanzhou, daughter of Huawei's founder, now awaits U.S. extradition . No Chinese technology executives will deliver CES keynotes in Las Vegas this week.

There are fewer Chinese entrepreneurs buying up booth space to show off their latest technology — more than 20 percent fewer exhibitors than last year, according to registration numbers tracked by the South China Morning Post. Chinese firms still account for more than a quarter of the conference's 4,500 exhibitors, second only to the U.S. in sheer numbers. But some of the biggest names are taking a more subdued approach.

Internet company Baidu last year hosted a flashy event touting its self-driving software, but this year is sticking to a more conventional booth. E-commerce giant Alibaba is eschewing the big outdoor tent it helped erect last year in favor of quieter meetings marketing its voice assistant to business partners. The phone maker Xiaomi is simply skipping this year's event altogether.

None of them are citing rising U.S.-China tensions, but it's hard to ignore the geopolitical backdrop — even with a 90-day "cease-fire" on tariffs set to expire in March.

The U.S. and China have imposed import taxes on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other's goods — and Trump has threatened more to come, including tariffs that could make devices like iPhones more expensive. The U.S. is also exploring new export restrictions that would target industries where China is hoping to get ahead, such as artificial intelligence and robotics. And the Justice Department brought charges last month against two Chinese citizens it accused of stealing American trade secrets and other sensitive information on behalf of Beijing's main intelligence agency.

Of course, plenty of Chinese entrepreneurs are still eager to show off their innovations. Hosts of the 52-year-old trade event have sought to downplay the tensions, noting that they've weathered previous trade tensions, such as those that roiled U.S.-Japan relations in the 1980s.

"The Japanese presence used to be very big and it was similar in that the U.S. was in a panic about it," said Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which organizes CES. That ended when the Japanese "bubble" economy burst in 1991 and its tech industry began a long, slow decline.

"Japanese innovation from those companies shrunk and those companies consolidated," Shapiro said. "These things are impermanent. So I don't lose that much sleep over it."

Shapiro said the trade dispute with China and the Meng arrest in Canada aren't impacting attendance. CES organizers on Sunday wouldn't confirm numbers showing a sharp drop in Chinese exhibitors, but said a decline in small Chinese companies on the show floor was made up by expanded booth presence from bigger firms.

Chinese tech firms are increasingly joining their American, South Korean and Japanese counterparts in using CES to build enthusiasm for up-and-coming electronics products, while also connecting with potential new international partners and suppliers. That's especially true for electronics firms like Hisense and TCL, which have increasingly sought to sell their TVs in North America, and Lenovo, which is already a big player in the U.S. laptop market but is pushing to sell other internet-connected devices.

Hisense is making a splashier presentation this year as it invests in boosting its U.S. brand awareness, said Jim Ninesling, head of marketing for Hisense USA. Previously, the company, which has a large market share in China, mostly kept on the U.S. sidelines, branding some of its products under the name of the better-known Japanese firm Sharp.

Chinese electric carmaker Byton, a startup backed by internet giant Tencent, on Sunday is promising to unveil what it calls the "world's most intuitive automotive interface," which, according to a tease on Twitter , involves a touchscreen mounted on the steering wheel. AI firm iFlytek — sometimes described as China's Siri or Alexa — is planning to showcase its latest advances in voice recognition and real-time translation services.

And a startup expo co-hosted by the Chinese government features a bevy of gee-whiz innovations, from indoor delivery robots and portable karaoke headsets to "smart" suitcases aided by computer vision.

In an ideal world, the tech industries in the two countries would be seen as complementary, said venture capitalist Kai-Fu Lee, who led Google's subsidiary in China before the company withdrew over censorship and other concerns.

"The U.S. strength is deep technologists, universities, academics, people with superior experience," he said. "China's superiority is a larger market, more data, and very tenacious and hardworking entrepreneurs."

Lee said his optimism for a more collaborative approach is now "merely a dream" because of the worsening trade dispute. But he said there could still be partnerships between U.S. firms and Chinese companies that, for now, mostly cater to Chinese consumers.

"Google feels much, much more threat from Amazon than any Chinese company," he said. "That makes Tencent and Alibaba potential allies, especially when customer needs cross international boundaries."

AP Business Writer Joseph Pisani contributed to this report.

  • Friday, Jan. 4, 2019
CES edges closer to gender equity
In this Jan. 4, 2017, photo a woman participates in a virtual realty presentation during an Intel news conference before CES International in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

The world's largest tech conference has apparently learned a big lesson about gender equity.

CES, the huge annual consumer-electronics show in Las Vegas, caught major flak from activists in late 2017 when it unveiled an all-male lineup of keynote speakers for the second year in a row. Although it later added two female keynoters , the gathering's "boys' club" reputation remained intact. It didn't help that one of the unsanctioned events latching on to CES last year was a nightclub featuring female "robot strippers."

This year, four of the nine current keynoters are women. GenderAvenger, the activist group that raised a ruckus last year, recently sent CES organizers a congratulatory letter and awarded the show a "Gold Stamp of Approval" for a roster of keynote and "featured" speakers that it says is 45 percent women — 60 percent of them women of color.

It's a significant change for CES, which like most tech conferences remains disproportionately male, just like the industry it serves. Even absent the robot dogs, sci-fi worthy gadgets and "booth babes" CES has been known for, you could readily peg it as a technology show from the bathroom lines alone — where men shift uncomfortably as they wait their turn while women waltz right in.

Keynoters this year include IBM CEO Ginni Rometty; Lisa Su, CEO of chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices; and U.S. Transportation Security Elaine Chao. The entire featured speaker list is currently half female, although the exact percentage won't be known until after the event. "There is no question we keep trying to do better," said Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which organizes CES.

"Diversity is about having people who see things differently — frankly, disagree with you and tell you that you are stupid," said Tania Yuki, CEO of social media analytics company Shareablee and an attendee of CES for the past several years. The big question, she says, is whether CES has really listened to its critics.

CES is the place to be for tech companies and startups to show off their latest gadgets and features. More than 180,000 people are expected to attend this year, and some 4,500 companies will be on the convention floor. Among them are newcomers like Tide maker Procter & Gamble, defense contractor Raytheon and tractor seller John Deere — all eager to burnish their technology bona fides.

But really leveling the playing field often means more than inviting female CEOs to speak. For starters, women and people of color are underrepresented in the tech industry, especially in leadership and technical roles. So, conference organizers might need to look harder, or be more flexible in who they invite to speak.

There are also optics. While recent attendees say "booth babes" — scantily clad women hawking gadgets — no longer seem to be a presence, some companies still hire "fitness models," largely young women wearing tight-fitting outfits, to demo products. This can make it difficult for the few women at the show who are there as executives, engineers and other technologists, as men mistake them for models, too.

"When you are talking about scantily clad models you are setting a tone," said Bobbie Carlton, the founder of Innovation Women, a speaker bureau for women. "It is a slippery slope and you end up with this type of mentality that runs through industry, where women are objectified and are only useful if they look good."

More optics: Until recently, a porn convention taking place immediately after CES appeared more diverse than CES itself. Not a good look for the tech confab.

There are also logistical challenges, Carlton said. For example, women often work for smaller companies, which can find it more challenging to "send someone cross-country to stay at a fancy hotel for three days," she said.

Rajia Abdelaziz is CEO of invisaWear, a startup that makes smart "safety jewelry." While she's attending CES this year, she said it wasn't worth the $10,000 it would cost her company to have its own convention-floor booth. In addition to the cost concerns, Abdelaziz notes that her products are primarily aimed at women — and there just aren't that many of them at CES.

Women are also still more likely to be responsible for the home and for child care, so they might turn down speaking opportunities if the timing doesn't work for them, Carlton said.

CES has tried to make some concessions. For example, it offers private pods for women to pump breast milk at the event. But it doesn't offer child care support, unlike the smaller Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing conference, a fall event aimed at women in computer science.

Organizers note that children are not permitted at CES. Although kids are also banned from Grace Hopper, that conference still manages to offer free child care for attendees.

Still, Yuki is hopeful that CES is on the right track. "It's a big conference," she said. "You can only turn a very big ship very slowly."

CES runs January 8-11.

Associated Press Writer Joseph Pisani contributed to this story.

  • Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019
CBS affiliate in Cleveland deploys JVC ProHD Studio 4000
WOIO is using the JVC ProHD Studio 4000 to produce live breaking news coverage for its OTT media platforms.
WAYNE, NJ -- 

Live streaming of breaking news is nothing new in the Cleveland-Akron market, but WOIO wanted to provide its viewers with more than just a video feed. In December, the Raycom Media-owned CBS affiliate began using its new ProHD Studio 4000 live production and streaming studio from JVC Professional Video, a division of JVCKENWOOD USA Corporation, to provide a scaled-down, cost-effective version of its full control room for its OTT media platforms.

“We saw it as a way to drive our OTT with a control room-type look that would not require a control room to do,” explained Bob Maupin, director of technology for WOIO and WUAB, a CW and MyNetworkTV affiliate also owned by Raycom. “We hope to drive all our digital platforms with this.”

On Dec. 18, WOIO began using the system by offering live coverage of two events in one day, a press conference in Akron and the sentencing of a murderer in a Cleveland courtroom. The production, which was shared on the station’s website, mobile app, and Facebook Live, included double boxes, graphics, phone commentary from a reporter, and other production elements viewers expect during a newscast.

“All of this we can do with one person running this production system using touchscreens,” Maupin added. “We’ve developed some workflows to make it rather comprehensive.”

The self-contained ProHD Studio 4000 is housed in WOIO’s newsroom. With a dedicated JVC KY-PZ100 robotic PTZ network video production camera hanging from the ceiling in front of the production workspace, the system operator can also serve as on-camera talent. A 70-inch LCD monitor behind the operator serves as a video backdrop, and retractable ropes on either side of the workspace prevents personnel from walking in front of the camera during a live webcast.

Two of the ProHD Studio 4000’s four inputs are dedicated to the PTZ camera and an NDI source, while the other two are used for content accessed through the station’s router. During a webcast, the system operator can add graphics, bugs, relevant archival footage, live Skype feeds, and web pages, as well as adjust audio levels.

According to Brian Sinclair, WOIO assistant news director, training on the new system was very easy, and operators adapted quickly to the touchscreen interface. There is no traditional control panel, and a keyboard and mouse are used only for typing CG content or searching for content in the station’s ENPS system. WOIO added a second touchscreen so operators could conveniently access the station’s virtual router control panel and ENPS through a separate computer.

The new production system also provides WOIO with new flexibility. As Sinclair noted, during the live coverage on Dec. 18, the main studio and control room were used to produce an on-air update and a recorded tease for an upcoming newscast. In the past, the station would have had to break from its live coverage to produce the two segments.

WOIO plans to use the ProHD Studio 4000 extensively. “We want our digital platforms to have as much live breaking coverage as we can provide,” Sinclair said. “We’re hoping the JVC system can make a difference in the market with obvious viewer benefit.”

 

  • Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018
Did 2018 usher in a creeping tech dystopia?
In this April 10, 2018, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election. We may remember 2018 as the year in which technology’s dystopian potential became clear, from Facebook’s role enabling the harvesting of our personal data for election interference to a seemingly unending series of revelations about the dark side of Silicon Valley’s connect-everything ethos. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

We may remember 2018 as the year when technology's dystopian potential became clear, from Facebook's role enabling the harvesting of our personal data for election interference to a seemingly unending series of revelations about the dark side of Silicon Valley's connect-everything ethos.

The list is long: High-tech tools for immigration crackdowns. Fears of smartphone addiction . YouTube algorithms that steer youths into extremism. An experiment in gene-edited babies .

Doorbells and concert venues that can pinpoint individual faces and alert police. Repurposing genealogy websites to hunt for crime suspects based on a relative's DNA. Automated systems that keep tabs of workers' movements and habits. Electric cars in Shanghai transmitting their every movement to the government.

It's been enough to exhaust even the most imaginative sci-fi visionaries.

"It doesn't so much feel like we're living in the future now, as that we're living in a retro-future," novelist William Gibson wrote this month on Twitter. "A dark, goofy '90s retro-future."

More awaits us in 2019, as surveillance and data-collection efforts ramp up and artificial intelligence systems start sounding more human , reading facial expressions and generating fake video images so realistic that it will be harder to detect malicious distortions of the truth.

But there are also countermeasures afoot in Congress and state government — and even among tech-firm employees who are more active about ensuring their work is put to positive ends.

"Something that was heartening this year was that accompanying this parade of scandals was a growing public awareness that there's an accountability crisis in tech," said Meredith Whittaker, a co-founder of New York University's AI Now Institute for studying the social implications of artificial intelligence.

The group has compiled a long list of what made 2018 so ominous, though many are examples of the public simply becoming newly aware of problems that have built up for years. Among the most troubling cases was the revelation in March that political data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica swept up personal information of millions of Facebook users for the purpose of manipulating national elections.

"It really helped wake up people to the fact that these systems are actually touching the core of our lives and shaping our social institutions," Whittaker said.

That was on top of other Facebook disasters, including its role in fomenting violence in Myanmar , major data breaches and ongoing concerns about its hosting of fake accounts for Russian propaganda .

It wasn't just Facebook. Google attracted concern about its continuous surveillance of users after The Associated Press reported that it was tracking people's movements whether they like it or not.

It also faced internal dissent over its collaboration with the U.S. military to create drones with "computer vision" to help find battlefield targets and a secret proposal to launch a censored search engine in China. And it unveiled a remarkably human-like voice assistant that sounds so real that people on the other end of the phone didn't know they were talking to a computer.

Those and other concerns bubbled up in December as lawmakers grilled Google CEO Sundar Pichai at a congressional hearing — a sequel to similar public reckonings this year with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other tech executives.

"It was necessary to convene this hearing because of the widening gap of distrust between technology companies and the American people," Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said.

Internet pioneer Vint Cerf said he and other engineers never imagined their vision of a worldwide network of connected computers would morph 45 years later into a surveillance system that collects personal information or a propaganda machine that could sway elections.

"We were just trying to get it to work," recalled Cerf, who is now Google's chief internet evangelist. "But now that it's in the hands of the general public, there are people who ... want it to work in a way that obviously does harm, or benefits themselves, or disrupts the political system. So we are going to have to deal with that."

Contrary to futuristic fears of "super-intelligent" robots taking control, the real dangers of our tech era have crept in more prosaically — often in the form of tech innovations we welcomed for making life more convenient .

Part of experts' concern about the leap into connecting every home device to the internet and letting computers do our work is that the technology is still buggy and influenced by human errors and prejudices. Uber and Tesla were investigated for fatal self-driving car crashes in March, IBM came under scrutiny for working with New York City police to build a facial recognition system that can detect ethnicity, and Amazon took heat for supplying its own flawed facial recognition service to law enforcement agencies.

In some cases, opposition to the tech industry's rush to apply its newest innovations to questionable commercial uses has come from its own employees. Google workers helped scuttle the company's Pentagon drone contract, and workers at Amazon, Microsoft and Salesforce sought to cancel their companies' contracts to supply tech services to immigration authorities.

"It became obvious to a lot of people that the rhetoric of doing good and benefiting society and 'Don't be evil' was not what these companies were actually living up to," said Whittaker, who is also a research scientist at Google who founded its Open Research group.

At the same time, even some titans of technology have been sounding alarms. Prominent engineers and designers have increasingly spoken out about shielding children from the habit-forming tech products they helped create.

And then there's Microsoft President Brad Smith, who in December called for regulating facial recognition technology so that the "year 2024 doesn't look like a page" from George Orwell's "1984."

In a blog post and a Washington speech, Smith painted a bleak vision of all-seeing government surveillance systems forcing dissidents to hide in darkened rooms "to tap in code with hand signals on each other's arms."

To avoid such an Orwellian scenario, Smith advocates regulating technology so that anyone about to subject themselves to surveillance is properly notified. But privacy advocates argue that's not enough.

Such debates are already happening in states like Illinois, where a strict facial recognition law has faced tech industry challenges, and California, which in 2018 passed the nation's most far-reaching law to give consumers more control over their personal data. It takes effect in 2020.

The issue could find new attention in Congress next year as more Republicans warm up to the idea of basic online privacy regulations and the incoming Democratic House majority takes a more skeptical approach to tech firms that many liberal politicians once viewed as allies — and prolific campaign donors.

The "leave them alone" approach of the early internet era won't work anymore, said Rep. David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat poised to take the helm of the House's antitrust subcommittee.

"We're seeing now some of the consequences of the abuses that can occur in these platforms if they remain unregulated without meaningful oversight or enforcement," Cicilline said.

Too much regulation may bring its own undesirable side effects, Cerf warned.

"It's funny in a way because this online environment was supposed to remove friction from our ability to transact," he said. "If in our desire, if not zeal, to protect people's privacy we throw sand in the gears of everything, we may end up with a very secure system that doesn't work very well."

AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke in San Jose, California, contributed to this report.

  • Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018
Art Adams named cinema lens specialist at ARRI
Art Adams
BURBANK, Calif. -- 

Art Adams has joined ARRI Inc. as cinema lens specialist. The newly created position will further develop and support sales of ARRI lenses for North America, while collecting user feedback from imagemakers.

Adams has worked as a director of photography for over two decades, focusing on commercials, branded content, visual effects and much more. He also served as a technology consultant for companies including Sony, Canon, Element Labs, and Sound Devices. He is a longtime contributor for publications such as ProVideo Coalition and DVInfo, in addition to authoring articles for American Cinematographer, Australian Cinematographer, Camera Operator Magazine, Film and Digital Times, and HD Video Pro. As a trainer for the ARRI Academy, he instructed classes on ARRI camera systems including the ALEXA LF.

Adams said, “I look forward to using my new position to support visual storytellers in achieving their cinematic goals.”

Sebastien Laffoux, ARRI Inc. VP of Camera Systems Sales, said of Adams, “he understands the demands of productions both technically and artistically to help us deliver the best tools possible.”

Adams will be based out of ARRI’s Burbank office.

  • Monday, Dec. 17, 2018
Silicon Valley East: Google plans $1B expansion in New York
In this Dec. 4, 2017, file photo, people walk by Google offices in New York. Google is spending more than $1 billion to expand operations in New York City. Ruth Porat, senior vice president and chief financial officer at Google and Alphabet, said in a blog post Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, that Google is creating a more than 1.7 million square-foot campus that includes lease agreements along the Hudson River in lower Manhattan. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
NEW YORK (AP) -- 

Silicon Valley is becoming Silicon Nation.

Google announced Monday it will spend more than $1 billion to build a new office complex in New York City that will allow the internet search giant to double the number of people it employs there.

It is the tech industry's latest major expansion beyond the Seattle-San Francisco Bay corridor. It follows recent steps by Amazon and Apple to set up operations well outside their home turf.

Tech companies are "coming to the realization that the Bay Area, which has traditionally been the major center of tech activity in the U.S., is getting expensive and crowded," said Andrew Bartels, principal analyst at Forrester Research.

"A lot of vendors are coming to the realization that 'We can probably find top talent elsewhere at a more affordable costs, and perhaps a better style of life for employees who may be struggling to make ends meet.'"

The Northeast is attractive because of its large concentration of highly educated young people. New York in particular also offers proximity to Wall Street and already has the second-biggest concentration of tech startups behind the Bay Area and a large base of tech employees, Bartels said. Facebook, based in Menlo Park, California, has over 2,000 employees in New York.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, will fashion a complex of more than 1.7 million square feet along the Hudson River in the city's West Village neighborhood, Ruth Porat, senior vice president and chief financial officer, said in a blog post.

Google opened its first office in New York nearly 20 years ago and now employs 7,000 people in the city. Its footprint is expanding rapidly. Google said earlier this year that it would buy the Chelsea Market building for $2.4 billion and planned to lease more space at Pier 57, both along the Hudson about a mile north of the newly announced complex.

Porat telegraphed Google's plans to double down in New York a month ago during a technology conference.

"Not everybody — big surprise — wants to live in Silicon Valley, so we want to make sure we have the opportunity to build vibrant centers across the country," she said.

The news follows Seattle-based Amazon's announcement a month ago that it would set up new headquarters in New York's Long Island City neighborhood and in Arlington, Virginia, creating upwards of 25,000 jobs in each location.

But it's not just the East Coast that is benefiting from the expansion. Apple, based in Cupertino, California, said last week that it plans to build a $1 billion campus in Austin, Texas, that will create at least 5,000 jobs.

Even as it looks elsewhere, Google is still buying offices and drawing up plans to construct new campuses near its headquarters, as it tries to build upon its success in internet search, email, web browsers, digital mapping, online video and smartphone software to make money in other markets such as health care and internet-connected homes.

The company recently agreed to pay more than $100 million for a swath of land in downtown San Jose, California, for a big new campus that will include employee housing.

Microsoft likewise is overhauling its headquarters in Redmond, Washington, with an 18-building construction project that will make room for an additional 8,000 workers. It currently employs about 47,000 in the area.

But the competition for programmers is driving salaries higher, which in turn is catapulting the average prices of homes in many parts of the San Francisco Bay Area above $1 million. Many high-tech workers are choosing to live elsewhere, forcing major tech companies to look in new places for the employees they need.

Google hopes to move into the new campus by 2020. Porat said that the company's most recent investments give it the ability to more than double the number of Google employees in New York over the next 10 years.

Tech companies see New York as a way to gain a new perspective, one that is different from that of Silicon Valley, which can be seen as an "out-of-touch echo chamber," Bartels said.

"New Yorkers consider themselves to be more in tune with the reality of life in U.S. urban centers and believe this helps them innovate products and services that are more closely aligned with the needs of the average American," he said.

AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke in San Francisco contributed to this report.

  • Friday, Dec. 14, 2018
Blackmagic unveils DaVinci Resolve 15.2
DaVinci Resolve 15.2
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design has made available DaVinci Resolve 15.2, a major update to its editing, color correction, VFX and professional audio post software. DaVinci Resolve 15.2 includes over 30 new features that simplify and streamline everyday tasks for editors, colorists and sound engineers.
  
The editing timeline in DaVinci Resolve 15.2 draws at a higher frame rate which makes editing and trimming feel faster, more responsive and more fluid than ever. In addition, new animations have been added so clips slide in and out of position, making it easier to see exactly how different edits affect other clips in the timeline.
  
Visual dup detection lets customers see when the same clip has been used more than once. In addition, clips displayed in the bin now display usage indicators for the current active timeline. White vertical lines highlight the currently marked portion of a clip, while red horizontal lines show which frames are used. The timeline can also be cleaned up by flattening down unused clips, and timecode entry has been simplified throughout the application.
  
DaVinci Resolve 15.2 also adds features that make pancake editing, which is the editing of clips between multiple timelines, much easier and faster. Timelines or compound clips can now be loaded into the source viewer and edited into the current timeline in their decomposed state. Most importantly, editors can tap the X key to instantly mark a clip in the source timeline and edit that clip directly into the active program timeline.

The inspector, on-screen controls and metadata viewer on the Edit page now automatically update to show the relevant information for the highest visible clip under the playhead. That means customers no longer have to manually select a clip to change a parameter. Keyboard customization has been completely redesigned in DaVinci Resolve 15.2. The new visual interface lets editors quickly see which keys are in use and assign shortcuts. The included keyboard sets emulate other popular editing applications, making it easier for editors switching to DaVinci Resolve. Keyboard sets can be shared between systems and shortcuts can now be assigned to different pages and user interface panels within the application. Shortcuts can even be assigned to commands in contextual pop-up menus. New highlights make it easier to see which portion of the interface is active so customers know which keyboard shortcuts they can use.

  • Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018
RED rolls out DSMC2 DRAGON-X
RED's DSMC2 DRAGON-X

RED Digital Cinema’s DSMC2® DRAGON-X™ 5K S35 camera is now readily available. And soon to be in the marketplace are RED’s DSMC2 Production Module and DSMC2 Production Kit, which are slated for rollout in early 2019.
  
The DSMC2 DRAGON-X camera uses the DRAGON sensor technology found in many RED legacy cameras with an evolved sensor board to enable RED’s enhanced image processing pipeline (IPP2) in camera.
  
In addition to IPP2, the DRAGON-X provides 16.5 stops of dynamic range, 5K resolution up to 96 fps in full format, and 120 fps at 5K 2.4:1. Consistent with the rest of RED’s DSMC2 lineup, DRAGON-X offers 300 MB/s data transfer speeds and simultaneous recording of REDCODE® RAW and Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD/HR.
  
The new DSMC2 DRAGON-X is priced at $14,950 and is available as a fully-configured kit priced at $19,950.  The kit includes: a 480GB RED Mini-Mag; Canon lens mount; RED DSMC2 Touch LCD 4.7” monitor; RED DSMC2 outrigger handle; RED V-Lock I/O expander; two IDX DUO-C98 batteries with VL-2X charger; G-Technology ev Series RED Mini-Mag Reader; Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM Art Lens; and a Nanuk heavy-duty camera case.
  
Meanwhile the DSMC2 Production Module is designed for professional shooting configurations; this accessory mounts directly to the DSMC2 camera body and incorporates an industry standard V-Lock mount with integrated battery mount and P-Tap for 12V accessories. The module delivers a comprehensive array of video, XLR audio, power, and communication connections, including support for 3-pin 24V accessories. It has a smaller form factor and is more lightweight than RED’s REDVOLT Expander with a battery module.
 

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