VR

VR Theatre and VR Collaboration: Chris Pfaff moderates expert sessions at the 2nd VR AR Global Summit Online – October 1, 2020

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The second VR AR Global Summit Online swapped what would have been Vancouver as a destination for a truly global audience, this time mastering the Hopin platform to greater effect than its June inaugural online effort.

Chris Pfaff moderated two panels at the 2nd VR AR Global Summit Online. The first, ‘Producing in XR: How to Create Unique Stories for Immersive Audiences’ panel, featured Maciej Wisniewski, founder of 99 Cent Opera, Espii Proctor, principal/creative & technical director, Espii Studios, and Michael Owen, CEO of MediaCombo. Maciej showed off more features of his forthcoming Edelweiss, VR, Act 1 (EVR-1), the first blockchain music-driven game of its kind, while Espii discussed her wide range of multimedia performances and story worlds, including spatial sound design. Michael showed off some of his recent work, including a VR installation at the Pollock-Krasner House on Long Island, where he and his team recreated the artistic works and experience of the great artists Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner.

 

‘Producing in XR’ originally streamed at 10:30 am EST on Thursday, October 1, 2020. You can view it at:

 

The second panel that Chris Pfaff moderated, Collaboration Tools in VR: Developing Virtual Creativity in the Age of Social Distancing,’ featured Kiira Benzing, producer/director of Double Eye Studios, and Jussi Havu, CEO of Glue. Kiira demonstrated her recent ‘Finding Pandora X’ Greek tragedy adapation, which had just been awarded ‘Best Immersive VR Experience’ at the Venice Film Festival 2020. Jussi showed off a new version of what is now the leading collaborative enterprise platform for VR meetings, and discussed Glue’s expansion of its virtual meeting and creativity technology.

 

‘Collaboration Tools in VR’ originally streamed at 11:15 am EST on Thursday, October 1, 2020. You can view it at:

 

Michael Owen shows off some of the impressive XR work that MediaCombo has produced for museums and cultural institutions

Maciej Wisniewski demonstrates the music-driven narrative structure of his VR blockchain game, ‘Edelweiss, VR 1’

Espii Proctor discusses virtual theatre production

Kiira Benzing demonstrates her ‘Finding Pandora X’ work

Jussi Havu demonstrates new features for the Glue collaborative VR platform

MediaKind introduces live immersive 360 production partnership with Tiledmedia and Focal Point VR

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MediaKind, the spin-off from Ericsson that has moved rapidly into the immersive production arena, announced a partnership for live immersive 360 production with Tiledmedia and Focal Point VR on June 17, 2020. Chris Pfaff moderated two live webinar sessions, entitled ‘Accelerating Immersive 360 Live Video in ‘The New Normal’ to announce the partnership (slightly different shows each time). The heavyweight line-up included MediaKind’s own Chris Wilson, director of market development, sports, from London; Rob Koenen, founder/chief business officer of Tiledmedia, from Rotterdam; Jonathan Newth, CEO of Focal Point VR, from Guildford, England, and Chris Pfaff joined from New York.

The sessions included detailed discussion and demos of 360-degree technology and how it enables:

* new interactive consumer experiences through simple, cost-effective and scalable 360-degree-as-a-service deployments

* service providers to connect with audiences and enable impactful, immersive experiences that cut close to ‘being there’

The sessions engaged in deep-dive discussion around live 360-degree content, exploring how it can transform the way in which viewers experience live events in ‘The New Normal.’ Discussion centered around how 360-degree video can be captured, produced, streamed and delivered to enable best-in-market quality for live VR streaming to existing headsets and mobile devices, at the lowest possible bitrates. Various real-life applications of the technology across live sports, theater productions, music events, and concerts were also discussed.

View Session 1 – ‘Accelerating Immersive 360 Live Video in ‘The New Normal’ – June 17th – Session 1 at 10:30 am EST

 

View Session 2 – ‘Accelerating Immersive 360 Live Video in ‘The New Normal’ – June 17th at 2:30 pm EST

 

 

Intro screen (left) and promo post (right) for the ‘Accelerating Immersive 360 Live Video in ‘The New Normal’ webinar

Chris Wilson (second from left), MediaKind, discusses the MediaKind partnership with Tiledmedia and Focal Point VR

Jonathan Newth (upper row, center), shows off a camera rig that Focal Point VR uses for 360 capture

Rob Koenen (lower left) discusses Tiledmedia’s approach to immersive production, while holding up an Oculus Go headset

MediaKind’s VP marketing and communications, Lisa Aussieker (lower right) wraps Session 2

VR AR Global Summit Online – June, 2020: Chris Pfaff moderates panels on collaborative VR tools and producing in XR

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Chris Pfaff moderated two sessions during the first VR AR Global Summit Online, produced by the VR AR Association, on June 2nd and 3rd, 2020. The first session, ‘Collaboration Tools in VR: Developing Virtual Creativity in the Age of Social Distance’ was held on June 2nd and featured two of the leading platforms for VR collaboration – Glue, represented by Jani Leskinen, head of sales, and MeetinVR, represented by founder/CEO, Cristian-Emanuel Anton – and one of the leading virtual theater producers, Keira Benzing. The session was voted in the Top 5 of the more than 200 sessions held during the summit.

Jani Leskinen (top left), head of sales for Glue; Chris Pfaff (top right), moderator; Cristian-Emanuel Anton (lower left), founder/CEO of MeetinVR, and Keira Benzing (lower right), from DoubleEye Studios, discuss collaborative VR experiences

The second session, ‘Producing in XR: How to Create Unique Stories for Immersive Audiences’ was held on June 3rd, and featured

* Chloé Jarry, CEO/executive producer, Lucid Realities Studio

* Maciej Wisniewski, founder/producer, 99 Cent Opera

* Rafael Pavon, director/creative producer for VR/AR

* Pouria Kay, CEO, Grib

The session included a look at 99 Cent Opera’s EVR-1 blockchain VR game, as well as Chloé Jarry’s immersive experiences, Rafael Pavon’s leading VR work, and Pouria Kay’s AR platform, Grib. The stimulating conversation on how producers are developing new stories for XR platforms can be viewed at:

Maciej Wisniewski (upper left), from 99 Cent Opera; Rafael Pavon (upper center); Chloé Jarry (upper right), from Lucid Realities Studio; Pouria Kay (lower left), from Grib, and Chris Pfaff, moderator (lower center), as Rafael Pavon demonstrates some of his work

Pouria Kay (lower left) presents the Grib platform for immersive and AR production 

Chloé Jarry presents some of her work 

Maciej Wisniewski presents a preview of EVR-1, from 99 Cent Opera

Discussion with the full panel: Rafael Pavon (upper left); Chris Pfaff (upper right); Chloé Jarry (middle left); Maciej Wisniewski (middle right), and Pouria Kay (lower center)

Chris Pfaff and (VR/AR) Friends at Wharton Club New York – ‘Producing the Future’ – March 26, 2019

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Thanks to the inimitable Ben Weintraub, from Merit Software, I produced events on VR and AR producing at Temple Emanu-el and the Wharton Club in New York in December, 2018, and March, 2019, respectively. Both sessions were sponsored by the VR/AR Association’s New York chapter, of which I am an advisor, and current co-chair of the Storytelling Committee.

Michael Owen, CEO of MediaCombo, and Dex Smither, director of Verizon envrmnt, presented at Temple Emanu-el on December 16, 2018, and joined me again, along with Cortney Harding, CEO of Friends with Hologram, at Wharton Club New York, on March 26, 2019. The events, ‘Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality: Producing the Future,’ discussed various use cases regarding immersive experiences for brands, public institutions, and for the emerging 5G ecosystem, which Dex Smither explained flawlessly.

Many thanks to Richard Abeeku Mills-Robertson, from Greenberg Traurig, for hosting the Wharton Club New York event.

Ben Weintraub (seated) gets virtualized while (left to right) Chris Pfaff, Dex Yee, Michael Owen, and Dex Smither watch, after the ‘Producing the Future’ event at Temple Emanu-El

Chris Pfaff welcomes the audience at Temple Emanu-El, for the ‘Producing the Future’ event, 12.16.18

Chris Pfaff, Dex Smither, and Michael Owen, setting up for the ‘Producing the Future’ event at Temple Emanu-El, 12.16.18

Michael Owen demonstrates MediaCombo’s AR installation at the Morgan Library, at the ‘Producing the Future’ event at Temple Emanu-El, 12.16.18

Dex Smither discusses 5G, and its significance in the streaming AR and VR ecosystem, at the ‘Producing the Future’ event at Temple Emanu-El, 12.16.18

Dex Smither answers a question from the audience at the ‘Producing the Future’ event at Temple Emanu-El, 12.16.18

Dex Smither discusses Verizon envrmnt’s work at the ‘Producing the Future’ event at Wharton Club NY, at Greenberg Traurig, 03.26.19

Michael Owen, Dex Smither, Richard Abeeku Mills-Robertson, Chris Pfaff, and Cortney Harding, after the ‘Producing the Future’ event at the Wharton Club NY, at Greenberg Traurig, 03.26.19

Chris Pfaff, Ben Weintraub, and a guest at the Wharton Club NY event, ‘Producing the Future,’ at Greenberg Traurig, 03.26.19

 

CES 2018 Is AI Unleashed: Laying the Foundation for the The Next Big Thing

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The CES 2018 that has come and gone will be remembered less for the things that we build and think that we can control – namely, AI systems, robots, and high-resolution displays – than for yet another instance of Mother Nature interfering with our well-laid plans, in the form of more than one inch of rain on Day 1 of the great CES show (Las Vegas receives around 4 inches of rain in an average year, so the Great CES 2018 Deluge was almost one-third of the annual intake. Many Las Vegans were quick to pridefully point out that “we just had 170 consecutive days without rainfall!”). And, oh yes, we will remember CES 2018 for the lights going out on Day 2 of the show (I was giving an executive VIP tour in the Intel booth when the power hit occurred). This produced a 2-hour shutdown of the Central and North Halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Somehow, we were given an indication of the things that we will soon be better prepared for – if only humans would listen.

But the humans were listening intently to the messages all over town during CES 2018: more autonomy; more AI; more machine learning. This may have been the year that it was clear how companies with well-developed, simply-focused point solutions could break through and show the way to not just new behaviors, but new industries. The big players – from Samsung to LG to Sony to Intel – were either moving in step to the trend, or were completely in thrall to the tune. CES acknowledged that the IoT and Smart Cities sectors were not just another way to bring in new crowds of well-funded companies, but a recognition of how the CE industry is now part of a larger industrial revolution, in which the device is – as we used to define it in telco speak – the “endpoint” on the greater network.

AR and VR were somewhat subdued at the show, even though HTC introduced its latest Vive headset with Wi-Gig, the Vive Pro, a nod to the emerging short-throw high-speed wireless transfer protocol as a way to untether headset wearers (getting the damn headset off their heads is the next step, but we’ll save that for another chat). But the likes of Vive and Oculus were not on the show floor, leaving more room for 3Drudder and others to show off new gear. CES Unveiled had its share of interesting start-ups, including Sniffy, a French platform for delivering fragrance on demand with touchscreens (see the demo at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dNPov0nsiA) and Bellus3D showed off its 3D face scanning camera for mobile devices.

Bellud3D shows off some face masks made with its 3D face scanning camera for mobile devices

Autostereoscopic 3D displays made a big move forward with streamTV Networks, which showed off a 65-inch 8 million pixel display that comfortably rendered 3D images from a safe distance.

streamTV Networks demonstrated an impressive 65-inch 3D auto stereoscopic display

When it came to AR and VR at the show, Intel made the most impressive statement, demonstrating its TrueVR to great effect, showcasing 360 real-time processing for sports venues as well as real-time streaming Web VR for the upcoming Winter Olympic Games. Intel announced that it was making yet another foray into Hollywood with the launch of an LA-based studio that will manage the back-end processing of the live streams. Intel also created a full VR replica of its CES booth, available for consumers to download as a full Unity experience for Vive. This was an amazing use of the venue and the technology, as viewers could even interact with Intel experts from Intel technology centers around the globe. Intel also showcased its work in the 5G arena, setting up a 5G network in its booth, courtesy of an Ericsson base station and Nokia repeaters. 5G was not as dominant a theme at the show this year, even though the year started with great optimism from carriers, notably Verizon, regarding their 5G trials in 2018.

Intel showed off more of its drone family, including the new Shooting Star drone, which is optimized for synchronized flights, such as the one that accompanied the Bellagio’s dancing water experience after Intel CEO Brian Krzanich’s keynote address on Monday night. The Intel experience also included one of the coolest demos at the show, a real-time 3D facial effects demo from its Intel China lab, originally used to create effects for a popular Chinese singer’s performance. The demo, using a standard Logitech web camera with algorithmically derived real-time processing, produced vivid, engaging facial effects. Intel was one of many companies highlighting its AI efforts, with an “AI Tower” comprised of code-based images that triggered an AR demo, shown on a Surface Pro tablet, which detailed Intel AI projects, including a “snotbot” for tracking whales. Intel also surely won the “Great CES Blackout Entertainment Award,” when a violinist, Häana, who was part of a synchronized music and images performance strolled out to the stage and played a solo, proving that analog still rules (at least, in some instances).

Intel’s Mobileye demo of smart sensors for vehicles

The Intel Shooting Star drone, optimized for synchronized flying

Häana, violinist who played a solo in the dark during the Great CES Blackout, and her trio mates, at the Intel booth. See video of her solo here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8JsMfnPOfc

The Intel “AI Tower,” with Aditi demonstrating the AR-driven experience showcasing different Intel AI projects

Intel’s real-time 3D facial effects demo. See video of the demo here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8JsMfnPOfc

AI at CES was mostly seen, in its most progressive form, in the North Hall – dubbed by some wags as “The Las Vegas International Auto Show” – but there were a number of leading AI companies conducting demos off the show floor, including Valossa (showing in the Sprockit Suite at the Cosmopolitan Hotel), which added new video insight features to what many in the industry consider to be the leading video AI platform.

Samsung’s CES presence was a radical departure from past years, for several reasons. For one, Samsung seems to have given up its annual tit-for-tat with its Korean arch-rival, LG and instead focused less on individual product lines and more on the underlying technology and platforms necessary to effect the smart home, or smart society. Samsung even highlighted some of its work in telematics, featuring an impressive OLED screen as a dashboard that could show video feeds from your Samsung refrigerator to indicate what food you need to buy on the way home. Samsung played up the number of partners now working with its SmartThings platform, and focused on its messaging capabilities for the SmartHub – even sending messages to the front screen on its latest refrigerator. The most impressive demos were saved for its display area, which did not showcase QLED TV products, but rather highlighted concepts, including a 146-inch 4K display, ‘The Wall,’ which is the world’s first modular screen. This was an amazing conceptual demonstration: tiled screens that can be modularized, and even display different resolutions. This could be a revolutionary way to deliver on-demand viewing experiences. Imagine if you wanted to see the news in a lower resolution than your favorite TV drama, or wanted to see a film letter-boxed. Screens could be modularized to accommodate larger viewing audiences, or to satisfy particular content resolutions.

‘The Wall’ at Samsung’s booth – a 146-inch display, the world’s first modular display

Samsung had a Video AI demo that showed some of the concepts on which it is working that hint at just these kinds of future product directions. Samsung, by the way, did not even try to outshine LG in the content display war. LG, which seemingly has won this battle for several years running now, continued to show incredible images in massive displays at the front of their booth.

LG wins the high-res display wall war, again, at CES 2018

One of the other major news stories at CES this year had more to do with something that did not happen than something that did. I am referring to Huawei’s thwarted press conference with AT&T to introduce the Mate 10 smartphone, which AT&T was planning to sell in the US, marking Huawei’s official US market introduction. The day before the scheduled event, AT&T announced that it was pulling out of the deal, no doubt receiving heavy pressure from Washington. This put the brakes on the Huawei keynote address by Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer products group, which saw him stumbling and mumbling his way through a lengthy sales pitch for the Mate 10. The phone itself is worth looking at (this was the “AI phone” that Huawei said it was working on last year), and breaks new ground in displaying relevant contextual content for users.

Set-up at the Huawei booth, which featured the ‘WOW WAY’ tagline

The Huawei booth at CES 2018. See demo of the Huawei Mate 10 smartphone here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGulQdjQwqw

The North Hall was all about enhanced features for autonomous vehicles (AVs), and aside from General Motors (who did not show, given that the Detroit International Auto Show was too close to CES this year), all the major auto manufacturers were on the floor. Delphi was back on the floor this year, after a foolish move at CES 2017 to draw traffic to a parking lot near the convention center. New faces, including Austin Electric Vehicles, were there as well.

Ford did not shine this year, even though their Smart City moving video wall was an impressive work of art. Mercedes-Benz outperformed. Their MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) platform showcased personalization as the hallmark of every car they will sell going forward. One cool feature was from a London start-up, What Three Words, which delivers a new kind of navigation system based on three-meter blocks being crushed into three-word addresses (like “dog.banana.fish”). This is, according to Mercedes-Benz, a more accurate way to deliver directions and locations than GPS addresses. Mercedes-Benz also showcased the Project 1, a 1000 horsepower engine futuristic vehicle that will sell in limited quantities for $3,000,000.

The Mercedes-Benz Project 1: a 1000-horse power engine and a $3 million price tag

Nissan showcased its b2v (brain-to-vehicle) system, which reads brain waves through headrest detectors to help deliver better predictive moves. Nvidia showed off its new AV processor, which is capable of 320 trillion operations per second.

The biggest splash on the CES car show floor was made by Chinese firm Byton, whose S.I.V. – Smart Intuitive Vehicle – was introduced at the show, marking only the second time that a car has been introduced at the show (two years ago, troubled Chinese firm Le Eco’s subsidiary Faraday Future introduced a car, which may never see a street, but – oh, what a buzz it was!). Byton’s vehicle will sell, according to its press release, in the US in 2020. Priced at $45,000, in the Tesla ballpark, the Byton vehicle has biometric sensors, AI, and a single screen dashboard, along with a tablet in the steering wheel.

Byton, a Chinese car company, introduced its S.I.V. – Smart Intuitive Vehicle, at CES 2018

Kia Motors showed off a personal assistant, and also touted what it calls the first in-vehicle 5G connection, showing a content stream from Seoul to Las Vegas, using the HECAS low-latency mobile video platform. Honda showed off its robotics, and no cars, further emphasizing their focus on CES as an opportunity to sign up OEM partners. Toyota won the cool concept car award this year, with the e-Palette, an autonomous delivery van with smart screens for digital signage. The boxy vehicle was an interesting design play, and was somewhat reminiscent of the Accessible Olli vehicle – the world’s most autonomous accessibility bus – that was on display in the Central Hall concourse of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Accessible Olli is already on the road, and is a joint venture between the CTA Foundation, IBM Watson and Knoxville, Tennessee-based Local Motors, which 3D-printed the vehicle. Accessible Olli fits up to 12 people, has smart screens, can determine if a passenger is blind, and has an ultrahaptic air button for signaling stops.

Accessible Olli – a smart, AI-powered autonomous accessibility bus

The e-Palette autonomous delivery van, a concept from Toyota

Nvidia introduced the first chip designed for AV use, capable of 320 trillion operations per second

Nissan unveiled its brain-to-vehicle (b2v) platform at CES 2018

Eureka Park this year was another strong showing by La French Tech, with about 350 French start-ups, almost half of all the start-ups in the area. There were many more clever IoT and mobile start-ups, as well as a smart musical ring, using MIDI, from Enhancia. My favorite Normandy start-up, Event Bots, was at the show, demonstrating their hospitality robots.

    

La French Tech was dominant at Eureka Park. Normandy start-up Event Bots was part of the massive French presence

The South Hall featured some new players, including Alibaba, which took over the South Hall Lower front booth. Alibaba’s presence reminded visitors of the strength of China’s companies at CES 2018. From TCL to Huawei to Baidu and Alibaba, Chinese technology was on display in great force. As a further example, Hi-Sense, which took over the Microsoft booth in the Central Hall, opposite Intel, a few years ago, showed a stunning laser TV product, which uses a short-throw laser projection system for high-resolution, large-screen displays. This is an astonishing change from just 8 years ago, when the only Chinese companies at CES were tucked away in a lackluster “China Pavilion” in the then-Las Vegas Hilton ballroom area. Now, they are a dominant presence.

Alibaba took over the South Hall lower level front booth this year

Other South Hall stops of note included gaming PC company Razer, who had their gaming tournament large keyboard on display. Speaking of gaming, Atari had a pong exhibit on the floor, creating great pangs of nostalgia for all.

Retro time meets Big Time: Atari Pong (left) and the Razer tournament gaming keyboard for e-sports

Last year’s CES was the “Alexa Show,” with Amazon’s intelligent assistant being shown in dozens of booths. This year, Google tried to step up to the plate, branding the Las Vegas Monorail with “Hey Google” and setting up numerous “Hey Google” signs in partner booths. A large Google Assistant pavilion in the Central Hall parking lot made its presence felt. They need it, of course; Amazon has about 70% of the smart speaker market to Google’s 23%, but many people would have argued that Amazon actually won this year’s battle, given that Alexa was still so prevalent. Cortana, Microsoft’s assistant, was virtually nowhere to be heard.

The Google Assistant pavilion in the Central Hall parking lot

What we have learned from CES 2018 is that more consumer choices will be made based on AI-powered devices or platforms and more products will highlight their AI or on-demand capabilities more than ever. It will be interesting to see how this trend translates into next year’s show, but it augurs a shift into the cloud in greater measures for the CE industry at large.

 

IBC Video Content Innovation Summit Kicks Off IBC 2017

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On the first morning of IBC 2017, Chris Pfaff Tech Media and Integer 1 hosted the IBC Video Content Innovation Summit at the Rockstart Accelerator in Amsterdam, which featured some of the leading innovators in the broadcast technology space today, including Vimond; Verizon envrmnt; HCL, and Valossa.

Emceed by Chris Pfaff, the breakfast event, held in the main event room at Rockstart, featured a technology keynote from Sanjay Macwan, focused on the shifting landscape for content distribution and consumption, and presented the audience of 55 producers, distributors, and vendors a view into where global content behaviors are headed. Macwan moderated a panel with Helge Hoibraaten, CEO of Vimond, Mika Rautiainen, CEO of Valossa, and Raheel Khalid, CTO of Verizon envrmnt (Kanwaldeep Kalsi, VP of Media for HCL, could not make the event, due to a delayed flight). The event literally presented some of the leading figures in OTT (Vimond), VR and AR (Verizon envrmnt), AI (Valossa), and cloud infrastructure (HCL).

Chris Pfaff emcees the IBC Video Content Innovation Summit

Sanjay Macwan, CEO of Integer 1, presents his keynote 

Sanjay gets into discussing the Muybridge experiment

Poster on front door of Rockstart Accelerator, Amsterdam

Raheel Khalid, CTO of Verizon envrmnt

Helge Hoibraaten, CEO of Vimond

Sanjay Macwan, left, and Mika Rautiainen, right

Long shot of the event room at Rockstart Accelerator

Sanjay poses a question to the panel

Raheel Khalid, Verizon envrmnt           Helge Hoibraaten, Vimond                   Mika Rautiainen, Valossa                     AI, OTT, and VR/AR all-stars

Highlights from the panel discussion included Helge’s discussion regarding content consumption (“we now have all the content we would ever want – in some ways, we don’t have to produce any more”) and content behaviors (“we interviewed teenagers about TV and they said ‘I have everything that I need in my phone'”). Raheel discussed the issue of every-cinreasing on -demand behaviors, in that people will “not wait for large files to download.” he said that Verizon envrmnt can now stream large-file content by taking game logic and running it on the fly. In this sense, VR and AR content is seamlessly distributed. He discussed Verizon envrmnt’s mobile edge compute strategy – which takes 20 milliseconds for a round trip. With 5G coming in, 1 gigabit bandwidth will enable VR content to be flawlessly streamed. Mika talked about the need to understand how video can be read and how machine learning can train to enable smarter questions around content itself.

See the promo highlight video at: https://youtu.be/lfZPjMLZa-w

The event was a swan song for Rockstart, as it was the last event in the main room at their 182 Herengracht location (they have since moved slightly north to a larger facility). But, it was a kickstart for IBC 2017, and in addition to a good meal, the crowd feasted on some hearty discussion.

 

Advertising Week TechX Brings the Fun to Ad-Tech

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The brainchild of VentureFuel and the Experiential Advertising Group, the Advertising Week New York 2017 TechX experience in Times Square, in a pop-up space between H&M and the NASDAQ MarketSite, curated some of the hippest tech for the ad world, from September 25-28. From digital art projects to AR apps to VR tools and holographic displays, the TechX arena offered a wide palette of commercially available experiences for attendees – creatives and media buyers – to play with and understand.

Ryan Hilla demonstrates Verizon envrmnt’s AR activation for Time Inc. to Guy Story and Vinne Grasso

The value of TechX cannot be understated: for years, Advertising Week has shunted ad-tech demos into the lower level of the Times Center on 8th and 41st, mainly as an afterthought to the main programming upstairs. TechX was both long overdue and also groundbreaking in its depth, bringing start-up companies in the immersive and AI worlds into a forum for major brand conversations on the state of the ad industry.

Mika Rautiainen demonstrates Valossa AI

TechX saw the launch of immersive analytics company QuantumXPR, with Scott Susskind and Kris Matheney camped out in the lower level of the venue, near two rows of digital art projects. Verizon envrmnt, the end-to-end VR/AR studio from Verizon Labs, was in full force, showcasing its AR projects for the likes of Time Inc., and Conde Nast, as well as its Virtual Sportsbar experience. The Valossa AI demo presented attendees with a new way to understand video, and VNTANA

showcased the best holographic display technology we have yet seen. Retinad’s VR in-console ad analytics and Tunity’s out of home display audio solution presented measurable technology for audiences underserved, or not yet measured. DreamSail Games showcased an expansive VR game environment, and Holosonics presented directional audio solutions.

VNTANA’s holographic display demonstrated the full-size immersive side of out of home displays

Sean Brown, with Turner Courageous, gets a demo of the Verizon envrmnt AR activation for a Verizon Store drone campaign, from JR Dawkins

Brian Roth, from Immersv, gets a VR demo from Christian Egeler, director of VR/AR at Verizon envrmnt

Nestled just steps away from the Times Square bustle, TechX was a rare opportunity to glimpse some of the more inventive ways to deliver and measure ads – and no PowerPoint involved.

Yes – there were sessions at TechX as well. Here’s a lively VC discussion in play

Chris Pfaff Tech Media hosts IBC Video Content Innovation Summit at IBC 2017 in Amsterdam

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This year’s IBC will likely have more content producers and distributors seeking solutions in AI, VR/AR, OTT, and cloud management. So, in order to help kick off this year’s show right, we have curated some of the leading players in media innovation today, and they are all at IBC 2017 at our Video Content Innovation Summit. 

Come have breakfast, network with industry peers, and enjoy discussions on the latest in VR/AR; AI for media; OTT; cloud and mobile content distribution and more. Meet with leading players in the broadcast; cable; OTT, and infrastructure arenas.
Our venue is the event space at the Rockstart Accelerator, one of Amsterdam’s main innovation hubs, at Herengracht 182, 1016 BR. 
Attendance is free, with registration. Please register your RSVP at: http://bit.ly/2gmeKYa
Produced by Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC and Integer 1, the event will feature:
  • Helge Hoibraaten, CEO, Vimond
  • Raheel Khalid, CTO, Verizon envrmnt
  • Mika Rautiainen, CEO, Valossa
  • Kanwaldeep Kalsi, VP, Media & Entertainment, HCL Americas

Our esteemed colleague, Sanjay Macwan, will deliver a keynote presentation, and moderate our expert panel.

Hosted by Chris Pfaff Tech Media & Integer1.

8:00 am – 8:45 am – Registration and Breakfast

8:45 am – 9:00 am – Welcome and Opening Remarks (Chris Pfaff)

9:00 am – 9:30 am – The State of Global Video Technology and Content Innovation – keynote (Sanjay Macwan)

9:30 am – 10:00 am – Panel discussion with HCL, Verizon envrmnt, Valossa, and Vimond

10:00 am – 10:10 am – Closing Remarks

10:10 am – 10:30 am – Networking 

 

 

NAB 2017: The Day the Clouds Rolled In

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Skip Pizzi (left) moderates the ‘Overview of Emerging Technologies’ session, the first session of the conference, 04.22.17

NAB 2017 was one of the more eventful showdowns in Las Vegas in recent years for the pro video industry, even though no monster product launches or titillating vapor announcements were made. It’s hard to imagine today, but the show that is now a battle for supremacy in the cloud, and in the workflow, was once the place of massive hardware launches. Gone are the days of lines to see the RED camera; the latest Avid or Media 100 editing suite, or Panasonic 3D system. Now, your next technology partner is likely to be the start-up that just cut a deal with Facebook. And, yes, start-ups at NAB are now a thing, not just window-dressing. As the media industry, globally, spawns more innovation in the start-up domain, NAB has expanded its Sprockit start-up program, creating a destination in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Harry Glazer (center) addresses the Sprockit 2017 program companies at a pre-show reception, 04.23.17

Ville Hulkko and Karita Kasurinen, of Valossa, setting up in the Sprockit demo area in the North Hall, 04.23.17

Facebook took over the South Hall Upper Level corner demo area with a partner pavilion, a cheeky way to cut into the action through FB Live, and other recent F8 unveilings such as Spaces and Camera. Zuck did not make it to NAB, but it begs the question as to whether he’ll keynote next year, now that Snapchat has gone public. The fact that Facebook was a Nexus toss from the Google booth was more irony; this was Google’s most impressive showing at NAB, and they scared the bejesus out of anyone and everyone who was paying attention.

Facebook’s partner pavilion outside the South Hall Upper Level. NAB 2017 marked Facebook’s first year as an exhibitor

Google Jump camera demo (left) and a wider shot of the Google booth in the South Hall Upper Level

Alexis Kenda (left) demos Reminiz for Jason Deadrich, Vision Media, 04.26.17

While 8K, HEVC, HDR, and questions regarding the next phases of OTT growth saturated conversations, more and more of the show scratched the edges of “what next?” with regard to 5G, VR and AR as broadcast tools, and AI as a catch-all for whatever ails your product suite. There was certainly less buzz about VR at NAB 2017 than the previous year, but more discussion about cameras, workflow, and services on the show floor. I didn’t even make it to the VR pavilion – as if it really mattered. When every major post house and DP worth his/her light gauge is well past their initial VR project, it’s time to get real and send the fairy dust sprinklers back to their bungalows in West Hollywood (or Covina). The same could have been said about drones; this year, the Central Hall hosted a more sober offering of drone purveyors, with less fanfare on hero demos. We ran into Gremsy, a Vietnamese drone company, on Sunday morning, with some cool products, and saw little else that had not been seen before.

Gremsy, a Vietnamese drown manufacturer, joined the throng in the Central Hall, 04.23.17

The exhibitors who annually pack in scores of loyal customers – Blackmagic Design, Adobe, Vizrt – were not to be outdone by the likes of Ooyala, who took over part of the outdoor demo area with a pavilion. More traffic was seen this year in the OTT services area in the South Hall Upper Level, where Vimond had an impressive display.

The Adobe booth, packed as always.    Vimond maintained steady traffic in the South Hall Upper Level

The telecom world was mostly in the background at NAB 2017, although Verizon had three (because two is not enough) booths at the show, with the Verizon Labs booth featuring streaming VR, via Ozo camera, with the Nokia booth, and more dazzling demos from Verizon envrmnt, which showcased its World Builder demo to great effect.

Nokia Technologies streamed live footage from an Ozo camera on a private fiber line to the Verizon Labs booth

Dave Strumwasser (left), from Verizon envrmnt describes, and presents, the Verizon World Builder demo for IBM’s Marisela Riveros

While broadcasters seem to be consolidating to the point of abstraction, Sinclair – which just threw down $3.9 billion to acquire Tribune Media – was making waves with its ATSC 3.0 demos, hoping to assure the industry that technology progress will be made (in addition to massive spectrum acquisition).

IBM Watson’s cognitive services were on display at NAB 2017

While NAB has not been much of a party scene since the go-go ‘90s, Verizon Digital Media Services threw a huge party at Top Golf, and the Sports Video Group took over the Omnia nightclub for its annual “Pre-Game” bash.

 

The view from the Omnia nightclub at Caesar’s Palace, site of the Sports Video Group’s annual “pre-game” bash, 04.23.17

Top Golf, site of Verizon Digital Media Services’ massive party, 04.24.17

But the real story, for me, was the transformation of the business to the cloud, whether AWS, Azure, Google, or Dell EMC, or others. The applications and innovations delivered by these bedrock services are multiplying, and driving further investment, and starting to fulfill dark fiber long laid in anticipation of something big. Something big has already arrived, though, and it’s going to require more space – up there in the cloud.

 

 

 

VR/AR Association Event, ‘VR for Producers’ Features Verizon envrmnt, Littlstar, and Associated Press at NYU Data Futures Lab

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The first VR/AR Association New York Chapter event of 2017, ‘Virtual Reality for Producers: How to Create and Deliver for the New Content Frontier,’ took place last Wednesday night, February 15th, at the NYU Data Futures Lab, and it delivered not only a full standing-room-only crowd of 95 people, but some of New York’s finest producers working the VR scene.

You can watch the video of the event at:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B58D21m9dOMOdFJJSGE1UWMzVzA

Kris Kolo, New York chapter head of the VR/AR Association, introduces the goals and benefits of the organization

As more New York producers learn the craft of producing in VR, the industry will grow concomitantly. Wednesday’s session was an ideal session for learnings from the likes of Paul Cheung, direct of interactive at Associated Press (AP); Alissa Crevier, global head of partnerships, at Littlstar, and Christian Egeler, director of VR/AR product development with Verizon envrmnt.

Chris Pfaff introduces the speakers and sets up the event

Paul Cheung guided the audience through his learnings with the almost dozen VR cameras that he and his team have tested. He discussed some of the work that AP has done with branded content partners, and how to adapt the standards of the AP (an organization that literally developed the journalistic standards known as “AP Style” over the past 180-plus years) to VR production. In other words, while shooting a scene, do you keep the DP and/or the producer in the shot, or matte that out? For AP, that choice is obvious: leave the production team in the frame. Cheung described some of the learnings in VR as they apply to the overall production work that his interactive has to deal with, enabling a smoother workflow scenario.

Paul Cheung discusses the range of VR cameras that AP has tested and and used

For Alissa Crevier, Littlstar’s work has grown to the point where the company is as much a platform for content as it is a stand-alone producer of VR content. This has created a new kind of channel for VR partners, and the Littlstar roster of clients includes the who’s who of major content distributors, including Disney/ABC, Discovery, Nat Geo, Showtime, and the Wall Street Journal, among others. Crevier’s experience with Spotify, and the music industry in general, have helped her navigate clearances and understand the vagaries of the live music scene, and live streaming, to understand the value of WebVR versus individual VR platforms, such as Oculus, Gear, or Vive, among others.

Alissa Crevier presents Littlstar’s productions and its content platform model

Christian Egeler took the audience through the Verizon envrmnt learnings, and how they have applied to the studio’s growth in areas that include their Social VR platform. The envrmnt cross-platform SDK has gained traction in the industry, including with the March, 2017 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, which includes an AR app, a native app, and integrated envrmnt SDK so that trigger images are easier to recognize. Egeler also showed an Alpine Village demo with dynamic updates (first showed at the Amazon Web Services Invent and Nvidia conferences). He hinted at the possibility that envrmnt might release a “build your own” 3D engine later this year. A VR experience produced for Super Bowl LI was also demonstrated.

Christian Egeler shares learnings from Verizon envrmnt’s studio work, and showcases new work, including its Social VR platform

The audience, mostly comprised of producers, was intrigued by the experiences that the three presenters had. The lively panel discussion dove into issues surrounding the growth of an industry that still has yet to standardize areas of production and post-production, as well as the growth of WebVR, in the wake of a still-early headset market.

Paul Cheung during the panel discussion

Mina Salib (right, speaking), program manager at the NYU Futures Labs, introduces the audience to new opportunities at the Labs

Paul Cheung (rear of photo, against window), and Alissa Crevier (right front), address audience questions after the ‘VR for Producers’ event