Archive for the ‘Home Entertainment’ Category

The Rise of Dual Screen Apps, courtesy of Apple TV

Article by Jeremy Allaire  mashable.com

Dual-screen apps are a new phenomena, enabled by the advent of wireless technologies that allow for effortless pairing of a PC, tablet or smartphone with a TV. They are changing how people are interacting and “consuming” content within apps. For developers this creates many new opportunities to provide better experiences for their users, but it requires thinking about dual-screen setups from the start as well as new tools.

The opportunity for dual-screen apps is huge. And it’s more than just watching a video or playing a game: Dual-screen apps have the potential to transform the office meeting room, the classroom, the retail store, the hospital, and really any other context where people are interacting around content and information and where that information would benefit from rendering and display on a large screen such as a TV monitor.

To better understand this concept, it’s necessary to step back and reconsider the nature of how we write software and the user experience model for software.

The Evolution From Single Screen

Today, the predominant user-experience model for software and applications online is a single screen. We browse web applications on a desktop PC, mobile browser or tablet browser and interact with and consume content and applications on that screen. It is very much a single, individual user task. Likewise, we install apps onto these devices and consume and interact with information, perform tasks, make purchases, etc. through these apps. Again, this is a solitary single individual task.

As a result, when software creators plan their applications, they are typically designed and developed with this single user, single-screen concept in mind.

Dual-screen apps change all of that by shifting the software and user experience model from one user to potentially many, and from one screen (PC/phone/tablet) to two screens (phone/tablet and TV monitor). From a software development and user-experience perspective, the large monitor (which is the true second screen — versus the standard concept that considers the tablet as the second screen) becomes an open computing surface where one can render any form of application functionality, information, data and content.

SEE ALSO: Is This the Second-Screen TV App That Finally Goes Mainstream?

Importantly, designers and developers need to shed the concept that “TVs” are for rendering video, and instead think about TVs as large monitors on which they can render applications, content and interactivity that’s supported by a touch-based tablet application.

The Social Computing Surface

While we have the greatest affinity for large monitors as fixtures of the living room, increasingly flat-screen monitors are a becoming a ubiquitous part of our social fabric. In fact, large monitors often sit at the center of any social setting. In the home, these large monitors provide a social surface for those sharing the living room space. Increasingly, monitors are a common part of nearly every business meeting room space — not for watching video, but for projecting shared content and business data and presentations that support business and organization collaboration.

Likewise, monitors are in medical and hospital settings providing visual information to patients. They are increasingly in nearly every classroom, whether through a projector or an actual TV monitor and support the presentation of information that is needed for a collection of students. Large monitors are increasingly ubiquitous in retail settings as well.

The key concept here is that this pervasive adoption of TV monitors is the tip of the spear in creating a social computing surface in the real world. Forget about social networks that connect people across their individual, atomized computing devices — the real social world is groups of people in a shared space (living room, office, classroom, store, etc.) interacting around information and data on a shared screen.

Until very recently, the way in which these TV monitors could be leveraged was limited to connecting a PC through an external display connector to a projector or directly to a TV. The recent breakthrough that Apple has fostered and advanced more than any other tech company is AirPlay and associated dual-screen features in iOS and Apple TV.

Specifically, Apple has provided the backbone for dual screen apps, enabling:

  • Any iOS device (and OS X Mountain Lion-enabled PCs) to broadcast its screen onto a TV. Think of this as essentially a wireless HDMI output to a TV. If you haven’t played with AirPlay mirroring features in iOS and Apple TV, give it a spin. It’s a really exciting development.
  • A set of APIs and an event model for enabling applications to become “dual-screen aware” (e.g. to know when a device has a TV screen it can connect to, and to handle rendering information, data and content onto both the touch screen and the TV screen).

With the existing Apple TV unit sales already outselling the Xbox in the most recent quarter, we can see a world that goes from approximately 5 million dual-screen-capable Apple TVs to potentially 15-20 million in the next couple of years, and eventually to 30-50 million as new and improved versions of the Apple TV companion device come to market.

As a result, it’s an incredible time to experiment with this fundamental shift in computing, software and user experience, to embrace a world where the Tablet is the most important personal productivity device, and the TV is a rich and powerful surface for rendering content and applications.

How Dual-Screen Apps Will Work

As we rethink the TV as a computing surface for apps, it’s really helpful to have some ideas on what we’re talking about. Below are a series of hypothetical examples of what is possible today and of course what will be even bigger as these new dual screen run-times proliferate.

Buying a House: Imagine you’re looking into buying a house. You open your tablet app from a reputable home-listing service and perform a search using criteria that you care about and begin adding potential fits to a list of houses you’d like to explore. When you select a specific house, the app detects you’re connected to an Apple TV and launches a second screen on the TV that provides rich and large visual displays about the house — HD-quality photos and contextual information about the house. Here, the power of dual screen is the fact that you and your spouse can sit in the living room and explore a house together without crouching over a computer or tablet on someone’s lap, and the house can be presented with HD-quality media and contextual information.

Buying a Car: Imagine launching the BMW app on your tablet and deciding to both learn about car models and configure a car — like buying a house, often a “social” decision between partners. On the TV, the app renders a high-quality rendition of the car. As you explore the car’s features from your tablet, associated media (photos, video and contextual metadata) render onto the large TV in front of you. As you configure your car using your tablet, it updates a visual build of the car on the large screen, providing an inline HD video for specific features.

Kids Edutainment: Looking to introduce your three-year old to key cognitive development concepts? Launch a learning app where the child interacts with the tablet application and sees visual information, animation and other content on the TV screen. Their touches on the tablet instantly produce rich and relevant content on the TV screen. Learning to count? Feed cookies over AirPlay to Cookie Monster on the TV who eats and counts with you. Learning about concepts like near and far? Tap the table to make a character move closer and away from you. Build a character on the tablet and watch the character emerge on the TV screen.

SEE ALSO: Designing for Context on Multiple Devices

Sales Reporting: As a sales manager, you walk into your team conference room with a TV monitor mounted on the wall. You kick open your Salesforce.com tablet app on your tablet and begin filtering and bringing up specific reports on your tablet, and with the touch of a button you push unique visual reports onto the shared surface of the conference room TV. Here, the sales manager wants control of the searches and filters they have access to and only wants to render the charts and reports that are needed for the whole team to see.

Board Games: Imagine playing Monopoly with your family in the living room — one or two or maybe even three touch devices present (phones, iPod touches, iPads). Each player has their inventory of properties and money visible on their device. The app passes control to each user as they play. On the TV screen is the Monopoly “board” with a dynamic visual that updates as users play — the movement of players, the building up of properties, etc.

The Classroom: A teacher walks into a classroom with an Apple TV connected to a HDMI-capable projector that projects onto a wall or screen. From their tablet, they pull up an application that is designed to help teach chemistry and the periodic table — they can control which element to display up on the screen, and the TV provides rich information, video explanations, etc. The app is designed to provide ‘public quiz’ functionality where the TV display shows a question, presumably related to material just reviewed or from homework, students raise their hand to answer and then the answer and explanation is displayed.

Doctor’s Office: You are meeting with your doctor to go over test results from an MRI scan. The doctor uses his or her tablet to bring up your results, picks visuals to throw onto the TV monitor in the room, then uses his or her finger to highlight key areas and talk to you about they’re seeing.

Retail Electronics Store: You’re at a Best Buy and interested in buying a new high-quality digital camera. A sales specialist approaches you with tablet in hand and asks you a few questions about what you’re interested in while tapping those choices into their tablet app. From there, it brings up on a nearby TV display a set of options of cameras — based on further probing, they drill into a specific camera choices which brings up a rich visual with a video overview of the specific camera that you’re interested in.

Consuming News: A major revolution has just broken out in a nation across the planet. Time has captured incredible audio, photos and video of the events. You and your friends sit down in front of the TV to learn more. You open the Time Magazine tablet app and bring up a special digital edition about the revolution. From the tablet, you flip through and render onto the TV rich HD-quality photographs, listen to first hand audio accounts (accompanied by photos) and watch footage from the events. The app renders a huge visual timeline of the events that led up to the revolution. It’s an immersive media experience that can be easily shared by friends and family in the living room.

Consuming Video: Last but not least, of course, dual-screen apps will be essential to any app that is about consuming video — whether a news or magazine app, a vertical website (think Cars.com, BabyCenter.com, AllRecipies.com, etc.), or of course a catch-up TV app from a TV network or show that you care about. You open the app on your table to explore what to watch, and when you’re ready to watch the show instantly pops onto your TV in gorgeous HD quality, and the tablet app becomes your remote control and presents relevant contextual information about the video, episode or what have you.

The Coming Dual-Screen Revolution

This is such a groundbreaking approach to apps and software we expect lots of others to try and emulate what Apple is doing. Already, Microsoft is promoting the ability to use its Surface Tablet in conjunction with apps built for the Xbox. Samsung has introduced features in its tablets and TVs to enable easy media sharing from your tablet or phone onto a Samsung Smart TV, and surely Google will follow suit with similar features to AirPlay in the Android OS. Apple is still early in deploying this technology — it’s sometimes flaky and a little bit hidden from end-user view — but I expect major changes in the coming months and years.

Virtually every application that exists on the web and phones and tablets likely has a dual-screen use case. Simply put, Web and app designers and developers need to imagine a world where the tablet and TV are a single run-time for their applications which each screen providing distinct value for the user controlling the app and the user consuming rich media and information on a large display. Sometimes this is just one person (like picking and watching a show or playing a game or learning something), but crucially and very often I believe that these apps will be designed with multiple users — and a social context — in mind.

Jeremy Allaire is CEO and founder of Brightcove, a global provider of cloud-content services that offers a family of products and developer tools used to publish and distribute professional digital media.

Is the Blu-Ray disc an endangered species?

The major studios are making a concerted effort to sell classic movies on Blu-ray, but streaming is rapidly taking over from optical discs.

Friday’s USA Today Money section lays out a compelling argument that physical media, at least in the form of Blu-ray discs, may be reaching the end of its golden era. Mike Snider writes that Blu-ray is “caught in shift to streaming” and that studios will make a major effort this holiday season to release many classic movies on Blu-ray. This, says Snider, means the Blu-ray “is reaching a critical juncture in its growth process”.

Why should the Streaming Media audience care about the sales of Blu-ray? Because direct competition for content and dwindling physical disc sales are both important harbingers for the streaming industry.

Direct competition. When streaming services like Amazon Prime and Netflix were first envisaged, the concept was day-and-date release of blockbuster movies for streaming at the same time that DVDs and Blu-rays Discs went on sale. What’s happened, in reality, is that the majority of content on streaming services has been classic movies, a few key television shows, and movies the studios consider too niche for strong Blu-ray sales.

That may be changing. According to Snider, the studios are making a concerted effort to bring a number of classic movies to Blu-ray in time for this year’s holiday season. While the list includes the Indiana Jones franchise and the recently re-released Titanic, it also appears studios may move to release lesser-known titles.

How low will Blu-ray prices will need to drop to make disc purchases worthwhile for the average consumer? And how much will studios need to charge to push their marketing efforts forward?

The day-and-date model may not be dead: while just-released blockbusters like the first Hunger Gamesmovie — which Epix holds exclusive rights to for ninety days — may not make it to Netflix for several months, movies that haven’t fared well in theaters are starting to trickle into the streaming lineup earlier.

Dwindling sales. So just how bad do projections of Blu-ray disc sales look over the next five years?

Preliminary 2011 sales numbers for overall DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales are estimated at $8.9 billion, with a projected drop to $5.5 billion by 2016, for a loss of $3.4 billion in annual revenues.

Disc rentals were at $4.8 billion in 2011 and are also projected to fall by 2016, to $2.9 billion annually.

In all, this means that disc sales and rentals will yield $8.4 billion in annual revenues by 2016.

The surge in streaming delivery of premium content, on the other hand, is expected to grow $3.9 billion between 2011 and 2016, yielding $6.7 billion in annual revenues.

Sometime in 2017, then, revenues from streaming media delivery of premium content will exceed physical disc sales and rentals. Also, in less than a year, sometime in 2013, the number of streaming minutes for premium content will exceed the number of minutes viewed on DVD and Blu-ray Discs.

There’s a chance that the cross-over point will happen much faster than that. If Blu-ray disc sales begin to drop off between the 2012 and 2013 holiday seasons, studios will be placed in a financial predicament, where day-and-date releases to DVD and Blu-ray will yield much lower sales than equivalent streaming revenues. The cost of physical disc production and distribution, coupled with more limited retail shelf space, may force studios to abandon optical discs more quickly than anticipated.

In other parts of the world, we’ll likely see two divergent models:

For the European market, where small production runs dubbed into the regional language don’t allow the economies of scale that English-language releases provide, we’ll see streaming delivery of dubbed premium content coupled with disc-based sales of subtitled English versions.

For Africa and the parts of Asia with lower infrastructure penetration, we’ll continue to see premium content delivered by optical disc for many years to come. It makes sense, given the fact that English-language movies are more widely watched in these small markets where studios have found it impractical to create dubbed or subtitled versions of all but the biggest blockbusters.

The only caveat for emerging markets is that they have no legacy infrastructure to work around. Just like we’ve seen in the surge in mobile phone sales in Africa and India, the ability to leapfrog from limited landline availability to widespread mobile handset adoption could serve as a model for rapid adoption of streaming media, effectively putting the final nail in the coffin of the optical disc.

source: StreamingMedia.com

New Technique Could Lead to Glasses-Free 3D in Theaters

Wired reported on research published in the journal Optics Express detailing a promising new system for glasses-free 3D viewing — long considered the holy grail of 3D technology, especially for home viewing. The system involves a polarization-preserving screen and a physical “parallax barrier polarizer” that allows four different screen views to be broken up vertically and delivered to only one eye at a time. It’s not immediately clear how well the system would work as viewers move around a room or cock their heads from side to side, but the scientists involved say they believe it will be useful for next-generation 3D theaters. Wired talked to a University of Arizona physicist who said the technology “is still in its infancy,” so you’ll probably have to break out those 3D glasses for Avatar 2 after all.

from Wired.com

Apple poised to enrage cable companies with new ad-blocking tech

In a move that is sure to strike fear into broadcasters and advertisers everywhere, Apple (AAPL) is apparently working on technology that would automatically shut off broadcast advertisements in favor of preloaded content.AppleInsider reports that a new Apple patent covers a system of “seamless switching between radio and local media” that will let mobile devices “automatically switch between broadcast content and stored media to offer the user a type of customized content consumption experience.”

So for example, the new technology is capable of looking at a broadcaster’s typical scheduling and determining “when an upcoming broadcast segment or media item is not of interest to the user” before switching off to other content. AsAppleInsider notes, the technology is being developed “to include any audio or video that can be broadcast by a content source and received by an electronic device for playback,” meaning it could encompass both radio and television.

Needless to say, this type of innovation would qualify as “disruptive” for the broadcasting industry, and not in a good way. If recent events surrounding Dish and its “auto-hop” feature are any indication, Apple may be able to look forward to some fresh lawsuits if this technology ever finds its way to production devices.

Source: BRG.com

Kodak set to quit camera film and photo paper business

Kodak film
Professional photographers still value the unique feel that film gives to their pictures

Debt-struck photography pioneer Kodak says it may sell off its still-camera film and photo paper divisions.

The firm has already stopped making digital cameras as part of efforts to reduce its losses after filing for bankruptcy protection in January. It has also been trying to raise funds by selling off more than 1,100 digital imaging patents. It had originally planned to announce a buyer last week, but said “discussions continue” and a deal might not happen.

Apple and Google had been reported to have made rival bids for the patents, but the Wall Street Journal reports they have now joined forces and have added Samsung, LG, HTC and others to their consortium The WSJ’s sources suggested the offer price for the portfolio would be about $500m (£315m) – well below the $2.6bn estimate that Kodak had suggested it could be worth.

The company recently reported a $665m net loss for the first six months of the year, putting further pressure on its finances.

Film’s feelIn its latest announcement the US company said it had hired investment bank Lazard to help it sell its Personalised Imaging and Document Imaging businesses. This would mean an end to it making films for still cameras, photo papers, souvenir photo products at theme parks, scanners and picture print-out kiosks at stores. It would leave the business focused on printers, cinema film stock and chemicals. The British Journal of Photography said the news would concern the industry.

“A lot of professionals still shoot with film and like the quality it gives them,” Olivier Laurent, news editor at the journal, told the BBC. ”The resolution is still a thousand times higher than most digital cameras can offer so long as a good scanner is used.

“A film photograph has a different mood thanks to its grain – it’s about the love of the image and digital still has a hard time trying to reproduce that feeling.”

Debt-struck photography pioneer Kodak says it may sell off its still-camera film and photo paper divisions.

The firm has already stopped making digital cameras as part of efforts to reduce its losses after filing for bankruptcy protection in January. It has also been trying to raise funds by selling off more than 1,100 digital imaging patents. It had originally planned to announce a buyer last week, but said “discussions continue” and a deal might not happen.

Apple and Google had been reported to have made rival bids for the patents, but the Wall Street Journal reports they have now joined forces and have added Samsung, LG, HTC and others to their consortium

The WSJ’s sources suggested the offer price for the portfolio would be about $500m (£315m) – well below the $2.6bn estimate that Kodak had suggested it could be worth.

The company recently reported a $665m net loss for the first six months of the year, putting further pressure on its finances.

In its latest announcement the US company said it had hired investment bank Lazard to help it sell its Personalised Imaging and Document Imaging businesses. This would mean an end to it making films for still cameras, photo papers, souvenir photo products at theme parks, scanners and picture print-out kiosks at stores. It would leave the business focused on printers, cinema film stock and chemicals.

The British Journal of Photography said the news would concern the industry. ”A lot of professionals still shoot with film and like the quality it gives them,” Olivier Laurent, news editor at the journal, told the BBC.

“The resolution is still a thousand times higher than most digital cameras can offer so long as a good scanner is used.

“A film photograph has a different mood thanks to its grain – it’s about the love of the image and digital still has a hard time trying to reproduce that feeling.”

Source: BBC.com

The State of Network Broadcasting Examined

It would appear to the casual viewer that TV broadcasting and the cable universe remains virtually unchanged in the past decade.  The Nets have enjoyed a virtual monopoly in terms of spectrum allocation by the government.  Cable and Satcasters offer (ho-hum) identical products and services much in the way consumers get to decide over Coke versus Pepsi. Sure the picture quality has improved remarkably when we made the leap to Hi definition, however with the exception of terrestrial broadcasting which is still free, the cost of receiving those transmissions has gone up.  Way up. But what about the choices? Not only does the typical consumer want to maintain the number of choices of programming (despite the wasteland of info-mercials and paid programming), and they are willing to shoulder the added costs of premium services and HD channels, but they also wish to “time-shift” using their DVR’s and eliminate or fast-forward through the commercials.  They also want to watch on a myriad of new devices including iPads and other mobile devices (even inside the home). In other words if they are forced to pay more, then they expect more.


Two separate lawsuits are winding their way through the courts that address these issues.  The first is over AEREO, the start-up created by Barry Diller which allows the consumer to re-transmit local TV stations through the installation of tiny antennae connected to their computer. A U.S District Court Judge recently refused broadcasters requests to issue a preliminary injunction. Copyright experts would argue that this is tantamount to theft and that television re-transmission requires payment to the broadcasters. Comcast, Dish TV and DirecTV among others would argue that this amounts to unfair competition and it is. But I would posit that the consumer doesn’t care as to who is providing the signal, but they are certain to feel it in their pocketbook. The consumer understands by now that it is the convenience of watching, whenever and wherever they choose to that is paramount and if it costs that much less then that is the added bonus.

‘A la Carte cable programming has been given lip service by congress but no real progress has been made in the last decade. Eyebrows were raised on the recent sale of the Dodgers to a consortium for several billion dollars and questions asked as to how many cable and satellite subscribers would have to pay to subsidize this enormous deal even if they never watch a game on TV. Add to that the erosion caused by Hulu, Roku, Netflix and other streaming services, not to mention the illegal torrents.  You would think the broadcasters would be running scared and I believe they are. So what do they do? They seek relief through the courts to protect their monopoly.

Case in point is the new HOPPER system offered by Dish Network, that automatically removes the commercials that have ben recorded on your DVR.  Who doesn’t want that feature?  In U.S. District Courts in both New York and Los Angeles, Dish is in litigation with Fox, CBS and NBCUniversal who claim that their revenue base from advertising will be eroded and that re-transmission does not allow for editing of programs to exclude commercials.

Two previous landmark decisions may provide the precedent to allow Dish to continue offering HOPPER.  Most recently was the Cablevision case in 2008 which allowed for re-transmission of programming from Cablevision’s servers. The second and most profound case was the advent of the VCR back in the seventies:

“We look forward to proceeding with this case, recognizing that it has been 28 years since the Supreme Court’s ‘Betamax’ decision held that a viewer, in the privacy of their home, could record a television show to watch later,” Dish lawyer R. Stanton Dodge made in a statement. “The Court ruled that ‘time-shifting’ constituted a fair use of copyrighted television programming. Those Betamax users could permissibly fast-forward through commercials on recorded shows – just as DVR users do today. Dish will stand behind consumers and their right to skip commercials, something they have been doing since the invention of the remote control.”

It is fair to say that innovation will always win out over protectionism and it behooves the providers to come up with more convenience and better choices. The consumers demand it.  Once video made the leap to computers and hand-held devices then the genie was out of the bottle. Networks and providers will hopefully adapt or change their business plans (let the demise of the traditional music labels be a lesson) and if it results in less clutter of advertising or lower costs to the consumer then we all win.

- Scott Arundale

Sources:

Deadline.com

TVNewsCheck.com

3D offered in major venues for the Olympics


The London Olympics this year seem to keep surprising us in 3D even before they start! Now Ultra-D 3D may be incorporated at the 3D Olympic coverage this year also.

Stream TV Networks, Inc. announced today that they choose London as the location of the first Ultra-D(TM) TV public viewing location in Europe. The Walkabout in Covent Garden at 11 Henrietta Street in London, will have installed the first ever Ultra-D display unit in the UK in time for the 2012 Summer Olympics, broadcasted live on the BBC, Sky and ESPN. Live 2D and with-glasses (stereoscopic) 3D broadcasts of the Olympic Games will be auto converted into the stunning 3D without glasses Ultra-D format in real-time, using the Ultra-D SeeCube(TM) Conversion Box. The viewing location will also host demos to highlight the Ultra-D technology’s compatibility with the iPad®, iTunes®, Appstore® and the Apple TV®. Matthew Young, European representative for Stream TV Networks in the UK said: “We chose Walkabout for the first ever screen as it’s well known as the best live sports venue in London.”

The manager of the Covent Garden Walkabout Bar, Dal Jones, states that Ultra-D is “1000% better than anything else I have seen in 3D without glasses. I am very pleased and truly excited to be the first UK bar to be able to offer this to our customers.”

Stream TV Networks is placing demo units at high traffic venues in metropolitan areas in the US, Europe, Taiwan and China to showcase the Ultra-D technology to consumer before products become available at retail. In the US, the first venue to showcase Ultra-D will be Blondies Sports® ( www.blondiessports.com ) in New York City located at 212 West 79th St., also in time for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Ultra-D enables the seamless autoconversion of 2D and 3D with glasses content into autostereoscopic (glasses-free) 3D in real-time, so that virtually every kind of video feed can be viewed in 3d without glasses. The Ultra-D technology has also been optimized for the iOS® and Android® operating systems for enhanced connectivity to peripheral devices.

Additional consumer viewing locations for Ultra-D(TM) technology will be announced in the coming weeks and will include additional venues in New York, Philadelphia, London and various locations throughout China.

“Ultra-D is the first 3D without glasses solution that has been able to eliminate viewing angles and offer the high quality, glasses-free 3D experience we’ve all been waiting for,” says Matt Young for Stream TV Networks. He adds, “Being able to offer this in time for the Olympics just adds to the viewing experience and enjoyment of the games being in London.”

The Walkabout in Covent Garden is “the Home of the Awesome Spirit of Australia in Central London, and also the West End’s Premier Sport’s Bar and Party Shack!” The Walkabout is located at:

11 Henrietta Street London, Greater London WC2E 8PY

Ultra-D viewing units are available. For information regarding sales or business relationships please email contact@ultra-d.com or myoung@streamtvnetworks.com

Source: www.StreamTVNetworks.com

CEA announces new standards for 3D at home

In an effort to bolster the 3D Home Entertainment industry, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) announced new standards for closed captioning, active 3D glasses specs as well as display brightness information for manufacturers and consumers.

Brian Markwalter is senior vice president, research and standards, CEA. “CEA’s standards committees are always looking for new ways to help grow the consumer electronics industry through technological cooperation.”

CEA-2038 standard will allow “active” 3D glasses to switch from 3D to 2D when content such as advertising is placed in a 3D program. Known as the “Command-Driven Analog IT-Synchronized Active Eyewear”, the new spec also opens up the possibility of two separate viewers playing a 3D game offering different images or game paths.

Another area which has been a tremendous challenge for providers and viewers is in the area of closed-captioning.  The VEA-708.1 standard provides broadcasters with information on where data should be encoded for closed captioning.  It is expected that the Society of Motion Picture Broadcasters (SMPTE) are developing their own set of standards to be released later this year.

The  CEA Industry Forum is scheduled for October 14-17, 2012 to be held in San Francisco, CA with the Annual International CES meeting to be held January 8-11, 2013 in Las Vegas, NV.

CEA press release

We’re Back and Raring to Go!

After a nearly six month hiatus, the 3D & DIgital Cinema is back on-line. I took a break to tend to some family struggles. Also the Spring semester was one bear of a session with over 40 Senior Thesis projects, 18 Grad Thesis and a whopping 36 Advanced Productions to attend to.

Thank you for your support and patience during what was a very difficult time.

- Scott Arundale

P.S. We will be likely dropping the 3D moniker from our masthead as stereo filmmaking has become very much an integral part of the digital landscape. Also the industry (like the the mainstream filmgoing public) has cooled considerably towards because let’s face it, making 3D movies is more costly, time consuming and frankly a pain in the ass! And as my two lovely daughters remarked about their tastes towards 3D, they wisely observed that it was just a way for the theater to charge more!

That being said we will continue to report on all the trends 3D, 2D or something recorded on a mobile phone. It is all fair game.

Ring in the New Year and Say Goodbye to Kodak

Eastman Kodak Co. is preparing to seek bankruptcy protection in the coming weeks, people familiar with the matter said, a move that would cap a stunning comedown for a company that once ranked among America’s corporate titans.

The 131-year-old company is still making last-ditch efforts to sell off some of its patent portfolio and could avoid Chapter 11 if it succeeds, one of the people said. But the company has started making preparations for a filing in case those efforts fail, including talking to banks about some $1 billion in financing to keep it afloat during bankruptcy proceedings, the people said.

A Kodak spokesman said the company “does not comment on market rumor or speculation.”

A filing could come as soon as this month or early February, one of the people familiar with the matter said. Kodak would continue to pay its bills and operate normally while under bankruptcy protection, the people said. But the company’s focus would then be the sale of some 1,100 patents through a court-supervised auction, the people said.

That Kodak is even contemplating a bankruptcy filing represents a final reversal of fortune for a company that once dominated its industry, drawing engineering talent from around the country to its Rochester, N.Y., headquarters and plowing money into research that produced thousands of breakthroughs in imaging and other technologies.

The company, for instance, invented the digital camera—in 1975—but never managed to capitalize on the new technology.

Casting about for alternatives to its lucrative but shrinking film business, Kodak toyed with chemicals, bathroom cleaners and medical-testing devices in the 1980s and 1990s, before deciding to focus on consumer and commercial printers in the past half-decade under Chief Executive Antonio Perez.

None of the new pursuits generated the cash needed to fund the change in course and cover the company’s big obligations to its retirees. A Chapter 11 filing could help Kodak shed some of those obligations, but the viability of the company’s printer strategy has yet to be demonstrated, raising questions about the fate of the company’s 19,000 employees.

Such uncertainty was once unthinkable at Kodak, whose near-monopoly on film produced high margins that the company shared with its workers. On “wage dividend days,” a tradition started by Kodak founder George Eastman, the company would pay out bonuses to all workers based on its results, and employees would use the checks to buy cars and celebrate at fancy restaurants.

George Eastman and Thomas Edison ca 1920

Former employees say the company was the Apple Inc. or Google Inc. of its time. Robert Shanebrook, 64 years old, who started at the company in 1967 and was most recently world-wide product manager for professional photographic film, recalls young talent traipsing through Kodak’s sprawling corporate campus. At lunch, they would crowd the auditorium to watch a daily movie at an on-site theater. Other employees would play basketball on the company courts.

“We had this self-imposed opinion of ourselves that we could do anything, that we were undefeatable,” Mr. Shanebrook said.

Kodak’s troubles date back to the 1980s, when the company struggled with foreign competitors that stole its market share in film. The company later had to cope with the rise of digital photography and smartphones.

It wasn’t until 10 years ago that the mood began to sour, said Mr. Shanebrook. By 2003, Kodak announced it would stop making investments in film. “I didn’t want to stick around for the demise,” he said.

The company and its board have weighed a potential bankruptcy filing for months. Advisers told Kodak a filing would make its patent sale easier and likely allow the company to command a higher price, people familiar with the matter have said. The obligation to cover pension and health-care costs for retirees could also be purged through bankruptcy proceedings, the people said.

Those obligations—which run to hundreds of millions of dollars a year—as well as the unprofitable state of Kodak’s new businesses, have made the company undesirable as a takeover target, people familiar with the matter said.

During a two-day meeting of the company’s board, management and advisers in mid-December, executives were briefed on how Kodak would fund itself during bankruptcy proceedings should efforts to sell its patents fall short, a person familiar with the matter said.

Kodak is in discussions with large banks including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. for so-called debtor-in-possession financing to keep the company operating in bankruptcy court, people familiar with the matter said.

Kodak has also held discussions with bondholders and a group led by investment firm Cerberus Capital Management LP about a bankruptcy financing package, the people said.

Should it seek bankruptcy protection, Kodak would follow other well-known companies that have failed to adapt to rapidly changing business models. They included Polaroid Corp., which filed for bankruptcy protection a second time in December 2008; Borders Group Inc., which liquidated itself last year; and Blockbuster Inc., which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010 and was later bought by Dish Network Corp. A bankruptcy filing would kick off what is expected to be a busier year in restructuring circles, as economic growth continues to drag and fears about European sovereign debt woes threaten to make credit markets less inviting for companies that need to refinance their debts.

Mr. Perez decided to base the company’s future on consumer and commercial inkjet printing. But the saturated market has proved tough to penetrate, and Kodak is paying heavily to subsidize sales as it builds a base of users for its ink.

The company remains a bit player in a printer market dominated by giants like H-P. Kodak ranks fifth world-wide, according to technology data firm IDC, with a market share of 2.6% in the first nine months of 2011.

As the company works on a restructuring plan, a key issue for creditors is whether the printer operations are worth supporting, or whether the bulk of the company’s value is in its patents.

Nortel Networks Corp., a company that also had fallen behind the technology curve, opted to liquidate itself in bankruptcy court rather than reorganize, raising a greater than expected $4.5 billion for its patent trove.

Kodak’s founder, Mr. Eastman, took his life at the age of 77 in what is now a museum celebrating the founder and Kodak’s impact on photography. His suicide note read: “To my friends, my work is done. Why wait?”

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