16th June 2011

Business Think Tank Symposium At SIGGRAPH 2011

siggraph 2011For nearly forty years SIGGRAPH has inspired, educated and influenced the direction of research, production and artistic communities. At SIGGRAPH 2011 in Vancouver this August 7th through 11th, the conference is introducing the SIGGRAPH Symposium: The Business Think Tank. This one-day event on August 7th will bring together leaders to address the past, present and future of the global computer graphics industry.

The Business Think Tank introduces an opportunity for industry leaders and visionaries to discuss issues related to finance, strategy, culture, and creativity in a conversational environment. This full-day event features discussion groups and two enlightening featured speakers intended to spark frank and honest interaction about the industry in the 21st century.

“The intimate, interactive nature of this inaugural Business Think Tank is the ideal forum in which to inspire idea-sharing and problem-solving among some of the visionaries within the global computer graphics community,” says Jill Smolin, SIGGRAPH 2011 Director from 3ality Digital. “This highly interactive day will feature conversations and presentations of industry-specific issues and challenges within our local and global community.”

Planned participants include:

Featured Speakers:

  • Gail Currey, Head of Studio, PDI/DreamWorks
  • Andy Hendrickson, Chief Technology Officer, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Business Session:

  • Victoria Alonso: EVP, VFX and Post Production, Marvel Entertainment, LLC
  • Rory Armes: CEO, Gener8 Digital Media Corp.
  • Dan Glass: EVP, Senior VFX Supervisor, Method Studios
  • Namit Malhotra: CEO, Prime Focus
  • Don McGowan: General Counsel, The Pokémon Company International
  • Marc Weigert: Executive Producer, VFX Supervisor, CEO, Uncharted Territory, LLC

Culture Session:

  • Steve Bocska: CEO, Pug Pharm Productions Inc.
  • Kim Davidson: Co-Founder, CEO, President, Side Effects Software Inc.
  • Warren Franklin: CEO, Rainmaker Entertainment Inc.
  • Jenny Fulle: Founder, Visual Effects Producer, The Creative Cartel
  • Shannon Gans: CEO, Co-Founder, New Deal Studios, Inc.

This Symposium is a new initiative for SIGGRAPH, and is intended to accommodate approximately 200 people who are on the business side of the industry. They might be artists who are now company leaders or leaders who work with artists. They are the people who look to each other and other leaders to define and run the industry.

Registration for the SIGGRAPH Symposium: The Business Think Tank is now available – space for this event is very limited, so register soon if you plan on attending.

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16th June 2011

Digi Awards Puts Out Call For Entries

digi awardsIn years past, they were the Canada New Media Awards. Now they are the Digi Awards, and they are looking for nominees in two areas. According to the newly-launched and re-designed site, companies and individuals can be named to The List, and from there be nominated for a Digi Award.

“The List is our way of bringing together the top tier of the entire Canadian digital ecosystem in a single place, and will serve as a crucial resource for anyone in this country and around the world looking to get a sense of who’s making waves in Canada.” states an About paragraph on the event’s web site. “Expert juries from across Canada will select the top entrants in each category listed below to make up The List, which we’ll take to the world online, in trade periodicals, and in live events across the globe.”

Nominations are now open, with an Early Bird entry rate of $149.00 in effect until until August 12th, 2011. I couldn’t easily find what the entry rate will be after August 12th. The Digi Awards will still be presented at nextMEDIA Toronto on December 6th, with the Digi Award finalists being culled from those nominated to The List. Categories for The List are as follows:

Canada’s Top Digital Companies – Presented by Deloitte
Canada’s Most Promising New Digital Companies
Canada’s Top Digital Executives
Canada’s Top Digital Producers
Canada’s Top Digital Design Teams
Canada’s Top Development Teams
Canada’s Top Social Media Mavens
Most Innovative Digital Media Technologies
Best In Branded Entertainment
Best In Community Campaigns
Best in Online Advertising
Best Use of Social Media
Best In Location-Based Services
Best in Mobile Marketing
Best In Mobile Applications
Best In Tablet Applications
Best In Cross-Platform: Kids
Best In Cross-Platform: Entertainment
Best In Cross-Platform: Factual
Best Web Series: Reality and Lifestyle
Best Web Series: Comedy
Best Web Series: Drama
Best Web Series: Documentary
Best In Web-Based Gaming
Best In Mobile Gaming
Best In Tablet Gaming
Best In Digital News and Current Affairs Publishing
Best In Tablet-Based Publishing
Best In Digital Lifestyle and Entertainment Publishing
Best In Online Video Portals
Best In E-Learning
Best In Canadian Culture

Categories for the Digi Awards:

Canada’s Top Digital Companies – Presented by Deloitte
Digital Executive of the Year
Social Media Maven of the Year
Best Interactive Campaign
Best In Mobile
Best Cross-Platform Project
Best Web Series
Best In Gaming
Best In Digital Publishing
Best In E-Learning
Best In Canadian Culture

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16th June 2011

New iPhone App Exposes Most Popular Scams in the World

amos studiosEdmonton’s Amos Studios has launched Scam Detector, a new iPhone application that reveals in detail over 350 of the most common scams in the world. The scams are separated into nine categories: auto, face to face, telephone, travel, and internet, which is broken down into five areas: social networking, financial, employment, housing, and online scam detector indexauctions.

“People need to be aware there are others out there, who given the opportunity, will not hesitate to victimize them”, says the application’s developer, Sorin Mihailovici. “This has been made easier through advancements in technology, as crooks are finding new ways to ply their trade around the world. It took almost a year to re¬search the content and it is now at the point where I am confident Scam Detector can save people from becom¬ing victims. The Pro version of Scam Detector provides ongoing protection with free updates.”

While users can easily navigate the menus learning about scams, they can also launch a search to see if they are about to be victimized. The search feature is optimized to find words within the scam descriptions. So if some¬one is approached by a con artist, who has a proposal that seems too good to be true, saying for instance, “you can earn more money working at home”. All the user of the app has to do is input a keyword or two fitting the situation and it will find the Work at Home scam, and all related scams.

Scam Detector for iPhone is available for $1.99US with a limited Lite free version of the app also available, but lists fewer scams. Scam Detector versions for iPad and Android platforms are in the works and will be available soon.


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16th June 2011

AIM Comics Brings Web Comics to the Kindle

AIM comicsIndependent Nova Scotian publishing imprint AIM Comics has released its first book, “The Brutal Blade of Bruno the Bandit”.  The book collects stories from the archives of the long-running web comic Bruno The Bandit. In using digital distribution methods, including formatting the book for Amazon’s popular Kindle reader, AIM Comics is breathing new life into once popular but lately overlooked web comics, while at the same time helping to close the gap that still exists between traditional web comics and the new trend of portable readiing devices.

Bruno the Bandit” is a web comic that ran for over 10 years from July, 1998 to October, 1999 that was  created, written and drawn by Newfoundland cartoonist Ian McDonald. The comic was hosted by web comics publisher Keenspot and was nominated in 2002 for best fantasy comic by the Web Cartoonists Choice Awards.  It is a sword and sorcery parody strip that lampoons current events and trends as much as it does the tropes of its own genre. Previously collected by Plan 9 Publishing, the collections were available in print only and no move was made to package any sort of digital collections of the work. bruno the bandit

In 2011, AIM Comics was started by independent artist Mike Dominic as an imprint for self-published, creator owned works.  The flagship title for this imprint is a new collection of Bruno the Bandit strips, “The Brutal Blade of Bruno the Bandit”, a 72-page magazine-sized book collecting the first 13 stories from the strip’s archives.

Although small and new, AIM Comics has already achieved global distribution by using the best of the new publishing channels for the comics format, including print on demand from Amazon’s Createspace service, as well as digital distribution through Wowio, DriveThru Comics and MyDigitalComics.com.

While the book has been available through those channels since February, AIM Comics’s latest move allows them to embrace the portable reader platform by making the book and any future offerings available via Amazon’s Kindle reader.  Although this means many hours of reformatting the material to fit the new device, the rewards are seen to be worth the effort as this opens up the book to a huge potential audience who may no longer be looking to their browsers or their desktop systems for reading material.

As the ubiquity of portable devices increases, more readers will stock their libraries from the wireless connection built into their device of choice, which means they will be spending less time exploring those kinds of materials through browser based interfaces.  In order for webcomics creators to enjoy the audiences they’ve held for the last decade, they’re going to need to start making their work available in collected versions aimed at the portable market.

In addressing the portable market, comics publishers have focused their efforts on the iOS-based devices from Apple, but have not yet made a strong move to embrace the wide variety of other portable devices currently available.  In releasing their first book for the Kindle, AIM Comics is exploring the portable market for comics and hoping to show that distribution to these devices will be feasible and rewarding.The second volume of “The Brutal Blade of Bruno the Bandit” is slated for August, 2011 release through all channels, including the Kindle.  Also, AIM Comics will be releasing a second title, “The Journals of Simon Pariah”, adapted from the web comic by Mike Dominic, in Fall of 2011.

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16th June 2011

MicroVolts Energizes Gamers In Its First Week Since Launch

rock hippo productionsRock Hippo Productions Ltd. announced today that the online cartoon style and free to play third-person action shooter MicroVolts.  Officially launched one week ago, MicroVolts has enjoyed a rapidly growing player base, glowing player and critical reviews and over 31,000 Facebook fans. The company is celebrating its first week with the release of a new official wallpaper, events, prizes and more.

“We have been thrilled with the official launch of MicroVolts.  We’re seeing our player base grow in leaps and bounds and getting great feedback from our MicroVolts community,” said Howard He, President and CEO of Rock Hippo microvoltsProductions.  “Our players’ characters are already sporting many of the newly released items such as Naomi’s Cupcake Dress and Knox’s Skeleton Jacket and arming themselves with new weapons such as the Mimic Grenade Launcher and the DareDev Gatling Gun. MicroVolters from all over the world are continuing to wage their secret war in the new map, The Studio, and all of this is just the beginning!”

To thank the growing community for helping make the game a success in its first week, Rock Hippo Productions has released an official MicroVolts wallpaper to commemorate the successful launch.  Players can download the official wallpaper showing Naomi, Knox, Pandora, and C.H.I.P .in action from the  MicroVolts web site.

Here are some of the things it seems MicroVolters can’t get enough of:

Clan Feature: MicroVolts’ new clan feature has boosted the competitive spirit amongst MicroVolters with over 1000 clans already created.  In the new Clan Hall, players can now create or manage their clans.  They can also request membership into coveted clans or recruit elite members to their ranks.  Players ultimately compete in-game with other clans for domination of the MicroWorld and placement on the Clan Leaderboard that will be re-launched tomorrow, Friday June 17 along with some other clan updates.

Shop: Players are enjoying the newly launched Web and In-Game Shop and all the access to exclusive items that this feature grants them. MicroVolts plans to continue to expand its payment options and availability to more countries to better support the ever-growing community.

“Free the Hippo” Tournament: Players are amped for the ”Free the Hippo: Free For All Tournament” being held on Saturday, June 18th. Prizes include up to 135K MP and a Hippo In Style costume set.

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16th June 2011

Telefilm Canada Invests in Cosmopolis

Telefilm CanadaTelefilm Canada has invested $2.7 million through its Canada Feature Film Fund into David Cronenberg’s (Eastern Promises) latest film Cosmopolis, for which principal photography recently began. The feature is adapted from Don DeLillo’s novel of the same name and stars Robert Pattinson (Water For Elephants, The Twilight Saga). The 40-day shoot on location and in studio will run through mid-July in Toronto.

“David Cronenberg is the definitive Canadian artist, who despite receiving many tempting offers to move to Hollywood, has remained in Canada to practice his craft,” said Carolle Brabant, Telefilm Executive Director. “Since his early years in the 70s as a visionary horror film director, Telefilm has been a proud supporter of this edgy auteur who constantly eyes new challenges, while all the while creating films that connect with mainstream audiences worldwide.”Director David Cronenberg Photo Credit: Telefilm Canada

David Cronenberg added: “Telefilm has made my career in Canada possible. Their continuous support of my work since my early days as a filmmaker has allowed me to remain and work at home.”

Cosmopolis is produced by Martin Katz (Hotel Rwanda) of Toronto-based Prospero Pictures and Paulo Branco (Mysteries of Lisbon) through Paris-based Alfama Films Production as a Canada-France co-production.

Cosmopolis is a contemporary thriller about a young billionaire asset manager on a twenty-four hour odyssey across Manhattan. Despite traffic jams and a looming financial disaster, Eric Packer (Pattinson) risks traveling cross-town in his stretch limousine for a haircut. During delays including a presidential motorcade, a celebrity funeral, and political protests, Eric receives visitors, both for business and pleasure, in his opulent, high-tech automobile. As the encounters and the economic crisis intensify, Packer cynically gambles with his clients’ fortunes and his own. The stakes are enormous, and in the hours that pass, Packer’s limousine and life veer toward the end of an era.

Rounding out the all-star international cast are Academy Award-winner Juliette Binoche (Chocolat), Academy Award-nominee Paul Giamatti (Barney’s Version), Academy Award-nominee Samantha Morton (In America), Sarah Gadon (A Dangerous Method), Mathieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) and Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder, The Trotsky).

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16th June 2011

Wind Mobile Offers Unlimited Business Solutions

wind mobileAfter more than a year of bringing change to the Canadian wireless consumer, WIND Mobile is changing the wireless market again, this time for businesses. With the launch of Unlimited Business Solutions, WIND Mobile is the first new, national wireless provider to offer fair prices to the Canadian business community.  WIND offers businesses the chance to create their own flexible solution that comes without a contract.

“Our offering is a game changer for small businesses,” said Ken Campbell, CEO of WIND Mobile. “I know from my own experience building WIND from the ground up that many small businesses are so busy they don’t have the time to look into cost-cutting options but these solutions offer a significant way to save on something that is essential to their success.”

WIND’s Unlimited Business Solutions offer businesses the ultimate flexibility to be agile and cope with constantly changing market conditions. Every business can mix and match plans for each team member, change plans as needed, and with no term-contracts, businesses don’t have to worry about penalties or cancellation fees. WIND also offers more deals as companies grow with savings of up to $5 per month on each additional line. This means a team of four can save more than $3,000 a year when compared to similar plans from the incumbents.

“Expanding into the small and medium business market in Canada is a natural next step for us,” said Scott Campbell, CMO for WIND Mobile. “WIND was the first to offer genuine 24/7 unlimited talk, text and data to consumers and many competitors have followed. Unlimited for business is something new and unique to WIND.”

Every plan offers free, unlimited national WIND-to-WIND calling and most offer 24/7 unlimited talk and text which means businesses don’t need to worry about exceeding minute limits.  WIND also never charges for incoming long-distance calls, as many competitors do, and offers $0.25 per minute roaming rates to and from anywhere across Canada and the US which is less expensive than the recently reduced rates of the incumbents.

Recognizing that business is often done anywhere but in an office today, WIND offers incredible value for hi-speed mobile Internet. Unlimited mobile Internet add-ons for smartphones are just $10 per month, and unlimited mobile Internet for laptops or tablets costs only $29 per month for up to 12 months. WIND also offers a full range of business friendly smartphones and data devices like the WINDspeed Data Stick that helps customers get work done just about anywhere.

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16th June 2011

Hothead Games Sends Cell Bound To iTunes

Hothead GamesCell Bound, the latest iOS device game from Hothead Games is available now in the iTunes App Store, and for just 99 cents, you can pick up a simple and addictive puzzle matching game that players in control of an important piece of science equipment – a sterile culture dish. Unfortunately, as soon as the dish is in the player’s hands it is subjected to contamination from a constant bombardment of colored cell structures.cell bound

To save the scientific sample, players have to spin the dish around using on-screen controls, catching and matching different colored cell structures as they drop into the field of play. Link five or more of the same color and cause the cells to burst and vanish before they can contaminate the whole dish. Burst more chains at a faster rate to score more points.

Cell Bound has three different game modes to play, plus Game Center support:

  • Infinite Mode: The main mode, colored cells drop towards the center and explode when 5 like colors are connected. All of the cells can be burst using the smart bomb trigger in the center of the dish. More smart bombs can be accrued by racking up points.
  • Timer Mode: Gain as many points as possible in 1:30 minutes. There are no smart bombs, and for every 1,200 points, one more second is added to the timer.
  • Burst Mode: Cells that connect and are not the same color turn black and inert, obstructing the new cells.



Cell Bound is rated 4+ and is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad devices running iOS 3.1.3 or later.
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16th June 2011

Last Call For Hot Canadian Startups

Profit Hot 50The PROFIT HOT 50, which is celebrating its 12th anniversary, is Canada’s premier ranking and awards program for successful young businesses. Anyone who manages or knows of a fast-growing young company is invited to submit a nomination by completing the simple entry form before June 30th.  Candidates or nominators looking for more information can call the toll-free PROFIT HOT 50 hotline at 1-800-713-GROW or visit the Hot 50 web site.

PROFIT will honour Canada’s Top New Growth Companies in its October issue and at GrowthCamp, an exclusive summit at which HOT 50 leaders share ideas, learn from experts and make valuable new contacts. Past winners have called it the best business event they’ve ever attended. Winning firms are backed by a national publicity campaign that generates extensive consumer and trade-media coverage.

Past PROFIT HOT 50 winners include Robert Herjavec of Dragons’ Den; Tony Lacavera of Globalive Communications and Wind Mobile; and Stephan Cretier of Garda World Security, a billion-dollar global security firm.

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16th June 2011

TVO Kids Launch New Educational Online Game

tvo kidsCollect shiny gems raining down from the sky, but beware of lurking sea monsters, all while playing four exciting mini-games – in tvokids.com’s The Mysteries of Lagoon Bay.

TVOKids.com continues to lead the way in teacher-approved, kid-tested fun with the launch of its new online educational game that was developed in close collaboration with students from a Toronto community school. The Mysteries of Lagoon Bay, which launches today on the TVO Kids web site, is an online board game that can be played by one to four players on the same computer – perfect for families.

Built from the ground up, over a one-and-a-half year period, game developers and educators from tvokids.com worked with a group of 10 children, aged five to seven, to incorporate their ideas and preferences into an exciting and challenging game. Not only is it adjustable for different skill levels, but The Mysteries of Lagoon Bay finely balances a mysteriously fun game while reinforcing the Ontario school curriculum.

The tvokids.com team began by building a life-sized physical board game and workshopped it with kids to determine the best way to make the educational elements of the game really come alive.

Players select one of six unique characters and compete to collect the most gems by playing four types of mini-games. Each game is designed to help kids with adding (Nice Dice), patterning (Ball Fall), geometry (Shape Escape), and spelling (Word Herd). The game’s adventurous setting incorporates suggestions from kids to add hidden passageways, top-secret trapdoors and wonderful surprises.

“The Mysteries of Lagoon Bay is the result of a collaborative effort between kids and tvokids.com – we really listened to what they liked in their favourite games and tried to pack as much as we could in this game,” says manager of tvokids.com Marie Morency-Lee. “When we showed the kids the final game, they were excited and screaming, ‘This was my idea!’. The game is a great tool to practice math and language concepts while having a blast playing with friends and family.”

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