Montreal-based Di-O-Matic has revealed details about Voice-O-Matic v1.61 for Maya. Created to meet the needs of 3D character animators all over the world who require an easy-to-use, lip synchronization plug-in for their Autodesk Maya software, Voice-O-Matic is used by top 3D animation studios to achieve highly accurate voice-to-character matching. Voice-O-Matic v1.61 for Maya is available now for US $349.
Di-O-Matic heard your call animators. Spending hours to create lip sync animations for CG characters is tiring, and manually generating every lip movement is a long and tedious task. That’s why Voice-O-Matic was designed! Combining a user friendly interface with a highly efficient and time saving system. Some of the most admired CG characters including Batman, Spider-man and Superman carry Voice-O-Matic at the heart of their facial animations.
Designed for animators by animators, Voice-O-Matic v1.61 for Maya only requires an audio file to automatically produce an accurate lip sync animation. Afterwards, the results can be easily tweaked to perfectly match any style of animation. Voice-O-Matic v1.61 for Maya works with any type of character setup and with every language. Voice-O-Matic has also already earned its stripes with its use in leading feature films, popular television shows, commercials and award winning video games.
Oscar Marquez, coordinator of the 3D department at Cromosoma reveals “Not only did we manage to increase our productivity with Voice-O-Matic v1.61 for Maya, but it allowed us to focus on other aspects of our animated series. What we liked most about Voice-O-Matic is that it can be set up easily, the lip sync of several characters can be done at the same time and we barely need to modify the animation curves. If you make a good setup and integrate it properly you can have very good results. Thanks to Voice-O-Matic, we could do all the lip sync we needed in the series with just 10 mouth shapes and only one control for the most extreme poses.”
No matter which type of character setup you wish to use: from blend shapes to complex bone-based rigs, and no matter the language for which you wish to create lip synchronization, Voice-O-Matic v1.61 for Maya delivers, and can save up to 80% of the time it takes to manually animate lip synchronization. 3D animation artists can benefit by using both the automatic phoneme matching features and the manual tools to fine-tune the animated character to achieve highly customized results.
Interactive entertainment company Ludia today announced its ‘The Bachelor: The Videogame’ App is available on the App Store for iPhone, iPod touch for $2.99 USD and iPad for $4.99 USD. Based on the hit franchise created by Mike Fleiss, hosted by Chris Harrison and airing Mondays 8:00–10:00 ET/PT on ABC, the app features characters inspired by the actual Bachelors and Bachelorettes from the top rated series’ “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” including current Bachelor Brad Womack and the most recent Bachelorette, Ali Fedotowsky.
Fans of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” can now live their own show experience anywhere, anytime, as they compete in a collection of exciting mini-games and challenges to win the attention and, ultimately, the heart of the Bachelor or Bachelorette. Players vie for the final rose, playing as either a female or male contestant.
“The Bachelor is one of the most successful dating competitions in the reality genre, and we are pleased to bring the romance and heated competition that are the hallmarks of the TV show to iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users,” said Alex Thabet, Founder and CEO of Ludia Inc. “This release reinforces Ludia’s strategy of delivering highly entertaining games, based on the most popular television brands.”
Features of The Bachelor: The Videogame App include:
* Play to earn the love of the Bachelor or the Bachelorette, guided by Chris Harrison.
* Characters based on favorite Bachelors and Bachelorettes, including Brad Womack, Jake Pavelka, Jason Mesnick and more!
* 23 mini-game challenges to play in one-on-one or group date scenarios.
* 3 levels of difficulty to chose from.
* Humorous “Fantasy Suite” videos where your performance in the game determines the outcome; will you share an embrace in the hot tub or be hung out to dry?
For those looking for employment, Ludia currently has several positions that need to be filled.
The S-3D Gaming Alliance has just released the 2011 edition of the U-Decide Initiative. U-Decide is credited as the only S-3D gaming report shaped by consumer opinion, industry analysis, and hands-on experience. The initiative gives readers a candid outlook of what needs to happen to make stereoscopic 3D gaming successful in the long term.
“DDD is a leading provider of 3D game conversion software for the PC market, and our success is dependent on delivering what gamers want. The U-Decide report provides this helpful insight and more, and we recommend it to anyone that also markets to the growing S-3D gaming community,” said Chris Yewdall, CEO of Dynamic Digital Depth. Read the rest of this entry »
The digital media division of Breakthrough Entertainment announced today that it will create an online social game based on the animated television series, Crash Canyon. Targeted for youth and adult audiences ages 13-35, Crash Canyon Adventure will roll out September 2011 in French and English and will debut on TELETOON at Night/La Nuit websites. Breakthrough Entertainment will team with London, Ontario-based game creator, Big Blue Bubble, for development.
In Crash Canyon Adventure, players create a unique character and join the residents of Crash Canyon. As fledgling members of this sometimes chaotic, sometimes absurd, but always funny community, they are sent on quests, play mini-games, craft an escape vehicle or build a home — and buy, collect and trade a huge array of items. All the while, players interact and socialize with the other new Crash residents as well as the many characters from the series.
A few of the game’s main features include:
• The Crashbook: Players will have available a wide range of social networking tools in the game.
• Full Character Creation: The player can fully customize the look of their character, their clothes, their accessories and even their personality.
• Two Game Goals For Players To Choose: The player can choose between attempting to escape the canyon or settle into their cozy corner and decorate and customize their home in the canyon.
• Quest Driven Game Play: A hugely popular game play mechanic where the colorful characters of the canyon will send the player on funny and exciting adventures, challenge them to mini games and trade or gift items to them.
Breakthrough Entertainment’s digital media division secured funding for Crash Canyon Adventure from three sources: the game is made possible through the generous support of the Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund, the Ontario Media Development Corporation (Interactive Digital Media Fund) and the Shaw Rocket Fund’s Digital Media Stream.
“We are delighted to be producing this game for TELETOON. The show’s gregarious characters and wildly hilarious story lines lend well for an online social game: Crash Canyon Adventure perfectly captures the humor of the television series,” said Dorothy Vreeker, Director, Digital Media at Breakthrough Entertainment.
Crash Canyon (Television Series Synopsis) — The Wendell family doesn’t usually do too much together; the parents work a lot and the kids have developed their own lives. This year however, Norm, the Wendell patriarch, has decided to schedule a family vacation. He rents a van and a camper trailer, forces everyone inside and the family sets off on a week of heavily-scheduled fun.
With all four Wendells in a confined space, motoring between tourist attractions, scenic vistas and the occasional point of interest, the trip turns out to be a disaster – in fact, an actual disaster – Norm accidentally drives the van over a cliff!The van plummets two miles straight down into a canyon. When the Wendells stumble out, they realize that not only are they alive, but also that they are not alone. The same fate has befallen several others before them and the Wendells are just the newest residents of a community of everyone else that has driven, cycled, sky-dived or even crashed their NASA landing capsule there.
So, the Wendells live in their camper trailer in the heart of a shanty town of all the other crashed vehicles, scattered wherever gravity set them down. Their neighbors include an astronaut and his chimp companion, a wealthy family (who live in the summer house they were transporting), a has-been British punk rocker and many more. All these characters hope to escape, but until one of their plans actually work, they make up this impromptu community known only as “Crash Canyon”.
Congratulations to the Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood writing team who picked up the Writers’ Guild of America award last night for Video Game Writing: Story by Patrice Desilets, Jeffrey Yohalem, Corey May; Lead Script Writer: Jeffrey Yohalem; Script Writers: Ethan Petty, Nicholas Grimwood, Matt Turner; Ubisoft
TELETOON Canada Inc. is taking the original TELETOON Pilot Project concept and turning it into an online, user-generated contest called the TELETOON At Night Pilot Project, which began yesterday, February 6th. This initiative calls on aspiring and professional animators to put their creative skills to use for a chance to win $10,000 CDN and the opportunity to attend North America’s largest animation conference and festival, the Television Animation Conference and Ottawa International Animation Festival.
“The TELETOON at Night Pilot Project is an important initiative which offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for animation enthusiasts,” said Russell Ward, Vice President, Marketing, TELETOON Canada inc. “As an active player in the animation industry, this project gives TELETOON the opportunity to recognize and open a door of possibility to raw and undiscovered creative talent.”
From Sunday, February 6 to Friday, July 15, 2011, contestants are invited to submit original, funny and unique animation or animation-related short films. Eligible submissions must be no more than five minutes in length and can either be entered through the English-language contest on teletoonatnight.com or the French-language contest on teletoonlanuit.com. The winner of each English and French contest will be awarded:
* $10,000 CDN
* Two roundtrip airline tickets from the closest Canadian commercial airport to the winner’s residence to Ottawa
* Four nights accommodation in Ottawa
* Two delegate passes to the Television Animation Conference and Ottawa International Animation Festival
All eligible submissions will be featured in a video gallery on teletoonatnight.com and teletoonlanuit.com, where the public can select their “Fave of the Week” each week. The five final contenders selected by a TELETOON jury for each of the English and French contests will be revealed on Sunday, July 31. The public can then vote for their favourite video until Saturday, August 28. The video that receives the most votes by the end of the voting phase will be crowned the winner and revealed on-air and online on Sunday, September 18.
The original TELETOON Pilot Project launched in fall 2007, exclusively inviting Canadian producers to submit proposals to produce a pilot in either English or French to be broadcast on TELETOON. Ten projects were selected as finalists from over 200 submissions, straddling a wide range of topics, animation styles and comedy sensibilities. TELETOON recently announced that the first TELETOON Pilot Project winner, Fugget About It, has been officially greenlit for production into a 13-part series in English and French.
And just to add to the bandwidth cap angst, Sony of Canada has launched “Video On Demand powered by Qriocity™”in Canada with titles such as “A-Team,” “Get Him to the Greek,” “Inception,” “The Last Airbender,” “Salt,” and Disney-Pixar’s “Toy Story 3.”
“Video On Demand powered by Qriocity™” is a premium streaming video service that allows film fans to rent from a growing library of hundreds of Hollywood blockbusters from NBC Universal Television Distribution, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, The Walt Disney Studios, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, as well as films from local studios, straight to their Sony 2010 and 2011 network-enabled BRAVIA® TV, Blu-ray Disc™ player, or Blu-ray Disc Home Theatre system.
Rental prices for High-Definition content will range from CA$4.99-5.99 while those for Standard-Definition content will range from CA$3.99-4.99. After renting a film, consumers have up to 30 days to start watching their movie, and once playback is started, they have up to 24 or 48 hours to watch the film as many times as they like.
“Video On Demand powered by Qriocity” started in Japan on January 26 and is already available in the U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K. and is an entertainment network service platform that connects many of Sony’s network-enabled devices and allows consumers to enjoy high quality entertainment across multiple devices. Via Qriocity, Sony will deliver a variety of digital entertainment content and services that are “powered by Qriocity”, including video, music, game applications, and e-books over time. Through these services, and in combination with its networked devices, Sony aims to bring new and exciting entertainment experiences to customers.
marblemedia and Skatoony creators James Fox and Richard Brookes from UK-based Whole Hog Creations, today announced a partnership to develop Chugga Chugga Wow, an original live-action/animated hybrid television series (52 x 11 minutes) and website for preschoolers. The series is in development with Kids’ CBC.
“We’re really looking forward to developing Chugga Chugga Wow with the creators of Skatoony,” says Mark Bishop, Executive Producer/Partner, marblemedia. “Through our combined experience with children’s cross-platform properties, we feel this is a great opportunity for both companies to create something entertaining and educational for pre-schoolers.”
Chugga Chugga Wow is an educational adventure, where real kids board an animated train and embark on a journey through a cartoon world. At each stop, they interact with characters, and help them solve problems through fun, learning-based activities.
“Chugga Chugga Wow is a hugely exciting concept,” says James Fox, Co-Founder, Whole Hog Creations. “It’s the perfect mix of live-action kids and magical cartoon characters, plus it’s as funny as it is educational. We have developed a strong creative relationship with marblemedia; they are fantastically imaginative and great fun to work with. Chugga Chugga Wow is the perfect project on which to blend our expertise and enthusiasm.”
The Chugga Chugga Wow experience transitions seamlessly online, where kids get to take the journey themselves. marblemedia is developing an interactive world where kids can meet and interact with their favourite characters as well as sing songs and play games from the television show.
Kim Wilson, Creative Head for Children’s & Youth Programming at CBC says, “We’re really excited to be working on this project. The idea of doing an age-appropriate game show for preschoolers is extremely appealing.”
International distribution and format sales for Chugga Chugga Wow will be handled by marblemedia’s distribution arm, Distribution360.
The 2011 Canada 3.0 conference has opened registration for this year’s event, which will take place in Stratford on May 2nd through 5th. The Early Bird rate of $495.00 + taxes and service charge will be available until midnight on March 3th, when ticket prices will go up to $695.00 + taxes and processing charge. There is a StartUp/Small Business/Non-Profit price available for $225.00 + taxes and service charge as well as ticketing options for students. If you register before February 18th you will automatically be entered for a draw to win a copy of MacroWikinomics, personally addressed and signed by author Anthony D. Williams. Please see the Canada 3.0 web site for this year’s confirmed speakers.
Monde Media and Bug Tracker have made two personnel announcements this morning – Jean-Robert Michel, Monde Media’s former General Manager has moved into the dual role of Production Director for both Bug-Tracker and Monde Media, while Monde Media’s former COO has become the new Client Relationship Director for both entities.
In other comings and goings, the BC Technology Industry Association announced today that its President, Pascal Spothelfer will leave the organization June 30th to return to the corporate sector. Spothelfer was appointed President & CEO of the BC Technology Industry Association in November of 2007, and since that time has successfully raised the level of recognition of the organization and BC’s technology industry through his leadership, commitment to collaboration, and tireless advocacy efforts.
“My past three years at the BCTIA have allowed me to get to know our technology community on a very different level. It has been most rewarding both personally and professionally,” said Spothelfer. “I have met and worked with incredibly smart, engaged and inspiring people – experiences that will fuel my passion to assist in the further growth of BC’s technology industry not just until my departure from the BCTIA, but in whatever role I pursue in the future. “
Paul Gorton, Chair of the BCTIA commented, “We will greatly miss having Pascal’s passion and vision. On behalf of the Board, I thank Pascal for his commitment to the BCTIA, and we wish him the utmost success in the future.”
Pascal will continue to lead the BCTIA and work with the board on the leadership transition until his departure at the end of June. A formal search has been initiated by the BCTIA and will be facilitated by Odgers Berndtson. Please contact Caroline Jellinck at 604 602 2556 for more information.
Canadian developers seem to have a thing for hippos – here is some info from three Canadian enterprises which contain “hippo” in their names.
Rock Hippo Productions Ltd has launched the second closed beta for its cartoon-style third person action shooter, MicroVolts. This second phase of testing will continue for approximately two weeks in preparation for the official release day. In addition, the company has released all-new screen shots of the game and is holding a special “Free-for-All” tournament which will kick off Saturday, February 5th. Winning players will be awarded their choice of any weapon they want to use with the launch of the Open Beta. Players who visit the game’s website will be able to learn more about the game and the events as well as register for a beta key.
MicroVolts features fast paced, third person shooter action and pits players against each other in a secret battle that has been waged and going unnoticed right in our own backyard for years. No one knows for sure when or where the first toy declared war but rumor has it that the uprising began with four original limited edition figures, code named MicroVolts. Battle lines were drawn when Naomi, Knox, Pandora, and C.H.I.P.-the prototypes a-were soon joined by an endless number of modified versions. Now, toy figures around the world are engaged in an all-out war for valuable battery resources and supremacy of the Micro World. All we can do now is stay out of their way and wait for a champion to be declared!
With a ton of weapons, inventive character designs, and a huge list of customization features, MicroVolts is destined to invigorate and re-energize the Free2play space. Intuitive controls and a third person view make the game easy to play and fun for both newcomers and veterans of shooter games. Game modes include Free for All, Team Deathmatch, Item Match, Capture the Battery, and many more featuring various maps designed by toy concept.
Tiny Hippos, a start-up based in Waterloo, has a product which will be of interest to all of you mobile developers out there. According to its site, this product, which is named Ripple Emulator, is a multi-platform mobile environment emulator that runs in a web browser and is custom-tailored to HTML5 mobile application testing. Ripple aims to reduce the challenges being faced by mobile developers caused by today’s platform fragmentation in the marketplace.
Meanwhile, just down the highway a bit from Tiny Hippos is Mercury Grove, an Ottawa-based developer who has an enterprise called Network Hippo, which according to Mercury Grove’s site connects to users’ email, address books, and social networks to consolidate all of their professional contacts, remind them to stay in touch with important people, and makes it easy to connect online or through email. Mercury Grove also offers a service called Web Collaboration, which is an online workspaces for internal teams, partners, and clients. Unlike other team sharing services, Web Collaboration can be setup in minutes and requires no download, installation or administration.
Another collaboration-style service I stumbled across is Vancouver-developed Jostle. I found this site because the person behind Jostle’s Twitter account retweeted one of my Game Design Expo live tweets. According to the Jostle web site, a People Engagement Platform™ that glues enterprises together. This platform enables innovative companies to clarify their organization, reveal hidden expertise and engage their employees. Jostle is enterprise software that is accessible from any web-enabled device and works like a website, without the need to install software.
Toronto’s Blue74 Labs has released a statement announcing that IIA, the studio’s critically acclaimed real-life massively multiplayer “outdoor” role-playing game sold tens of thousands of memberships in the first 48 hours of its release, making it the fastest-selling ARG game of all time. The IIA Spy Game is being compared to blockbuster hits “The Game”, “Spy Game”, and “Halting State”, a book by Charles Stross.
The IIA (International Intelligence Agency) is a real life multi-player game that gives players a real life, real feel, “off computer” role-playing game. Players don’t know about the actual game play until they are engaged in the game, which was made globally available on January 24th via a small posting on the popular “Ycombinator: Hacker News”, a web site for Internet start-ups. Expectations were less than 100 memberships to be sold the first day, Mike Curry noticed a very heavy load on his web server – realizing the game had gone viral. Registration for the game is $5.00, which interested players send via PayPal.
The company does have an official site for the game, however they are not releasing the information until its members exercise a critical classified mission. It’s believed that the mission entails a Remote Controlled UAV helicopter taking aerial photographs of the building that houses their website. It’s believed they are doing this to ensure the security of the building.
In an article released yesterday on Gamasutra, Nexon America VP of Business Development Won Il Sue spoke with reporter Chris Nutt about the million dollar Nexon iNitiative, during which the publisher asked for game dev submissions from studios around the world. Coming out at the top of heap with signed deals: One2Tribe from Poland, and Ontario studio Antic Entertainment. Nexon did not reveal exactly what type of game the London, ON Antic team is working on, other than to say one of the studios is working on a Facebook game and that both games, while somewhat of an unusual nature for Nexon, will be of the social media genre. In the meantime, check out Antic’s free to play Junk Battles, a browser-based free-to-play fast-paced vehicle combat game.
All’s fair in love and war in cartoon-land as TeleToon Retro couples pursue the love of fans and a spot in TeleToon Retro’s Hall of Fame as the Top 5 Sweethearts in honour of Valentine’s Day. Starting today and running until Sunday, February 6, viewers can vote online for their top 5 favourite cartoon love matches, for a place in TeleToon Retro history.
TeleToon Retro has narrowed the field to 18 classic animated admirers and is inviting fans to select which couples are the Top 5 Sweethearts of all-time. The list of nominees for the Top 5 Sweethearts is made up of the following cartoon couples:
Smurfette and Hefty Smurf
The Baroness and Destro (G.I. Joe)
He-Man and Frosta
Pepe Le Pew and Penelope cat
Fred and Wilma Flintstone
Batman and Catwoman
Barney and Betty Rubble
Alvin and Britney
George and Jane Jetson
Shaggy and Scooby-Doo
Clark Kent and Lois Lane
Granny and Tweety
Fred and Daphne (Scooby Doo)
Optimus Prime and Elita One
Pebbles Flintstone and Bamm Bamm Rubble
Josie and Alan M (Josie and the Pussycats)
Wonder Woman and Superman (Superfriends)
She-Ra and Pirate Sea Hawke
Following the voting period, the Top 5 Sweethearts will be announced on Friday, February 11 and a special programming marathon featuring all five couples will air as part of the “Retro Rewind” programming block on Sunday, February 13 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET. These winners will be inducted into the TeleToon Retro Hall of Fame, joining the Top 5 favourite cartoon characters of all-time as chosen by the fans in December 2010.
If you have children who are interested in animation, check out Toon Boom Animation’s version 5 of the very popular Flip Boom Classic animation software. Version 5, which costs $39.99, includes a brand new sound library whose audio files can be easily dragged and dropped into your child’s project – or your young animator can use voice recordings to bring life to his or her 2D animations.
QuickPlay Media Inc. has joined the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) LLC, a cross-industry consortium dedicated to creating a consumer-friendly open market for digital content distribution. With DECE’s UltraViolet™, consumers will have an easy and consistent way to collect and watch movie and television content across multiple branded platforms, such as computers, connected TVs, game consoles, smartphones and tablets.
According to research by Nielsen, consumer demand to watch TV and movies anywhere, at any time is growing, and DECE will help accelerate this trend by providing those who purchase UltraViolet-branded media and services with a high-quality and convenient entertainment experience. Through the UltraViolet Account system, each household will be able to create an account for up to six members who can access their household’s UltraViolet movies, TV and other entertainment via participating retailers, streaming providers and devices. Consumers will also be able to register up to 12 UltraViolet devices and then easily download or share content among them. In addition, UltraViolet streaming access will enable consumers to access their collections via set-top boxes and most places where they can access the web.
QuickPlay Media’s experience includes powering premium mobile video services for live TV, video on demand (VOD) and radio services for many of the world’s largest communications providers. The company’s offerings include PrimeTime2GoTM, an award-winning premium TV service, and a complete suite of solutions for the delivery of high-quality video across multiple platforms. QuickPlay’s Multi-Screen Movie Solution provides seamless switching of movie viewing between devices, and includes a feature-rich storefront with options for customization of branding, merchandising, navigation and billing integration. Its Multi-Screen TV Solution delivers a fully-integrated entertainment experience with unified delivery of download and streaming DVR capabilities for live TV and VOD.
TVO has launched of a number of new and innovative connected TV apps for Boxee and Yahoo! TV that bring the Internet to the traditional TV screen. Boxee is the newly released set top box which allows the user to connect their TV to the internet, while the Yahoo! TV widget engine is built into several new TVs at the point of manufacturing and allows for web content to be viewed on the TV screen. TVO has released three apps for Yahoo! and Boxee, including:
* Gisèle’s Big Backyard for ages 2-5,
* The Space for ages 6-11, and
* TVO.org video content including Allan Gregg In Conversation, Big Ideas, Think Again and The Agenda with Steve Paikin.
In addition to the three new apps, the Boxee TV Show Library also features episodes of The Agenda with Steve Paikin.
Based on the Ontario school curriculum, all TVOKids content, including Gisèle’s Big Backyard and The Space, is teacher tested and developed in conjunction with TVO’s in-house educational specialist.
These advancements come out of the “IdeaShaker” digital innovation lab, which is TVO’s incubator for new talent, ideas and products. Students from Sheridan College’s Interactive Multimedia post-graduate program have worked alongside TVO staff on both connected TV projects from conception to launch.
Based on this success, TVO is excited to partner with Sheridan’s post-graduate program to nurture and develop new talent who will contribute to cutting-edge technology advances in public educational media. As part of the partnership, students gain employment experience through TVO and help develop new media applications from the ground up.
Your grandmother’s or mother’s life could be saved by a new smartphone application developed by a joint venture in Ottawa. Taynaxa Software and Flare Consulting have created “Rescue Me!“, an emergency application that will automatically send a distress message if your loved one is incapacitated and doesn’t cancel it at a certain time.
The phone can be configured with a pre-set “Rescue Me!” message to be sent at a specific date and time (and repeated daily or weekly, for example). At the pre-arranged time, the phone prompts the user to cancel the message. If it is not canceled it will be sent to two contact numbers.
The benefit of “Rescue Me!” over monitored “panic buttons” with high charges is that it requires intervention NOT to send a message. As a result, if the user is incapacitated through a fall or other mishap, the distress message can still be sent at the appointed time.
Monitoring systems can cost over $100 every month, and still rely on an elderly person pressing a button to summon help. Version 1 of “Rescue Me!” is currently for sale online in the Android Marketplace store for just $1.99. The application will be equally as useful to outdoor enthusiasts such as hikers, climbers, and skiers or even to people going on a blind date or setting out on a drive in potentially bad conditions. All the user has to do is estimate when they expect to be back safe and sound and, if they don’t confirm that all is well at that particular time, “Rescue Me!” will alert their key contacts to the potential problem.
Mood Media Corporation has announced that its retail point of sale division, Somerset Entertainment, has partnered with Encore, Inc. (Encore), a wholly owned subsidiary of Navarre Corporation, to launch Sony Online Entertainment’s multi-million selling Wheel of Fortune® games to its increasingly popular casual games retail program. Under the agreement with Encore, Wheel of Fortune®, Hoyle® and other well-known Encore games will be sold through Mood’s interactive displays at retail, which allow customers to sample the games via interactive video before purchasing.
Antarctica Digital has launched Future Flow Media, a new division of the North Vancouver digital marketing service provider that will offer multi-channel list rental email and mobile services that advance digital marketing campaigns. Future Flow Media will focus exclusively on email marketing campaigns and specialized, integrated marketing support. The company’s target market includes media agencies, advertising agencies and corporate marketing professionals across all verticals.
“Antarctica Digital has years of proven experience in providing list-growth techniques such as contests, sweepstakes, and coupons,” said Chris O’Neill, director of business development for Antarctica Digital. “Due to the success we’ve had with email marketing campaigns, we saw the need to create a separate entity that’s focused solely on providing a service offering that helps clients acquire new email opt-ins and expand their subscriber bases through permission-based directories.”
Future Flow Media is not just a data aggregator — the division is a full-service marketing provider. If needed, Future Flow Media can provide best practice recommendations to enable clients to integrate mobile and email marketing campaigns with custom microsites, online contests, coupons, and social media programs. The company’s consultants will help clients boost the overall quality of email campaigns in efforts to acquire new customers, expand their marketing databases and increase brand loyalty.
For many people and businesses that today cannot access high-speed Internet this new arrangement makes access to the possibilities of broadband a reality. Starting on January 24, 2011 Barrett Xplore Inc. will begin offering residents an up to 1.5 Mbps package for $69.99 per month with an upfront one-time cost as low as $99 depending on contract length.
EOWC residents will benefit from new technologies as the Barrett network evolves. Starting in 2012, Barrett’s new 4G network will be available in the EOWC region. This network will use High-Throughput Satellites that will be capable of speeds up to 25 Mbps, and will offer even better value for end-consumers. Xplornet satellite customers who sign up for this new offer will have the option in 2012 to upgrade to the new 4G network. At the same time, EOWC’s work on an ultra high-speed, fibre optic telecommunications grid for Eastern Ontario is continuing on schedule.
Shaw Media and Global Television have announced that its original drama series Combat Hospital has been picked up by ABC. The 13 episode series, the second Global series to be picked up by the US network, will air in simulcast with ABC this summer.
Set in a hospital inspired by the Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit (MMU) at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, Combat Hospital charts the frantic lives of the hospital’s resident doctors and nurses from Canada, America, the UK and other allied countries. This candid, entertaining and sometimes brutal series follows Canadian trauma surgeon Rebecca Kincaid as she experiences relentless life and death battles on the surgeon’s table that transcend politically-charged stereotypes and is confronted with making the tough decisions that come with the realities of frontline medicine
Combat Hospital is a joint production of Canada’s Sienna Films and the UK’s Artists Studio with Carrie Stein at 3 Arts Entertainment and Simon Vaughan at Lookout Point heading up international sales. Executive Producers are Jennifer Kawaja and Julia Sereny for Sienna Films (The Cry of the Owl—with BBC Films, MACT Productions, Diamonds—CBC/ABC, with Buffalo Gal Pictures, Alchemy Television and Philo Films, How She Move—Paramount Vantage/MTV Films/Mongrel Media), Gub Neal, Justin Thompson-Glover and Patrick Irwin for Artists Studio; Executive Producer/ Showrunner Dan Petrie Jr. will head up the writing room on the show originally created by Jinder Chalmers and Douglas Steinberg.
Meanwhile, CTV announced today its international hit series FLASHPOINT will conclude its third season with a shocking season finale immediately following SUPER BOWL XLV (Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers) in all markets on Sunday, Feb. 6. In the gripping cliff-hanger episode, Canada’s favourite TV cop unit is threatened like never before as the fate of Team One and the life of one their own hangs in the balance. The season finale guest stars renowned actor Victor Garber (ALIAS, ELI STONE) as an elite military psychologist who sets his sights on destroying Team One.
The scheduling comes following a remarkable mid-season run on Tuesday nights this Winter, where FLASHPOINT has won the 10 p.m. timeslot on CTV against new simulcasts of THE GOOD WIFE (Global/CBS) for two weeks in a row. Premiering with 1.7 million viewers on Jan. 4, the series has seen impressive double digit growth (15-24%) in the three, key adult demos compared to last season, and series’ high audiences among A18-34.
Last year’s SUPER BOWL broadcast was watched by more than 6 million viewers on CTV. CTV’s SUPER BOWL coverage kicks off at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 6 with the pre-game, followed by SUPER BOWL XLV at 6 p.m. ET.
Autodesk has launched an animation contest which is open to students 18 and over (or over the age of majority in their jurisdiction or residence, whichever is older), in the United States and Canada, but excluding residents of Florida, New York, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island and the Province of Quebec. As part of the First Robotics Challenge 2011, students are being tasked to create a 30 second animation that depicts a solution to a series of challenges that the iiko, an alien race, face on their home planet.
As a contestant, you have the opportunity to identify a challenge the iiko face and tell us how your idea/product/invention would change their world – for the better! It might be something that makes a positive difference in the lives of the iiko, in their world at large, or even in space. It may save lives or make daily life easier, or bring back their world to the way it once was. It’s up to you. You can use and modify the characters if you choose, or you may decide on other ways to tell the story of how you chose to help the Iiko. We want you to be creative and innovative, maybe it’s a new invention, maybe you recycle something from what we have found.
As part of your entry, you are required to create a storyboard, 30 second animation and accompanying jpeg image. Please visit the contest page for complete details and full rules.
Desire2Learn will receive a grant of $4.25 million from the province of Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development and Trade as part of the company’s investment of more than $28 million, which will see 21 new jobs created at Desire2Learn and an additional 33 existing jobs will be sustained. The company is continuing its R&D and staffing investment to build out platforms for learning focused on three technology pillars including teaching and learning applications, mobile learning, and analytics that will help Desire2Learn increase its share of the growing eLearning market.
“Desire2Learn has demonstrated a real commitment to research and development,” states Sandra Pupatello, Minister of Economic Development and Trade. “We’re proud to support their latest investment that will help the company grow its share of the global eLearning market and create good jobs for Ontario families.”
The Government of Ontario offers a number of programs that support innovative ventures in technology, research, development and commercialization across industries and attract new investment in strategic areas of Ontario’s economy. Working proactively to promote the province’s technology sector and support high-value jobs for Ontario families is part of the government’s five-year Open Ontario Plan.
“We are very appreciative to be the recipient of a provincial grant that will support our ongoing commitment to R&D and job creation,” says John Baker, President & CEO, Desire2Learn. “We’re very excited about the future and fortunate to be experiencing incredible growth; financial infusions such as this are invaluable in assisting us achieve our goals.”
“Great ideas create great jobs. As Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, and as a resident of Waterloo Region, I am proud that Desire2Learn’s software is making learning more accessible for students around the world while creating jobs here in Waterloo Region,” remarks John Milloy, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, and MPP for Kitchener Centre.
How many angles of equal measure are there in an isosceles triangle? What do plants need in order to conduct photosynthesis? How do you turn a good idea into a well-written paragraph? Every child tackling homework is bound to hit a stumbling block, but perhaps the bigger challenge for kids is overcoming the anxiety and frustration that often follow. What can kids do? Where can they turn for help?
Support and encouragement are just a click away thanks to the newly launched TVOKids Homework Zone, available now at tvokids.com. The TVOKids Homework Zone is a microsite that aggregates TVOKids’ massive inventory of kid and teacher-tested, curriculum-linked resources into an easy-to-navigate and fun work zone. Primary grade-school kids can practice and review concepts learned in school and get problem-solving tips and tricks for three core areas of the Ontario curriculum: math, science and literacy.
“We’ve heard from kids, parents and educators that these subjects are areas of need,” says Stacie Goldin, TVOKids’ in-house educator/research advisor. Goldin led the mammoth task of identifying the content appropriate for the microsite, and tagging and categorizing resources in a way that kids – and their parents – could easily find help. “As parents, we often struggle to help our kids with homework because we ourselves may have struggled in those subjects, especially math. One key objective of the site is to help parents, not just kids, better understand these subjects,” she adds.
Kids can locate the subject they need help with and drill down to a specific topic, be it perimeter or patterns; the animal kingdom or outer space; or spelling and grammar. To illustrate these concepts, the Homework Zone provides episodes of popular TVOKids-produced shows and web games from some of tvokids.com’s 160+ offerings, as well as new resources exclusive to the Homework Zone including:
* teacher videos featuring experts in each of the three subject areas (math expert Troy Langevine, principal at Ellesmere-Statton Public School; science expert Aldo Petrucci, vice principal at Edgewood Public School; and language expert Wynne Ng, a Grade 2/3 teacher at Glamorgan Jr. Public School)
* printable activities and worksheets
* interactive practise tools
* general homework and study tips on things such as practising for the EQAO tests
Language expert Wynne Ng agrees that the TVOKids Homework Zone will be a useful resource for the whole family. “Students are taught that nouns are people, places and things and verbs are action words, but when you ask them to identify the noun from the verb in a sentence they can’t transfer that skill. Even adults forget basic grammar,” she says. “The Homework Zone gives parents a chance to see how [grammar] might be taught in a classroom and how they can kick-start rich conversations at home with their kids.”
She adds, “I wish I had the Homework Zone when I was in school. Instead of just turning to the Internet as a source of gaming or entertainment, students can use it as a tool to become accountable for their learning.”
Coupled with the TVOKids Homework Zone microsite is a bi-monthly, live broadcast-webcast event in which students can connect directly with a teacher and ask questions via email or phone on a variety of homework topics. The next live TVOKids Homework Zone event airs Monday January 31 on TVOKids’ afterschool block, The Space, and online on the Homework Zone microsite.
Shot in the Dark Mysteries has launched its inaugural podcast. Hosted by company president and head writer Leigh Clements, this first podcast in the series will introduce you to the concept of mystery parties. Additional podcasts will offer listeners many excellent tips on planning that special, and memorable, party or corporate event.
The Youth Media Awards, presented by the Youth Media Alliance, are now open for nomination submissions. The Awards are open to all Canadian-made, youth-oriented productions originally broadcast or released online in English between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2010. Programs and interactive content must be submitted by no later than Monday, February 21, 2011, at 5 p.m. The Award winners will be announced at a gala event in Toronto on June 2nd.
Wired Woman Vancouver presents a session with Tod Maffin, podcasting pioneer, technology trend blogger and Digital Marketing Strategist on Monday, February 7th. Tod will discuss the 7 successful action steps for launching an impactful and measurable viral campaign using his ASSURED ROI™ methodology. Tod’s energetic, highly entertaining presentation style has audiences captivated, engaged, entertained and inspired. This session will be hosted at the ING Direct Cafe on Howe Street. Advance registration for this event is required, tickets are $35.00 for members and $40.00 for non-members. Note: membership is free, sign up and save.
Bioware has announced a new pre-order incentive for the fast approaching release of Dragon Age 2. Those who pre-order the game before March 8th (the scheduled release date) will receive access to the following additional in-game content at no extra cost.
* The Lion of Orlais Shield, whose legend begins at the height of the Summer War, when all of Orlais was embroiled in fierce battles, with dozens of contenders for the Imperial Throne emerging. Most are long forgotten except as footnotes in scholarly tomes, but everyone remembers the gallant young lord Emile Deveraux, “The Golden Prince”. Thought outnumbered at every turn, he racked victory upon victory culminating in the Seventh Battle of Roses. While wearing this shield he broke through his uncle’s vanguard to win the day. Never knowing the taste of defeat on the battlefield, this gallant hero is said to have met his end at the hands of a jealous lover in the dead of night. Now you can carry this magnificent shield into battle, adding to your health and XP gained, you can also increase its power with magical runes which will fit nicely into two special slots.
* The Fadeshear Sword, whose core is very old – as old as the first smiths who sought a way to battle the nightmares from the land beyond. This sword has fought the demonic hosts in countless battles, sometimes being held high in triumphant victory. Other times, it has lain broken beside its dying owner. But after every defeat it has always been reclaimed, reforged, and made stronger. Fadeshear has passed through many hands before yours. Now it is your turn to make the demons of the Fade pay for crossing the Veil into the waking world. Make use of the FadeShear Sword against demons and the undead, its power growing as your character levels up.
Original purchasers of Dragon Age 2 will receive:
* A fighting Mabari War Hound who can be summoned by a whistle to fight at your side in battle.
* The Mirror of Transformation which will allow you to change your very appearance. Hair, eyes, tattoos, and more can be changed with the click of a button.
* Access to The Black Emporium exclusive Magic and Crafting Stores that have some of the best equipment and powerful, unique recipes you’ll find in the game. It’s restocked with better items as you progress through the story.
This is a double bonus for those of us who also took advantage of the Signature Edition pre-order incentive, which ended on January 11th, because we also get access to all of this newly announced bonus content. Here is the latest Dev Diary trailer, which talks about story development.
Montreal’s Gamerizon has announced that over 8 Million of its Chop Chop™ games had been downloaded on the App Store in a span of less than 10 months. Each of the six existing Chop Chop™ games – Chop Chop Ninja™, Chop Chop Runner™, Chop Chop Tennis™, Chop Chop Soccer™, Chop Chop Hockey™ and Chop Chop Caveman™ – have received critical acclaim and have reached top ranking positions in their respective categories in most countries around the world, with specially strong performances in the US, the UK, China, Australia, Canada, Germany, and France.
“We reached the milestone with an incredibly strong performance of 1.4 Million downloads in the last 6 days alone and are well on our way to make the Chop Chop™ franchise one of the world’s best known mobile gaming franchises” said Alex Sakiz, CEO of Gamerizon.
The success of the Chop Chop™ franchise is primarily a function of the unique one-finger gameplay mechanics developed in all games and the innovative hybrid Paid/Free Business Model adopted. Three new games – Chop Chop Rocket™, Chop Chop Kicker™ and Chop Chop Alien™ are scheduled for release in February and March.
Emmy® Award-winning Toon Boom Animation Inc. has entered into a partnership with Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore’s leading institution of higher learning, to set up a paperless digital animation production hub on their campus, fully equipped with a Toon Boom pipeline.
This first animation hub will serve as a great launch pad for the students in the interactive digital media courses to learn animation and create projects in a true digital production environment. In addition, Toon Boom will collaborate with Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of InfoComm Technology to assist in faculty development, student development, academic and professional networking, as well as in granting prizes of excellence in the form of special awards and scholarships.
“Toon Boom is fully dedicated to the development of the animation industry in Singapore. As a result, our partnership with Ngee Ann Polytechnic represents a great accomplishment in combining Toon Boom’s field proven expertise with Singapore’s impressive creative talent,” shared Joan Vogelesang, President and Chief Executive Officer at Toon Boom.
EA Sports has released a new trailer for Fight Night Champion. Setting the stage for a new standard in sports games, Fight Night Champion will deliver the most dynamic simulation fighting experience to date, pushing visual boundaries and redefining the single player journey for the category. Check out this video about fighter stamina:
In just a few weeks, Fight Night Champion will break the mold of what is expected in a single-player sports game. Players will be introduced to an entirely new way to step between the ropes and experience the drama, emotion, excitement and tragedy of world championship boxing.
Burnaby’s Teradici Corporation, developer of the innovative PC-over-IP® (PCoIP®) protocol that enables a true PC experience for desktop virtualization, has announced a strategic investment and development agreement from In-Q-Tel (IQT), the strategic investment firm that identifies innovative technology solutions to support the missions of the U.S. Intelligence Community.
Teradici PCoIP protocol is an innovative remote display technology that allows the user’s desktop operating system, applications, and data to reside in the datacenter, eliminating the need for traditional desktop workstations, PCs and thin clients, and delivers an uncompromised user experience to each person, anywhere, without incurring the security risks associated with having data reside in remote PCs. PCoIP technology provides high resolution, full frame rate 3D graphics and high-definition media, with full USB peripheral interoperability, locally over a LAN or remotely over a high-latency WAN. It compresses, encrypts and encodes the entire computing experience at the datacenter and transmits it ‘pixels only’ across a standard IP network to secure, stateless PCoIP zero clients, thin clients, and mobile devices.
The protocol is implemented in silicon for hardware accelerated performance and enhanced security, as well as in several software configurations, including VMware View™, the industry leading desktop virtualization platform. A growing ecosystem of over 25 third-party vendors provide a wide variety of PCoIP products including server plug-in cards, rack and tower workstations, blade PCs, zero clients, integrated monitors, and IP phones with added PCoIP capability.
The Canadian Media Production Association has filed an intervention (PDF) with the CRTC, confirming that it does not support BCE Inc.’s application as filed, to acquire sole control of CTVglobemedia Inc. The CMPA disagrees with BCE’s contention that tangible benefits are not payable as a result of this transaction. The CMPA similarly disagrees with BCE’s proposal that the valuation of benefits payable amounts to only $221 million and that a mere $40 million of that amount will go towards supporting the creation of Canadian programming. The CMPA expects to make its arguments before the CRTC when it commences hearings into the proposed acquisition on February 1, 2011.
“The benefits package proposed by BCE represents a very significant departure from the CRTC’s long-standing tangible benefits policy. It is also extremely self-serving and very largely focused on activities that are normal capital expenditures for such a company,” says Norm Bolen, the CMPA’s President and CEO.
In its intervention, the CMPA argues that the tangible benefits policy must be respected. This means that:
* the payment of tangible benefits are indeed fully required in this transaction;
* the quantum of these TV benefits must represent 10% of the total value of all CTV television assets;
* BCE must not be allowed to exclude or discount any of its television-related assets in this calculation;
* a minimum of 85% of the total tangible benefits must be allocated to the creation of Canadian programming;
* a minimum of 75% of the amount allocated to the creation of Canadian programming must be earmarked to third-parties from the independent production community; and,
* the resources allocated to the creation of independent Canadian programming must be administered by a third-party, and must not be limited to projects that are ultimately broadcast only on CTV or its many television properties.
“If BCE’s proposal is accepted by the Commission without considerable modifications it would fall extremely short of what is in the best interest of our broadcasting system and the Canadian public,” says Bolen.
Wicked Interactive and Mission Against Terror (M.A.T.) have announced that the long-awaited Occupation Mode will be coming soon to everyone’s favorite free-to-play shooter.. With Occupation Mode, M.A.T. gains one of the most essential elements of a competitive title – territory capture and control.
“We are thrilled to offer this intense level of action to our community,” said Sam Ho, Director, Wicked Interactive. “We invite gaming clans of all skill levels to see for themselves just how crazy things can get. We know that gamers will put Occupation Mode right up there with Old School, hardcore multiplayer classics like Counter-Strike 1.6 and the Battlefield series.”
Occupation Mode brings with it new maps and new opportunities to put that weapon you just bought to work. The real challenge, of course, is to protect yourself and your team as you keep moving forward as a unit, attacking new positions and then defending them before time runs out. When your team holds all points on a map, you win the game. When both teams fail to complete the mission, beware…you can end up spawning infinitely for a lengthy and engaging firefight over a single capture point.
“At the request of the community, we have left it up to the game creators to set just how severe the time-keeping will be,” added Ho. “For those who love a good challenge, this is the mode for you. The two teams are in constant struggle for territory control until the best team finally emerges as the winner, involving not only brute force advancement but also endurance and holding key locations.”
Footloose Games has launched an open beta of their new title, Munchies’ Lunch. The Cavechild took the game for a spin this morning, and while it only took him about 15 minutes to puzzle his way through the 16 Adventure Mode beta levels, he had nice things to say about the game, including the clean graphics, crystal-clear soundtrack and effects, as well as the ramping difficulty of the puzzles. In Munchies’ Lunch, players must help the Munchies journey across their world, gathering food while avoiding the Hungries, who mirror your moves as you gather food in the crop fields. Use your PC to out-manoeuvre the Hungries and trick them into picking up the red-hot peppers. If you enjoy casual puzzlers, the Cavechild recommends taking the Munchies’ Lunch beta for a spin.
Just in time for the New Year, there is a new case for Dead Rising 2 (at press time, the official DR2 site was not loading). See Frank West and Chuck Greene team up for the first time ever beginning today! Dead Rising 2: Case West brings the intrepid photojournalist and star of the original Dead Rising, together with Dead Rising 2’s Chuck Green as they embark on a brand new case set in the Phenotrans Facility on the outskirts of Fortune City. Set immediately after the events of Dead Rising 2, Dead Rising 2: Case West allows players to join up for some serious co-op action to take on the hoards of zombies. Along with new challenges and new enemies, Chuck and Frank will also have access to new weapons, items and the ability to create a number of new Combo weapons such as the janitor’s favorite, the ‘Zap & Shine’ and the ominous sounding ‘Reaper’.
Wherever he finds himself, Frank is always ready to capture the moment with his trusty camera and Dead Rising 2: Case West is no exception. Frank is able to take photographs of key evidence that will provide indisputable proof of Phenotrans’ part in the zombie outbreaks, not just in Fortune City, but across the United States. As the story unfolds expect to see cameo appearances from other characters from Dead Rising that will provide further links to the original game. If enjoyed as a solo experience, the player will take control of Chuck with Frank’s Dead Rising 2: Case West is now available on Xbox LIVE for 800 MS Points.
Vancouver’s Atomic Cartoons has announced its latest property, Lionheart, which follows the comedic adventures of Mac and Sir Lionheart of Mane, who, as a decorated member of the Explorers Guild, goes off on daring adventure, often surviving only by the seat of his pants. Often overlooking important details, Lionheart is lucky to have travel companion Mac along, as he tends to keep things somewhat together, at least until the next destination. A mix of adventure and comedy with a nod to classic cartoon styling, Lionheart promises to deliver good “olde time” fun.
It appears that Christmas 2010 was the holiday for eBook sales, with Kobo revealing its Holiday 2010 sales success. With readers around the world receiving new eReaders and iPads and other eReading devices under their tree, Kobo saw over a million people connected to its service, and hundreds of thousands of devices were activated each day since Christmas Eve, fuelling the highest eBook download rate in the company’s history. People around the world chose Kobo this Christmas, with the popular easy-to-use Kobo Wireless eReader, dozens of compatible eReaders, top-rated applications for iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and one of the largest catalogues in the world with over 2.2 million eBooks, newspapers and magazines. I also noticed this morning that Kobo has a “First Book” promo offer on – if you’re downloading your first book from the Kobo Store, they give you a promo code for 35% off the purchase price of the title.
“Earlier this month we predicted that Christmas would be a record breaker for Kobo, and we have exceeded our expectations driving several ebook downloads per second since Christmas Eve, or an equivalent number hardcover books stacked as high as 50 Empire State Buildings,” said Michael Serbinis, CEO of Kobo. “I would like to thank our customers for choosing Kobo to start building their digital library this Christmas. Our success this holiday season is a pre-cursor to a New Year with people reading more than ever thanks to eBooks and Kobo.”
Kobo’s holiday growth also included:
* Total registered users nearly doubling from the six weeks prior
* A 50X increase in purchases from previous Holiday weekend last year
* A 5X increase in purchases from the previous biggest weekend (also in December)
* Customer purchases from over 130 countries, with some of the biggest gains outside of US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, occurring in Germany, Netherlands, and Singapore
* A significant increase in device mix, with eReaders and Tablets accounting for the largest percent in sales
Kobo became the first eReading service to launch an eBook gifting and gift card program and for the first time in history, eBooks “arrived” digitally in people’s email accounts this Christmas morning. The top three most popular eBooks gifted this holiday were:
* “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson (#2 in Canada)
* “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest” by Stieg Larsson (#1 in Canada)
* “Room” by Emma Donahue (#3 in Canada)
Kobo’s recently-announced Kobo Reading Life program, now available on the iPad, marked the industry’s first comprehensive social eReading experience, personalizing eReading and creating a fun, engaging, and meaningful experience. Over 250,000 Reading Life awards have been given out since its recent launch – simply for reading. Tens of thousands were given out this Christmas, including the “Milk and Cookies” award, and the “Holiday Cheer” award for reading on Christmas Eve and Day.
This holiday season, open standards and the ability to read on any device is a consistent theme. With Kobo, customers can to build their lifetime libraries as they choose, and read on multiple devices by downloading a free eReading app. People can also download books for free, borrow and read eBooks from their local library on the Kobo Wireless eReader – and alternatively can read Kobo eBooks on other dedicated eReaders like the Sony eReader and Nook.
As evidenced by the popularity of eBooks on Kobo, December 25th and 26th were the two biggest ebook sales days ever for Random House, Inc. Combined ebook sales across e-retailers on December 25th and 26th rose more than 300% over last year’s sales for the same two-day period, which had been Random House’s best two-day ebook sales period ever.
Random House, Inc. leading titles from this two-day holiday selling period include Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy — The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest — with a combined 115,000 units sold in ebook format across e-retailers. Other top Random House, Inc. titles include John Grisham’s The Confession, George Bush’s Decision Points, Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief.
For the first time, Random House also saw a significant sales increase for its children’s picture books available in ebook format, including Go, Dog, Go, a classic children’s book (which was one of the Cavechild’s favourites when he was younger) written and illustrated by P. D. Eastman, published by Random House Children’s in 1961.
“We are delighted by the volume of consumers flocking to Random House books across all our e-retailers, and not just to our best-selling titles which are clearly as popular in e as they are in print. Consumers are also using their e-reading devices to discover titles deeper in our list, including David Nicholls’s One Day, George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and Max Brooks’ World War Z.” said Madeline McIntosh, President of Sales, Digital and Operations, Random House, Inc. The publisher currently has more than 17,000 of its front and backlist titles in ebook format and has been encouraged by the exponential growth in demand for its ebooks across the wide spectrum of the Random House catalogue.
The Canadian Short Screenplay Competition, the most prestigious screenwriting competition in Canada, announced earlier today a holiday gift for short filmmakers worldwide in the form of a completion fund for short films looking for that little bit extra to complete the post-production and or marketing of their finished film. The Short Film Fund, described as having no deadline for submissions, will award up to $1,500 cash to up to three successful short film filmmakers per year, until funds are exhausted each calendar year.
The fund is being generously supported by the Canadian Short Screenplay Competition and Year of the Skunk Productions. CSSC founder and producer David Cormican reminds interested filmmakers in putting only their best foot forward. “The fund is highly competitive, very selective and will only invest in the best and most deserving projects “, says Cormican. “We’re looking to support filmmakers with a unique, strong, professional and commercial vision”.
The fund is a first for the CSSC and joins the ranks of Bravo!FACT, National Film Board and the National Screen Institute as being amongst only a handful of private and public organizations financially supporting the making of short films. “Besides, provincial and local funding agencies, short filmmakers don’t really have that many avenues to find money to make their art beyond Bravo!FACT, the NSI and NFB programs. So, we’re happy to be able to help support a few extra projects each year to that same end”, offers Cormican.
While interested filmmakers and producers are asked to limit their number of submissions to two projects per year, they can apply to the fund free of charge through the entirely online submission process available on the CSSC’s website. The Short Film Fund is open effective immediately. Complete Short Film Fund details and guidelines, including the online submission form, can be found online.
Groupon officially launched in Kelowna just prior to Christmas, and during its first week in town, Groupon’s featured deals included a massage package, a putting course and a coffee shop. Upcoming deals include hair salon services, cooking classes and a local teahouse. Groupon Kelowna joins 20 other Canadian markets currently enjoying Groupon deals.
“With its fine dining, unique shops and vibrant culture, Kelowna is an ideal Groupon market,” said Rob Solomon, president and chief operating officer of Groupon. “We look forward to bringing unbeatable deals to Kelowna residents, while driving new streams of revenue to local merchants.”
TELETOON Canada inc. is pleased to announce that Fugget About It, a half-hour animated comedy originally developed for the TELETOON at Night Pilot Project, has been greenlit for production into a 13-part series in English and French. Produced by Toronto-based 9 Story Entertainment, Fugget About It follows the misadventures of 16-year-old Petey Falcone, the son of a former New York mob boss who now lives in a witness protection program with his family in Canada.
“The TELETOON At Night Pilot Project was a unique initiative by TELETOON to tap into the rich store of talent within the Canadian animation industry,” said Alan Gregg, Director, Original Content, TELETOON Canada inc. “TELETOON received some great projects through this initiative and we’re thrilled to be able to take the Fugget About It pilot and develop it into a series with the humour and broad appeal we look for in our comedy programming.”
Originally launched in fall 2007, ten projects, including Fugget About It, were selected as finalists from over 200 submissions. TELETOON invested $1.5 million dollars into creating the pilots which straddle a wide range of topics, animation styles and comedy sensibilities. The TELETOON at Night pilots premiered online and have been featured on-air since September 2010 as part of TELETOON at Night’s popular Sunday night hosted block “Fred at Night.”
“The TELETOON at Night Pilot Project afforded us an incredible opportunity to get the Fugget About It pilot made and we couldn’t be more excited to see it go to series,” said Vince Commisso, President and CEO, 9 Story Entertainment. “We have a stellar creative team led by show runner Jeff Abugov (Two and a Half Men, Roseanne, Cheers) and TELETOON is the perfect home for this production.”
Popular preschool series Tiga Talk! will ring in the New Year with the premiere of a new season on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) on January 6, 2011, a brand new interactive website, and an iPhone application. Tiga Talk! entertains kids while teaching both Aboriginal and English language skills during the preschool years – an integral stage in development. By watching the series, children can learn how to make language sounds more easily, and have fun doing it! The addition of an interactive website and an iPhone application by Winnipeg’s Tactica Interactive, will provide even greater learning opportunities, offering games, crafts and videos that give children and their families the chance to explore and learn together.
With Aboriginal languages being lost across Canada, Tiga Talk! was created to help teach language skills to preschoolers, while building confidence and instilling imagination in young minds. Targeted at all children (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) aged 3-6, Tiga Talk! is a gentle, entertaining series that has fun exploring languages and culture. It combines live action with a magic puppet world, and features music and imaginary play.
Tiga Talk! is centered around three stuffed toys – Tiga the wolf cub, Gertie the gopher, and Gavin the goose – who live with human friends Jodie and Jason, their father, and Kokum (“grandmother” in Cree). Jodie and Jason have a secret. When there aren’t any adults around, their stuffed toys come alive as talking puppets. Through their interactions and adventures, the puppets and kids learn about traditional practices and languages of various Aboriginal cultures in imaginative ways.
Tiga Talk! not only captivates and entertains its preschool audience, but also creates an ear for Aboriginal language, and encourages an excitement for learning about traditions and culture during those very important early years.
Season 3 of Tiga Talk! builds upon the strengths of the first two seasons, with exciting new additions that previous viewers will be pleased to discover, and first-time audiences will enjoy:
New Family – Season 3 welcomes Jason and Jodie’s dad, a character not seen in the first two seasons. Dad takes the kids on various field trips, from visiting a music recording studio, to a petting zoo, to the museum.
New Friends – In addition to the puppets from Season 1 and 2, Jason and Jodie now have four new friends to play with: Jack, Alice, Kyle and Tessa. These friends come over to visit, play games, and do various activities in the backyard.
New Sets – The majority of the show used to take place in Jodie and Jason’s bedroom at Kokum’s place, and at Tiga and Gertie’s indoor dens. In Season 3, the bedroom has been replaced with a larger set in Kokum’s backyard that includes a pond for Gavin, an underground tunnel for Gertie, and an outdoor den for Tiga.
New Segments – Two new segments are being introduced in Season 3: ‘Get Moving’, a segment that allows viewers to follow along to exercises with a song performed by the puppets; and ‘Things We Love to Do’, which shows kids doing different kinds of fun activities that fit with the theme of each episode.
Tiga Talk! was produced with the participation of the Province of British Columbia Film Incentive BC, the Government of Canada – Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit Program, the Bell New Media Fund and produced and developed in Association with Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) and the Canada Media Fund.