24th January 2011

More Digital By The Day

Toon BoomIf 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 MediaQuickPlay 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.

TVOTVO 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 rescue mecreated “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 MediaMood 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 digitalAntarctica 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. Future Flow Media

“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.

eowcThe Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC) as part of their $170 million dollar regional broadband project, has awarded a contract to Barrett Xplore Inc., through its Xplornet brand, to provide immediate and more affordable broadband access via satellite to residents across eastern Ontario.

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 mediaShaw 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.

CTVMeanwhile, 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.

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18th January 2011

Education and Inspiration

AutodeskAutodesk 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 Iikoof 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.

Desire2LearnDesire2Learn 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.

tvokidsHow 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 Homework Zonekids 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.

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12th January 2011

Winter Has No Effect On Canadian Interactive Media Industry

Reminder: The CMPA’s Prime Time in Ottawa conference is February 16th – 18th, tickets are available online.
Reminder: Desire2Learn RoadShow presentation will be in Toronto on January 26th &  Ottawa on January 27th.
Reminder: CFC Features application deadline is January 28th & the Cineplex Entertainment Film Programme deadline is January 21st.
Reminder: The deadline for nominations for the 2011 Worldwide Short Film Fest are open until February 4th.

Shot In The DarkShot 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 Youth Media Alliancesubmissions. 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 WomanWired 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 game developers choice awards 2010on 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.

Congratulations to the two Canadian nominees in this year’s Game Developers Choice Awards:

Mass Effect 2, nominated for Best Game Design, Best Technology, Best Audio, Best Writing as well as Game of the Year, and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, nominated for Best Visual Arts and Game of the Year.

Bioware CorpBioware 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 New Shield and Swordthe 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.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

GamerizonMontreal’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 chop chop cavemanin 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.

Toon BoomEmmy® 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:

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

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.

TeradiciBurnaby’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.

CMPAThe 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 InteractiveWicked 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. Mission Against TerrorWe 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.”

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28th December 2010

When Zombies and Hungries Attack

footloose gamesFootloose Games has launched an open beta of their new title, Munchies’ Lunch. The munchies lunchCavechild 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.

CAPCOMJust 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 Dead Rising 2 Case Weston 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 LionHeartavailable on Xbox LIVE for 800 MS Points.

Vancouver’s Atomic Cartoons has announced its latest property, atomic cartoonsLionheart, 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.

koboIt 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.

RandomHouseAs 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.

Canadian Short Screenplay CompetitionThe 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.

GrouponGroupon 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.”

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20th December 2010

Toonful Transmissions

teletoonTELETOON 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 Fugget About Itthe 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.”

aptnPopular 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.tiga talk on iphone

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 talkTiga 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.tiga talk web site

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.

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1st December 2010

Shaw Rocket Prize Winner Named

notsoftOshawa indie game studio NotSoft is getting into the holiday spirit by giving away the full version of their casual game, Wytches Brew, free of charge.

Wytches Brew features five modes of play, including an epic 52 chapter quest that has the player share a year long journey with 3 Wytches as they travel around their island brewing up magical potions for those in need. With four other play wytches brewmodes, including timed modes and modes with relaxed rules, Wytches Brew offers something for casual gamers of every skill level.

“We don’t have much of a marketing budget, and with the game’s story mode beginning on Yuletide we thought giving it away during the holiday season would be a great way to attract new players,” said Steven J. Hill (aka bignobody), the man behind NotSoft, “Especially since people’s budgets are often tight at this time of year.”

I have been playing Wytches Brew off and on for a few months now, and while I haven’t yet completed the game, I have found it to be a different take on the match 3+ genre. I will be writing a review for this game once I have played through to the end, but as I have often confessed, I am more of a console gamer than a PC gamer – my PC is just too closely related to…work. ;)

shaw rocket prizeCongratulations to Dino Dan from Sinking Ship Entertainment, winner of the prestigious $50,000 Shaw Rocket Prize for 2010 after being voted the best in Canadian kids’ programming for ages 6-12. Dino Dan is an entertaining and educational TV show about a 10-year-old boy who loves interacting with dinosaurs in his imagination and learning about them. This show was favourited by kids of all ages across Canada as well as in the US, where it recently achieved the record as the highest watched debut episode on Nick Jr. in its history. Dino Dan was judged for quality and content both for the TV show and its online content. The kids jury loved playing games and digging up dinosaurs on dinodan.com.

Other titles in the running for this year’s Rocket Prize were:

How to Be Indie (DHX Media)
In Real Life (Apartment 11)
Jimmy Two-Shoes (Breakthrough Entertainment)
League of Super Evil (Nerd Corps)

OpenFeint DevelopersAs the freemium model continues to gain momentum in the mobile gaming space, developers are looking for the best ways to apply the lucrative model to their games. Today, OpenFeint is encouraging developers sell downloadable content in their games by announcing a $1 million free-to-play mobile games challenge.

The OFX Freemium Challenge waives the revenue share on OpenFeint’s just released OFX software development kit for up to $10,000 per developer, available to the first 100 games that go live. With this challenge, developers can implement OFX and sell up to $10,000 in downloadable content in game before sharing any revenue.

“With the OFX Freemium Challenge, developers will see how easy-to-use and profitable OFX can be in their games with little commitment,” says Jason Citron, CEO of OpenFeint. “We’ve all seen that the freemium model is generating some amazing results. OFX gives developers the tools they need to take advantage of this emerging model.”

Mega Jump has proved to us that the freemium model is a great way to earn revenue as an independent developer,” said Derek van Vliet of Get Set Games. “Since changing the game to freemium we’ve seen a 400% increase in overall revenue.”
Mega Jump Celebrates 7 million
Mega Jump celebrated 7 million downloads, and stated on their site that “hot on the heals of Update 10, Update 11 is just around the corner, featuring the astonishing new upgradable Jump Boots and a couple of new rascals who will be joining the growing Mega Jump family of characters.”

Released today, OFX is a set of client and cloud based services that help game developers sell new content in their games without having to submit full game updates to Apple. Future updates will allow game developers to offer virtual currency and virtual goods for sale in their games. OFX is completely free for game developers to download and implement in their games. OpenFeint only shares in revenue earned from the sale of paid downloadable content in games sold with OFX.

intuitIntuit’s online personal finance service Mint.com is now available to Canadians. Mint helps people see where their money goes, keep their spending on track by creating budgets they’ll stick with, and uncovers opportunities to save them money. And it’s free.
mint
“Canadians are global leaders when it comes to the use of online banking, social media and other online activities, so bringing Mint.com to Canada was a natural next step,” said Aaron Patzer, general manager and vice president of Intuit Personal Finance and founder of Mint.com. “A uniquely Canadian version of Mint will help Canadians make informed decisions as they plan their financial lives.”

Setting up a Mint account takes about five minutes – users register anonymously using a valid e-mail address, and then add login information for the online banking, credit card and other financial accounts they want to consolidate. Mint connects securely to more than 40 Canadian banking financial institutions, and is adding more. Users can ask Mint to add support for their favourite bank from within their account.

After users register, Mint automatically aggregates their accounts and transaction information, and provides up-to-date and accurate views of their financial life. Mint offers many ways to view and graph information, and the flexibility to scan the big picture or focus on specific details:

* Analyzes spending – Mint reveals spending patterns by automatically categorizing expenses, showing how much a user pays for gas, groceries, parking, rent, restaurants, entertainment and more.
* Makes recommendations – Mint also saves users money by providing unique, money-saving and money-making suggestions based on users’ individual spending patterns. Slowly paying down a high-interest credit card? Mint will recommend a lower-interest card. Paying more for life insurance than others of a similar age in your region? Mint can often find a better deal. Offer data for the recommendations is provided by RateSupermarket.ca, Canada’s largest independent and impartial rate comparison service for personal finance products.

In addition, Mint is available for those on the go. Users can view their Mint account from a password-protected website or check in on the go with the free Mint.com mobile applications for iPhone and Android mobile phones, available on the iTunes Canada app store and Android Market. Read the rest of this entry »

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17th November 2010

Business and Education Rounds Out The Day

49 pixelsVia 49 Pixels: In 2008, Canada’s digital media industry, comprised of approximately 3,000 interactive digital media companies, generated approximately $3.8 billion dollars through the hard work of over 50,000 industry professionals.

Canada, with everything we know about our industry and where it’s been, we know very little about where it’s headed. Who are these companies? Where are they located? Are their businesses growing? What types of skill-sets are they looking to acquire over the next year? Given the disparity of available data in this area, the Pixel to Product research team decided to take it upon themselves to ask these important questions.
Justin Kozuch
This social media news release is announcing that Justin Kozuch, winner of the Mesh Prize and Lead Researcher for the Pixel to Product research study, is launching Canada’s first nation-wide digital media census, designed to answer these and a few dozen other questions about the state of our digital media ecosystem.

The survey can be completed in both in English and en Francais, and in the time it will take you to drink a Tim Horton’s Double Double, you can complete the survey and add your voice to our collective digital legacy.

We’re also incredibly excited to announce you can now receive project updates, breaking news and important development on your mobile device. This morning, in conjunction with our partners at Broadplay, we launched an opt-in SMS campaign to help us further spread the word about our research to the approximately 70% of Canadians who own a mobile device. To opt-in to our SMS broadcast system, simply text 497957 (49PXLS) to 123411.

We need your help in getting this survey out to as many digital agency owners, web startups, and freelancers in order to capture the highest quality data we can muster. We have a number of short term and long term needs; please visit the Actionable Tasks page on our wiki for more information about how you can contribute your gifts to our initiative. Tweet, post to your wall, blog about this release or visit our census page and help us get the word out!

Edmonton’s Digital School, a licensed private vocational career college built on 25 years of digital schoolasynchronous technical training experience is excited to announce a revolutionized form of e-Learning, called Global e-Training.

Global e-Training includes highly effective online Autodesk software training programs which can be done from virtually anywhere to meet each learner’s own personal requirements. Its interactive and engaging fashion lets the learner dictate the entire training process to suit their particular learning style, making it one of the most desirable and advanced Autodesk e-training solution available in the world.

Global e-Training (GeT) is an enhanced form of e-learning which prepares and engages users of Autodesk’s design software programs in a revolutionary and interactive manner. It allows the user to effectively acquire all practical knowledge and skills required to carry out specific tasks on Autodesk software. A user is fully trained on the programs so they can hit the ground running. Unlike e-learning, which includes knowledge based resource tools, e-training by GeT on the Autodesk programs enhances skills acquisition and retention in a way which is real and useful to the user. It gives users an opportunity to immediately apply the software skills at the same time they are learning it. This is something no other competitor can offer, and may be especially beneficial to those who desire flexibility in their learning environment.

Global e-Training (GeT) is comprised of two main elements:

GeT Interactive is a self-paced online Autodesk software training program which lets students study on their own schedule, using visual, auditory and hands-on learning methods. Milestone tracking along with competency based progress ensures that students stay focused to complete their program. GeT Interactive courses include: AutoCAD 2D & 3D, Revit Architecture, Inventor and Civil 3D with more titles scheduled for release.

GeT Live Network is a collaborative learning platform which brings students and instructors together through the use of the Internet. It is a virtual classroom interface which enables students and instructors to interact with one another in real time. Instructors are brought into contact with students from around the globe, increasing class sizes and reducing overhead costs. It also allows quality training providers to host and market live courses on the network, making it a truly revolutionary training tool.

All of the GeT programs are designed to be fun and interactive, combining the best e-learning practices into a highly effective e-Training system. Global e-Training represents the future of online learning on Autodesk software.

D-BoxTwo more Canadian tech devs are celebrating expansions this week as well. D-Box Technologies has penned deals with two more American theatre companies who will be installing the D-Box MFX seats.

Muvico Entertainment’s Pompano 18 in Pompano, Florida will introduce D-BOX to its patrons on November 19th with the long-awaited release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. The theatre is the first location in Florida to offer the immersive moviegoing experience. Meanwhile over in Texas, Premiere Cinemas will be adding its second outlet offering D-Box seats when the El Paso Premiere Cinema 18 offers 22 D-BOX MFX Seats for the Deathly Gallows opening.

YANGAROOYangaroo has signed a multi-year agreement with BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom International Inc. to deliver artist and music-related audiovisual content to BET properties – including the primary BET channel, BET Digital Networks, BET.com, BET International, BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop – using YANGAROO’s patented Digital Media Distribution System (DMDS), as well as integrate DMDS with BET Network’s internal workflow. BET Networks will actively promote and recommend to the entertainment industry to utilize DMDS to send content digitally to BET Networks.

Yangaroo’s technology team worked closely with BET Networks’ engineers to refine the DMDS process for digitally distributing SD and HD television broadcast-quality video to integrate with and enhance BET Networks’ workflows. DMDS also transcodes the television broadcast file for online availability for streaming and provision of a frame-accurate preview quality version of the file with the time-code burned in, which improves reviewing and editing processes. The television broadcast-quality video file can be easily integrated into Online Editing Suites, On-Air Playback Servers and stored in a Digital Archive Server.

maximizerStrengthening its presence in the Ontario market, Vancouver’s Maximizer Software, a provider of simple, accessible CRM and mobile CRM solutions, has announced the appointment of software and sales veteran Alastair McKeating as Key Account Manager for the Ontario region. With more than a decade of experience in software solution sales, McKeating will focus on helping customers and prospects increase the value of their investment in Maximizer CRM.

“This is a critical appointment for Maximizer in our strategy to bring an expanded focus to Ontario. Alastair was the ideal candidate based on his in-depth knowledge of triangulating software technology with business process and user adoption to drive value and change management at large-scale organizations,” said Vivek Thomas, president, Maximizer Software. “Ontario is a growing market and revenue opportunity for Maximizer, and having a dedicated local representative is our first step in offering higher value to current and new clients with more sophisticated and broader CRM integration deployments.”

McKeating has an extensive software industry background, previously holding software sales positions with prestigious organizations including SAP, Business Objects and Computer Associates. He began his career in IT working as a data systems and applications architect for organizations such as Canadian Tire, the Ontario government and Manulife Financial.

Mobilicity has marched into Vancouver and Edmonton, rallying against wireless contracts and the surprise charges and extra fees consumers have been forced to pay the country’s incumbent carriers – until now.
mobilicity
The unlimited wireless carrier, which will have over 100 points of distribution in the Greater Vancouver Area when it launches its state-of-the-art 3.5G network tomorrow, deployed its troops (literally) to spread the good news to Vancouverites.

Edmontonians will also appreciate Mobilicity’s lineup of popular name-brand handsets and smartphones. Prices start at $49.99 without a contract and include crowd-pleasers like the BlackBerry® Bold™ 9700, BlackBerry® Curve 3G and the Nexus One™ by Google™ Android™ 2.2 device.Mobilicity YVR

Today, the carrier announced the upcoming availability of the Motorola Spice™, Canada’s only sub-$200 name-brand Android™ 2.1 device, and the $99.99 LG Wink™ slider phone.

Dressed in magenta fatigues (Mobilicity’s signature colour) and singing the praises of contract-free unlimited wireless, the ‘Magenta Militia’ paraded through the city while Mobilicity executives held a press conference at the carrier’s corporate store in Richmond.

Mobilicity Chairman John Bitove said consumers have the power to bring down Vancouver’s high price of wireless by not surrendering to Telus Mobility, Rogers Wireless and Bell Mobility, commonly known as the country’s wireless oligarchy.

And to round out the news for today, here is a recall notice for iPod users:

The Electrical Safety Authority is notifying the public that Emerge Technologies has announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately.

Name of Product: Retrak iPod retractable wall charger.
Units: 11,359 units in Ontario and 4,429 units in the rest of Canada.
Manufacturer/Importer: Emerge Technologies, Inc.
Hazard: The affected products have not been tested to determine whether they have been compliant with the Canadian Standards for product safety.
Incidents/Injuries: There have been no injuries or damage reported.
Description/Models: ETIPODCHGW is a white wall charger with retractable cable. ETIPODCHGWB is a black wall charger with retractable cable.
Sold by: Best Buy, GEM-SEN Distribution, Micro Channel Management, Staples and Tiger Direct for $24.00.
When was distributed: Between August 2008 and October 2010.
Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Customer should contact Emerge Technologies directly by calling toll free: 877-499-6072 or fax: 972-456-4220 or by email. Product to be returned to Emerge Technologies and customer will receive a full refund, including shipping costs.

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17th November 2010

Mudpit Goes Into Production

Cookie JarProduction of the highly anticipated Cookie Jar series Mudpit, set to air on Canada’s TELETOON English and TÉLÉTOON French in Fall 2011, is now underway at downtown Toronto’s CBC studio 40 with an exceptional cast of musically diverse, talented teens.

Currently being shot within the 13,000 square foot ‘state of the art’ studio in downtown Toronto, the series boasts of bringing another quality television production to the Canadian entertainment industry and breaks new ground with cross-over music appeal. With over 20 international awards, Canada’s Guru Studio is brought onboard to produce the incredible CGI animation.

“I focus on producing shows that re-invest in Canadian talent and push the envelope with cutting-edge, creative ideas that stimulate the technologically savvy imaginations of our young audiences. I remain committed to that,” says Michael Hirsh, CEO of Cookie Jar.

Cookie Jar Entertainment’s Mudpit takes place at the nexus of the social and personal power of music and the appeal of role-playing in a digital world. This CGI animated/live-action series follows four real-world teens and their rock band, Mudpit, as they follow their dreams of fame and fortune. The series takes place in a gaming café and a fantastic, virtual world known as Muzika. Their online avatar rock band personas battle for a coveted record deal, while their real life selves engage in the daily comedy and drama of teenage life.
The Mudpit Band Rocks The Crowd
Hirsh added: “We have partnered with award-winning Canadian based gaming company NDI Media and secured some of the best writers and producers in the entertainment industry for this series. The Mudpit cast members come from across Canada, with a number of the leads credited with industry nominations and previous leading roles in other Canadian and U.S. major productions.

The Mudpit series was created by, Jamie Waese. Waese recently spent two years as Head of Current Programming for Cookie Jar Entertainment where he oversaw all creative aspects. He is the producer and co-director of “Gotta Catch Santa Claus,” a one-hour CGI Christmas movie with William Shatner as Santa. Read the rest of this entry »

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16th November 2010

Yes This Is A Christmas Post About Family Entertainment on YTV

YTVThis holiday season, Corus Entertainment’s YTV is once again the destination for premiere Christmas programming for the entire family. Viewers won’t want to miss two highly anticipated Dreamworks Animation SKG Inc.’s specials Kung Fu Panda Holiday and Merry Madagascar. YTV has also pooled together talented cast members from viewers’ favourite series in YTV’s Holly Jolly Special, hosted by Carlos – and beginning December 1, the YTV web site will offer a new holiday-themed activity every day counting down to New Years Eve, along with the latest and greatest holiday activities, games and programming schedules.

Kung Fu Panda Holiday – PREMIEREMerry Madagascar
The winter feast is Po’s (voiced by Jack Black) favourite holiday. Every year, he and his father hang decorations, cook together and serve noodle soup to the villagers. But this year, Shifu informs Po that as Dragon Warrior, it is his duty to host the formal Winter Feast at the Jade Palace. Po is caught between his obligations as the Dragon Warrior and his family traditions: between Shifu and Mr. Ping. This DreamWorks Animation production premieres Wednesday, December 15 at 7 p.m., repeating on Sunday, December 19 at 11 a.m. and Thursday, December 23 at 4 p.m.

Merry Madagascar – PREMIERE
Merry Madagascar begins when Santa and his sleigh unexpectedly crash-land on an island, giving the jolly gentleman a case of amnesia. So it falls to Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria – along with the ever-inventive Penguins – to deliver the presents and save Christmas. It doesn’t hurt that Santa’s sleigh just might be able to make a little trip to New York City, so they can finally return to their beloved home. Also included is the long-lasting North Pole/South Pole rivalry between the Penguins and Santa’s reindeer, plus magic flying dust and a King Julien-based holiday called “Julienuary.” This DreamWorks Animation production premieres on Thursday, December 16 at 7 p.m., repeating on Sunday, December 19 at 11:30 a.m. and Friday, December 24 at 4 p.m.

Holly Jolly Special – PREMIERE
While preparing for the holidays, YTV’s host Carlos wants to pull together something special for audiences at home. Finally, it comes to him – he has decided to ‘direct’ a holiday music video, and he’s going to call upon his friends, the top 6 frYTV Host Carlosom The Next Star, to help him out. After everyone arrives from across Canada, the crew brainstorms some outrageous ideas on what the video should look like. Throughout this 30-minute special, viewers will get a taste of some holiday skits from That’s So Weird!, shout outs from special guests from some of viewers’ favourite YTV series and catch the video premiere of the title track All I Want for Christmas Is You. Produced by Tricon Films & Television, YTV’s Holly Jolly Special premieres on Wednesday, December 15 at 7:30 p.m., repeating on Sunday, December 19 at 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, December 21 at 9 p.m., Thursday, December 23 at 9:30 p.m., Friday, December 24 at 3 p.m. and Saturday, December 25 at 2 p.m.

And what would the holiday season be without these classic Christmas specials from yesteryear:

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Lucy counsels a depressed Charlie Brown through the holiday season by directing the Christmas play. Charlie Brown sets out to find the perfect Christmas tree to decorate the stage, though his scruffy choice draws sneers from the other kids. But after some timely words from Linus, he does discover the real meaning of the holiday season. A Charlie Brown Christmas airs Saturday, December 18 at 6 p.m., repeating on Sunday, December 19 at 10 a.m. and Wednesday, December 22 at 7 p.m. Read the rest of this entry »

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1st November 2010

Netflix On Xbox and Gordon Pinsent Returns With Babar

netflixNetflix, Inc. has announced that Netflix members in Canada can now instantly watch thousands of movies and TV episodes streamed from Netflix to the TV via Xbox 360. There is no additional monthly fee for Netflix members who are also Xbox LIVE Gold members.

“Xbox 360 is a significant addition to a growing number of consumer electronic devices that are capable of streaming from Netflix in Canada,” said Greg Peters, vice president of product development for Netflix. “Netflix members in the United States enjoy instantly watching movies streamed from Netflix on Xbox LIVE and we think that our Canadian members will equally enjoy this enriched experience and the convenience and value that it offers.”
Xbox 360
Starting today, Xbox LIVE members will be able to sign up instantly online for a free trial of Netflix, connect to the Internet on their Xbox 360 and simply click on Netflix in the Video Marketplace on the Xbox 360 Dashboard and follow the easy steps to start streaming thousands of movies and TV shows. In addition, Xbox LIVE subscribers will be able to access the Netflix movie and TV library through Windows Phone 7.

“Canadian Xbox LIVE members asked for more entertainment content and features and now Netflix provides an exciting new way for our members to get the entertainment they love wherever and whenever they want,” said Glenn Purkis, Xbox LIVE product manager, Microsoft Canada. “We are thrilled to offer Netflix to Xbox LIVE Gold members in Canada, and we are confident the service will provide our members with tremendous entertainment value.”

Corus EntertainmentCorus Entertainment’s Nelvana Studio and YTV are pleased to announce the return of the classic children’s book character in the new CGI animated series Babar and the Adventures of Badou, featuring the voice of Gordon Pinsent and premiering in YTV’s Playtime block on Monday, November 22 at 11 a.m. ET/PT.Nelvana

“Corus and Nelvana have a long history with the Babar brand and we are delighted to continue our relationship with this world-famous elephant, to once again bring this popular literary character to life on television with new storylines, a new generation of characters and with CGI technology for today’s audiences,” said Ted Ellis, VP, Kids/Family Programming, Corus Entertainment.

Produced by Nelvana Studio and TeamTO, in association with The Clifford Ross Company, Babar and the Adventures of Badou is based on the bestselling children’s book collection and follows eight-year-old Badou and his famous grandfather King Babar. Badou has an appetite for adventure and a tendency to get caught in some tricky situations along with his colourful YTVfriends Chiku the monkey, Zawadi the zebra, Jake the scruffy little fox and Munroe the deviant and brave porcupine. Navigating the ups and downs of growing up in Celesteville’s royal palace, Badou never forgets that his grandfather King Babar will always be there to offer guidance and support.

In episode one, Babar and the Adventures of Badou: Kite Flight/Zoomerblimps, premiering on Monday, November 22 at 11 a.m. ET/PT (r) Friday, November 26 at 11 a.m. ET/PT, Chiku volunteers Munroe for a kite flying contest against the Crocs. She promises to build him the best kite ever but keeps getting distracted by newer, better design ideas. Badou tries to help her focus so Chiku can deliver on her promise. Then, the kids are competing for their Zoomerblimp Junior Pilot wings. Badou and Rhudi are the favourites but when Dilash sabotages both their ships the two have to team up – and learn a little about sportsmanship – in order to compete.

Beginning on Wednesday, November 10, viewers can visit YTV.com to immerse themselves in Badou’s adventures online with 10 new customizable web games, nine exclusive web animations, visits to four neighbourhoods in Celesteville, as well as clips of the show. The online fun doesn’t stop there as fans can also access 23 different colouring pages and printable stickers, and download their very own customized adventure storybook.

YTV will be participating in Toronto’s 106th annual Santa Claus Parade – the longest running children’s parade in the world. Fans won’t want to miss the Babar and the Adventures of Badou float on Sunday, November 21 at 12:30 p.m. ET. YTV will air a repeat broadcast of the parade on Sunday, December 5 at 12 p.m. ET/PT.

Consulting PortalConsulting-Portal, a leading IT Service Management (ITSM) process design and implementation company, is announcing the launch of an online social media community for Service Management practitioners.

This free online community provides a forum for ITSM practitioners to interact, share, collaborate and to expand their knowledge of IT Service Management processes and frameworks such as ITIL®, COBIT®, and ISO20000®. It also allows for members to connect at a personal level through private messaging, public posting and the ability to “friend” other members.

“The goal of the community was to create an online dialogue covering all aspects of IT Service Management. We are passionate about the practice of Service Management and we hope that this community will allow others to share our passion…we believe that social media and ITSM is a natural fit,” says David Mainville – CEO and co-founder of Consulting-Portal.

The community contains a number of resources including a blog, articles, podcasts, webinars and a variety of user forums on topics such as ITIL® training, ITSM Governance, Service Management tools, Process Design techniques, Configuration Management & the CMDB and much more.

Mood MediaMood Media Corporation has expanded its casual games portfolio through agreement with iWin. Shoppers at popular retailers across the country can now sample a casual game such as Jewel Quest before they purchase it via an interactive display.

Lorne Abony, CEO and Chairman of Mood Media Corporation says, “we continue to expand our product range through partnerships with leading producers and distributors of popular PC based casual games. Mood Media has a large retail footprint and is dedicated to ensuring good media entertainment products are available for shoppers to enjoy”.

CEO at iWin, CJ Wolf comments, “seeing Jewel Quest for sale on the shelves at leading non-traditional retail chains is an exciting new move for iWin. We are happy to work with Mood Media to ensure popular games reach our target audience of females aged 35-50″.

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