6th August 2011

We Are One Day Away From SIGGRAPH 2011

acm siggraphHave you made Vancouver home for the next six days? If so, that must mean you’re planning to be at SIGGRAPH 2011, which opens tomorrow at the Vancouver Convention Centre and runs until Thursday evening. The Conference and Computer Animation Festival goes from August 7 right through until the 11th and the Exhibition floor with (200+ displays) is open from August 9th through 11th. It is still possible to pick up single day passes, and at just $45.00, they are too good of a deal to miss out on. If you prefer, there are passes still available for the entire week. We got a sneak peek at the expo floor last evening, and it looks awesome. Check out your options on the SIGGRAPH 2011 Registration Info page.

This is the first time the flagship conference for the ACM SIGGRAPH organization has been held in Canada, and is an incredible opportunity for the Canadian digital media and film industry sectors. There are, at my count, 37 Canadian companies – or international companies with a Canadian location – with exhibit booths on the conference floor, including ourselves in Booth 1018. This does not include the number of Canadian companies who may have a booth in the Job Fair area of the conference, nor those like Corel who will be working out of LightBox’s booth. Nor does it include the Canadian studios who will be represented in our booth with their trailers and games or those being highlighted through the DFAIT and provincial economic development booths. There is without a doubt going to be lots to see, lots to learn, and many people to meet at SIGGRAPH 2011.

SIGGRAPH 2011 highlights the full spectrum of the $67 billion annual computer graphics industry, showcasing the world’s finest technology exhibits, interactive displays, and the best in animation and visual effects. Numerous cutting-edge research and commercial products are shown to the public for the first time in interactive exhibit areas. Examples include:

  • Displays: Watch attendees interacting with cutting-edge 3D displays that will change their home theaters and video game experiences.
  • Robotics, Wearables, and Haptics: See people engaging with robots and stimulation devices such as a wearable pregnancy jacket that allows the user to feel a fetus’s temperature, movements, and heartbeat.
  • Mobile Devices: Interact with the next wave of advancements in mobile technological devices such as a “watch” that turns your hand into a mini-keyboard.

You can get a look at the expo floor map (PDF) on the SIGGRAPH web site, it is current as of August 1st, and for those who are not aware, the expo hall is on the lower level of the new convention centre.

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5th August 2011

ViXS Showcases the Future of Media Processing and Connectivity

vixsViXS Systems Inc. will be demonstrating the latest in the connected home digital media processing and networking technologies to cable operators  at the CableLabs Summer Conference in Keystone Aug 8 – 10.

“ViXS’ smart processors put us firmly at the center of the latest trends in set top boxes,” said Sally Daub, President and CEO of ViXS Systems. “We look forward to demonstrating how our leading-edge technology enables a large portfolio of new advanced networked media devices, including: media gateways, advanced set top boxes, and streaming media and connectivity solutions.”

Transcoding, media processing and home networking are critical to the networked digital media revolution. At the CableLabs Summer Conference, ViXS will showcase its latest solutions to leading cable MSOs. The following demonstrations will be shown in ViXS’ private demo room:

  • XCode® 5195 with integrated MoCA: Headless Gateway Transcoder, revolutionizing digital home entertainment and enabling true content mobility by transcoding and streaming content on up to four high definition (HD) sources to multiple devices within the home
  • XCode® 4210: Advanced Set-top Box, Blu-ray and Smart TV module System on Chip ( SOC) featuring a high level of concurrency including dual HD transcoding, dual HD display, advanced networking, full HD resolution 3D TV and 3D graphics
  • Over-the-top (OTT) and content mobility solutions to address seamless connectivity to iPADs, tablets and other connected media devices
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5th August 2011

Wacom Summer of Sharing Contest

wacomWacom is currently running its Summer of Sharing contest for non-professional photographers and artists who use either the Intuos or Bamboo tablets. This contest is open to residents of Canada (excluding Quebec) and the United States who are over the age of 18.

To define “non-professional”, Wacom’s rules states that “entry must be enthusiast work only (no professional artwork). An enthusiast is defined as someone who enjoys their digital imagery, art and photos, but who does not make their living from the craft.

The contest is open for submissions until August 31st, with voting to start on September 1st. When you submit your artwork, you will need to tell Wacom a bit about how you created it using your Wacom Intuos or Bamboo pen tablet. The contest is open to all genres and personal styles: illustrations, caricatures, digital painting, anime, created with your favorite software.

As an added twist – this is a contest, after all -  you’ll have the chance to earn some serious cash, software, and gear. A Wacom panel of judges will hand-pick a select number of entrants to participate in our Fall 2011 program to showcase pen tablet techniques. This is a totally eclectic process, and entrants will be chosen at the full discretion of the Wacom panel, based on submissions and your answers to questions about how you use your tablet.

If you are going to SIGGRAPH 2011, you can visit Wacom on the expo floor in Booth 825.

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5th August 2011

Sad Cat Software Launches Desert Quest

sad cat softwareIndependent Mississauga developer Sad Cat Software is pleased to announce the launch of Desert Quest game for iPhone and iPod Touch, the epic role-playing adventure that invites players to take an inspiring journey into the world full of magic and secrets. With its smooth and fluid gameplay, beautifully crafted graphics and enchanting music the title provides a deeply engaging and unforgettable gaming experience.

Players take the role of a hero whose mission is to venture through 16 various levels across the unknown Desert Questand dangerous lands in order to find and save the gorgeous princess from evil spirits. They are challenged to show off their archery skills and go through intense combats against 30 kinds of creatures including eight spirit bosses. With a diverse selection of upgradable weapons and equipment users have the chance to improve the speed, agility and endurance and gain upper hand in battles. The game contains 20 spells to discover and achieve that can be learned by combining the magical gems in the pattern shown in the spell book.

“Desert Quest is our first foray into 3D games that plunges players into the magical, enchanting and beautifully crafted world full of spirits and adventure.  We hope our users will enjoy exploring it as much as we’ve enjoyed making the game,” said Sad Cat Software founder Oleg Samus.

Desert Quest presents four exotic environments in widely varying landscapes and features different mini-puzzle games that must be solved to advance further.  Outstanding 3D graphics are a great addition to a varied, rich and deep gameplay. Enchanting music and subtle sound effects create special involving atmosphere and make the whole experience even more enjoyable and captivating.

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Desert Quest 1.0 is available at a special introductory price of $0.99 USD and available worldwide through the App Store in the Games category. The game is compatible for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices running iOS 3.0 or later. Desert Quest is rated 9+ for Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence.

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5th August 2011

The PwC 2011 Big Table of Film and Video Incentives in Canada

pwcPwC has released the 2011 Big Table of Film and Video Incentives that are available across Canada. Use them to your development benefit. The following information is from the PwC site.

Filmed Entertainment

Canadian film and television productions now account for about $5 billion in annual revenue and employ more than 117,000 people (Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office – CAVCO, 2010). The Canadian industry continues to grow with the support of federal, provincial and territorial governments, which encourage investment by domestic and foreign producers through incentives that help offset the cost of productions in Canadian locations. The big table is your guide to these incentives.

PwC’s Global entertainment and media outlook forecasts that global spending on filmed entertainment will reach $113.1 billion in 2015. North America will continue to be the largest region, and will grow at 5.2% (compounded annually) from $39.0 billion in 2010 to $50.3 billion in 2015.

The Entertainment and Media practice at PwC provides solutions to critical issues facing the Canadian film industry. We welcome the opportunity to put our industry expertise and resources to work for you. Please contact us to find out more.

View the  Big Table of Film and Video Incentives in Canada — August 2011 (PDF 426kb)

Digital Media and Animation — Gaming

Canadian businesses in the digital media and animation sector have tremendous opportunities for growth as markets continue to emerge and expand. Global console games, the largest category, with revenues of $28.1 billion in 2010, will expand at a 4.4% compound annual rate to $34.8 billion in 2015.

The online market will benefit from increased penetration of broadband households combined with growing digital distribution of content. The increasing popularity of massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs), with their subscription fees and micro-transactions, is also aiding the expansion of the market. Casual games and social network games are important components as well. In addition, smartphones and tablets—such as the iPad® —with improved graphic capabilities, will raise the bar for the quality of wireless games and drive demand. At the same time, new application stores will increase the number of gamers willing to purchase games. Burgeoning 3G/4G networks will enable wireless games to approach the quality of console games.

To meet this demand, digital media and animation companies can take advantage of credits and incentives from two broad categories. First, several provinces offer refundable interactive digital media tax credits, based on eligible labour expenditures and eligible marketing and distribution expenses claimed by qualifying corporations with respect to interactive digital media products. The other, generous tax incentives under Canada’s scientific research and experimental development (SR&ED) program, reward companies advancing science or technology in the gaming industry.

View the Big Table of Digital Media and Animation Incentives in Canada — August 2011 ( PDF 324 KB)

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5th August 2011

Good World Games Announces MyConservationPark

Good World GamesMy sincere apologies to Good World Games – with the massive amount of SIGGRAPH 2011 emails being fired back and forth along with tasks on our to-do list, I completely missed this press release.MyConservationPark

Good World Games was founded in Toronto last year with the goal of creating socially conscious social games. Now based in Liberty Village, we are building a movement dedicated to helping important global causes through fun and educational games offered to a wide and engaged audience.

The studio’s first game, MyConservationPark is an innovative, planet-friendly social game allowing players to nurture their own virtual wildlife preserves based on real threatened species and habitats, while directly supporting non-profit organizations such as The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, Sea Shepherd and WildAid.

As the player, your mission is simple. You need to protect an endangered animal – your “hero” – from environmental and human threats while enriching the park with fauna and flora to create a sustainable habitat. Successfully conquer these challenges and balance the Eco-system and you will be rewarded with points and cash. Fail to do so and your hero and the Eco-system will suffer. When you purchase goods from the in-game store such as structures or animals, 15% of the revenue will be donated to our non-profit partners.

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5th August 2011

Netflix Surpasses 1 Million Members Milestone in Canada

netflixWithin ten months of launching its service in Canada, Netflix has surpassed one million members. The milestone was in July, when Amanda Bell James, from Flin Flon, Manitoba joined Netflix and won a lifetime membership to the world’s leading Internet subscription service for enjoying movies and TV shows.

“We’re thrilled that Canadians have embraced Netflix so rapidly, and are we’re equally proud to have welcomed one million members in such a short period,” said Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO and co-founder. “Our focus remains on building up the breadth and range of movies and TV shows to watch instantly, as well as constantly improving the experience, and we look forward to welcoming many more new members.”

For $7.99 a month, Canadians can instantly watch unlimited movies & TV episodes streaming from Netflix, whenever and as often they want. Having an extensive library of thousands of movies and TV episodes ensures that Netflix members have a wide range of choices to watch instantly.

“I’m excited to be the millionth Canadian member,” said Amanda Bell James. “Netflix is something I enjoy with my family and I look forward to continue watching our favorite movies and TV shows via Netflix in the future.”

Members can instantly watch movies and TV shows from Netflix via the Internet on a number of devices from computers to game consoles to smart phones and Internet connected televisions. The experience allows members to pause, fast forward and rewind their selection on any of their devices. Movies and TV shows are shown without ads or trailers.

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4th August 2011

RTDNA Appoints First Digital News Chair

rtnda canadaRTDNA Canada – The Association of Electronic Journalists – continues to change its DNA as it prepares to celebrate its 50thanniversary. Earlier this year the Association changed its name to include digital media and now it announces that Andrew Lundy, Director of Globalnews.ca, has accepted the new role of Digital Chair.

In making the announcement RTDNA Canada President Andy Leblanc says Lundy’s experience “will help shape the future of the Association as it embraces the reality of digital and social media in news gathering and news broadcasting.”

Lundy says he’s “thrilled to be part of the RTDNA’s digital transition. It’s truly an honour to be part of an organization that’s served its members so well for decades, and is embracing the future with open arms.”

“A recent Angus Reid survey shows almost half of Canadians would give up watching TV before giving up surfing the web,” Lundy added. “There’s no doubt digital is here to stay. Online keeps growing in prominence and looks poised to become a major force in the next few years.”

Across Canada, radio and television networks and stations are enhancing their online operations and using social media to engage their audiences in tandem with their broadcast operations. Lundy says “For most conventional media, audiences are not growing, but Canadians aren’t shying away from news; they’re just moving to digital platforms and in numbers that really matter.”

RTDNA looks forward to developing its digital journalism partnership with radio and television news. The Association will be a voice for all platforms. Digital Chair Andrew Lundy and RTDNA President Andy LeBlanc are available for interviews on the many issues confronting Canadian journalism in the age of Twitter-based news.

RTDNA Canada is the voice of electronic journalists and news managers in Canada. The members of RTDNA Canada recognize the responsibility of broadcast and digital journalists to promote and to protect the freedom to report independently about matters of public interest and to present a wide range of expressions, opinions and ideas. The RTDNA Canada Code of Ethics, adopted by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, is used to measure fairness and accuracy in the profession.

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4th August 2011

Thinware Media Announces Partnership with Render Rocket

studioCAPThinware Media Ltd., developers of StudioCAP workflow automation and asset management for animation studios, and Render Rocket LLC, an advanced cloud-based rendering services company based in California, have announced a new strategic partnership and technology integration that will enable animation studios to fully automate the process of rendering completely managed via cloud  computing.

StudioCAP (CAP=Computer Aided Production) is a completely new workflow automation and asset management solution for animation studios. Its cloud-based system enables studios to more efficiently store, track, and move 2D and 3D CGI (computer generated image) assets through the creation process without having to install and manage a costly IT infrastructure to do so. Render Rocket is a cloud-based, high-end rendering service that provides professional-grade rendering power on-demand to any 2D or 3D production team regardless of size or location.

Together, StudioCAP and Render Rocket will enable studios to manage their files more effectively, and automatically trigger a render job by simply submitting an image or shot after an artist has completed it. This will immediately package and send all the files to Render Rocket for rendering. Render Rocket will quickly return the files to StudioCAP fully rendered. The entire process not only automates rendering for artists, it alleviates the need for studios to purchase and maintain dedicated file servers and rendering machines, since both StudioCAP and Render Rocket operate in the cloud.

“We are very excited that Ruben and his team are onboard with Thinware Media,” said Mark Rocchio, CEO of Thinware Media Ltd. “Render Rocket is a well-established, easy-to-use rendering solution that works seamlessly with StudioCAP, and this will undoubtedly simplify how our customers take content from concept to final render.”

Ruben Perez, CEO of Render Rocket, added: “StudioCAP is the perfect complement to our cloud-based rendering solution. Now studios of all sizes can create content more efficiently, manage projects and assets more efficiently, and render more efficiently – all within the cloud and without massive capital investment. This partnership has the potential to re-define how all types of media are produced.”

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4th August 2011

Antic Entertainment Launches Platoonz To Kongregate

antic entertainmentLondon Ontario’s Antic Entertainment, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at Casual Connect, has released its latest title to Kongregate. According to the game’s description, Platoonz is an action RPG game in which players build an army base and manage a squad of soldiers. The player’s mission is to recruit, equip and train those soldiers to combat the evil forces of Evil. Platoonz is free to play on the Kongregate platform.

Platoonz

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