Nonlinear Film Technology lets you (and the rest of the audience) be the director

James Careless , TechHive

James Careless has been covering the Internet since the days of 1200 baud modems. His credits include Business Week, KM World, Network World, PCWorld, and Streaming Media.
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If you’ve ever grumbled to yourself at the end of a movie, “Well, that story didn’t go the way it should have,” then you’ll want to know about Nonlinear Film Technology, or NFT. Pioneered by the filmmaking team of Milton Matthew Horowitz, Ryan Forte, and Todd Smyth, NFT marries smartphone apps with multiple movie versions and addressable movie theater servers—it’s a little like Choose Your Own Adventure for films.

It works like this: Say the film you’re watching has come to a crossroads, where the hero can either kill the bad guy or not. An NFT version will pop a message onto the screen, asking the audience to vote on what should happen next.

The audience responds by casting votes using their smartphones’ NFT app. The votes are sent to the movie theater’s server, which tallies them, determines which plot option should happen next, and then displays it on the theater’s screen. The result is a movie experience that can change from audience to audience, and which finally provides smartphones with a legitimate reason to be in movie theaters.

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Samsung's Milk Music service adds $4 per month premium subscription option

Brad Chacos Senior Writer, TechHive Follow me on Google+

Brad Chacos spends the days jamming to Spotify, digging through desktop PCs and covering everything from BYOD tablets to DIY tesla coils.
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Samsung hinted this day was coming, and, well, now it's here. A new $4 per month paid tier has been introduced to the company's Milk Music streaming radio service, which is built atop Slacker Radio and comes preinstalled on select Galaxy phones.

The new tier, which was introduced via a recent update and first spotted by Android Police, adds unlimited song skips, offline listening, and the option of killing Milk's DJ banter. What it does not do is remove ads, because despite strong Samsung hints that it plans to introduce advertising to Milk Music, the service currently remains completely ad-free—even for listeners who refuse to plunk down cash.

But Samsung's Milk Music availability is still extremely limited overall. As I said, it only works on a small handful of Galaxy handsets, and even then only if those phones are in the U.S. And with Samsung giving its Music Hub and other in-house stores the axe, you have to wonder about the future of this super-niche streaming services.

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Netflix, AT&T hammer out interconnection deal to boost streaming video speeds

Ian Paul ian@ianpaul.net, TechHive Follow me on Google+

Ian is an independent writer based in Tel Aviv, Israel. His current focus is on all things tech including mobile devices, desktop and laptop computers, software, social networks, Web apps, tech-related legislation and corporate tech news.
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After Netflix made direct interconnection deals with Comcast and Verizon to boost the quality of its videos earlier in 2014, it was pretty much inevitable the streaming service would also strike an agreement with AT&T. Recently, the inevitable was confirmed: Netflix and AT&T came to an interconnection deal in May.

However, the deal will only start to improve streaming speeds for AT&T subscribers this week.

"We reached an interconnect agreement with AT&T in May and since then have been working together to provision additional interconnect capacity to improve the viewing experience for our mutual subscribers," Netflix said in a statement to TechHive. "We’re now beginning to turn up the connections, a process that should be complete in the coming days."

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Comic-Con: iPads are mainstream, but there's still digital drama

Jason Snell Senior VP, Editorial Director, TechHive Follow me on Google+

Jason oversees all editorial operations for TechHive, PCWorld, and Macworld. He has reviewed every major Apple product of the last few years, including the original iPhone and iPad as well as every major version of Mac OS X.
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I’ve been reading comics on and off since I was a kid, and I went to college in San Diego, yet I never attended San Diego Comic-Con International until the release of the iPad. I was drawn by the impact that device would have on the comics industry, and sure enough, over the past five years there’s been massive change.

But the story that drew me to my first Comic-Con is, it seems to me, drawing to an end. The industry freak-outs about how digital comics were going to destroy printed comics and comic shops? They’re gone, by and large. (This doesn’t mean that the industry isn’t changing—just this week a venerable retailer announced it probably wouldn’t return to the show.) The shouting is over and digital comics are just another part of the landscape.

Comic-Con’s calendar used to be populated with panels about the state of digital comics versus printed comics, and what the future would bring. This year it was a nonissue. The most interesting iPad-related session I saw featured Kristy and Brian Miller of Hi-Fi Colour Design demonstrating how you can draw, ink, and paint comics at full quality, entirely using iPad apps such as Autodesk’s Sketchbook Pro, Adobe Ideas, and Savage Interactive’s Procreate.

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Streaming music pioneer Rhapsody finally hits 2 million subscriptions

James Careless , TechHive

James Careless has been covering the Internet since the days of 1200 baud modems. His credits include Business Week, KM World, Network World, PCWorld, and Streaming Media.
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It took Rhapsody—the RealNetworks’ spinoff that pioneered the flat-fee online music subscription business—10 years to hit the million subscriber mark in December 2011. It only took from then to today for Rhapsody to achieve 2 million subs. That’s progress!

Of course, Rhapsody remains dwarfed by Spotify’s 10 million paying subscribers. But the Little Streaming Company That Started It All has definitely upped its game as of late, due to a recent deal with T-Mobile. Under the deal, T-Mobile subscribers get Rhapsody unRadio’s ad-free, no-skip-limit, user-selectable music service anywhere from a dollar off Rhapsody’s $5/month rate, to entirely free, depending on which T-Mobile plan they have.

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Xbox Entertainment Studios is doomed, original online programming efforts are not

James Careless , TechHive

James Careless has been covering the Internet since the days of 1200 baud modems. His credits include Business Week, KM World, Network World, PCWorld, and Streaming Media.
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Depending on your point of view, Microsoft’s decision to close down its Xbox Entertainment Studios barely two months after detailing launch plans for its original programming is a) a quick and cowardly rout, b) a wise strategic withdrawal, or c) proof that the company was never really committed to the online video space in the first place. You be the judge.

What the sudden closing of Microsoft’s Xbox Entertainment Studios should not be seen as is an indicator that other companies plan to dial back their efforts to develop more original online video.

Last week, Microsoft announced plans to shutter its fledgling effort to produce original online content for its Xbox consoles, instead choosing to refocus Xbox efforts on gaming. Some of the projects in the works will continue, most notably the live-action series based on Halo, and some of top executives will remain to see those projects through. But the ambitious programming plans Microsoft laid out earlier this year are dead in the water.

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Google reportedly seals deal to gobble up Twitch for $1 billion

Hayden Dingman , TechHive Follow me on Google+

It's been nearly two months since Variety and The Wall Street Journal reported Google was "in talks" to purchase popular games streaming site Twitch.tv for a billion dollars. According to VentureBeat, we can now upgrade the status from "in talks" to "sealed deal."

The report is unconfirmed currently, with VentureBeat only citing "sources familiar with the matter," but it'd hardly be a surprise if true. Details are scarce though—neither company has spoken on the matter, and there's no news of whether just Twitch or all of the empire formerly know as Justin.tv is also part of the deal. We also don't know whether YouTube's own streaming service would continue to function separately from Google. Here's hoping that if the acquisition rumors are true, Google+ won't become mandatory for Twitch accounts.

I stand by what I said back in May: Google's acquisition of Twitch is not necessarily bad for streamers. Despite Google's somewhat overbearing attitude towards copyright enforcement and Google+, there's no denying that Google has both the cash and knowledge to upgrade Twitch's infrastructure, turn it into a more robust service, and pay more streamers for their work. As long as Twitch is given space to function and the money to expand, the Google acquisition could be a great opportunity.

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