Why would I blog about the Hollywood Reporter?

Well, because Hollywood was all over SIGGRAPH 2006, and even “Entertainment’s First Daily Paper” is practically dedicated to it SIGGRAPH in its July 28-30 issue. And, well, I checked the bag with my books and was stuck reading this on the plane. πŸ˜€ But I found plenty to make me glad I got stuck reading it. Some highlights:

The cover has SIGGRAPH at the top, and is dedicated to digital and 3D video FX, with lots of cool recognizable shots from the moveis and commercials.

Turns out Hollywood is way more up on technology, digital media and games than I was really aware, since I don’t follow their news normally. Upon consideration, that’s no suprise really. Some evidence from stories:

E! Entertainment Television has joined the steadily growing list of networks and studios to offer their programming for download and purchase via Apple’s iTunes Music Store.

The Rolling Stones are taking advantage of the latest in telephone technology by allowing fans to dial a toll-free number and listen to them perform in real time for $1.99 per seven minutes during their current European tour

These new workstations will now empower artists to create as fast as they can think”

That last was a quote from a 2 page advertising spread by HP selling workstations to Hollywood. Part of the fuss about digital effects for movies is that it is now so much cheaper than it used to be – and the fact HP workstations can be used is proof of the point.

Digital media firm RealNetworks Inc. multiplied its second-quarter earnings thanks to growth in its music and game businesses… Revenue rose 8% to a record $89.4 million, driven by a 55% jump in games revenue to $21.2 million and a 21% increase in music revenue to $30.1 million

Note: “digital media” firm – not software or online service firm. Also consider those numbers for a minute: with that much revenue and growth in games and in music, everything else they’re doing is clearly flat or losing money. Since we can be sure exec at Real are smart people, we can also be sure that their money will follow their success – to games and music.

Vid games, pay TV boost Vivendi’s Q2

Strong gains at its video game and pay TV units boosted second-quarter revenue at media and telecommunications firm Vivendi by about 5% compared with the year-ago period.

The Vivendi Games division posted revenue of $205.6 million for the second quarter, up 29.6% year-over-year… Successful game titles included “World of Warcraft,” “Ice Age 2: The Meltdown” and “50 Cent: Bulletproof.”

Universal Music Group also grew revenue in the latest period, finishing up 2.2% at $1.4 billion. Digital music sales jumped 91% to $140.8 million, hitting 10.3% of total revenue.

Same point about Vivendi money following revenue growth: overall: +5%. Games: +30%. Digital music: +91%. Duh.

No wonder Hollywood Reporter is all over digital technology, eh? πŸ˜€

The four page center spread of the magazine is dedicated to SIGGRAPH coverage, with two articles:

Win, lose or draw

Thanks to inexpensive technology, computer animation is booming.

animation firms are replicating at a frenzied rate nationwide, each angling to challenge the dominance of the Big Three (Pixar, Dreamworks, Blue Sky)

these upstarts share two beliefs: that a good story is essential, and that they can make features for a fraction of what the Big Three spend, often by leveraging offshore resources.

“there are 16 computer-generated movies scheduled for release this year, and there have been 16 released over the last 10 years”

“There’s a lot of room to do more than has been done stylistically and creatively in the last 10 years. We’re still in the infancy of this art form.”

Stewart sees a developing animation marketplace that resembles a three-layer cake, with low-budget, medium-budget and big-budget releases; previously, when the necessary hardware and software were expensive and not wide available and the expertise to make a CG film scarce, nearly all computer-animated features were big-budget endeavors.

“Our movie would cost approximately $45 million if we made it in the (SF) Bay area. If we do it in the Far East, we can get our costs down to about $25 million, and we’re really confident there won’t be a visible quality difference.”

Williamson compares the surge in CG features to “the indie film phenomenon of the late 1980s and early 1990s, where you had a huge volume spike in independently made live-action movies. Only the good ones stand out.”

Going for gold: the race is on

As brainiacs make a beeline to Boston for SIGGRAPH… (ed: lol!)
“in the next couple of years, there are lots of technologies coming online that suggest there is more and better 3-D to come.”

No, not as interesting as the other story.

Last bit, from an ad about their premium online subscription. Check out this teaser:

Playing Games

The massively multiplayer online game universe continues to expand as major companies log on. Paul Hyman tells how Hollywood brands are staking their claims.

I’d like to hear about that – but not enough yet to pay for it. πŸ˜€

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