DIGITAL MEDIA FROM THE INSIDE OUT: My focus is digital content -- production, distribution, collaboration, innovation, creativity. Some posts have appeared across the web (HuffPo, Tribeca's Future of Film, The Wrap, MIPblog, etc.). To receive these posts regularly via email, sign up for my newsletter here.


Prognostication: 2017

My thoughts about media and technology trends for 2017 as Chair of the IDEABOOST Investment Advisory Group.

Along with December’s holidays, the end of the year traditionally brings a predictable flood of prognostications and crystal-ball gazing from pundits and digerati. After such a tumultuous 2016, it may be advisable to exercise extra caution when trying to chart a reasonable set of expectations for 2017.

But chart we must, at IDEABOOST, which sits at the intersection of media, technology, finance and culture. Why? Because the entrepreneurial focus of our accelerator and related programs are all about the future – what opportunities will flourish in the near- and long-term future? What new markets will emerge that solve problems and disrupt old orders? What kind of innovations could propel a company’s success?

In recent years, accelerators around the work are betting on hot markets like the Internet of Things, big data analysis, SaaS platforms, financial technologies, and mobile apps --- reflected (perhaps coincidentally) among 2016 IDEABOOST investments.

Computer science and technology will power vast changes in the world’s business infrastructure with the growth of advanced machine learning, intelligent apps and devices, virtual and augmented reality, blockchain/digital ledgers and currencies, mesh systems and voice interfaces, and a host of new digital platforms. (See this post from Gartner and another from Forbes for more detail.) Buried within these “categories” are huge industry-disrupting developments like commercial drone and autonomous vehicles, peer-to-peer funds transfer, automated fish farms, and many others.

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Looking for Community Partners for 'Pulse on VR' survey

My clients at the CFC Media Lab recently launched with OMERS Ventures and a host of partners, a study focused on the VR ecosystem in Canada and California. Titled Pulse on VR: A Workflow and Ecosystem Study, the study aims to identify the key players in this emerging industry and the primary workflows used to bring Virtual Reality (VR) to users. 

Click here to view and take The Survey

Click here to learn more about the study and to view the Press release

We would like to invite relevant organizations to become Community Partners of Pulse on VR. What this partnership entails is quite simple:

What you get:

  • Participation for your membership and stakeholders in a wide-ranging VR ecosystem study that will help put them on the map
  • Early access to findings of Pulse on VR
  • Early access to register for our new VR News Aggregator site called VIRTUAL REALITY PULSE 
  • Logo recognition as a Community Partner on most collateral materials, but most notably on the Pulse on VR website where we will publish an interactive map and/or visualization of our findings (Fall 2016)
  • Invitation to Pulse on VR events and launches

What we need:

  • Call to action email or campaign to your stakeholders and members to complete our Pulse on VR survey
  • Call to action social campaign to your followers to complete our Pulse on VR survey
  • Your LOGO
  • Information for at least 2-3 members of your organization so we can invite them to our events

If you are part of an organization that represents VR Content Creators and/or VR Technology Companies and think you would like to be a Pulse on VR Community Partner, please send me a note, and I'll set up a call with CFC chief digital officer Ana Serrano, who is spearheading this effort. 



The Here-and-Now of VR Innovation

Five great innovators in virtual reality from Canada joined me in New York for a great conversation, focusing upon the here-and-how of VR production during the Media Summit New York, a Digital Hollywood event.

“The VR Cutting Edge from Canada: A Look at VR, AR, and Immersive Entertainment from our Northern Neighbors” was a panel that lived up to its title. Here’s how I described the March 3rd event: As the market for new VR and immersive technologies explode, centers of innovation like Canada are making significant contributions, both creatively and technologically. With two of North America’s busiest film/TV production centers and arguably the deepest bench in 3D animation technologies in the world, Canadian artists, entrepreneurs and institutions are making waves in a market that requires both. Join Nick DeMartino, senior advisor to the Canadian Film Centre, and a stellar panel from north of the border to explore the cutting edge of entertainment.

Speakers all hailed from Canadian companies, with quite a range of experience.

C.J. is a senior member of the 60-person Toronto team that won the first Emmy given to a VR experience for its work on Fox’s Sleepy Hollow. Ian is an innovative VR producer who joined the staff of the CFC, which is investing heavily in VR production (more details on that will become available soon). Kim is a legendary visual effects pioneer whose company Side Effects produces the industry-leading Houdini 3-D package, which is now being used not only for films, TV and games, but for virtual reality, as well. Les is a game designer whose passion for VR has led the production of some of the first VR experiences that leverage the Oculus social platform. Ben has jumped into VR to provide Globacore’s clients with amazing immersive experiences at trade shows, events, museums and other out-of-home environments.

These guys presented an engaging mix of theory and practice, which I found refreshing compared to many VR discussions, which concentrate primarily on monetization strategies and speculations on the market. 


2015: TV, Movies, Books & Digital - My year-end reviews all in one place

Over the past week, as has been my habit during the past few years, I've posted year-end reviews of my favorite media products (and trends) for 2015. If you missed the post, here are links to each of the blog posts. Bookmark, spread around, and send me your reactions, if you please.

Movies: 2015: A Fine Year for Cinema

Books: 2015: Great books that touched me

TV: 2015: TV’s Embarrassment of Riches

Digital: 2015: One Year in ‘Now’ Media

A milestone for me this year: honor from my peers.


2015: Great books that touched me

Reading, especially fiction, is a core part of my identity, going beyond the cliché we have all learned – that reading gives lonely kids a host of imaginary friends, gives us wings to fly away to worlds beyond a present that seems lame by comparison – though certainly that was true in my earlier life. Reading provides the most intimate form of connection to story that we have: we get to enter the interior life of characters, and often the author's as well, experiencing a near-magical transmutation of words into feelings, ideas, and the distillation of everything that it means to be human.

I have had a book near my pillow since I learned to read at age five. Now I have an eBook or an audio book in my pocket whenever I might want to dive back into the magical realm of a great story. Digital books have encouraged me to read more, not less – for instance, the new Kindle/Audible hybrid app that allows one to toggle back and forth from audio to text in the same app without losing one's place.

As a result, this year I have consumed more than 60 books in all forms – print, eBook, and audio. My reading life is eclectic – I follow new work by favorite authors, check out award-winners (especially the Booker), and take recommendations from friends, reviewers, and contacts I’ve on, where I review every book. Note: I've included the year of publication, since my favorites scan the decades). Here are the books to which I gave four or fives stars. My full 2015 list can be found here. Follow me here for a regular update on my reading life.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (2015)

One review used the term 'fever dream' to describe A LITTLE LIFE. That approached the experience I have had this week as I stayed up way too late, unable to tear myself away from the story of Jude St. Francis and his circle of New York friends as they make their way through the decades.

Dream-like indeed, because Yanagihara's focus is the emotional life of the characters, especially Jude, who is one of the most complex and tragic protagonists in the history of literature. He was horribly abused in multiple ways as a child, leaving him with persistent and worsening physical ailments, but worse than that, a profoundly deep and singular well of shame that he labors prodigiously to hide, even as it defines virtually every waking moment of his life and his interactions with those he meets, loves and is loved by.

Fever, because the unfolding of the true story of what happened to him, doled out along with the forward thrust of the narrative is critical to understand and extremely difficult to experience in the present moment, which the author delivers with harrowing and unflinching honesty. Perhaps even more difficult is the real-time experience of the consequences, which is extreme self-hate and mutilation, which I've never ever experienced with any degree of understanding before. The logic of shame is on full display, made even more disturbing in contrast to the exterior validation that Jude receives in his core relationships -- a circle of adoring friends, new adoptive parents, a profoundly committed doctor, and a man who loves him beyond words -- and the larger world of commerce and an almost operatic inhabitation of upper-middle-class privilege that arrives for the group of men who each earns extraordinary success.

Without question, the invented lives of these men map to a recognizable New York and global world of money, glamour, art, media, objects, and events, even as Yanagihara manufactures a kind of parallel universe of names, places, titles, and moments in time that never existed, a kind of fable of New York without 9/11, AIDS, or recognizable historical figures, like alternative speculative fiction -- here's a world that feels like our world, but is really all mine. I could go on and on, but finally, ultimately, as I think back upon the reading experience, I will remember, night after night, putting down my Kindle with a gasp, breathing deeply as if I had just woken from a particularly vivid and disturbing dream, struggling to release and have a dream of my own, grateful that mine are not so fevered.

The Whites: A Novel by Richard Price, writing as Harry Brandt (2015)

Price is a master builder, creating vivid and detailed worlds populated by cops and criminals whose lives and values slosh back and forth like dirty water, everyone covered in slime. The distinguishing characteristic of the good guys, which the cops in this novel sort of try to be, is loyalty, expressed in ways that, from the outside, would hardly be considered "good.' This is quite literally, a story of revenge. The central metaphor is "The Whites," e.g., the white whales that got away -- perps who walked away from an investigation that the core group of detectives in a Bronx squad really, really wanted to get, but didn't.

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