Tag: streaming

Movie ‘sanitizer’ VidAngel files for bankruptcy

Back in 2016, Hollywood studios were able to stop VidAngel from streaming sanitized versions of blockbuster hits, claiming that its system for doing so was covered under the Family Movie Act of 2005. The injunction, which VidAngel promised to appeal, claimed that the company was operating as an unlicensed video on demand service.Unfortunately, the company is now filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

"...chapter 11 is simply a reorganization and part of our legal and business strategy," Harmon wrote in a blog post. "Per federal law, chapter 11 reorganization automatically pauses our lawsuit with Disney and the other plaintiffs in California." In an attempt at positive spin, CEO Neal Harmon also wrote that the strategy lets them continue another lawsuit, this one in Utah, to prove that its filtering system is legal. According to Harmon, VidAngel has a new filtering system for Netflix, HBO and Amazon, millions of dollars in the bank and is generating even more millions in revenue. Apparently, the market for "clean" versions of movies and television shows is larger than you might have thought.

Harmon notes that even if the company loses the lawsuit brought by Disney and other studios in California, it will have enough revenue from its new system to pay any court-ordered damages. "That way," he wrote, "VidAngel can survive and reap a return for the many thousands of customers who invested in us."

Via: AV Club

Source: VidAngel

Marvel and Netflix’s ‘The Punisher’ will debut November 17th

Marvel and its distinguished competitor will go head-to-head this fall. But rather than the brawl playing out at comic book shops, the venues will be your living room and local multiplex. Netflix has revealed that its latest Marvel superhero antihero series The Punisher will arrive on November 17th. As Polygon notes, that's the same day that Justice League premieres in theaters.

The titular Punisher, real name Frank Castle, previously made a standout appearance in Marvel's Daredevil series, and the actor who portrays him, Jon Bernthal, is a staple on The Walking Dead. Netflix began teasing the show last April. DC, on the other hand, began running trailers for Justice League this summer.

The difference is that DC's cinematic universe has been incredibly shaky following tepid receptions to Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad last year. This summer's Wonder Woman started turning the tide, however, but it's anyone's guess if Justice League will keep the momentum going. In comparison, Marvel's Netflix shows -- Iron Fist aside -- have all been pretty well received.

It'll probably be difficult to tell what, if any, impact The Punisher will have on Justice League's opening box office weekend, but you can guarantee internet fanboys will have opinions about it either way. The rational among us will just watch both. A new trailer featuring Metallica's anti-war anthem "One" is embedded below.

Via: Polygon

Source: Netflix (YouTube)

‘Drive’ director debuts free streaming service for forgotten movies

Love him or hate him, you can't deny that Drive and Neon Demon director Nicholas Winding Refn has an astute eye for style in his movies. He's taking that and launching his own streaming service, dubbed "byNWR." It's different from Netflix in that its offerings will be tightly curated by Refn and others. Oh, and it'll be free. The service describes itself as "an unadulterated expressway for the arts," and beta sign-ups are live right now.

Per Indiewire, the website further states that "byNWR shares Nicholas WInding Refn's passion for the rare, the forgotten and the unknown, breathing new life into the culturally intriguing and influential." Each month will feature a different restored movie (thanks in part to Harvard Film Archive) that fits into a theme that'll change every quarter. When it launches next February the theme will be "Regional Renegades: Exploitation Gems from the Southern USA," and the second will be "Restored and Rediscovered Classics of American Independent Cinema."

Vodzilla elaborates that the website will also offer essays, music and photos in addition to streaming video. Sounds a bit like what Apple wanted to do with Music at first. Want to watch the movies somewhere other than your computer? Apparently there will also be screenings for the restored films as well at select theaters across the globe.

byNWR is one of the more niche streaming services we've come across, but if you're a fan of obscure movies from Hollywood's past, it might be your best place to watch them -- all it's missing is an app.

Via: Vodzilla

Source: byNWR

Control YouTube’s live TV service with Google Home

You can already use a Google Home speaker to control regular YouTube videos if you have a Chromecast device, but what about YouTube TV? You're set from now on. Google has enabled voice control over its cord-cutting television service from Home speakers, making it possible to change channels without touching your remote. You can ask Google Assistant to play a specific channel or show, and it's smart enough to recognize fuzzier requests. Tell it to "play the MLB game" and it'll switch to baseball without needing a specific channel or team, for instance.

Of course, this is only useful if you live in one of the major US cities where YouTube TV is available. Google is sweetening the pot a bit to get you onboard, though: it's running a "limited time" promo that gives you a free Chromecast if you're a new subscriber. That still means shelling out for a Home speaker to get the full effect, but it's easy to see the appeal of switching to your favorite TV show while your hands are full in the kitchen.

Source: Google

Researchers use AI to banish choppy streaming videos

Nobody likes it when their binge watching is disrupted by a buffering video. While streaming sites like Netflix have offered workarounds for connectivity problems (including offline viewing and quality controls), researchers are tackling the issue head on. In August, a team from MIT CSAIL unveiled its solution: A neural network that can pick the ideal algorithms to ensure a smooth stream at the best possible quality. But, they're not alone in their quest to banish video stutters. The folks at France's EPFL university are also tapping into machine learning as part of their own method. The researchers claim their program can boost the user experience by 37 percent, while also reducing power loads by almost 20 percent.

The likes of YouTube and Netflix rely on systems that are "inefficient," claims post-doctoral researcher Marina Zapater Sanch. "They store either one copy of a video in the highest-quality format possible, or dozens of copies in different formats." This can result in slow and choppy streaming, or a crippling server storage load, according to Sanch.

Like CSAIL before them, her team taught their program to learn from experience. Specifically, the AI monitored 1,000 people playing a video across an exhaustive range of devices. The system then memorized the series of actions that led to better quality streams. The project is still in its infancy, which may explain why the researchers aren't elaborating on its details. Still, it could have real world applications for video platforms in the future. But, first the team want to modify it for real-time streaming: A system where just one copy of a video can be optimized for each particular user.

Source: EPFL

Amazon drops big-budget series following Weinstein scandal

The sexual assault claims against Harvey Weinstein and Amazon's Roy Price are having repercussions for The Weinstein Company's involvement in online video. Amazon has dropped a TWC-produced drama series that would have starred Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore, and it's wresting control of its period piece The Romanoffs from TWC. The internet giant didn't detail its reasons for severing ties, but De Niro, Moore and director David O. Russell said they backed Amazon's decision "in light of recent news and out of respect for all those affected."

The assault allegations may have served as an opportunity to jettison a show that wasn't going very smoothly and would have been costly even if successful. Hollywood Reporter sources have claimed that the unnamed De Niro/Moore series struggled to get off the ground thanks to scripting trouble, and that the deal would have cost $160 million over two seasons. The Romanoffs, meanwhile, cost Amazon 'just' $75 million and is believed to be progressing well. In short: why carry on with a flawed, expensive series that could be tainted by association when taking control of The Romanoffs is a much safer bet?

Amazon's rapid about-face underscores the dangers of betting its future on international blockbusters and scoring A-list actors. While it's doubtful that the online tech giant could have anticipated the scandals, that eagerness to score top-tier projects makes it relatively vulnerable to incidents like this. It's not going to have as many big-name projects lined up as a conventional studio, so it's more likely to be left scrambling if it has to make sudden cancellations.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

Recommended Reading: ‘Lore’ makes the leap from podcast to TV

'Lore' Proves Podcasts Can Inspire Disturbingly Effective TV
Bryan Bishop,
The Verge

A year after Amazon greenlit the television adaption of the popular podcast, Lore debuted this week. The Verge reviews the series as it makes the jump from audio to visual, exploring whether or not the storytelling medium can be the basis for good television. Meanwhile, we're still waiting on that Serial TV show.

Uber Pushed the Limits of the Law. Now Comes the Reckoning
Eric Newcomer, Bloomberg

Uber may have a new CEO who wants to change course, but the company still has a load of problems to deal with.

The Scientist Who Spots Fake Videos
Elizabeth Gibney, Nature

It can be difficult to detect fake or altered video footage these days, but a Dartmouth computer scientist is up to the task.

Westwood's 'Blade Runner' Is an All-Time Classic in Danger of Being Forgotten
Edward Love, Eurogamer

As Blade Runner 2049 plays on the big screen, now is a good time to remember the video game and all it's glory.

Ghost in the Cell
Colin Lecher, The Verge

The Verge tells story of an inmate who hid computers in the ceiling to power a fraud operation from inside an Ohio prison.

Plex can beam Live TV broadcasts on Roku

With the launch of Live TV and DVR in June, Plex took a big step toward becoming an all-round media replacement. Since then, it's wasted no time in introducing the feature to more platforms, including Android and Apple TV. Not to be left behind, Roku devices are now getting Plex Live TV too. But there's a catch: You can't yet schedule recordings through Plex DVR on the streaming player. Plus, the perk is still reserved for Plex Pass subscribers (who pay $5 per month, $40 per year, or $120 lifetime for a bunch of extras). To soften the blow, Roku owners will be able to watch recordings from other supported platforms, including iOS, the Plex web app, Android, Android TV, Apple TV, and iOS. The release is currently in beta, and is expected to roll out to all Plex Pass subscribers next week. All you need to get set up is a compatible tuner connected to a TV antenna or cable jack, and you can leave the rest to Plex.

Source: Plex

The final season of ‘Longmire’ hits Netflix on November 17th

Netflix may have saved popular crime series Longmire after A&E cancelled it in 2014, but every cowboy has his last ride. The streaming service has announced that the sixth and final season debuts on November 17th. A trailer for the final act depicts Sheriff Walt Longmire considering taking off the badge for good and being forced to confront five seasons worth of criminals and past decisions. Based on the clip, it looks like this final installment will be jam-packed with shootouts and suspense.

When A&E cut Longmire, the show was reportedly the most-watched scripted series of all time on the network. However, the show was mostly popular among older viewers -- and those of us with old souls. In the end, Netflix revived the series starting with season 4 and saw fit to extend the story for two more seasons.

If you're not familiar with Longmire, the show chronicles the life of a Wyoming sheriff who is trying to balance his personal life, relations with a local Native American tribe and constant criminal activity all while searching for his wife's killer. The series is based on the book by Craig Johnson and stars Robert Taylor in the lead role alongside Lou Diamond Phillips, Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) and a host of others. It's definitely worth a watch if you're into police/crime dramas, and you've got plenty of time to binge the first five seasons before the sixth begins streaming next month.

Roku’s free ad-supported movie channel is available for everyone

A month ago, Roku announced that it was launching its own movie channel with both big studio flicks and small releases. The company planned a phased rollout to anyone using any of its post-sixth generation devices and TVs. Today, it's finally available for everyone (so long as they're using a Roku product made after June 2011).

The channel includes films from Lionsgate, MGM and Sony Pictures, but also Roku channel publishers like Popcornflix. It's free for all users, so don't expect to see new releases. Instead of additional fees, it relies on ads, though the company noted that fans should see half as many commercials as on a typical television broadcast. This is just the first of many such ad-supported channels in the next phase for Roku', which had its IPO a couple weeks ago that saw its value jump to over $2 billion.

Users won't see the channel unless they manually add it, either online or through their device's channel store. The "Roku Channel" can be found under Streaming Channels in "Featured," "New & Notable," and "Movies & TV."

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Roku