It’s been eight years since Microsoft and Sony announced new consoles, and tastes have changed considerably. Back then, new gaming gear was launched at E3, or using Elijah Wood-fronted MTV specials, but this time around Microsoft is pitching a tent on its Redmond campus for the world’s media to huddle under. With less than 24 hours before the next Xbox is revealed, it’s high time we sifted through the leaks, rumors and prognostications to see what we know, or at least, what we think we know about a little box called “Durango.”
Earlier today, Yahoo sent press invites to a “product-related” event in New York City Monday afternoon and there are already two separate rumors about the company’s plans. The first, from Bloomberg, concerns the event specifically and cites a “person familiar with the matter” reporting we’ll hear about new updates for Yahoo’s once-mighty Flickr photo service. The second is from AllThingsD, which has upgraded rumors of a Tumblr purchase from possible to possibly imminent, saying the company’s board will meet to decide whether it will make a $ 1.1 billion all-cash offer for the site. That announcement is also penciled in for the 20th, but whatever actually goes down you can be sure we’ll have the details as they’re unveiled at 4:30PM ET.
Filed under: Internet
The amiable Scrubs actor’s crowdfunding project has resulted in both major fan support and some serious criticism. So, what’s the truth?
Via: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images
How did the smiley doctor from a cult favorite sitcom become the biggest lightning rod in Hollywood and on the internet?
Last month, Zach Braff launched a Kickstarter drive to finance a new feature film, Wish I Was Here; he had already written the script, about a struggling actor trying to balance fatherhood and his artistic ambition, and he would serve as director and star as well.
The film hit its $ 2 million goal in just a few days (it’s now at $ 2.6 million), but it also earned him scorn. Bloggers and industry members snarked over Twitter — Tim Heidecker wrote out a particularly cruel fake scene for the film — and independent filmmakers debated whether the influx of celebrity-driven projects would bring more attention to Kickstarter (as Braff had promised) or deplete the pool of money for those that truly needed it.
“We've been living both under the microscope and in the spotlight at the same time,” Stacey Sher, the producer on his film, told BuzzFeed, noting her surprise at the attention the campaign has garnered.
Braff took to Twitter and media appearances to quiet the storm, but it began anew on Wednesday with The Hollywood Reporter's report from Cannes that the movie had secured “traditional” financing from Worldview Media. The reaction was swift; bloggers called for the over 38,000 people that have backed Braff's film to pull back their pledges, since it seemed that he didn't really need their cash at all.
Once again, Braff had to put out a fire. The money from Worldview, as he wrote in a note on Kickstarter and Sher told BuzzFeed on Thursday, is not so much financing as it is a loan, meant to help him start production while he awaits the funds he earned on Kickstarter and from selling the rights to distribute the film to foreign countries, a process happening at Cannes right now. Worldview isn't giving him money to make the movie so much as giving him a bit of cash now in exchange for repayment — with interest — in the future.
“Normally, when you pre-sell a film in foreign, you end up going to secure a bank loan because you cannot get that money until you deliver the film,” Sher said. “So that's what is referred to as gap financing. A bank takes a service charge for that. It usually takes 10 weeks to secure a bank loan. Because of our schedule for making the film, which is, we begin principal photography in the first week of August, we don't have the time to get at traditional bank loan against our foreign pre-sale agreements… Worldview will provide that right away for us in exchange for the same kind of fees a bank would get and other things a bank wouldn't get because we don't have enough time to get a bank loan.”
This particular project has been about a year in the making, though Braff had been working on scripts since Garden State proved a surprise hit in 2004. In 2011, free of his commitment to the hit sitcom Scrubs, the New Jersey native mounted his theatrical writing debut, the Off-Broadway play All New People.
“He did his play that summer in New York, which also grew out of the frustration of him being a personal iconoclastic filmmaking voice, but it didn't really translate readily to what's going on right at this moment in mainstream Hollywood,” Sher says. He also began writing with his brother Adam the script that would become Wish I Was Here, which he finished last summer.
Braff has explained that the project, a follow-up to his sole previous directorial effort, 2004's Garden State, was too personal for him to subject it to the creative interference — or meddling — of the financiers that usually back independent films.
Sher read it this past winter and signed on to produce along with her business partner, Michael Shamberg. She was surprised, she says, that they weren't finding the money to mount what was not a sequel to Garden State but at least, as she calls it, “an emotional kindred spirit.” Today, Hollywood places a much higher value on tentpole action movies, the big summer blockbusters like Iron Man and Transformers that can return megabucks around the world if successful; they swing for the fences, hoping for a grand slam instead of stringing together solid singles and doubles.
And so, Braff and Sher took stock of what they thought producing the film would require, financially, and saw an uncertain road ahead.
“Foreign sales is a very quirky market, and what is valued and what isn't valued explains the kind of packages we get in the multiplex sometimes, where people go, 'How did that cast come together?'” she says. “Well, it's a function of how you pre-sell foreign and the eccentricities and complications of independent film finance. And basically we just decided to take a risk.”
In March, Rob Thomas launched the Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter campaign, breaking crowdsourcing records with a nearly $ 6 million haul. It became clear that Kickstarter could be used to finance a multimillion-dollar movie, though without the built-in fan base of the cult CW hit, there was some uncertainty whether Wish I Was Here could be one of them. There has also been an element of critical derision of Garden State, a sort of backlash to what was seen as a defining indie film that is now both loved and tweaked for its quirks, which made things even more uncertain.
They decided to take the leap, anyway, and made the crowdfunding site one of three avenues they'd take to reaching the $ 5-6 million budget. The other two would be whatever they could earn in foreign distributor fees, and then Braff's own money, which Sher calls “a very large contribution.”
“I'm not taking a fee on the film, people aren't taking fees, and those that have to take fees are working for scale,” Sher says, defending her star against charges that, as a millionaire making a continuous income via Scrubs syndication, he's lining his pockets' with fan money. “That's one of the things that has been odd about some of the stuff that's been written.”
In his note last night, Braff explained the financing situation and then offered fans a chance to take back their money.
“Let's be frank. There are people out there who don't want this to work. There are people out there rooting for me and you (if you're a backer) to fail,” he wrote. “There are bloggers writing hateful things about me. I can take it. I'm kind of used to it. I hope you can. But if you feel misinformed or you no longer like this, you can cancel your support anytime in the next 8 days.”
Before he wrote that note, it was announced earlier Wednesday that Mandy Patinkin and Josh Gad had been cast in the film, something that Sher says was a product of the unique approach they have taken to making the project.
“Worldview has no creative control over the film. None of our partners have creative control over the film,” she says. “When people say Zach found full financing, that's just not true. If we wanted to give everything away, the fact that his film could be taken away from him, that he wouldn't have control over who he cast, then we would have taken the traditional model… Because of our 38,000 backers to date, we can cast Josh Gad for a part that somebody would have wanted a much larger star for based on foreign value.”
Most stories based on the THR report have been updated with the clarification Braff provided last night, with criticism at least slightly muted for now.
The SEC is currently evaluating Slated, an online exchange with which investors can put money into a film project and receive financial returns, not just the prizes — T-shirts, digital downloads, set visits — that can be offered to Kickstarter contributors. That could quiet the criticism that projects like Braff's receive, though Slate's launch date is still in question.
There remains a debate to be had over whether it's helpful or right for mainstream filmmakers to be using what was initially meant to be a platform for truly independent artists to make their projects outside the mainstream system. Perhaps more importantly, whether the enthusiasm for these seemingly unlikely projects will change traditional financiers' minds about funding them also remains to be seen.
I’ve spent a little over three weeks with Google Glass, and I’ve noted that the utility aspect of the device is strong, but the fun isn’t there yet. It feels a lot like the original iPhone did, before it had the App Store.
In this video, we discuss some of the quick assumptions about Glass, warranted or otherwise, and give you a look through the eyes of the device in action. Stepping outside, pulling up an address, replying to an email and listening to the latest NYTimes headlines is a pretty seamless experience. Google calls the technology “calm,” since it doesn’t require you to pull a device out of your pocket, unlock a screen or tap any buttons.
The power of Glass will be unleashed once developers start building apps that consumers will love. Until then, have a look at some of the things I’ve been doing since I got the device. For those following along, I hope to have my recipe app available soon. It’s been a fun learning experience for me.
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While we knew Nintendo was happy to hook-up its newest consoles to your smartphone, we thought that was only going to extend to social networking and shopping. Nope, it looks like the company is going a step further, with a report from Japan Times suggesting that the games maker is offering high-level conversion software to app developers “so they can produce smartphone games that can be played on Wii U.” A weak existing games library has been cited to as one of the main causes of Nintendo’s recent financial woes and it’s hoping that the addition of some popular titles will offer enough of a reason to invest in a dedicated games machine. We just hope it’s able to glean some fresh gaming gems — the first Angry Birds title launched in 2009.
Source: Japan Times
The L’Uritonnoir is the brainchild of French design studio Faltazi. It consists of a bunch of metal urinals spiked into a hay bale. As the urinals are used, the nitrogen from all the pee reacts with the carbon in the hay, breaking down the bale and creating a usable compost fertilizer. Plus, with no urinal dividers, it makes a great opportunity to see how your pecker stacks up against other guy’s members. Or challenge the dude pissing across from you to a staring contest. SO MUCH FUN TO BE HAD.
When was the last time you talked about Acer? Never? Me too. The company, which is the fourth largest PC maker in the world by the way, announced the Acer Aspire R7 this morning. It’s a mighty morphing Windows 8 portable. Like the Lenovo Yoga, it features versatile hinges that allow the computer to take different forms.
The Aspire R7 is not the next big thing. No one is going to buy this thing. But that’s probably just fine.
The Acer Aspire R7 is a halo device. It’s an attention grabber. It’s advertising in the form of product. It’s Acer’s proof to the other big players and startups alike that the company can still hang. It’s designed to sit pretty in the showroom window and entice buyers to come inside to the dealership. It is, in automotive terms, the Chevy Corvette of Acer’s lineup.
Dealerships prominently position the Corvette outside their doors. It’s not around back with the Chevy Econoboxes. It’s right out front. It draws attention. It gets buyers near the door and talking about the brand. It will never outsell the Impala. In fact it’s designed to help sell the Impala.
Expect to see the Acer Aspire R7 on electronic store retailers’ end-caps and nowhere else. Just maybe, with this hot portable occupying prime real estate in Best Buy, more buyers will view Acer as a serious computer company rather than a list of competitive specs available at good price.
Every company produces these high-end products to get the blood moving again. Remember the Dell Adamo XPS? That $ 2,200 netbook was once displayed at CES on a turntable protected by a bulletproof cube of glass. It was “technically” available for sale, but Dell didn’t expect it to sell en masse. Sony had the uber-high end Qualia line from 2003 to 2005. With prices ranging from $ 1,400 (MiniDisc player) to $ 25,000 (SXRD video projector), these products were more of a design exercise than legitimate push into the upper echelon of consumer electronics.
Back to Acer.
The company’s Wikipedia page says it best: Acer sells “inexpensively-targeted” computer electronics. The products are available from nearly every retailer. Acer is, in short, the Lee Jeans of computer: They’re perfectly acceptable, available at Walmart but not a brand that generates excitement.
Now there’s the Acer Aspire R7. The Internet is excited about this computer. Gizmodo says they’re not ready for its level of crazy. But crazy is good. Crazy gets attention. And crazy sells.
Acer is losing marketshare. The company was the second most prolific computer maker in 2009, second to only HP in global sales. It ended 2012 in fourth place, after HP, Lenovo, and Dell. Worse yet, sales and shipments are still trending down.
The consumer marketplace has changed a lot since Acer was near the top. Like Giz said, we’re not ready for the R7′s radical design. But I for one can’t wait to see what else the firm is capable of producing. I would be totally on board with a similar Windows 8 computer albeit one that’s a touch less crazy. And now I’m looking to Acer to provide that where I wouldn’t have even considered the company before.
Oh, and Acer did announce new lower-end notebooks today. Engadget covered them. They’re good, but nothing exciting — which is just about right for Acer.
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The promise of OpenMobile’s Application Compatibility Layer is inciting: seamlessly run Android apps on another operating system as if it was meant to be there. Unfortunately for fans of Palm’s last hurrah, the project’s webOS port died with the HP Touchpad. That won’t stop dedicated fans, however — Phoenix International Communications plans to resurrect webOS ACL. Taking the project to Kickstarter, the team has showed an early build of the project on an HP Touchpad, seamlessly running Android apps in cards alongside native webOS applications. Phoenix hopes that a functional ACL will reduce Touchpad owner’s reliance on dual-booting Android, giving them the freedom to enjoy webOS without sacrificing functionality. The team is promising a relatively short development time, thanks to OpenMobile’s early work, and hopes to deliver a consumer ready build in July. But first the Kickstarter campaign will need to meet its $ 35,000 goal. Interested in pitching in? Check out the Kickstarter link at the source.