Thursday, 26 January 2012

Lovely Social Media Marketing Strategy

Volkswagen Returns to 'Star Wars' Theme for Super Bowl Ad

After a commercial featuring a boy dressed up as Darth Vader during last year's game, the car maker is this time using a recreation of the film's cantina scene.

NEW YORK - Volkswagen will continue a Star Wars theme with its latest Super Bowl commercial, the New York Times reported.
The car maker's Super Bowl ad last year was called "The Force" and featured a boy dressed like Darth Vader to promote the company's Passat. It was the most-watched Super Bowl spot on YouTube last year and the most-watched ad of any kind on the Google video site in 2011, according to the Times.
This year, Volkswagen is promoting the 2012 Beetle during the Super Bowl. “Given the momentum and interest, it made the most sense to tap into the equity of last year,” Tim Mahoney, chief product and marketing officer at Volkswagen of America, told the Times.
Not interested in making a sequel though, viewers will not see “the little boy coming back,” he explained. Instead, the commercial is about a determined dog named Bolt and its quest, which involves a Beetle. The Star Wars content in the spot includes a recreation of the famous cantina scene from the film.

Shadow Paintings by Rashad Alakbarov

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

2012 Olympics: U.K. Boosts Wireless Capacity Ahead of the ‘Biggest Media Event in History’

LONDON – U.K. media authorities are preparing for what they promise will be the “biggest media event in history” by boosting the U.K.’s wireless signal handling capacity and spectrum ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games.
To meet the extra huge demand from broadcasters using ever more advanced technology, the London 2012 Organizing Committee will borrow additional spectrum capacity from the defense department as well as using capacity freed up by analog switch-off and currently unlicensed spectrum.
Around 26,000 journalists, cameramen, photographers and broadcasters are expected to descend on London for the Games, creating “unprecedented” broadband and wireless demand, media regulator Ofcom said Monday.
New technologies including wireless microphones, wireless networks for secure communications between team members, sports officials and support staff as well as the increased use of wireless cameras to achieve dramatic close-ups are expected to lead to more than double normal demand, the regulator said.
“From cameras on motorbikes chasing Mark Cavendish’s progress in the cycle road race to the camera crews inside the Olympic stadium aiming to get that special picture of stars like Usain Bolt, Jessica Ennis or Mo Farah, broadcasters and the media will be placing more demand on the U.K.’s spectrum reserves than ever before,” a spokesman for Ofcom said.
The media regulator has been running capacity tests at recent events like the Royal Wedding at Westminster Abbey last summer and the Formula One Grand Prix at Silverstone race course to check its new spectrum assignment system.
“Ofcom recognizes that there is no room for complacency,” said Ofcom COO Jill Ainscough. “We are working behind the scenes to make this capacity available and to ensure demand is met.”

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

'Being Human': Sam Witwer Teases Aidan's Struggles, Old Flames and a 'Complicated' Affair

For Aidan (Sam Witwer), someone from his past will come into the fold and complicate matters even more. Centuries-old vampire royal Suren (Dollhouse's Dichen Lachman) joins in on the supernatural fun -- causing Boston's vampire society to go into a frenzy (and possibly Aidan's romantic life).
Without his maker Bishop (Mark Pellegrino) by his side, Witwer tells THR that Aidan has his hands full in season 2. "With Bishop being gone, Aidan starts taking on some of his traits. It's scary to watch," Witwer says. With the new season starting up, the actor discusses Suren and Aidan's past, a new character that catches Aidan's eye and the struggles the others will face.
The Hollywood Reporter: What is Aidan's journey and conflict going to be in season 2?
Sam Witwer: Extraordinarily dark is what his journey is going to be like. This season has a lot to do with things catching up with Aidan. In the first season, he stayed away from his old buddies and tried to stay on the straight and narrow. Now he has to deal with those people every day. What ends up happening is that the old character traits, aspects of who he once was, start returning to him. He takes a dramatic fall. Things get bad, they get worse and they get dark. I hope we don't have too many fans turning against Aidan.

Monday, 16 January 2012

LoveFilm Inks Streaming Deal With ABC TV

British viewers will get to see streamed series of shows including "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy."

LONDON - Amazon-owned LoveFilm is launching ABC TV On Demand to the U.K. from the end of next month, the company said Monday.
The subscription video-on-demand service will offer streamed access to ABC's extensive library of series drama including Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Happy Endings and Brothers & Sisters.
Shows will be run in full seasons after their first window on British free or pay TV.
The deal is the latest struck by LoveFilm as it seeks to boost its content offering ahead of the battle with Netflix U.K. here, which is also determined to grab market-share. LoveFilm recently struck content deals with Sony, Warner Bros., Entertainment One and StudioCanal.

WHheat Thins: Family Guy

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

It's going to be a very Tim Burton's year...

The Magic of Tim Burton's Frankenweenie

 Before Batman, before Beetlejuice, before Eds Scissorhands and Wood, came Frankenweenie. Tim Burton's 1984 comic riff on Frankenstein, about a boy who resurrects his dead dog, was originally intended as a stop-motion animation feature until budgetary constraints compressed it into a live-action short. Today, however, thanks to those aforementioned hits, plus stop-motion successes The Nightmare Before Christmas (and yes, Henry Selick fans, we know your man actually directed it) and Corpse Bride, Burton's practically synonymous with whimsical fantasy and handmade animation; all of which means that, nearly 30 years on, he finally gets to reanimate his own, er, pet project.


First Official Look: Tim Burton’s ‘Dark Shadows’

The first images we saw of Tim Burton‘s feature version of Dark Shadows were not flattering. They showed Johnny Depp heavily made up as the vampire Barnabas Collins, looking more like a Michael Jackson cosplayer than anything else.
Now Warner Bros. has released the first official image of the entire Dark Shadows cast, and though Depp still looks odd — almost like a child dressing up as Barnabas — the look is a lot better as he’s centered in this family portrait. Check out the full image below.
EW released the image and offers the left to right cast breakdown. That is: Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. Julia Hoffman; Chloe Grace Moretz as Carolyn Stoddard; Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard; Gulliver McGrath as David Collins; Bella Heathcote as Vitoria Winters; Johnny Depp as Barnabas; Ray Shirley as Mrs. Johnson; Jackie Earle Haley as Willie Loomis; Jonny Lee Miller as Roger Collins; and Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Goodbye Christmas

'It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.'

Augmented Reality Business Card - Avatar Concept

JWT Business Card powered by Blippar

Augmented reality: it's like real life, but better

Don't act too surprised if, some time in the next year, you meet someone who explains that their business card isn't just a card; it's an augmented reality business card. You can see a collection and, at, you can even design your own, by adding a special marker to your card, which, once put in front of a webcam linked to the internet, will show not only your contact details but also a video or sound clip. Or pretty much anything you want.
It's not just business cards. London Fashion Week has tried them out too: little symbols that look like barcodes printed onto shirts, which, when viewed through a webcam, come to life. Benetton is using augmented reality for a campaign that kicked off last month, in which it is trying to find models from among the general population.
Augmented reality – AR, as it has quickly become known – has only recently become a phrase that trips easily off technologists' lips; yet we've been seeing versions of it for quite some time. The idea is straightforward enough: take a real-life scene, or (better) a video of a scene, and add some sort of explanatory data to it so that you can better understand what's going on, or who the people in the scene are, or how to get to where you want to go.
Sports coverage on TV has been doing it for years: slow-motion could be described as a form of augmented reality, since it gives you the chance to examine what happened in a situation more carefully. More recently cricket, tennis, rugby, football and golf have all started to overlay analytic information on top of standard-speed replays – would that ball have hit the stumps, the progress of a rally, the movement of the backs or wingers, the relative flights of shots – to tell you more about what's going on. Probably the most common use is in American football where the "first down" line – the distance the team has to cover to continue its offence – is superimposed on the picture for viewers.
But those required huge systems. AR took its first lumbering steps into the public arena eight years ago: all that you needed to do was strap on 10kg of computing power – laptop, camera, vision processor – and you could get an idea of what was feasible. The American Popular Science magazine wrote about the idea in 2002 – but the idea of being permanently connected to the internet hadn't quite jelled at that point.
"AR has been around for ages," says Andy Cameron, executive director of Fabrica, an interactive design studio which works with Benetton, "maybe going back as far as the 1970s and art installations that overlaid real spaces with something virtual." He mentions in particular the work of pioneering computer artist Myron Krueger.
What's changed in the past year is that AR has come within reach of all sorts of developers – and the technology powerful enough to make use of it is owned by millions of people, often in the palms of their hands.
The arrival of powerful smartphones and computers with built-in video capabilities means that you don't have to wait for the AR effects as you do with TV. They can simply be overlaid onto real life. Step forward Apple's iPhone, and phones using Google's Android operating system, both of which are capable of overlaying information on top of a picture or video.
Within the small world of AR, one of the best-known apps is that built by Layar, which – given a location, and using the iPhone 3GS's inbuilt compass to work out the direction you're pointing the phone – can give you a "radar map" of details such as Wikipedia information, Flickr photos, Google searches and YouTube videos superimposed onto a picture you've taken of the scene. For Americans, it will also pull in details from the government's economic Recovery Act – so that if you're on Wall Street and want to see how many billions went into which building, it will show you.
Or, more usefully, Yelp offers an augmented reality application that will show you ratings and reviews for a restaurant before you walk in – the sort of thing that could make restaurants quiver with delight, or shudder in horror.
Or maybe it wouldn't need to know where it is; only who it's looking at. A prototype application demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February took things a little further again. Point the phone at a person and if it can find their details, it will pull them off the web and attach details – their Twitter username, Facebook page and other facts – and stick them, rather weirdly, into the air around their head (viewed through your phone, of course). "It's taking social networking to the next level," says Dan Gärdenfors, head of user experience research at The Astonishing Tribe, a Swedish mobile software company.
And there are fabulously useful applications: at Columbia University, computer science professor Steve Feiner and PhD candidate Steve Henderson have created their Augmented Reality for Maintenance and Repair (Armar) project. It combines sensors, head-up displays, and instructions to tackle the military's maintenance needs: start working on a piece of kit, and the details about it pop up in front of you. Imagine if you could put on a pair of special goggles when you needed to investigate your car's engine, or a computer's innards, and the detail would pop up. That's the sort of idea that Armar is trying to implement, though for the military at first..
Yet it's fashion which seems to have leapt quickest into this technology. The T-shirt with AR in London Fashion Week was developed by Cassette Playa, a label that has been worn by Lily Allen, Rihanna and Kanye West. Carri Munden, who designed it with the Fashion Digital Studio at the London College of Fashion, described it as "mixing reality and fantasy". Adidas, too, has launched trainers with AR symbols in the tongues: hold them to a webcam and you are taken to interactive games on the Adidas site.
The process by which the strange symbols get translated into images is simple enough: the website takes the feed from your webcam (you have to explicitly allow it to do so, so there are no security worries) and analyses it for the particular set of symbols that the program is looking for. (Some easy calculations mean the symbols can be detected whichever way up you hold the item.) Videos and pictures are then sent back to you.
Andy Cameron says that the arrival of an open-source, hence free, AR tool kit has let companies build their own AR applications, using Flash – the pervasive animation and video technology used for many online ads and YouTube's videos – "which immediately meant you had huge penetration, because Flash is everywhere". (Something like 98% of all computers are reckoned to have Adobe's Flash Player installed.)
"If you build your AR application with Flash, then you can get it out to everybody in the world with a computer with a webcam," says Cameron.
Benetton is using AR in its latest campaign, called "It's My Time" which aims to get members of the public to put themselves forward as potential models, and uses AR to show more details about existing models. But its first most visible use of AR was last year in issue 76 of Benetton's Colors magazine, a quarterly fashion product. Dozens of pages have AR symbols: hold the page up to a webcam, and you see film and more photos of the person on the page. "The Colors editor and the creative director of Fabrica got very excited about it," says Cameron.
Cameron can see huge potential which could even revive the fortunes of print advertising. "Think of a commercial page, an advert, in a fashion magazine. It's pretty expensive. With this – and this is the way that the more hard-nosed people in Benetton saw the advantage – it means that you can get more products on the page." Print an AR code, get people to come to the site, and you can show them so much more, while measuring the return from your effort.
The technical cost is a tiny part of the overall effort. "The printing and photography cost [of the advert] is the same. And the development cost is pretty small."
And of course where advertisers go, the publications that house them are sure to go as well. Esquire magazine in the US and Wallpaper* in Europe have done "augmented reality" editions, with Robert Downey Jr coming to life on the cover of the former, and AR text providing videos and animation in the latter. But there are more possibilities for journalism using AR: for example if you "geotag" newspaper articles (so that you say that an item relates to a particular place) then someone visiting a site could learn about events relevant to the area via their smartphone.
Book publishers too are leaping in: Carlton Publishing will release an AR book in May, featuring dinosaurs that pop out of the pages when viewed, yes, through a webcam. Future releases include war, sport and arts titles which will also have extra AR elements.
Yet in media it's the advertisers who are most excited. The possibilities of geotagged, targeted adverts – which in effect hang in the air until someone comes along to find them with a smartphone – or of AR adverts which open up a whole new world of opportunities (and perhaps discounts or loyalty bonuses) when you follow them through – are yet another glimpse of the holy grail ofads that know exactly who and where you are.
Is there a risk that we'll all become AR'd out – that it will become boring as advert after advert invites us to hold it up to a webcam? "What's hot today is ancient history tomorrow," says Cameron. "There have been a lot of bad uses of this technology with a rush to use it. We have had the chance to reflect on what it means and how to use it. The key is that it should be an enhancement of the stuff on the printed page."
Even so we're still in the early stages, he argues. "It's very primitive – having to use a webcam, holding a magazine up to it. Obviously we're really interested in the opportunities with handheld devices. It's very frustrating that the iPhone doesn't allow access to the live video stream." (Nor does it run Flash, another problem for would-be AR designers.) "People in design are very annoyed with Steve Jobs," he observes. "We don't really understand why Apple won't allow that."
Given that access, he says, "you could hold your iPhone up to a billboard and get something amazing right there". What about the alternative, such as Google's Android-based Nexus phone? "It looks like you could do it on that," he says. But of course the iPhone is a target market. "Maybe Apple wants to keep that for itself," Cameron says. "Maybe they're lodging patents. Or maybe the processor on the iPhone isn't fast enough."
Yet there are some who think that AR has already had its brief time in the sun. At the Like Minds conference in Exeter at the beginning of March, Joanne Jacobs, a social media consultant, described an AR application that demanded you buy a T-shirt and then go and sit in front of your webcam – so you could play Rock, Paper, Scissors. By yourself.
"It's hopeless," Jacobs said.
Cameron admits to some uncertainty about AR's measurable impact. "I don't know if it sells more things, but it seems clearly a good thing if we can get people who may be customers to participate in the adverts." But, he adds: "If people start to play with the adverts in a way that exposes them to more products, that's got to help bring a commercial return."