Entertainment & Technology Summit Digs Deep

By Mel Lambert. This year’s Entertainment & Technology Summit served up the latest in the ongoing marriage between its namesake subjects. Organized by Variety magazine and held at the Loews hotel, Santa Monica, CA, the event attracted players from all corners of the entertainment industry, on hand for a cornucopia of panels, presentations and discussions.
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Michael Eisner, founder and CEO of Tornante
Company, during Monday’s Entertainment &
Technology summit. Photo: Mel Lambert
By Mel Lambert | content-creators.com

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This year’s Entertainment & Technology Summit served up the latest in the ongoing marriage between its namesake subjects. Organized by Variety magazine and held at the Loews hotel, Santa Monica, CA, the event attracted players from all corners of the entertainment industry, on hand for a cornucopia of panels, presentations and discussions.

Opportunities for re-recreating movie experiences within the living room with immersive surround sound were underscored by Dolby’s John Griffin, during the afternoon session teasingly entitled “Who is King of The Digital Living Room?” Rising to the challenge of providing the best experience within a consumer playback environment, Griffin offered that data compression was required to provide 5.1-channel audio via streaming media over current cable, satellite and other delivery platforms, while Blu-ray enables uncompressed audio to deliver enhanced-quality soundtracks.

“The new update for Sony's PlayStation PS3 will offer compatibility with Netflix-delivered [streaming] media,” Dolby’s director of connected experiences revealed, “which offers full 1080p images with 5.1-channel surround sound using Dolby Digital Plus encoding.”

For many consumers, there now exists a number of entertainment options, including the convergent world of movies and social networking. It was only fitting therefore that the highpoint of the day was a keynote speech by industry guru Michael Eisner. Founder and CEO of Tornante Company, Eisner revealed that the future of social networking lies in the world of interactive gaming, as he announced advance details of FameTown. Fashioned after Zynga’s FarmVille or Mafia Wars, participants in FameTown try to produce motion pictures and hopefully become Hollywood insiders. Eisner’s extensive background running Paramount Pictures and then The Walt Disney Company puts an interesting twist onto the new venture.

The new game launches in beta as a Facebook App on November 1. “Imagine the confluence of social networks and the worlds of PR, bit-part players and promotion,” Eisner suggested. “FameTown [produced by the game developer Diversion] is based on real-world experiences – the promise and the fantasy of coming to Hollywood.” (Eisner began his career in the mail room at the William Morris talent agency.) Facebook gamers can earn “favors” by producing movies, completing tasks like meeting the cast and director, plus attending parties and charity events. It is expected that FameTown and variants could be expanded beyond movies to TV, music and other parts of the entertainment industry.

One immediate opportunity Eisner identified was the 500 million participants on Facebook and how their gaming dialogs could be used to promote motion pictures, including – for a piquant touch of topicality - current motion-picture offerings. As the executive explains: “Online FameTown players will be able to produce Burlesque,” an upcoming Sony Pictures offering starring Cher and Christina Aguilera. “While nothing will replace 2,000 years of storytelling” – which the entertainment industry explores via movies, theater, TV, music and other outlets – “social media offers additional opportunities for content providers.”

Former magazine editor Mel Lambert currently heads up Content Creators, a full-service consulting service for pro-audio firms and facilities. www.mel-lambert.com.