Posts with «arts & entertainment» label

Meta allows select creators to post their NFTs on Facebook

Non-fungible tokens have arrived on Facebook. Meta has confirmed to TechCrunch that it has started giving select creators in the US the power to post digital collectibles on their profiles. While it's unclear if and when the feature will make its way to more users — Meta called the release a "slow rollout" — company CEO Mark Zuckerberg previously said that Meta was going to test NFT support on the social network. Meta Product Manager Navdeep Singh has posted photos on Twitter of what NFT integration would look like on Facebook's, and similar to Instagram's implementation, creators will have a digital collectibles tab on their profile where they can show off their NFTs.

Creators will be able to post their collectibles as status updates that people can comment on and react to, and clicking on them shows information on the artwork. According to Decrypt, Facebook will allow users to link their compatible digital wallets with the website, similar to how they can do so on Instagram. At the moment, Facebook supports NFTs minted on Ethereum and Polygon, though it will soon support Solana and Flow NFTs, as well. 

We're launching NFTs on Facebook! Excited to share what I've been working on with the world. pic.twitter.com/TaV66zRanV

— Navdeep Singh (@navdeep_ua) June 29, 2022

Meta started testing NFT integration on Instagram in May, promising additional related features, such as allowing users to display their pieces as augmented reality stickers in Stories. NFTs are perhaps a more fitting addition to Instagram than Facebook, based on the platforms' userbase, but Meta is determined to make them a part of its products. Zuckerberg wrote in the post announcing the arrival of digital collectibles on Instagram: "We're starting building for NFTs, not just in our metaverse and Reality Labs work, but also across our family of apps."

How to survive the inevitable CD revival

In 1982, when the BBC’s prime-time technology show – Tomorrow’s Worlddid a segment on a new musical format called the “Compact Disc” the presenter skeptically asked "Whether there's a market for this, remains to be seen". We all know what happened next, but even in the early ‘80s the benefits of CDs should have been clear: high quality, non-degrading sound in a compact format. Oh, and you could even skip, shuffle and repeat tracks, which, in a pre-digital world, truly felt like the future

The Compact Disc turns 40 this year, and there are already signals the format is primed for a mini revival. For the first time in 17 years, CD sales actually went up - and by almost 50 percent, according to the RIAA’s sales database.

It’s still a long way from the format’s peak. In 2021, 46.6 million CDs were shipped in the US – compared to nearly a billion back in 2000. For context, that 46.6 million barely accounts for four percent of last year’s total music revenue. Vinyl albums, by contrast, sold fewer overall units (39.7M) but are more of a money spinner for artists (seven percent of total revenues).

Some reports claim that the uptick in CD sales is mostly due to mega-artists like Adele and BTS releasing new albums (the former’s 30 accounted for two percent of total CD sales alone). But there are other potential – and more practical – contributing factors, too, including the pandemic.

“CD sales are growing again now that retail stores are reopening and artists are back on tour. And while CDs haven’t yet seen the same type of revival as vinyl, the CD format remains a steady revenue stream for independent artists.” Rob Bach, COO of CD Baby told Engadget. They should know, as one of their services is the production and distribution of CDs for indie bands.

Kevin Breuner, SVP of Artist Engagement and Education for the company, thinks there’s an increasing appetite for CDs as memorabilia, rather than just as a way of playing music. “Part of it is that streaming hasn’t replaced anything at the merch table … the appeal of a physical item like a CD is that it’s a piece of memorabilia in a live setting, something you can have signed by artists. Similarly, for artists, there’s nothing that can replace when a fan goes back to the merch table to buy a CD or a t-shirt; it’s always been that way.”

There’s also the fact that what once seemed restrictive to younger listeners – having to own a song if you wanted to hear it – now presents a different way of enjoying music. A good album isn’t merely a collection of songs, but a structured experience to be enjoyed from start to finish. You can, of course, do this with streaming, but a CD requires getting up to change, Spotify is usually just a click away.

The CD format is experiencing a nice comeback, I'm sure they'll sound pretty sweet played via the new @MarantzOfficial CD 60 player #audiophile#avtweepshttps://t.co/qnSDtm3RfZ

— Arlen Schweiger (@ArlenSchweiger) May 23, 2022

CDs launched in Japan in October 1982. The format and hardware to play it on didn’t land in the US and Europe until the following year. Adoption was relatively swift and just two years later the first million-selling CD album - Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits – would cement the shiny disc's popularity. By the early ‘90s, assisted by increasingly smaller, affordable and even portable players, the CD was the de facto way to listen to music. And for good reason.

In this new digital world, the CD format was consistent in a way that analog never could be. What became known as the “Red Book” standard – two-channel 16-bit PCM at 44.1kHz – would be the prevailing specification from there on out. When someone used to say “it’s CD quality” one might assume that’s what they were referring to.

This standard is considered the minimum requirement to be called “lossless” by today's streaming services. Of course, how or what you record at 16-bit/44.1 is really what matters, but that’s a whole other story.

Jamal Saidi / reuters

More important than any of this, for the labels and artists at least, is that the arrival of the CD meant they could re-sell us our entire music collection in the new wonder format. The ‘90s were a good time to be in the music industry, at least until Sean and Shawn came along.

There were other benefits to this new digital medium, too. And not just the aforementioned ability to skip/program/shuffle tracks. With CDs, you could hide bonus tracks in new ways that would otherwise be visible on a vinyl record or instantly found by anyone that left a cassette tape running.

Even more exciting? Once PCs started being a more common feature in homes, artists and labels realized you could bundle in entirely different bonus media like videos and karaoke versions – as found on some versions of Americana by The Offspring, for example.

Before we show you some ways you can enjoy/rediscover the joys of compact discs, bear in mind the experience was far from flawless.

Despite being more durable than vinyl, it definitely is possible to scratch a CD. When a record has a scratch, it’s almost charming. With CDs, it’s more like walking slowly through hell as they dig up the streets. If your disc was damaged, it also might work in some players yet, frustratingly, not in others. Many an hour has been wasted cleaning and reseating a CD in the hope it would take.

Are CD’s the aesthetic now? 👀 https://t.co/9Ir6OFMjG5

— Mother of the House of Shaming (@mmkayrulz) May 26, 2022

Of course, many CD players took only one disc, so you’d frequently be swapping them out. If you knew someone who had every CD in the right jewel case, that was often a tell that this person doesn’t listen to their music enthusiastically or often enough (It’s possible they were just slightly organized, but where’s the fun in that). This “which disc is in which case” problem became even worse when someone decided CD singles – one song you wanted and some less good songs on one disc – were a good idea.

Not to mention the fragility of the cases they came in. Jewel case hinges would crack just by looking at them, while center hubs (the part that held the disc in place) would crumble no matter how well you handled things. Most often while moving house or the aforementioned enthusiastic listening with friends.

Unlike other formats, the CD is unique in that it played a part in its own demise. With the advent of CD burners, you could easily copy your friends’ album collection, print out album artwork and even print circular stickers with the CD art on them, too. This was how music was stolen for the short period when CD burners and blank discs were affordable and online piracy hadn’t taken hold. The CD was then effectively relegated to the role of external storage medium before quietly regressing into obscurity. Until now, of course.

With those small challenges in mind, if you’re ready and willing to give the humble Compact Disc another, uhm, spin, here are some recommendations, new and old, cheap and not-so, to dive into the world of the CD.

Where to find CDs

Maybe you already have a collection, if so, you’re good to go. But if you’re new around here, you’re going to want to grab a few albums to get you started. For current, mainstream music you’ll be able to find a selection at Target and Walmart. Jeff Bezos will of course also happily sell you a CD. Tower Records also recently returned as an online-only store which also has a good selection of CDs. For more of an indie-artist focus, there’s of course Bandcamp – or the good old-fashioned merch stall at a gig.

You can, of course, also navigate the secondhand market either locally (thrift stores, local record shops) or online at places like Discogs, eBay or even apps like Letgo.

What you may already own

Aaron Souppouris / Engadget

Maybe, you have a CD player unironically in your front room right now. We admire the dedication. Or perhaps you have an old one in storage somewhere? But if you’re young enough to have gone straight to streaming, it’s worth asking family and friends in case they have one gathering dust somewhere.

That said, you might even own a CD player without even knowing it. If you have an Xbox with a disc drive, congratulations, you’re already in the club. PlayStation fans, however, need either a PS1 (original), a PS2 or a PS3, as after that Sony decided the functionality for audio discs was no longer needed.

Cheap and easy

There was a brief period where the only CD player in the house might well have been in your PC. Primarily used for installing software or the drivers for a peripheral (yeah, we know, bad times) the CD-ROM drive was also good for playing music too.

Most PC cases these days aren’t really made with a CD-R drive in mind, and the last Mac to include a CD drive was the 2012 MacBook Pro. That model was discontinued in 2016, the same year Apple nixed the iPhone’s headphone jack - a rough year for many music listeners.

No worries, there’s a sort of dongle for that. You can pick up a USB CD-Drive for a little over the price of one album, such as this one for a reasonable $22. You’ll also get DVD and CD burning functionality thrown in, which surely will also be due their own revivals before long.

A new take on a classic

James Trew / Engadget

For many, the advent of the portable CD player was a long time coming. But the format wasn’t entirely suited to being in motion. Not initially at least, with even the slightest of movements causing a disc to skip. Over time this was resolved as players were able to buffer more music to ride out those bumps.

NINM Labs’ “Long Time No See” portable CD player (approx $117) blends the best of the past with modern conveniences like Bluetooth and USB power. The transparent design gives off early-aughts Game Boy vibes, while a clever speaker “lid” accessory means you’re never without a way to listen to those discs. That said, there’s of course the aforementioned Bluetooth for connecting to speakers and headphones and even a good old fashioned headphone port.

What’s more, you can run the player directly from USB power or AA batteries. You can even charge said batteries while it’s connected over USB. And the whole thing is magnetic, too, so you can get creative with where you place it.

Taking things to a (much) higher level

James Trew / Engadget

For the most authentic experience, it has to be HiFi separates. In the ‘90s a good HiFi was the quickest way to let someone know you were serious about music. No MegaBASS or often even an EQ for these dedicated listeners, just pure unadulterated sound. They may also be seen with magic pebbles or some CDs in the freezer.

Cambridge Audio has been around long enough to know what makes a great CD player. Its CXC “player” comes right in at $700. The CXC doesn’t even convert the CD to audio, it passes the digital signal directly to… something else, as long as it has either S/PDIF coaxial or TOSLINK in puts. You may as well complete the look with Cambridge Audio’s CXA61 amplifier ($1,100) with a DAC. It’s the perfect companion for the CXC both in terms of looks and connectivity. Of course, spending $1,800 on fancy HiFi gear doesn’t always mean you’re set. You still need some speakers, so you might as well toss in the SX60 bookshelf set for the fully-loaded CD setup.

Instagram test turns all video posts into Reels

It looks like Meta truly is making a big push for Reels. Social media consultant Matt Navarra has posted a screenshot on Twitter showing a notice for an experimental Instagram feature that says all video posts would be shared as Reels on the app. If your account is public, that means anyone can discover your video and use your original audio to create their own Reel. Only friends would see your video if your profile is private, but other users can still create a remix with your Reel and download it as part of their remix. The only way to ensure nobody uses your Reel for remixes is to turn the option off in Settings or to disable it for each video you post.

Instagram is now making EVERY video a Reel

h/t @ChristinaSBGpic.twitter.com/YLRDhT1nw0

— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) June 30, 2022

As TechCrunch notes, this move doesn't come as a surprise when the TikTok-style videos have quickly become a popular format on both Instagram and Facebook. When he revealed the company's fourth quarterly earnings report for 2021, Mark Zuckerberg said that Reels is now Meta's fastest growing content format. Meta chief product officer Chris Cox called Reels a "bright point" for the company, as well, in a recent memo shared with employees warning them about "serious times" ahead due to slowing growth. He also said that one of the projects Meta intends to focus on for the second half of 2022 is monetizing Reels as quickly as possible. 

Apparently, time spent viewing the short-form videos has more than doubled since last year, with 80 percent of that growth coming from Facebook. That's why the company will go as far as to redesign Instagram's and Facebook's home pages to better incorporate the short videos. Turning all video posts into Reels would give the company more content to circulate, which in turn would translate to more time viewing videos on the platform and bigger potential ad earnings for when the format is finally monetized. That said, not all experimental Instagram features make it to wide release, and it remains to be seen whether this one will survive the testing phase.

Twitch will make it easier for creators to bring guests onto streams

Twitch has announced a new feature for creators who want to include other streamers and even viewers on their broadcasts. Up to five guests can join a stream through Guest Star, which works on both desktop and mobile. If a viewer wants to take part in the discussion or ask a question, they can raise a virtual hand and the creator or a moderator may invite them on. This seems to work in a similar fashion to Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces.

While the feature is akin to Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces, Spotify Live, Discord Stage Channels et al, Twitch can set itself apart from those services. Guest Star supports live video as well as audio — this is Twitch, after all.

The platform says Guest Star is easy for both newcomers and experienced streamers to use and it works with software like OBS and Twitch Studio. However, streamers won't need to use a third-party app to host a broadcast with other participants.

Until now, bringing guests on to a broadcast has required a bit of a workaround if creators don't want to simply stream a Zoom, Skype or Discord call. If they prefer to use custom layouts, overlays and branding, it's possible to include remote video feeds from Skype or a web app. Guest Star should streamline things.

Streamers and their moderators can swiftly remove guests at any time and for any reason. Guests will need a Twitch account, which means they can be reported for violating the platform's rules. There are some measures in place to help weed out bad actors before they become a guest. Creators and moderators will be able to look at factors like the age of an account, if it's in good standing and if the user has verified it with a phone number.

Guest Star seems to build on features like Squad Stream, which allows viewers to watch four livestreams simultaneously on the Twitch app or website and jump between those creators' chats. The new feature is about bringing people together on the same channel. Creators might use Guest Star for podcasts, call-in advice streams and even game shows.

While Twitch is most commonly associated with gaming, talk-style content has long been on the rise on the platform. Just Chatting has been the most popular category since the third quarter of 2020, according to data from Streamlabs and Stream Hatchet. 

Twitch says that, in the first five months of 2022 (compared with the same period in 2020), hours watched in the Just Chatting category grew 151 percent, while revenue for streamers who create that type of content rose by 169 percent. It suggested Guest Star may encourage more creators to try their hand at talk-focused content.

At first, Guest Star will only be available to a small number of hand-picked streamers who already create talk content so that Twitch can get some feedback before a broader rollout. Twitch plans to make the feature available to all creators this fall.

‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ races to its conclusion with a spot-on ‘Aliens’ riff

The following article includes significant spoilers for All Those Who Wander.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has never been ashamed to tip its hat to the stories it’s riffing upon, some more obviously than others. This week’s episode, All Those Who Wander, might as well just have been called “Screw it, we’re just going to do Aliens.” Thankfully, it’s so good that you won’t have time to care about the xeroxing from James Cameron’s 1986 original. This is the best episode of Strange New Worlds yet, raising the bar, and the stakes, for next week’s finale.

We start with the welcome and now familiar sight of the Enterprise crew hanging out around Pike’s captain’s table. It’s such a delight to see the crew spending time together and having fun, as the show puts in the hours to show that these people generally like each other. Ensign Duke gets a promotion, while cadets Chia and Uhura are given a send off as they end their tour of duty on the Enterprise. But the levity is punctured, first by Uhura still not sure if Starfleet is right for her, and second by an ominous message from headquarters. A Federation starship has gone missing while surveying an unstable planet, and Pike needs to go looking for it.

But the Enterprise already has an urgent mission to deliver power supplies to starbase K7, so Pike decides to handle a rescue mission with shuttlecraft. Dr. M’Benga, Chapel, La’an, Spock, Hemmer, Lt. Kirk and Duke, as well as cadets Uhura and Chia join him. Number One and Ortegas, meanwhile, take the ship on its original course, meaning this is the fifth or sixth episode this series where Number One has barely featured. Perhaps Rebecca Romijn negotiated far fewer filming days each week given her higher profile than the rest of the cast.

When the shuttles reach the planet, landing in the shadow of the crashed USS Peregrine, it’s not long before the episode switches into high horror. Corpses litter the ground, and the ship itself is covered in the sort of bloodstain made when someone’s trying in vain to cling to the ground while being dragged away. And despite the fact that this is another episode shot mostly on the standing Enterprise sets, clever lighting and direction make them feel altogether more like the sinister LV-426 from Aliens.

Then there’s Newt Oriana, a young girl who has learned to survive previous Gorn attacks by going partly feral. This episode, much more than the flat Memento Mori, is designed to rehabilitate the Gorn from the comedy rubber suit seen in the ‘60s and the awkward CG from the early '00s. Now, they’re the Trek version of the eponymous Xenomorph, complete with acid bile, quadrupedal motion and body horror reproductive process. Worth mentioning that this ain’t the sort of episode you can watch with your kids, especially not when the blue-shirted Cadet Chia succumbs to a chestburster.

Marni Grossman / Paramount+

It helps, too, that the Gorn are rarely glimpsed properly, despite some excellent creature design, the shadows are always a better way to experience a villain like this. The episode’s conclusion sees the crew taking an Alien3-style chase through corridors as they lure the Gorn to a trap. Choosing to shoot from the Gorn’s perspective helps amplify the sense of dread and tension, too, since our crew is being stalked from all corners.

But the best moments are when the crew, trapped in sickbay, start to feel the screws turning on them. La’an starts berating Oriana, the child that she sees so much of herself in before Dr. M’Benga snaps at her to leave his daughter… his patient alone. Lt. Kirk, meanwhile, starts lashing out at Spock for his lack of empathy, not long before Spock lets out his own emotions in order to entrap the Gorn. And, best of all, this all feels entirely earned and in character as we’ve gotten to see how these people got these particular scars. Finally, the promise of emotional continuity comes good as we start to see the Enterprise crew almost break under pressure.

Of course, we have to offer additional praise for Hemmer, who once again gets paired with Uhura for some grace notes. The fact that even Uhura has given them a compound name (Hemura!) speaks to how delightful it is to watch the pair interact. And when Hemmer reveals that the blob of alien spit he received earlier in the episode means he’s loaded with Gorn eggs too, it’s a massive blow. I feel like Hemmer was already a figure we’d fallen in love with, and his departure hurts, even if he gets a graceful, Alien3-esque swan dive death for a sendoff. Give Bruce Horak his own spin-off, or something, please. 

(I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who noticed that Duke, Chia and Hemmer’s death means we’ve had a Yellow, Blue and Red-shirt demise in a single episode. Hacky standups will need to look for a better punchline to their Star Trek jokes in the future.)

Also, I feel like I’ve been neglectful in not offering enough praise for this cast, and especially Jess Bush. Bush often has to sell a whole bunch of stuff in her limited screen time and does so with ease. Here, as in The Serene Squall, she shows Chapel adapting to survive against a threat, and sells it so well.

The episode ends with plenty of fallout, Uhura decides to stay on board after Hemmer’s valediction encourages her to put down roots. La’an takes a leave of absence to try and reunite Oriana with her family, and Spock’s emotional outburst has left him scarred. Pike, meanwhile, must be headed for trouble given how freely he treats his life knowing that his future is already set in stone But again, all of this feels earned in a way that prior episodes haven’t quite achieved, and I’m excited to see how we land in the finale from here.

Blizzard buys 'Spellbreak' studio Proletariat to speed up 'WoW' development

It's a busy spell for Blizzard, with Diablo Immortal, Overwatch 2 and mobile game Warcraft Arclight Rumble all arriving this year. The studio has another major release lined up in the form of World of Warcraft expansion Dragonflight, which is expected to arrive by the end of 2022. To help get WoW expansions out on time and ensure they meet the bar in terms of quality, Blizzard bought Spellbreak studio Proletariat to bolster its ranks of developers, as GamesBeat reports.

The news comes one day after Proletariat announced it will shut down Spellbreak early next year. The free-to-play game is an intriguing take on the battle royale genre, with players using magical powers instead of guns. The game never took off, though. It had an average player count of 166 on Steam over the last month. Apex Legends, on the other hand, has more than a thousand times as many players at any given time on Steam alone.

More than 100 developers from Proletariat will now be focused on World of Warcraft, though the studio has been working with Blizzard since last month. The Boston-based studio also plans to expand its team.

WoW general manager John Hight has spoken of the difficulties his team has had in hiring to deliver content updates to players more quickly (the publicturmoil at the studio over the last year might have played a role in that). Bringing Proletariat on board should help.

“A big part of caring for our teams is making sure we have the resources to produce experiences our communities will love while giving our teams space to explore even more creative opportunities within their projects,' Blizzard Entertainment president Mike Ybarra said. "Proletariat is a perfect fit for supporting Blizzard’s mission in bringing high-quality content to our players more often.”

Activision Blizzard is itself in the process of being bought by Microsoft for $68.7 billion. Given the ongoing labor and workplace culture issues at the company, there's a bit of irony in Blizzard snapping up a studio called Proletariat.

Return to Monkey Island's first gameplay trailer is a swashbuckling trip of nostalgia

When Return to Monkey Island arrives later this year, players will finally discover the secret of Monkey Island. That’s the pitch series creator Ron Gilbert made in the game’s newest trailer, which premiered today during Nintendo’s latest Direct showcase. “My name is Guybrush Threepwood, and this is a story about the time I finally found the secret of Monkey Island,” voice actor Dominic Armato declares at the start of the clip.

As you might imagine, the trailer is full of allusions to past Monkey Island games, including some of the series’ best gags. At one point, Guybrush drifts to the floor of the Caribbean, a sign pointing to Monkey Island and noting it’s only a six-minute walk away. Good thing our hero can hold his breath for 10 minutes. 

Many fan-favorite characters also make an appearance in the clip. Among others, I spotted used ship salesman and garish dresser Stan S. Stanman locked in the brig of LeChuck’s ship. Coincidently, you can chat to Stan on Return to Monkey Island’s updated website where he explains he’s in jail for “marketing-related crimes” that may have involved selling non-fungible items.

If you missed the news in April, Return to Monkey Island marks the, well, return of Ron Gilbert to the series he created back in the late ‘80s. Gilbert wrote and directed The Secret of Monkey Island, and went to work on the second game before leaving LucasArts in 1992. Fellow Monkey Island veteran Dave Grossman is also working on the new game, which will take place after the first two games. On consoles, Return to Monkey Island will arrive first on Nintendo Switch.   

Both of Valve's classic Portal games arrive on the Switch today

A few months ago, Valve announced that both of its excellent Portal games were coming to the Nintendo Switch, but we didn't know when. Today's Nintendo Direct presentation cleared that up. Portal Companion Collection will arrive on the Switch later today for $19.99. The collection includes both the original Portal from 2007 as well as the more expansive, story-driven Portal 2 from 2011. Whether you missed these games the first time out or just want to replay a pair of classics, this collection sounds like a good way to return to one of the most intriguing worlds Valve ever created.

While the original Portal was strictly a single-player experience, Portal 2 has a split-screen co-op experience; you can also pay this mode with a friend online as well. And while these games originated on the PC, Valve also released Portal 2 for the PlayStation 3 — and if I recall, the game's controls mapped to a controller very well. Given that the Portal series is more puzzle-based than traditional first-person games, you shouldn't have any problems navigating the world with a pair of Joy-Con controllers. 

‘GoldenEra’ is a loving, if muddled, tribute to ‘GoldenEye 007’

GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64 is one of those games that will forever be held up as a milestone in the art. It wasn’t the first FPS on a console, or even the first FPS on the Nintendo 64, but it was unquestionably the best. And the most influential. GoldenEye 007 inspired the development of Half-Life and reportedly prompted the creation of the Medal of Honor series. It also holds very fond memories for everyone of a certain age who would hunch over someone’s 14-inch bedroom TV to play the local deathmatch for hours at a time.

Its success, and legacy, means it’s one of a handful of titles that would merit a feature-length making-of documentary. Drew Roller’s GoldenEra tries to encompass everything about the title, from its genesis as a small project at Rare’s rural farmland campus to the monster it became. In one way, the story of GoldenEye 007 mirrors that of Citizen Kane – created by neophytes so unaware of what would be achieved, they went on to break new ground in the process. And while many of the team would go on to make some pretty good games, nothing would come close to their debut in terms of impact and acclaim.

GoldenEra has been able to get many of the original team on the record, including David Doak, Karl Hilton, Brett Jones, Duncan Botwood and Steve Ellis. Their testimony is supplemented by a number of journalists and talking heads from across the games industry that helps bulk out the gaps. After all, Rare (then working in partnership with Nintendo, now owned by Microsoft) has always been more secretive about what it does than other studios. And so there do seem to be missing chunks of testimony that would have helped paint a richer, fuller picture here.

And if there’s a problem with the film, it’s that it’s a lot harder to make the drama compelling given that software design is relatively staid. Not to mention that the impact a game has has to be measured in different ways to, for instance, a movie or album. After all, you can fairly clearly spot the examples of pop phenomenons, since they often swallow the culture around them for weeks or months at a time. Our relationship with video games is often a lot more personal, beyond the usual visual cues of people queuing up to buy the title on release day.

This is, perhaps, where GoldenEra starts to feel a little saggy, since it tries to cover the breadth of GoldenEye 007’s fallout without much depth. This means that the back third essentially becomes a series of five minute segments covering Perfect Dark, Free Radical Design and Timesplitters, GoldenEye fan films, the modding community that have kept the title alive and what happened to Rare. There’s even a little detail about the proposed remake of GoldenEye 007, as well as plenty of snark handed out to the subsequent James Bond games that are all, universally, not very good. But as much as you or I might take issue with the scattershot approach, it’s one way of folding in all of the many and varied ends to this particular story.

GoldenEra is available to rent or buy today on a number of on-demand platforms, including Google Play, Prime Video, Apple TV and Sky in the UK. There is no news, yet, on when the film will be made available in the US.

Meta's latest auditory AIs promise a more immersive AR/VR experience

The Metaverse, as Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg envisions it, will be a fully immersive virtual experience that rivals reality, at least from the waist up. But the visuals are only part of the overall Metaverse experience.

“Getting spatial audio right is key to delivering a realistic sense of presence in the metaverse,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Friday blog post. “If you're at a concert, or just talking with friends around a virtual table, a realistic sense of where sound is coming from makes you feel like you're actually there.”

That concert, the blog post notes, will sound very different if performed in a full-sized concert hall than in a middle school auditorium on account of the differences between their physical spaces and acoustics. As such, Meta’s AI and Reality Lab (MAIR, formerly FAIR) is collaborating with researchers from UT Austin to develop a trio of open source audio “understanding tasks” that will help developers build more immersive AR and VR experiences with more lifelike audio.

The first is MAIR’s Visual Acoustic Matching model, which can adapt a sample audio clip to any given environment using just a picture of the space. Want to hear what the NY Philharmonic would sound like inside San Francisco’s Boom Boom Room? Now you can. Previous simulation models were able to recreate a room’s acoustics based on its layout — but only if the precise geometry and material properties were already known — or from audio sampled within the space, neither of which produced particularly accurate results.

MAIR’s solution is the Visual Acoustic Matching model, called AViTAR, which “learns acoustic matching from in-the-wild web videos, despite their lack of acoustically mismatched audio and unlabeled data,” according to the post.

“One future use case we are interested in involves reliving past memories,” Zuckerberg wrote, betting on nostalgia. “Imagine being able to put on a pair of AR glasses and see an object with the option to play a memory associated with it, such as picking up a tutu and seeing a hologram of your child’s ballet recital. The audio strips away reverberation and makes the memory sound just like the time you experienced it, sitting in your exact seat in the audience.”

MAIR’s Visually-Informed Dereverberation mode (VIDA), on the other hand, will strip the echoey effect from playing an instrument in a large, open space like a subway station or cathedral. You’ll hear just the violin, not the reverberation of it bouncing off distant surfaces. Specifically, it “learns to remove reverberation based on both the observed sounds and the visual stream, which reveals cues about room geometry, materials, and speaker locations,” the post explained. This technology could be used to more effectively isolate vocals and spoken commands, making them easier for both humans and machines to understand.

VisualVoice does the same as VIDA but for voices. It uses both visual and audio cues to learn how to separate voices from background noises during its self-supervised training sessions. Meta anticipates this model getting a lot of work in the machine understanding applications and to improve accessibility. Think, more accurate subtitles, Siri understanding your request even when the room isn't dead silent or having the acoustics in a virtual chat room shift as people speaking move around the digital room. Again, just ignore the lack of legs.

“We envision a future where people can put on AR glasses and relive a holographic memory that looks and sounds the exact way they experienced it from their vantage point, or feel immersed by not just the graphics but also the sounds as they play games in a virtual world,” Zuckerberg wrote, noting that AViTAR and VIDA can only apply their tasks to the one picture they were trained for and will need a lot more development before public release. “These models are bringing us even closer to the multimodal, immersive experiences we want to build in the future.”