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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    Mike Tyson was nearly impossible to beat in the video game Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! Not even the real Mike Tyson could beat him—or could he?

    The world finally got the answer to that question when Tyson appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and fought his video game alter ego. In the end, Tyson didn’t stand a chance against Tyson, but you’ll have to watch the clip to see what that means.


    This isn’t the first time Fallon has had actors play their video-game selves. Just last month, Piers Brosnan played as James Bond in the Nintendo 64 game Goldeneye and lost miserably.

    It seems that the Tonight Show’s producers know their video game systems. Instead of playing the game on an NES, they have it running on a Retron5. That explains why the game looks so crisp and clear—the Retron5 upscales classic games to 720p.

    Now we just need Shaquille O’Neal to play Shaq-Fu.

    H/T TheVerge | Screengrab via TheTonightShow/YouTube


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    “Video is a very big priority” for Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors on the company’s earnings call on Monday.

    It’s a statement backed up by an array of recent developments that make it clear that the social media giant intends to become a leader in the online video space. But Facebook isn’t just looking to broaden its portfolio: Confronted with the declining engagement in key demographics, experts say the company needs to transform itself into an online video hub if it is to remain relevant—and right now, it faces an uphill struggle in doing so.

    Unfortunately for video creators, copyright infringement is rampant across the social network, perpetrated by some of the biggest pages on the site, and the company is failing to implement even the most basic software solutions to combat it, or to discipline repeat offenders.

    Facebook's inaction has generated a groundswell of unrest and despair growing among the very content creators and rights-holders Facebook hopes to court, who have serious concerns over what they call the “massive” scale of copyright infringement on one of the world’s most popular social network.

    • • •

    Every sign points to Facebook’s desire to move into the video space. From the recent introduction of view counts and autoplay on videos, to the acquisition of video advertising company LiveRail for half a billion dollars in July, the social network is clearly gearing up to make its platform more attractive to content creators and improve the overall experience for ordinary users. 

    For starters, there’s the headline figures: ComCast recently revealed that Facebook saw 12.3 billion desktop video views in August—1 billion more than market leader YouTube. Facebook now claims to see traffic in excess of 1 billion video views daily. Adweek characterises this as part of a “digital power shift” from YouTube to Facebook, writing that video is to be a “core growth area” for the social network.

    Content creators are seeing results too—social news company NowThisNews told they’d seen a 30-fold increase in video views from July to October, as well as significant increases in user engagement. “We’re only seeing the beginning of the growth of quality video on Facebook,” said company president Sean Mills.

    Brands are benefitting as well: “The autoplay feature allows us to increase engagement and exposure with millennials in an undisrupted way, as our content is integrated into consumers’ News Feeds naturally,” a spokesperson for Anheuser-Busch told Adweek.

    But Facebook isn’t simply moving into the video space voluntarily. One senior industry figure the Daily Dot spoke to said that the social network needs to make this push if it is to remain relevant. Facebook usage is dropping dramatically among the core teen demographic, as young people turn to Instagram (which is owned by Facebook), Vine, YouTube and other platforms for their social networking and content needs. “Facebook must begin to engage more effectively with millennials,” the industry figure, who asked to remain anonymous, said. “And that means video—especially short-form video.”

    In practice, this short-form content means one thing: Viral videos. Many of the clips that rack up millions of views are happy accidents—a baby’s laugh, an over-exuberant dancer, a natural wonder. But there’s big money in the viral business nowadays; the “train selfie kid” got an estimated quarter-million dollar payout, and more and more people are packing in their day jobs to make videos full-time. 

    If Facebook wants to move into the video space, these are the people it needs to attract. They’re also the people that it’s badly failing.

    • • •

    Copyright infringement on Facebook is quite simply “out of control,” Jay Lichtenberger told the Daily Dot. Lichtenberger is a viral video producer, best known for his “Freaky the Scary Snowman” prank series. His clips often rack up hundreds of thousands, or even millions of hits, and making YouTube videos is now his full-time gig. 

    Lichtenberger is a perfect example of the creators of easily digestible content that Facebook is failing to protect. 

    While Lichtenberger has a public Facebook page that he uploads videos to, he also sees his content proliferating across the site—entirely without his permission. “It’s happening more and more everyday,” the filmmaker recently wrote in a recent angry missive posted to his private Facebook profile: “They are building an audience off of stolen content. First of all, it’s stealing content. Secondly, it’s stealing millions of views each week from the rightful owners in an effort to build their own brand.” 

    Lichtenberger FB screenshot

    Lichtenberger rounded off the post with dozens of examples of infringement found with a simple search.

    Mike Skogmo, director of communications at viral video licensing company Jukin Media, echoed Lichtenberger’s assessment: “The scale is massive,” he told the Daily Dot. It’s not just small pages flying Facebook’s radar either. Some of the biggest pages on the site, including celebrities and media companies, are uploading copyrighted material illegally—with no consequences whatsoever.

    Celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton is among those sharing Jukin Media-licensed material without permission on his Facebook page with 1.3 million likes; The LAD Bible is another high-profile offender, sharing stolen content with its 5.6 million followers.

    LAD Bible screengrab

    A screengrab of a copyrighted video the LAD Bible uploaded without permission from the rights-holder.

    Rapper Ludacris also steals videos and posts them to his page—but there are dozens of other Facebook groups that, while less prominent, have quietly grown huge off the back of copyrighted content. One, BestFunnyVideos2013, has more than 3 million likes—and there are hundreds more just like it.

    Those violating copyright law by uploading the videos don’t directly profit from doing so, because Facebook doesn’t have an advertising revenue share plan like YouTube. But this doesn’t matter. Many of the offending pages host videos on Facebook then direct users to their own, ad-supported websites—building their audience off the back of material they don’t own. 

    Even if the infringers are not seeking to profit, it still harms content creators. “Whether or not the users can directly monetize the content is not as relevant as it seems,” says Skogmo, “since there’s no question that the presence of those videos devalues the originals. Viral videos can earn not insignificant ad dollars on YouTube and can fetch licensing fees for use on other platforms. If anyone can go ahead and find that content ad free on Facebook, that takes views and dollars away from the original version.”

    Infringement is endemic across the site, and compounding the issue is the fact there doesn’t even seem to be any repercussions for repeat offenders. Lichtenberger says he has reported some Facebook pages sharing his content without permission a dozen or even more times: Individual videos are taken down, but the pages remain up.

    Both Lichtenberger and Skogmo agree that when they do alert Facebook to incidents of copyright infringement, the social network acts quickly to remove the offending items, but the sheer scale of it makes it impossible to effectively police, something only made worse by inadequate search tools. 

    • • •

    So what lies ahead for Facebook? To encourage content creators to adopt the site as a platform, the company “will do what other major distributors are doing to fashion themselves as being the ‘friendliest’ place for video creators,” a senior industry figure who is deeply connected to the video space told the Daily Dot. “I.e., pay outright cash for content, and likely share revenues [from advertising].”

    Zuckerberg told investors that video adverts are one of “four major revenue opportunities,” and while no public timeline is available, experts say the acquisition of LiveRail and early experiments with video ads indicate that revenue share programs—as long seen on YouTube—are just around the corner. 

    The industry figure told the Daily Dot that Facebook must first “gain credibility as being a destination for compelling video” before it can hope to “effectively monetize it.” But if monetization plans are implemented without serious reform to the way the Facebook addresses copyright infringement, then the very people the social network hopes to appear “friendly” to—short-form, viral video producers—face the prospect of seeing others profiting off the theft of their work.

    If that happens, Lichtenberger, a prime example of the type of content creator Facebook needs to court, says he’ll be “extremely upset.” And more than that—he’ll “look into filing a class action lawsuit.”

    • • •

    There’s a solution, however: Content ID. Software that automatically scans video for copyrighted content, Content ID has long been in place on YouTube. Video host Vimeo also more recently adopted it, telling Billboard that they “want to empower people ... with full understanding of what’s allowed under the law.”

    Identification of offending material doesn’t mean an automatic deletion: On YouTube, rights-holders can decide whether they’d like material flagged up by the system monetized for themselves, or muted, or taken down—or even left alone. 

    What this mean would mean in practice is that, if a content creator without an established Facebook presence discovered another, extremely popular page was hosting one of their videos, the creator could decide to leave it up but to run adverts beside it, benefitting from the page’s exposure and making a profit off the infringement.

    Content ID’s implementation would solve rights-holders’ concerns overnight. Content creators would be able to automatically and effectively police their content, and it would stem the tide of opportunistic thieves that currently plague the social network.

    Facebook is also pushing to have publishers post content directly into the site, indicating their ultimate ambition is to be the home, rather than just aggregator, for all content online—not just video. Ad revenue sharing would once again be an incentive to publishers and content creators—but without software monitoring solutions like Content ID this just promises a future where copyright thieves can profit easily off the work of others.

    So why hasn’t Facebook already implemented it? The company did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but the industry figure the Daily Dot spoke to said that they “don’t know why not yet, because it is critical for all video distribution players to be content and creator ‘friendly’”—and believes we should expect Content ID “soon.” 

    There are, of course, problems with overzealous application of copyright law. YouTube’s own three-strikes implementation has been heavily criticized as open to abuse, and has reportedly been used to censor legitimate criticism of copyrighted content, such as video games, which are protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) fair use policy.

    But if YouTube’s implementation is too extreme, then Facebook’s current situation is quite the opposite. The social network is a free-for-all: Rights-holders are being overwhelmed by the sheer scale of copyright infringement; creators are having their livelihoods stolen from them. 

    These creatives risk being put off the social network for good, despairing at how digital bandits are able to take advantage of Facebook’s apparent indifference to the concerns of the very people it desperately wants—and needs—to attract.

    Illustration by Jason Reed

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    Southwest Airlines has a hit on its hands—in an Elaine Benes meets Wedding Crashers sort of way.

    The airline’s newest commercial, a play on the ever-popular wedding season, features a traveling bridesmaid who takes advantage of Southwest’s low fares in order to fly to a number of weddings at which she makes her mark by busting out some funky dance steps to Young MC’s 1989 hit, "Bust a Move." And for added giggles, she slow dances with a young man who attempts a not-so-subtle butt grab. 

    The star of these spots is comedian/actress Alice Wetterlund, known for  MTV’sGirl Code and a number of other TV ads. Armed with more than 86,000 Twitter followers, it would be difficult to avoid getting props from friends and fans on social media.

    A prevalent social media theme is how much people dig Alice’s wild moves that are reminiscent of Elaine Benes’ bizarre “little kicks” from a memorable Seinfeld episode which prompted George Costanza to say, “Sweet fancy Moses,” wearing a look of horror. Wetterlund’s uninhibited flailing packs more charm and style than Elaine’s, though, and the comedian’s Twitter followers are in full support.

    Throwing a large bucket of cold water on Southwest’s latest campaign, one Twitter commenter correctly pointed out that while the commercial is cute, the timing of the airline’s campaign is a bit off given most weddings take place in the summer with June being the dominant month.

    Southwest Airlines is known for being the source of a number of YouTube classics, generally focused on its flight attendants’ offbeat and occasionally clever ways of doing their preflight safety checks. One of the more recent trends for Southwest is passengers (some famous, some not so) doing impromptu concerts during the flight. For that reason, when the seat belt sign goes off, smartphones with cameras come out. You never know when Mat Kearney will stand up and perform at 35,000 feet.

    H/T Uproxx | Photo via Intel Free Press/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0) | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III

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    George R.R. Martin is a man of words, and many words at that. While the Game of Thrones author has penned some of the most cutting and infamous lines in pop culture, how good is his recall when it comes to remembering who said what? That’s just what Amy Poehler, a noble and blonde khaleesi in her own right, was looking to find out during her appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers.

    With the assistance of Meyers, Poehler began testing Martin’s recall. Though it was sharp, he stumbled a few times. How could the author have forgotten that Breeze Daniels, the Westeros 9 meteorologist, was the one who uttered the first “winter is coming" warning? While the author managed to fall into a few traps, the quiz wasn’t a total red wedding bloodbath. 

    If you're not a Game of Thrones fan or a Poehler fan, you'll appreciate the sheer joy of watching George R.R. Martin laugh and wiggle at the same time.

    H/T Vulture | Screenshot via Late Night With Seth Meyers/Hulu

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    Benedict Cumberbatch only needed his voice to charm the casting directors behind The Hobbit before getting the part of Smaug.

    He and Sherlock co-star Martin Freeman were auditioning around the same time for their respective roles during their show’s first season, and Cumberbatch sent in a video of himself reading part of the script while performing snake-like movements with his neck. But because the filmmakers didn’t know whether they were going to go with motion capture or a voiceover when it came to bringing the dragon to life, they also had Cumberbatch perform with his face off-camera.

    It took him more than a year to hear he got the role, but in the end we’re glad they ended up going with motion capture.

    Photo via honeyfitz/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    The NBA, in the first week of its 67th season, has already fired off a few digital blanks showing why it often operates in the days of two-handed set shots.

    Following the overzealous coverage of Michael Jordan’smeaningless entry into the world of social media, we have the New Orleans Pelicans delivering a promo that features a handful of star players working the line at John Besh’s Borgne restaurant in the Crescent City. Not sure what is worse—the inept acting of head coach Monty Williams and phenom Anthomy Davis, or the sad puns that weakly tie food-related activities to the hardwood. Turnovers, indeed!

    Grantland rates the team as a “potential interloper” in the NBA’s Western Conference, noting “New Orleans is frighteningly punchless beyond its top six” and “there are too many questions to slot these guys into the playoffs ahead of more accomplished teams, but there could be something here.” It’s going to be a long season for NBA fans down in the Louisiana Delta.

    It may have been a while since I followed the day-to-day machinations of the NBA, but I am hard pressed to name more than two players on the current Pelicans roster. Alas, I miss the good old days when the New Orleans team was rightfully called The Jazz and Pistol Pete lit it up every night.

    H/T: The Big Lead | Photo via Scott Smith/Flickr (CC BY 2.)

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    Did being a Vine celebrity get Jerome Jarre out of trouble with the FBI? It definitely didn’t hurt.

    Jarre was detained after filming a Vine on an American Airlines aircraft that involved him emerging from a bathroom in a Speedo and an inflatable duck. According to Jarre, who has 7.5 million followers on the shortform video app, one cabin crew member on his flight headed toward Miami from Mexico City took offense and alerted officials on the ground about his behavior with the threat of arrest.

    Obviously, Jarre livetweeted the whole thing from the airplane and got fans to
    start a trending topic about his situation before he was detained.

    Jarre was detained by FBI agents who boarded the plane upon landing, but ultimately released because, as Jarre told Betabeat, he didn’t do anything illegal.

    “They were very professional and good people, and they quickly realized that American Airlines [had] overreacted, and that I didn’t have any other intention than making people laugh,” he told the site.

    Jarre continued on to his final destination of Brazil. Betabeat also contacted American Airlines, who took a humorous approach to the incident in their official statement, indicating that they are not pressing charges: “Speedos look good on the beach, but no one likes to see them dancing down the aisle at 35,000 feet.”

    H/T Beatbeat | Screengrab via Jerome Jarre/Twitter

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    In a traditional haunted house, you have to simply keep moving forward in the direction determined by the designer. However, YouTube Nation used the YouTube Space Halloween sets to construct an elaborate, choose-your-own-adventure haunted mystery that lets viewers pick their own spooky Halloween tale.

    For Halloween: Can You Survive? YouTube Nation called on several celebrity friends to take part, including Felicia Day, Steve Zaragoza, and Tay Zonday. They’re gathered for a Halloween party when something goes terribly wrong.

    Depending on what path you take, the whole adventure can be as long as a 28-minute experience, following the adventures of a pair of celebs as they decide to flee, keep partying, or investigate the mystery. 
YouTuber GloZell plays your spooky host to the whole affair.

    Choose wisely, the path you take will determine just how much of the awesome Guillermo Del Toro-designed sets you get to see.

    Screengrab via YouTube Nation/YouTube

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    Netflix released the first official trailer Wednesday for Marco Polo, a series created by Dave Frusco (Young Guns I & II, Hidalgo) that dares to challenge HBO’s reigning status as the king of swords, blood, and nudity.

    Polo was originally set to air on the Starz network, but complications with filming in China ultimately ended up in the property reverting back to The Weinstein Company, which then found a new home for it as a Netflix Original. The YouTube description on the trailer describes the show as:

    “Intrigue. Deception. Bloodshed. These are just some of the obstacles awaiting legendary explorer Marco Polo as he navigates the inner court of 13th century ruler, Kublai Khan. From the back alleys of Venice to the perilous Silk Road, from the opulence of the Imperial City to the battlefields of China, Marco Polo is an epic action-adventure, where cultures clash, blood is spilled, and lies are told…”

    The show’s pilot is directed by Norwegian duo Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, who helmed the Academy Award-nominated Kon-Tiki and are in preproduction for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, the fifth film in that series. Rønning and Sandberg will also serve as executive producers of Marco Polo, along with Bob and Harvey Weinstein and Frusco. Insert joke about the Weinsteins editing out the good parts of the show here.

    Screengrab via Netflix/YouTube

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    For the third time in five years, the San Francisco Giants are World Series champs. Thank Madison Bumgarner for this one.

    San Francisco outlasted the Kansas City Royals 3-2 Wednesday night, on the road in Game 7. The Giants and Royals each put up two runs in the second inning, and Michael Morse drove in what would be the game-winning single two innings later. It's San Francisco's eighth total World Series title.

    But the day’s sports chatter revolved around what the team would do with Bumgarner, who had already carried the Giants with two winning starts during the series. Wednesday he pitched in relief on only two days’ rest, and closed the tab on the Royals for five scoreless innings.

    Bumgarner finished the World Series allowing one run in 21 innings. In the end, Bumgarner was on the mound for a third of San Francisco’s 63 World Series innings. He was an easy call for series MVP, where he was also awarded "technology and stuff."

    The performance was apparently transcendent enough for the Associated Press to tweet out a commemorative Jockey ad.

    Predictably, the championship riots seem to be in full swing around the Bay Area. 

    Bumgarner would approve.

    Photo via Shawn Clover/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    When Taylor Swift said, “players gonna play,” she probably wasn’t talking about basketball. Regardless, Swift’s hit single “Shake It Off” has become the unofficial theme song of several student sports teams this year.

    Scores of “Shake It Off” parody videos have surfaced on YouTube showing sports stars, mascots and athletic departments just shaking it all off. There are lacrosse players jumping off walls, synchronized swimmers in ballet skirts, and kinesiology professors getting their groove on in hallways. Even the U.S. Air Force Parachute Team got in on the action this week, lip-syncing to Swift’s song during choreographed mid-air stunts to show their support for Saturday’s game between the U.S. Air Force Academy and Army Spirit.

    With the exception of an occasional athlete saying he or she is bummed about losing a game, most of the teams leave their reasons for shaking it off mysterious. Here’s a collection of some of the videos.

    Like it or not, “Shake It Off” is quickly becoming this year’s go-to song for student athletes, colleges, and anyone else who wants to brush off their haters and players. The song is already getting tired, but look on the bright side: At least it’s not the “Harlem Shake.”

    Surprisingly, “Harlem Shake It Off” is not a thing—yet. Internet, make it happen.

    Photos via YouTube | Remix by Jason Reed

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    ESPN 2 is about to get a major boost from the Force this Halloween when it airs a special half-hour Star Wars episode for the holiday. According to The Hollywood Reporter, SportsNation hosts Michelle Beadle, Max Kellerman, and Marcellus Wiley will be entering the galaxy far, far away in a big way on Thursday’s show.

    Not only is ESPN 2 redecorating the set so that it looks like the iconic Millennium Falcon, but the show will also feature characters from the Star Wars franchise like Darth Vader, R2-D2, C-3PO, Chewbacca, Yoda, Boba Fett, and Han Solo. Even a brand new character from the universe, Star Wars Rebels’ grumpy droid Chopper, will stop by.

    This is SportsNation, of course, so you can also expect them to show some Star Wars-inspired sports clips. It’s anyone’s guess who will win “Best Jedi Mind Trick” or “Most Unstoppable Skywalkers.” Throw in the fact that this special will also debut an exclusive clip from a future Rebels episode, and it’s clear that Disney is going all-out to promote its newest franchise on the Mouse-owned sports channel. You can watch the opening of the special in the video below.


    SportsNation’s Star Wars Halloween episode will premiere on Thursday at 7:30pm and re-air on Friday at 3pm.

    H/T The Hollywood Reporter | Screenshot via SportsNationESPN/YouTube

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    In the world of digital media, a successful incubator is as much a mission and state of mind as it is as business process.

    New Form Digital has separated itself from the pack of ad hoc studios whose goal is to aggregate and represent the works of digital storytellers born of YouTube rather than apprenticeship or film-school pedigree. Digital content networks like Evox Television Networks, Amazon Studios, and divisions within broadcasters such as NBCUniversal and CBS often are more about realizing finished projects via monetization than creating a new generation of sustainable digital content. Launched in April by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer along with Discovery Networks, New Form is intended to nurture and mentor a crop of budding YouTube stars in hopes of elevating them from user-generated content pros to producers of commercially successful webseries and short films.

    Kathleen Grace, the chief creative officer for New Form, explained mentorship lacks set rules when it comes to digital storytelling. The former YouTube executive (and person behind YouTube Spaces) says that the work between the digital studio and its filmmakers involves a lot of give and take and often boils down to just some practical advice.

    “Some of the work is formal: There can be three to four rounds of notes on scripts and on editing,” Grace told the Daily Dot. “But then there are filmmakers who just need help finding a location or are unfamiliar with permitting processes.”

    Among those in the first class of budding geniuses working with New Form Digital are Joey Graceffa, Joe Penna (MysteryGuitarMan), Sawyer Hartman, Meghan Camarena (Strawburry17), Tony Valenzuela (BlackBoxTV), Craig Benzine (WheezyWaiter), PJ Liguori (KickThePJ), POYKPAC Comedy, Tim Hautekiet, and Yulin Kuang. By and large, this crop of YouTube stars are enormously popular with millions of subscribers, but Grace and her team hope to smooth out some of the rougher production and script elements with a focus on upping their cinematic storytelling chops.

    Camarena may be a prototype of what New Form Digital hopes to craft into a narrative filmmaking star. Camarena is a self-taught digital filmmaker who has graduated from Flip cameras to a professional Red Digital Cinema monster that shoots in 8K. Over her career, she also has refined her editing skills from doing what is known as “in-camera editing” to mastering Adobe Premiere Pro. With close to 800,000 subscribers on her YouTube page, Strawburry17 made her a star long before New Form came calling.

    Camarena, who has appeared on the CBS reality show The Great Race, has a production style that defies easy categorization. She features cosplay cooking clips (The Legend of Zelda Bento Box), spooky challenges (Eating Dirt! w/ Joey Graceffa), and a music video of sorts (Ultimate Playlist!). Her ability to quickly get into the theme or story of the clip makes them accessible and fun and a tad off the wall (in a good way).

    The incubator gave her a grant to film The Void, a 7-minute short with a postapocalyptic tone, complete with zombies and pistol-packing survivors. Camarena welcomed the advice she received through the process and knows that New Form will be able to work with her in securing distribution for her film and future projects, leveraging vast resources for exposure. In one week, the film has amassed close to 75,000 views.

    PJ Liguori is a bit more low-key in personality, but when it comes to his digital presence, there’s nothing shy to be found. His YouTube presence, KickthePJ, is a collage of personal diaries and a series of oddball, endearing characters. With funds from New Form, Liguori, who lives in the U.K., was able to take his art form to a rather remarkable level with Oscar’s Hotel, a home away from home for non-humans (and that’s an understatement). With nearly 90,000 views on YouTube since its posting, the 10-minute film is reminiscent of Terry Gilliam’s 1985 Brazil but with handcrafted special effects and a fraction of the budget.

    In his YouTube films, Liguori told the Daily Dot that he generally was able to focus either on characters or story, but with the financial backing and editorial assistance from New Form Digital, he was able to do both. At first, though, he admitted he didn’t know what to expect working with a third party. “I sent [New Form] a first draft, and they helped shape the film,” Liguori said. “They see things in a way I personally didn't see them, which made the editing process faster. It helped to show it to a fresh set of eyes.”

    Liguori already has a vision for where he sees Oscar’s Hotel going. “I would love to be able to take the idea of the hotel and take it into a webseries,” he said. “These are characters that the audience of YouTubers will love. I would love to carry it on.”

    With its lofty ambition, the role of the incubator moves forward with an uncertain future. Grace noted that there is an nearly unquenchable appetite for online video, but the current ecosystem from creation to consumption is one of disconnected parts: consumer-generated video, professionally produced digital content, subscription streaming services such as Netflix, an array of consumption screens, and unproven financial models. The question that may be answered over the coming years: Will be is it better to do one thing extraordinarily well like New Form Digital or many things slightly above average like Netflix and Amazon?

    Screengrab via Strawburry17/YouTube

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    The stakes of War are even higher when water is involved.

    While appearing on The Tonight Show, Jake Gyllenhaal initially seemed hesitant to get himself into one of Jimmy Fallon’s many, many shenanigans, but by the end of the wackiest game of War we’ve seen, he was completely sucked in. He was trading banter, getting competitive, and even gaining revenge for his family. It was a tough battle, but these two kept marching on.

    War is hell, but imagine how much crazier it would’ve been if they had played Egyptian Ratscrew instead: half as long, cards everywhere, and probably even more anger.

    Screengrab via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube

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    “People felt like I was using it to sound good,” rap and R&B star T-Pain said of pitch-correcting Auto-Tune software, a staple of some of his biggest hits over the last decade, in a recent interview for All Things Considered. “But I was just using it to sound different.” 

    If you don’t believe him, here’s the video to prove it: a short and intimate performance staged as part of NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concerts” webseries. “This is weird as hell for me,” T-Pain admits to the crowd before introducing his accompanist and joking that he’s had Auto-Tune “surgically inserted.” Even without it, we’re pleased to report, dude sounds silky smooth.

    For comparative study, here are the Auto-Tuned originals:

    Now let’s all make fun of Death Cab for Cutie again for “protesting” Auto-Tune abuse at the 2009 Grammys. Though I guess, in the end, they won?

    Photo by Eva Rinaldi/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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    Not content with both committing and investigating sex crimes in his acting roles, it looks as if Christopher Meloni now also wants to dispense justice. And meat.

    From much of the team who brought us the excellent Burning Love—Michael Ian Black, Joe Lo Truglio, and Childrens Hospital’s Jonathan Stern are all here—Meat features Meloni as a butcher, Lou, who tries cases and doles out unique punishment in his shop.

    The content looks improv-heavy, and the list of guest stars is impressive; Lizzy Caplan, Michael Cera, and Thomas Lennon are all slated to appear. If it can reach the heights of Paramount Digital’s other series, such as Burning Love and The Hotwives of Orlando, then we’re in for a prime cut. 

    A suite of providers, including iTunes, Vudu, TargetTicket, DirecTV, Dish, and Cablevision, will begin serving Beef Nov. 11.

    H/T Indiewire | Screengrab via Paramount Movies/YouTube

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    If aliens were left only to understand our culture by the films we left behind, it would be a pretty confusing jumble. Or at least that’s the premise of Earthling Cinema, a new series from the team behind other educational and humorous programming like Thug Notes.

    It stars alien anthropologist Garyx Wormuloid, played by comedian Mark Schroeder, as he tries to uncover the mysteries of the destroyed human race by analyzing classic films. First on the docket is Fight Club, which leads Wormuloid to several definitive statements about human culture, such as:

    “On the surface this seems to be a movie about punching, which would be a good guess because human movies are always about punching.”

    Earthling Cinema continues Wisecrack's trend of merging education with humor, striking just as serious and authentic of a tone as traditional film analysis, with the added bonus of laughing at Wormuloid’s moustache eyebrows while you learn.

    Screengrab via Wisecrack/YouTube

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    When you go see a movie, leave your smartwatches, fitness bands, stress monitors, pacemakers, insulin pumps, and other wearables at the door. At least, that’s what the Motion Picture Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) wants you to do.

    The MPAA and the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) this week announced a new rule forbidding theatergoers from wearing devices like Google Glass, smartwatches, or other gadgets that can surreptitiously record video. This zero-tolerance policy comes after a few scattered instances of patrons being asked to leave theaters because they were wearing Google Glass, with the ushers assuming they were recording movies. The MPAA’s edict follows a similar move by U.K. theater owners, who banned Google Glass this past summer.

    The most notable case of wearable tech causing an uproar involved an Ohio man who was taken out of a movie theater by federal agents after he was spotted wearing Google Glass. It proved to be an embarrassing false alarm for the authorities; the recording function on the specs was inactive, and the theatergoer was using his wearable for its prescription lenses.

    A dominant force in Hollywood, the MPAA is primarily responsible for film ratings that can play a major role in a movie’s box office potential. It has previously proven to be out of touch with social norms, as in the case of the 2010 movie, The King’s Speech. The MPAA gave the Oscar winner an R-rating, which requires anyone under 17 years old to be accompanied by an adult, thus limiting its box office returns. 

    With the new policy, NATO hopes to stem the tide of pirated films that cut into theaters’ revenue.

    The absurdity of this new policy rests in its near-impossible enforcement. Theater ushers and personnel (not to mention flight attendants) have difficulty distinguishing a health-related wearable from a smartwatch or fitness band. For the MPAA and NATO, this is a major lawsuit waiting to happen.

    Twitter response has been notably critical of the new policy. The comments mostly point to the ignorance the movie trade associations have when it comes to the realistic piracy potential of wearables such as Google Glass.


    H/T Gigaom | Photo via lawrencegs/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    With this week's release of Searching for Katie, YouTube star Taryn Southern has joined the ranks of fellow content creators courted by Vimeo to release premium content through its On Demand service. 

    Rather than following the trend of other YouTubers-gone-Vimeo like comicbookgirl19 and Joey Graceffa, who released souped-up versions of their YouTube content, Southern has used her partnership to release a found-footage horror film that she began working on over four years ago with director Aaron Feldman. Southern gained national notoriety on YouTube with "Hot for Hillary," a 2007 musical ode to Hillary Clinton that boasts every brand of psychotic YouTube comment hence discovered, but Searching for Katie doesn't view the horror genre through a comedic lens or wink at the audience.

    It’s exactly as advertised: a found-footage horror film, with Taryn Southern playing herself as a professional blogger, investigating a cult that might be responsible for the disappearance of her friend’s sister, Katie. The film follows a fictional cult, the Young Artists Co-op, but it handles the subject matter with the respect required for the group to feel very real, with interviews from real-life cult experts Hoyt Richards and Steve Hassan lending an educational angle rarely found in the horror genre.

    Like Louis C.K.’s Tomorrow Night, it’s a fascinating look at passion project that we probably wouldn’t have without the Internet, and it’s easily a must-see for fans of Taryn Southern. Via email, Southern explained how the film came to finally be released, the production process, and getting the film ready in time for Halloween.

    It’s a pretty cool move to make your Vimeo On Demand debut with a feature film. How did that come about? Did Vimeo ask you what you’d like to release, or did you approach Vimeo with the project?

    I had the chance to meet the Vimeo team at Vidcon this past summer, and so we just kept a conversation going about ways to work together. They were looking to experiment with long form content on the platform, and I had this movie that I had been wanting to finish for awhile, so the timing just worked out perfectly!

    How much of the project was shot after the four-year hiatus? Did it feel odd to return to the old footage, or do you think the distance helped it feel more like editing an actual documentary?

    I'd say 60% of the film was shot 4.5 years ago. The rest was shot in the past 3 weeks! We had about 6 weeks total to edit the film and do all of the new reshoots. It was definitely odd going back and watching the old footage—there was SO much of it, and since it was shot off an outline (no script!), it was really tough to figure out the best way to piece together the old with the new. It was like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle!

    What initially drew you and director Aaron Feldman to the subject of cults? It feels like you guys really did your research. 

    Aaron and I had been friends for a very long time. He's directed a few docu-style thrillers in the past, and we both have an equally high level of interest in things like cults, so 5 years ago I called him up and said "let's make a movie." He was out in L.A. within two weeks and boom!

    What was it like interviewing Hoyt Richards and Steve Hassan? They both have such fascinating stories.

    Steven and Hoyt are both incredible people. Their personal stories are fascinating, but their subsequent research and work in the areas of mind control and cult behavior has helped thousands of people escape dangerous groups. Hoyt helps families and former cult members assimilate back into the real world; Steven works closely with the government in areas closely related to mind-control groups—ISIS, human trafficking, etc. I could've made a film of just their interview in their entirety, just because everything they said was so incredibly interesting.

    How crazy has the postproduction been from the time you agreed to release the film? Was it a pretty big challenge to get it wrapped up in time for Halloween? 

    Insanity. We started post production Sept. 2, but it took about 2 weeks to code and organize all the film material. We finished writing out our new outline by end of September, and then had about 3 weeks of simultaneous shooting and editing. It felt like we were doing a season of Project Greenlight!

    Have you ever lived in a co-op? The co-op scenes felt very accurate, aside from the relative cleanliness and the fact that they were potentially creepy murderers, but I saw those things as possibly being related. 

    I've never lived in a co-op, but we just did as much research as possible to make the film realistic. All of the actors created their back stories, and we gave them a 6 page "manifesto" on the beliefs of the cult for them to memorize. I think the one big mistake we made was having wine at the cult house (since they were a super "healthy" cult, that wouldn't necessarily make sense.) But hey, when actors are working for free, wine is never a bad incentive to keep people on set right? 

    How much of the acting was improvised? What was the process in filming the Young Artists Co-op scenes, a typical day?

    100% of it was improvised. We basically just had them "live in character" for two straight days while we filmed. They each had their backstory, and an "itinerary" for the weekend within the cult house, they just had to interact in character. We had a few scenes that were "set up" but no lines were fed to anyone. They were such troopers.

    Was there anything you loved in the footage that was particularly hard to cut? Any hopes of seeing a deleted scenes reel in the future?

    SO many things. A scene with Gina Lohman [one of the cult members] that was one of my favorites, as well as a scene in the cult house where one of the members is explaining sexual energy while giving a massage. Of the new stuff we shot, we cut a phone call with my attorney (my real attorney!) that we unfortunately had to cut because the sound was bad. We also shot a new scene with Jeff D'Agostino that I LOVED, [but] unfortunately it didn't quite feel like it fit the story. We would need to add in another scene to make it work, and we just didn't have the time. But yes, this movie could absolutely have been over an hour long, but we had to be decisive about what to chop so that the story made sense. 

    Did you record any songs exclusive to the film? If so, how did you approach writing that material?

    Yes! "Among the Stars" was written by my friend Mike Cionni (it's the theme song for the cult) and we just gave him the manifesto and what he came up with was brilliant. Myself and the composer, Eric Breiner, wrote a song for the opening called "Wherever You Go." I'm hoping we'll finish it and release it separately. The lyrics of the chorus—"I will go…wherever you go"—basically encompasses the theme of the film, that some people choose to just follow others without critically thinking about the consequences. 

    Was there ever an intention to try and play the film off as a chronicle of true events? It seems like that may have been doable. I’d have probably believed it before a Googling.

    We thought really hard about that—but ultimately [weren't] sure that it would be responsible of us. Also, anyone who did any research on the people in the film probably could've figured out they are all working actors in L.A. So, passing it off as true would've only taken us so far. Ultimately, we still want this film to be looked at as a documentary. Even though our narrative story is fictional, it's based on MANY stories we researched, and experts who round out the film are 100% real. So hopefully the information presented has the same effect as a doc.

    What’s been the most rewarding aspect of the whole process so far? How does it feel after the long development process to finally see the film released to an audience? 

    Finishing a film in 6 weeks!! Now I feel like making a 3 minute YouTube video each week is easy as pie. It's also just nice to see something I filmed so long ago finally get released. Everyone who worked on it deserved to see it get made. And huge kudos to Vimeo, for taking a chance on this project. It's cool to release it on their platform since the film has so many digital interactive elements.

    Do you have any other features in the pipeline? Is feature filmmaking something you’d like to keep pursuing? 

    A musical—I REALLY want to make a musical. I'll probably start that project up early next year… I need a few months off before diving into anything long form again.… Outside of that, I've got a digital series for The Today Show premiering this fall ("Self Help for your Digital Soul") and a digital series with Maker Studios ("Born to Brunch"). The rest of the year I'll be working on my next album!

    Screengrab via Vimeo

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    Pee-wee Herman’s not done just yet.

    Last night, Pee-Wee’s real-life alter-ego Paul Reubens sat down with Jimmy Fallon and confirmed a rumor that has been circulating for years: a sequel to Pee-wee’s Big Adventure is happening.

    Reubens was so excited about the project that he jumped the gun and told everyone about it a week early.

    “There is going to be [a movie],” Reubens said. “And I was hoping that I could make this huge announcement tonight, but it’s a week away, I think, from being announced.”

    Judd Apatow is still attached to produce the film, and while a director has been hired, Reubens couldn’t say who it was—only that it wasn’t Steven Spielberg. He also couldn't say whether any of the other original cast members would return, or which new actors would be joining the project. He did, however, reveal that filming will start in February.

    We’re all basically the luckiest boy in the world right now.

    Some fans even have their perfect director in mind, although it'll be impossible to please everyone.

    And to top things off, Reubens even stepped into the recording booth and put his twist on the Age of Ultron trailer.

    Screengrab via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube

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