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Film + Digital Media : Innovation & Job News

86 Film + Digital Media Articles | Page: | Show All

LTU hosts game development marathon


About 30 software coders, artists and others with an interest in game development spent the weekend at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield during the second annual Game Jam on campus.

The event was part of Global Game Jam, a worldwide celebration of art and creativity in game development.

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Local filmmaker to begin Nain Rouge production


Sam Logan Khaleghi, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, today announced production will begin on a film about Detroit urban legend Nain Rouge at the end of the summer. The film will be submitted to film festivals worldwide prior to a full theatrical run of engagement through Troy-based Emagine Entertainment."

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Lawrence Tech ranked in top 50 for game design

Lawrence Technological University has earned a No. 29 ranking on The Princeton Review's just-published list saluting the top 50 undergraduate schools to study game design for 2017.

The Princeton Review (www.PrincetonReview.com) chose the schools based on a survey it conducted in 2016 of 150 institutions offering game design coursework or degrees in the United States, Canada, and some countries abroad.

The company's 40-question survey asked schools to report on everything from their academic offerings and faculty credentials to their graduates’ starting salaries and employment experience. Among criteria The Princeton Review weighed to make its selections: the school's academics, facilities, career services, and technology.

“It is an honor being ranked among the best undergraduate programs in the world,” said Marshall “Mars” Ashton, assistant professor in LTU’s College of Architecture and Design and director of the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Art program at the university. “Despite how young both the Game Art and Game Software Development programs are, we have seen an incredible amount of progress as we contribute to the field at large and the development of the Michigan game development community.”

LTU officials say the program is unusual in that it combines instruction in both art and design, and in the university’s leading computer science programs.

Said Robert Franek, the Princeton Review’s Editor in Chief: “Game design is an exciting field and programs are springing up in colleges all over the world. As we continue to help students find the best program for their needs and interests, we strongly recommend Lawrence Tech and each of the other schools that made our 2017 ranking lists. These schools have outstanding faculties and great facilities which will give students the skills and experience they need to pursue a career in this dynamic and burgeoning field.”

The Princeton Review's full report on this project at www.princetonreview.com/game-design also features a companion list of "Top 25 Graduate Schools to Study Game Design for 2017." It includes profiles of the schools with application information and links to the school sites.

For the fifth consecutive year, The Princeton Review teamed up with PC Gamer, a monthly magazine published by Future plc (www.futureplc.com) as its reporting partner on this project. PC Gamer has a feature on the list in its May issue, available on newsstands March 28. The feature has information on some of the schools' unique programs, class offerings, prominent professors, and alumni.

The Princeton Review developed its “Top Schools To Study Game Design" project in 2009 with assistance from a national advisory board that helped design the survey instrument and methodology. Board members included administrators and faculty from respected game design programs, and professionals from some of the top gaming companies.

Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. The Brookings Institution ranks Lawrence Tech fifth nationwide for boosting graduates’ earning power, PayScale lists it in the nation’s top 10 percent of universities for graduates’ salaries, and U.S. News and World Report places it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus in Southfield, Michigan, include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

The Princeton Review is a leading test preparation, tutoring, and college admission services company. Every year, it helps millions of college- and graduate school-bound students achieve their education and career goals through online and in person courses delivered by a network of more than 4,000 teachers and tutors and its more than 150 print and digital books published by Penguin Random House. The Princeton Review is headquartered in Natick, Mass., and is an operating business of IAC. For more information, visit www.princetonreview.com.

Students get tips from Hollywood director Mark Duplass for Cell Phone Film Challenge

This semester, 40 students in Oakland University’s Cinema Studies program were given the task of creating a short film. But instead of using the latest in high-tech video equipment, the students were limited to using a device not typically associated with the silver screen – a smartphone. 
“The idea was to get students to challenge themselves to create art with something that they already own,” said Courtney Brannon Donoghue, assistant professor of cinema studies.
She got the idea for the Cell Phone Film Challenge after talking to Hollywood actor, director, writer and producer Mark Duplass over social media. Duplass, who has recently starred in the TV series’ “The League,” “The Mindy Project,” and “Togetherness,” which he also directed, offered advice to students who participated in the film challenge.
“He took the time to invest in the students, and I think that meant a lot to them,” Dr. Brannon Donoghue said.
Cinema Studies Assistant Professor Adam Gould, whose students also participated in the film challenge, said of Duplass, “He is on top of the media world at this moment, and it was fantastic for him to take the time to organize this with us. It never would have happened with out him.” 
Students made the cell phone films as part of three upper-division cinema studies classes: Indie Cinema, Form and Meaning in Digital Film Production, and Experimental and Avant-Garde Film.
A total of 21 films were produced, screened and posted online, Dr. Brannon Donoghue said. They spanned numerous genres, including comedy, drama and horror.
Senior cinema studies major Amber Stankoff created a film called “One Up,” which is about two friends who try to one-up each other with outlandish anecdotes. Although the filmmaking process came with its share of challenges, such as lower audio and visual quality, Stankoff discovered several advantages to using a smartphone.
“We were a lot more free to move around and move the camera, whereas with a professional camera we would have needed a dolly or slider,” she said. “We used a selfie-stick to stabilize the shots with camera movement.”
Zakary Hallett encountered similar challenges while making his film, titled “dave.,” which chronicles the quirky interactions between a man and his eccentric roommate.
While Hallett dealt with the limitations of using just a smartphone to make a film, he said the experience provided a lesson in the art of storytelling.
“It forced me and all of my classmates to really focus on the story we wanted to tell, he explained. “Without advanced filmmaking techniques that might normally distract viewers away from otherwise dull moments, the story had to be creative and unique.”
Hallett, who also acted in his film, said that getting advice from a Hollywood star gave him “an extra boost of confidence both in front of and behind the camera.”
He added, “If there's one thing I have taken away from this challenge, it's that if you want to make a film in 2016, you have no excuse. As long as you have a great idea and a cell phone in your pocket, you can make something worth watching.”
For more on OU’s Cinema Studies program, visit the website or Facebook page.

"Transformers 5" lands in Detroit; big-budget film latest high-profile project attracted to Michigan

Michael Bay’s “Transformers 5,” the latest in the hit series of films from Paramount Pictures and Hasbro, and among the top box-office grossing franchises of all-time, will be filmed in Detroit this summer. Official confirmation comes as the result of modifying incentives from other approved Paramount Pictures projects into a single amended agreement for “Transformers 5.”
Restructuring the incentive agreements with Paramount saves the state $21 million, and speeds up the production of the next installment of one of next summer’s most-anticipated films.

Directed by Bay, “Transformers 5” will star Mark Wahlberg, reprising his role of Cade Yeager. In addition to Michigan, the movie will film in locations around the world.

“Having one of the highest-profile film franchises created in Michigan is a major economic boost and a testament to the talent of the state’s production community,” said Jenell Leonard, commissioner of the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office.

“The production and economic investment is now happening sooner rather than later, and obviously, the project is a certainty rather than merely a possibility,” she said.

The production anticipates an in-state spend of $80 million and projects making 850 cast and crew hires, 450 of which will be Michigan residents equating to 228 full-time positions. The production also expects to hire 700 extras.

The amended agreement between the film office and Paramount reallocates dedicated funds and meets all criteria for a qualified production in terms of expenditures and personnel hired in Michigan.

While in July the state legislature eliminated the film office incentive program which prohibits the film office from entering into new agreements, agreements with production companies approved before the abolishment of the program must be honored. Because approved Paramount projects had yet to begin production and receive the incentives, state statute allows for funds to be reallocated for qualified productions.

“Michigan has been so welcoming of Michael Bay and the ‘Transformers’ movies over the years and we are thrilled to be returning for this next incredible installment,” said Lee Rosenthal, president of Physical Production at Paramount Pictures.

Paramount had multiple preapproved applications with the Film Office, representing a total of approximately $42 million in eligible incentives. “Transformers 5” takes half the incentives already allocated for Paramount projects. The remaining $21 million will be returned to the state general fund at the end of the fiscal year.
The announcement of “Transformers 5” production comes a month after Viacom’s Comedy Central announced its “Detroiters” series would be filmed in Detroit beginning this summer. The television series did not receive an incentive. Rather, city of Detroit and film office representatives worked together to accommodate crews and budget for the television production.

South Lyon library offers social media marketing classes


The Salem-South Lyon District Library is hosting a series of free program focused on online marketing.
Register at www.webworldadvantage.com/seminars/upcoming-seminars or ssldl.evanced.info/signup/EventCalendar.aspx.

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Marketing firm heading to Southfield, adding 50 jobs


Digital marketing firm, HelloWorld, is moving its headquarters from Pleasant Ridge to Southfield in October -- and plans to hire about 50 new workers.

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Troy-based iDashboards hires 30 on heels of global expansion

Troy-based tech firm iDashboards is enjoying rapid growth as the firm's global expansion gains traction.

IDashboards creates business intelligence dashboard software with real-time results. The interactive computer dashboards for businesses analyze, track, and organize data into easily useable parts that help streamline a company and enable it to grow faster.
The 12-year-old firm spent its first decade establishing its product in North America. In recent years, it has expanded internationally, adding customers in dozens of countries and a recently opening an office in Germany. iDashboards is planning to open another office in the United Kingdom later this year.

"It's a big world out there," says Shadan Malik, president & CEO of iDashboards. "We have software that is pretty unique. We have customers in 40 countries. That speaks for itself."

IDashboards' revenue grew 18 percent last year, and the company is aiming to spike it by as much as 50 percent this year. That's possible because of its diversified customer base and its efforts to grow globally have gone quite well so far this year.

iDashboards has hired 30 people over the last year, expanding its staff to 90 employees and three interns. It is also looking to hire four more people.

"We just hired five people yesterday," Malik says.

Source: Shadan Malik, president & CEO of iDashboards
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Secret pickle recipe inspires Michigan-made movie, qualifies for $500K incentive


A film created by two former Detroit advertising executives that will be produced by a pair of West Bloomfield natives has qualified for a tax incentive of nearly $500,000 from the Michigan Film Office.

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Royal Oak's Vectorform, DTE Energy launch energy saving app


Vectorform, a design and technology firm in downtown Royal Oak, and DTE Energy in Detroit, created and launched a mobile platform that allows residential customers to reduce energy consumption and increase savings. Today’s announcement was made at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

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App firm jacapps adds voice-recognition technology to arsenal

Bingham Farm-based jacapps recently signed a deal to partner XAPPmedia to bring new voice recognition technology to its line of mobile apps.

Radio stations have been leveraging jacapps mobile apps for years, giving the company enough credibility to expand its client base into other industries, such as automotive. XAPPmedia provides an interactive audio advertising service, utilizing voice recognition technology. That way people listening to an ad on the radio can respond to a cue on the advertisement to make an order with just their voice. No buttons needed.

"We think this is a huge leap forward," says Bob Kernen, COO of jacapps. "You can see how it can be a big driver with ads."

The 6-year-old company also recently launched a new product platform that allows it to streamline the creation of its apps.

"It allows us to work in a much more efficient way," Kernen says. "We don't need to build each app from scratch. We can configure them to our clients needs."

Which has allowed the company to grow its revenue by 20 percent over the last year. That in turn has prompted jacapps to hire two people (software developers), rounding its staff out to 10 employees and an intern.

"We have had really strong revenue growth over the last few years," Kernen says.

Source: Bob Kernen, COO of jacapps
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Clicktivated Video turns watching videos into revenue events

Chris Roebuck started a company out of frustration while trying to relax. The founder & CEO of Clicktivated Video wanted more when he was watching a video on a small, mobile screen, so his Metro Detroit-based company is tackling it.

"There was no way of satisfying the urge to dive deeper into the online video while you’re watching it," Roebuck says.

Clicktivated Video, which has offices in Birmingham and downtown Detroit, has developed a software platform that allows viewers to click on items in a video. The click creates a small bookmark that allows the viewer to make an online purchase or find out more information on it. The company's team of six people is still working on enhancing the technology.

The 1-year-old startup launched its service midway through las year. It has signed on a couple of mid-sized players in video, such as the Home Shopping Networking.

"We are starting to work with a few major networks," Roebuck says.

Source: Chris Roebuck, founder & CEO of Clicktivated Video and Ben Hatala, director of operations for Clicktivated Video
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Carbon Media Group adds 15 jobs, signs bull riding partnership

Carbon Media Group has inked a new partnership with the Professional Bull Riders, a deal that the online media startup hopes will bring its viewership together.

The Bingham Farms-based company helps coordinate advertising and content creation for more than 600 websites for fans of the outdoors, agriculture and action sports/events/activities. It has an extensive network of outdoor-related YouTube channels and its own CarbonTV outlet for online videos about the outdoors. The startup’s two primary audiences consist of fans of outdoors and rural activities along with fans of action sports like hunting, fishing, and skying.

"The Professional Bull Riders is a very elegant bridge between the two types of content we have," says Hyaat Chaudhry, CEO of Carbon Media Group.

YouTube made the introduction between the two organizations because Carbon Media Group is the second largest global sports network on YouTube. The Professional Bull Riders, which has roughly 20 million fans, was in the process of figuring out how best to develop its digital audience.

Carbon Media Group is on track to grow 35 percent in 2014, and Chaudhry expects to do that again next year. "That's roughly on track with our annual growth rate," he says.

The 7-year-old company has hired 15 people over the last year, including professionals in design, sales, account management, and executive leadership. It now has a staff of 62 employees and plans to bring on two interns this summer. It is looking to hire five people now, including staff accountants and marketers.

"We're always looking for good digital media sales people," Chaudhry says.

Source: Hyaat Chaudhry, CEO of Carbon Media Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Brogan & Partners adds 5 jobs in downtown Birmingham

New jobs and promotions have been cropping up at Brogan & Partners this year.

The advertising and digital marketing agency recently promoted three account managers (Kristin Morris, Katie Rehrauer and Morgan Eberle) to account directors. It has also hired five people over the last year, including another account director. The company currently employs 42 people, including 27 employees at its downtown Birmingham headquarters.

"We're hoping to get a really good intern that can become a permanent position," says Ellyn Davidson, managing partner of Brogan & Partners.

The 30-year-old firm has enjoyed 12-percent revenue growth over the last year. That makes for its best year since 2008. It’s also looking to increase revenue by 20 percent in 2014. The firm has more work with existing clients like HoneyBaked Ham and has attracted new clients, like ComForcare, Frankenmuth Insurance, and Michigan First Credit Union.

Brogan & Partners hopes to turn each of those new clients into a long-term business relationship. Davidson is optimistic that will happen thanks to the company’s track record of staying ahead of what’s coming up in the digital marketing world.

"We're heavily invested in research in what's new in marketing and what's next," Davidson says. "We stay on top of how communications are changing."

Source: Ellyn Davidson, managing partner of Brogan & Partners
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

State Champs Sports Network adds 12 new hires

State Champs Sports Network has come a long way in its first 10 years.

The Southfield-based company got its start when Lou Bitonti was working at Chrysler managing the Jeep brand. Shortly after he left he started the high-school sports-centric broadcast company as a way to highlight Michigan’s emerging highlights.

"I wanted a show that focuses on all of the sports," Bitonti says. "The kid that runs cross country or does swimming does as much as the kids that play football or basketball."

State Champs Sports Network broadcasts local sports and feature TV shows, series, programming, and radio shows. Among its offerings are the State Champs! High School Sports Show, a weekly, half-hour TV program providing a comprehensive look at the athletic events, lives and accomplishments of Michigan’s high school athletes.

Starting last month, State Champs Sports Network launched a radio program, called High School Football Report, that airs weekly on CBS Detroit’s WXYT-AM 1270 from 9 to 11 a.m. each Saturday. The company also expanded its audience when its four-time Emmy-award-winning High School Sports Show! began airing on FOX Sports Detroit each Sunday from 9 to 9:30 a.m. It is also debuting a new television program called Extra Point Football Show! on WXYZ-TV Channel 7. It will air weekly each Sunday during the area’s high school football season for 10 weeks.

"We just started growing and we have a lot of shows," Bitonti says.

All of this new programing has prompted a hiring spree at State Champs Sports Network. The company has hired a dozen people over the last year. It now has 14 full-time employees and another 15-20 independent contractors.

"We're spreading the word out there," Bitonti says. "We're trying to keep this on a positive note. There are a lot of positive things happening in Michigan."

Source: Lou Bitonti, founder of State Champs Sports Network
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
86 Film + Digital Media Articles | Page: | Show All
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