Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Nickelodeon Explores Tech R&D with New Entertainment Lab

Nickelodeon has announced the launch of its new Burbank-based Entertainment Lab, which will spearhead long-range research and development efforts around new technologies for Nickelodeon and its audience! The facility will be led by the former creative director of Nickelodeon Animation Lab, Chris Young.


Nickelodeon Slime Zone VR experience

“The Entertainment Lab primarily is focused on alternative authoring pipelines and platforms, which is a fancy way of saying we've been looking at real-time rendering capabilities and using specifically game engine technology to take a long range look at what the possibilities are for reimagining CG pipelines,” says Chris Young, Senior Vice President (SVP), Entertainment Lab.

The lab will focus on identifying and experimenting with emerging technologies, and develop entertainment experiences for kids across all lines of business, by identifying and experimenting with new trends in technology and emerging platforms to create new creative capabilities, and entertainment for kids and families. Some of the areas Nickelodeon is working on include real-time rendering, virtual cinema, virtual reality, augmented and mixed reality and artificial intelligence, all of which could shape new entertainment content for the Viacom-owned kidsnet.

“It’s about looking at tools as well as the types of content that we might make for kids and how we might choose to entertain them down the line,” says Young.

That includes going to places beyond television children already are watching, like mobile, tablets and video games. The company is taking a more conservative approach to virtual reality as it relates to children, but sees big potential in mixed reality [MR] and augmented reality [AR].

“It’s important for us as a company to know as much as we can, to have the right vocabulary as it relates to creating this kind of content, and a real deep understanding of how the tool sets work,” he says.

Using a long-range strategy, the Entertainment Lab will build prototypes to test new concepts, partner on innovation with creators, shape strategy around production capabilities to fuel future content opportunities, and evolve Nick’s production capabilities with new tech discoveries.

Housed on the mezzanine level of the original building at Nickelodeon Animation Studios in Burbank, California, the lab currently has four employees in addition to Young and will grow as needed.


Chris Young, Senior Vice President (SVP), Entertainment Lab

Young will report to Matthew Evans, Nickelodeon's Executive Vice President (EVP) of Digital and New Business, as well as James Stephenson, SVP of Original Animation.

In his previous role, Young concentrated on analyzing and engineering alternative animation pipelines. Prior to his lab work, he served as a Nickelodeon Animation Studio producer in Burbank.

“We’ve rebranded Animation Lab as the Entertainment Lab so we can look across all lines of business and try to connect some of the things we’re doing not just in animation, but in live-action, theme parks and games, too,” says Young.

“We’re seeing this new wave emerge around VR and mixed reality being driven by the notion of real-time rendered content. We’ve been investing a lot of time and energy in looking at game engine technology and how we can use it to leverage what has typically been a very traditional CG pipeline.”

To this end, the Lab has been working closely with Chris Savino, creator of Nick’s hit animated series The Loud House, to develop a real-time puppet version of the show’s star, Lincoln Loud, called 'Lincoln Live'.

Using its existing relationship with Adobe, the Lab helped the computer software company build a character animator tool. “We’ve been using that to create topical, real-time conversations on social media using Lincoln as a real-time puppet character,” says Young.

In addition, the Lab recently created a robust tech demo called Nickelodeon Slime Zone. It’s a social VR experience that puts kids and their families inside a giant Nickelodeon play space where they can watch cartoons, compete in multiplayer games, create art and run around and shoot each other with virtual slime blasters.

“We shared it at scale during the opening party in Burbank for the 2017 Kids’ Choice Awards. We put groups of six people in at a time and got a tremendous response. We’ll be sharing it at conferences and in a couple of select places over the next few months. But we’re taking a thoughtful approach for how and what we want to bring to market,” says Young.

The Slime Zone arrives on the heels of Nick’s new partnership with Cra-Z-Art to market and distribute branded DIY slime kits across the US.

As it looks for other potentially sticky tech concepts, the Lab is also sharing insights with Viacom's New York-based digital research and development hub, Viacom Lab, which opened last year.

“One of the greatest things about working with the Viacom family under Bob Bakish's leadership is that he’s brought all these groups together and broken down the silos. We talk a lot with the Viacom Next group, which is part of Viacom Lab, and everyone is sharing information across divisions,” says Young.

Bakish became Viacom CEO and president in November 2016 and reestablished its Kids and Family Group as Nickelodeon Group. The division is currently putting more focus on its Nickelodeon kids cable channel and leveraging additional growth opportunities around its kids business, including recreation and hospitality.

As part of a new five-point turnaround plan announced earlier this year, Viacom plans to deepen its partnerships to drive digital revenue, bolster Viacom’s live experiences and consumer products business, and create the company's first-ever short-form content unit, which will feature new original IP (intellectual properties) and existing programming.

“Our Entertainment Lab is a way to give our artists and creators access to innovative tools to inspire new ways to tell stories for the next generation of kids,” said Cyma Zarghami, President, Nickelodeon Group. “We are working with technology partners, gaming and visual effects companies and our own creators to bring our IP to new platforms, in new formats, and faster.”

Nickelodeon are aware that VR technology is in a bit of a grey area when it comes to kids. “We want to take it slow and determine what the long term effects might be,” added Young, “we’re on that evolutionary cycle where now it is time to reach out and share some of the things we’re doing and talk about it.”

UPDATE: Below is Nickelodeon's official Press Release announcing the exciting news, via NickPress.com:

NICKELODEON LAUNCHES BRAND-NEW ENTERTAINMENT LAB, DESIGNED TO IDENTIFY AND EXPERIMENT WITH NEW AND EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES


New Nickelodeon Entertainment Lab To Fuel Production Opportunities and Content Creation


Click HERE for Art

BURBANK, Calif.–May 2, 2017–Nickelodeon, the number-one kids entertainment brand, today announced the launch of its new Burbank-based Nickelodeon Entertainment Lab, which will spearhead long-range research and development efforts around new technologies for Nick and its audience.

“Our Entertainment Lab is a way to give our artists and creators access to innovative tools to inspire new ways to tell stories for the next generation of kids,” said Cyma Zarghami, President, Nickelodeon Group. “We are working with technology partners, gaming and visual effects companies and our own creators to bring our IP to new platforms, in new formats, and faster.”

The Nickelodeon Entertainment Lab will work to develop new entertainment experiences for kids by identifying and experimenting with new trends in technology and emerging platforms to create new creative capabilities and entertainment. Some of the areas Nickelodeon is currently working on include real-time rendering, virtual cinema, virtual reality, augmented and mixed reality and artificial intelligence. The Nickelodeon Entertainment Lab will focus on building prototypes to test new ideas, collaborating on innovation with creators, and shaping strategy around production capabilities to fuel future content opportunities.

The Lab will be headed by Chris Young, Senior Vice President, Nickelodeon Entertainment Lab. Young previously served as Executive Creative Director, Nickelodeon Animation Lab, where he focused on exploring and engineering alternative animation pipelines. Prior to that role, he held the title of Producer at the Nickelodeon Animation Studio in Burbank. Young reports to Matthew Evans, Executive Vice President, Digital & New Business and James Stephenson, Senior Vice President, Original Animation.

Nickelodeon, now in its 38th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, digital, recreation, books and feature films. Nickelodeon’s U.S. television network is seen in more than 90 million households and has been the number-one-rated kids’ basic cable network for 22 consecutive years. For more information or artwork, visit http://www.nickpress.com. Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB).

###


Also, from Den of Geek US:

Nickelodeon Is Experimenting with Its Nicktoons in a Big Way

Nickelodeon introduced a new long-range project centering around emerging technologies.

Imagine a future where your kids (or adventure-seeking adult friends) will finally be able to go visit a pineapple under the sea, eat pizza with the Ninja Turtles, or create their own Nicktoon.

Nickelodeon announced its new Entertainment Lab, a venture the network hopes will turn its vast universe of Nicktoons into a virtual “metaverse,” among endless other possibilities. The lab, which will be housed in Nickelodeon’s Burbank, Calif. complex, is for long-range research and development for new technologies.

The 38-year-old network is making an investment in tech that will advance its storytelling capabilities, with the hope that these “long-range” projects will put them ahead of the curve on emerging tech like real-time rendering, virtual cinema, virtual reality, augmented and mixed reality, and artificial intelligence.

Chris Young will head up the Entertainment Lab as Senior Vice President. Young joined the network’s animation lab in 2014 and spent the last three years analyzing new, immersive technologies and learning how to best utilize them within the various creative departments at the network.

“During that period, I came with the notion that the future is rendered in real time,” Young told Den of Geek. “How could we look at things like game engine technology and use it in a way that can reimagine how we produce our traditional CG stuff with the bigger idea that we can offer all these cool things like mixed reality and virtual reality?”

In his new position, Young will work with showrunners and producers to help crystallize their knowledge on these new storytelling tools and work with them to see where opportunities might exist. When it comes to implementation, the network is playing the long game on immersive technology.

“The lab is a resource to invest the time and energy two or three years out and identify what those tools are and how can we use those tools to unlock new entertainment opportunities,” Young said.

In February, Nickelodeon Animation teased its first VR project, Slime Zone VR, in a Facebook video. The forthcoming project is a multiplayer “social VR experience” that will put users inside the Nickelodeon metaverse, allowing them to play games, create art, watch cartoons, and slime friends and foes at will. No release date has been set for Slime Zone VR.

With parents rightfully concerned about safety when it comes to VR technology, Nickelodeon is taking the cautious approach to the emerging technology.

“We’re taking conservative approach to see how things play out. We knew it was a platform that was going to be heavily invested in.”

It’s to be determined where the new Entertainment Lab will take its audience within the Nickelodeon universe, but that’s the exciting part for Young.

“It’s hard to predict the future of how things will settle out. At the core of it, we’re storytellers, we’re world builders. We create characters that people love and we’ll continue to do that. Technology reveals new opportunities and we’re going to try to figure out how best to connect those characters and those worlds to the tech,” he said.

--Ends--

Also, from Animation World Network:

Nickelodeon Launches Brand-New Entertainment Lab

Designed to identify and experiment with new and emerging technologies, mew Nickelodeon Entertainment Lab aims to fuel production opportunities and content creation.

BURBANK, CA -- Nickelodeon has announced the launch of its new Burbank-based Nickelodeon Entertainment Lab, which will spearhead long-range research and development efforts around new technologies for Nick and its audience.

“Our Entertainment Lab is a way to give our artists and creators access to innovative tools to inspire new ways to tell stories for the next generation of kids,” said Cyma Zarghami, President, Nickelodeon Group. “We are working with technology partners, gaming and visual effects companies and our own creators to bring our IP to new platforms, in new formats, and faster.”

The Nickelodeon Entertainment Lab will work to develop new entertainment experiences for kids by identifying and experimenting with new trends in technology and emerging platforms to create new creative capabilities and entertainment. Some of the areas Nickelodeon is currently working on include real-time rendering, virtual cinema, virtual reality, augmented and mixed reality and artificial intelligence. The Nickelodeon Entertainment Lab will focus on building prototypes to test new ideas, collaborating on innovation with creators, and shaping strategy around production capabilities to fuel future content opportunities.

The Lab will be headed by Chris Young, Senior Vice President, Nickelodeon Entertainment Lab. Young previously served as Executive Creative Director, Nickelodeon Animation Lab, where he focused on exploring and engineering alternative animation pipelines. Prior to that role, he held the title of Producer at the Nickelodeon Animation Studio in Burbank. Young reports to Matthew Evans, Executive Vice President, Digital & New Business and James Stephenson, Senior Vice President, Original Animation.

Source: Nickelodeon

--Ends--

Sources: Animation Magazine, Kidscreen, UploadVR, Deadline.
Follow NickALive! on Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, via RSS, on Instagram, and/or Facebook for the latest Nickelodeon Entertainment Lab News and Highlights!

No comments: