When Netflix Is Attacked at Cannes, Will Smith Steps Up

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Two of the films in competition at this year’s prestigious Cannes Film Festival were produced by and for Netflix. It may be a watershed moment for films, given that the two movies — Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories — were produced for a TV streaming service, and not for a movie theater. At the festival’s opening press conference on May 17, renowned Spanish filmmaker and Palme d’Or prize juror Pedro Almodovar read a pre-written statement that said in part, “I personally do not conceive, not only the Palme d’Or, any other prize being given to a film and not being able to see this film on a big screen.”


Pedro Almodovar (Laurent Emmanuel)

When Will Smith raised his voice in defense of Netflix a while later, a conversation began that reflects a seismic shift — and for some, a sobering one — in the film industry. Almodovar and Smith were each no doubt reflecting the views of many other people.

two guys

Almodovar and Smith (Anne-Chirstine Poujoulat)

Prior to Almodovar’s statement, the mood at the press conference had been completely different. Though Cannes is always the place to see movie stars, few these days have the sheer wattage and charm of Will Smith, who had the room wrapped in the palm of his hand. “West Philadelphia is a long way from Cannes,” the star said, noting that, “I was probably 14 years old the last time I watched three movies in one day. Three movies a day is a lot!” Such is the lot of the Cannes festival juror. He also joked that he’d be trying to set a record for most outfits worn at the festival, 32, to top last year’s juror Kirsten Dunst’s 28.


Smith and crowd crush (Loic Venance)

Almodovar claimed his stance doesn’t come from being anti-technology, saying, “All this doesn’t mean I’m not open to or don’t celebrate the new technologies. I do.” And yet another statement of his suggests otherwise. “I’ll be fighting for one thing that I’m afraid the new generation is not aware of. It’s the capacity of the hypnosis of the large screen for the viewer,” the filmmaker says. “The size [of the screen] should not be smaller than the chair on which you’re sitting. It should not be part of your everyday setting. You must feel small and humble in front of the image that’s here.” Has he not seen the gargantuan TV screens on which people watch TV these days?…

What Is Interactive Video? Why Now? And How To Get started?

Are you creating videos as part of your marketing strategy?

A recent study from Vidyard found that businesses are now creating an average of 18 videos per month. So most likely your are. Especially, if you’re also aware of Cisco’s recent prediction that 84% of Internet traffic will be video by next year. With all this exciting video action, there is one thing I can tell you with almost complete certainty: people are not watching your videos. I may be wrong. You may be Wes Anderson (in which case: Hi Wes! No need for you to keep reading, but please do drop me a line). But if you’re like most video producers, your creations have these two things in common:

  • They are meant to promote a product or service
  • Their drop-off curve is steeper than the North Face of the Matterhorn (one of the highest summits in the Alps and Europe.)

That’s the challenge of the day: faced with an abundance of content, and accustomed to multitasking, viewers will not stick around for your 5-minute presentation of whatever it is you’re selling.

A typical retention curve for a video on Facebook. Most of the users drop off after the very first seconds of the video.

I’ll argue in this article that what is needed is redefining the meaning of interactive video. I’ll also argue that interactive video has been done wrong in most if not all the previous attempts. Then I’ll demonstrate how interactive video can be effectively executed. Hopefully, when we get there, you’ll understand why marketers should pay more attention to interactive video in their campaigns.

What is interactive video?

A truely interactive video offers users a non-linear navigation experience and interactive layer of additional digital resources for users to learn more.”

Interactive video is a concept that has been floated around, in many incarnations, for a very long time. Google it: there are some 45 million results right now. Nor is it a concept that originated on-line: I remember seeing a screening, at the Neuchatel International Film Festival, of Mr. Sardonicus, a 1961 movie whose projection was interrupted a couple of minutes before the end so that the audience may vote on which ending they preferred, good or bad — limited interactivity, yes, but interactivity nonetheless.

The elephant in the room is really the “why”. Why would a film need to be interactive? After all, the main medium we think about when we think about film is motion pictures. While there have been attempts to make these films interactive, such as the Mr. Sardonicus example above, most film lovers would agree that such gimmicks could hardly contribute to the purity of a classic cinematic experience.

To answer this question, let’s take a step back and consider what is the definition…

How ‘Alien: Covenant’ Does What the Original Refused To

Part of what made the first two films great was not knowing exactly what was going on.
Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

[Warning: Spoilers ahead for Alien: Covenant]

Alien is widely seen — for good reason — as one of the great science-fiction films of all time, as well as one of the great horror films. Nearly 40 years later, Ridley Scott has directed the latest entry in the franchise, Alien: Covenant. So, with Covenant in theaters, it’s worth discussing one of many reasons why the original Alien succeeds, because it’s a big reason why (for me at least) Covenant doesn’t: it embraces the mystery of the situation instead of explaining everything.

Both the 2012 film Prometheus and Alien: Covenant try to answer the questions that the first Alien and James Cameron’s 1986 sequel Aliens steadfastly avoided. Where did the Xenomorphs come from? What is that mysterious ship that Ripley and the crew of the Nostromo explore? Where did those eggs come from if the planet is deserted? And how is it possible for these bloodthirsty aliens to evolve so fast? By taking place before the events of the 1979 film, Scott’s pair of Alien-adjacent films set out to resolve these burning questions without realizing that they don’t need to be answered.

Alien and Aliens are incredible examples of how science fiction, horror, and action can all blend together in a genuinely thrilling combination. Somehow, they’ve both stood the test of time without telling audiences that the Xenomorphs were created by a self-aware robot who so badly wants to create something that he chooses to create a “perfect” killing machine. These films don’t dispense with the revelation that the mysterious spacecraft from Alien belonged to the Engineers, humanoid aliens who are responsible for both creating humanity and intending to destroy it at a later date. There’s a clear reason why the original films don’t answer these questions: they don’t have to.

Covenant attempts to tie some of these strands together: we find out that once Michael Fassbender’s sociopathic…

Flappers Didn’t Really Wear Fringed Dresses

The latest movie version of The Great Gatsby came out, fashion historians set us straight about flapper fashions: they did not show off one’s curves the way the movie costumes did. It turns out that the most iconic signifier of a flapper costume is also false: the fringe. It wasn’t common at all in the Roaring Twenties. They didn’t have the lightweight, synthetic fabrics that gave us fringe that swirled when dancing. So why do we always…

Top 10 Travel Destinations for Movie Geeks

There’s something quite magical about seeing filming locations with your very own eyes. The celebrities and cameras may have gone, but a story’s physical setting stays just where it is. You can consider it as a star in its own right.

Here are 10 travel destinations that should absolutely be on every film lover’s bucket list:

New Zealand

Starred in: The Lord of the Rings trilogy (1999–2001)

“A rite of passage” is how a visit to New Zealand is described in this interactive map of the world’s top filming locations.One of the most beautiful places on the planet, New Zealand is the Lord of the Rings’ main filming location. The trilogy made full use of the location’s gorgeous natural landscapes and rolling green hills which any fan can recognize.

London, UK

Starred in: Jason Bourne (2016)

The latest adventure of the titular spy-on-the-run brought plenty of white-knuckle, high-stakes thrills to the streets of the English capital. Eagle-eyed fans will quickly recognize the Woolwich Arsenal train station and its surroundings. These are the areas that were transformed into Athens in the film. They also wouldn’t miss the areas around Paddington Station and Paddington Basin, where Jason Bourne made a particularly tense phone call.

New York City, US

Starred in: Ghostbusters (1984)

We could have gone with any of the countless films shot in the Big Apple, but the original Ghostbusters is the one that truly captured New York City in its ’80s-glory heyday. Streets, plazas, skyscrapers, bridges- you name it.

Looking around as you walk through the city will instantly open up a floodgate of pure nostalgia and Bill Murray hero-worship. There are even guided tours available to match the location to the scene!

Toronto, Canada

Starred in: Suicide Squad (2016)

Toronto has ‘stood in’ for many other cities in movies, but Suicide Squad’s Midway City may be its best fictional incarnation yet. Visitors can check out the spots where some of the film’s most iconic scenes happened. Just by walking along Downtown Toronto’s main thoroughfares, you can check out Yonge Street, Front Street West and Bay Street.

Visitors can check out the spots where some of the film’s most iconic scenes happened…

Bong Joon Ho Defends Netflix in Cannes: “They Gave Me Total Freedom”

The 'Okja' director was diplomatic in addressing the various controversies surrounding the streaming giant, while Tilda Swinton said
Bong Joon Ho

Following a rocky rollout but mostly positive reception to his film Okja during its first press screening in Cannes, South Korean filmmaking phenomenon Bong Joon Ho shrugged off the controversy that has swirled around the movie since the 70th edition of the iconic French film festival began on Wednesday.

He said he enjoyed working with Netflix and was happy for jury president Pedro Almodovar to see his movie despite his critical stance on Netflix.

At the start of Okja‘s debut screening on Friday, the movie was temporarily misframed on the big screen, leading to boos and jeers from the assembled international press corps. Eventually the screening was briefly stopped so that the problem could be fixed and the movie restarted. Cannes organizers later issued a statement taking responsibility for the incident and apologizing to the filmmakers.

The snafu followed some heat for Okja during the Cannes jury press conference earlier in the week. This year’s jury chair, Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar, read a prepared statement that suggested he might be preemptively excluding the film from consideration for the Palme d’Or, due to Netflix’s involvement and the streaming giant’s plans to release the movie online in most markets.

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“I personally don’t perceive the Palme d’Or [should be] given to a film that is then not seen on the big screen,” he said. “All this doesn’t mean that I am not open or [don’t] celebrate new technologies and opportunities, but…

Why Wonder Woman Might Be Even Bigger than You Thought

Few films have been built up with the same kind of breathless anticipation and anxiety as Wonder Woman. Ever since the explosion of blockbuster comic-book movies—since before then, even—fans have been waiting for a live-action adaptation of the Amazonian Diana Prince and her lasso of truth. Then they waited a little bit more. And more. But now, the superhero’s journey is nearly here—set to hit theaters on June 2, with actress Gal Gadot playing the lead. On Thursday night, critics who have already seen Wonder Woman were finally allowed to share their initial reaction to the film—and it appears DC has a wondrous hit on its hands.

Kate Erbland of Indiewire said the film has “humor and heart,” and that Gadot and co-star Chris Pine are “charming as hell.”

Peter Sciretta of /Film said it is “funnier, more action packed than you’re probably expecting.”

Critic Courtney Howard found it “absolutely empowering.”

The list goes on. Behold, even more 140-character praise of the film:

Prior to these initial reactions, there has been no shortage of speculation about the film. Theories circulating online…

How to Dim Your Hue Lights When Watching Movies in Plex

Why manually dim the lights during movie time when your media server can do it for you? With a little tweaking, you can set Plex Media Server to automatically adjust your Hue smart bulbs with custom lighting schemes for movie time, intermission, and the end of the film.

We’re pretty big media center fans here at How-To Geek, and we’re passionate about good lighting, especially during movies—you are watching TV with a bias light, right? So when we found out that we could tie our Plex Media Server experience together with our Hue smart bulb system, we set the system up the very same day, and we think you should too. After all, if you want to capture that perfect movies-at-home-experience you need more than just super cool automatic trailers, you need good lighting too.

With Plex and Hue linked together, you can enjoy lighting integration that includes: dimming the lights (or shutting them off altogether) when your movie or TV show starts, dimmed lights when you pause the movie (so you can find your way to the bathroom or to get a snack), and a post-movie lights-up function to brighten the place back up. Even better yet, you can tweak the whole thing to only kick in if it is after dark (so your smart bulbs aren’t flicking on and off in the middle of the day when people watch TV).

Sounds pretty great, yeah? If you’re already using Hue bulbs in the same room as a Plex client, adding this feature is a no-brainer. Let’s look at how to prepare, installing the plugin, and configuring it.

Step One: Prepare Your Network

There are three things you want to do in advance that will make the entire setup process so much easier: assigning a static IP to your Hue Hub, checking the name of your Plex client, and writing down what you want to happen with your lighting scheme while before, during, and after you start a movie.

Give Your Hue Hub a Static IP

Even if you don’t routinely use static IP addresses on your home network, this is a time you have to. Later in the tutorial, we’re going to tell the plugin where to find the Hue bridge—and if that Hue bridge gets a new address every time you reboot the router, you’ll be stuck updating that address in the plugin settings. To avoid that (very easily avoided) headache, you need to assign a static address to the bridge.

How you assign a static IP address varies slightly from router to router, but before proceeding you need to give your Hue bridge a permanent address—you’ll find the bridge listed in your router’s assignment list as “Hue-Bridge”. If you’ve never set a static IP address assignment on your router before, check the manual for additional assistance and assign an address outside your router’s DHCP assignment pool to the bridge.

Check the Name of Your Plex Client

In addition to telling the plugin where to find the Hue bridge, we also need to tell it which Plex clients it should respond to. Take a moment to look in the settings menus of every Plex client you intend to pair with the Hue lights (e.g. if you have a Raspberry Pi running RasPlex in your living room and bedroom, and both rooms have Hue lights, you’ll want to check both of those clients).

Unless you’ve changed the name within the client application itself, the name is usually the hostname of the device it is on (the Plex client on my home office computer is identified as J-Office, for example). Write the device name down, we’ll need it in a moment.

Plan Your Lighting Scheme

What lights do you have in the media room and what would you like them to do? Do you want all the lights to dim? All of them to turn off? Some of them to turn off and some of them to dim? The bias light behind the TV to turn on and set itself to a nice crisp white color temperature?

What about when you pause or stop the media? Write down what you want to happen now, so when we get to the giant everything-in-one-menu configuration page for the plugin, you can…well, plug in all your choices in one swoop.

Step Two: Install the HelloHue Plugin

Prep work behind us, it’s time to install the plugin. If you’ve never installed a Plex plugin before, don’t worry—the process is pretty straightforward. First things first, visit the GitHub page for the HelloHue plugin and click the green download button to grab a copy.

Save the resulting .zip file to your computer and open it. Inside you’ll find a folder labeled “HelloHue.bundle-master”. Extract that folder to the plugins directory of your Plex Media Server. The location of the plugin directory varies by operating system:

  • Windows: %LOCALAPPDATA%\Plex Media Server\Plug-ins\
  • macOS: ~/Library/Application Support/Plex Media Server/Plug-ins
  • Linux: $PLEX_HOME/Library/Application Support/Plex Media Server/Plug-ins

Once you have copied the bundle, rename it to “HelloHue.bundle” by removing the “-master” suffix. Then restart your Plex Media Server.

After the server has restarted, head over to Plex’s web interface. Look in the left-hand sidebar for the “Channels” entry seen below and click on it.

Even though the Hue control app isn’t a channel in the traditional sense (like the other media entries you see here, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon), the Channel system is a handy thing for hobby programmers to hijack because it’s got a nice interface we can use to adjust the plugin settings.

There are two ways to access the HelloHue plugin. You can click…

Google Is Surreptitiously Making Amazing Movies From People’s Cat Photos

If you use Google Photos, you’ve probably experienced the app’s “assistant” feature taking the liberty of creating suggested collages, stories or mini-movies out of your pictures.

If you’re like most people, you usually ignore these suggestions.

If you’re a cat lover, however, you may be getting a suggestion soon that you definitely won’t want to ignore. That’s because Google may be making you a “Meow Movie.”

“I got a notification on my phone last night,” writer Courtney Gillette told HuffPost in an email. “It was from my Google Photos app, and it said, ‘Your Meow Movie is ready.’” The notification included a happy cat face emoji, she said.

A “Meow Movie” is, well, what you might expect. And the soundtrack is pretty top-notch, so turn up the volume.

Gillette was psyched. “Who doesn’t like an excuse to…

Google Is Surreptitiously Making Amazing Movies From People’s Cat Photos

If you use Google Photos, you’ve probably experienced the app’s “assistant” feature taking the liberty of creating suggested collages, stories or mini-movies out of your pictures.

If you’re like most people, you usually ignore these suggestions.

If you’re a cat lover, however, you may be getting a suggestion soon that you definitely won’t want to ignore. That’s because Google may be making you a “Meow Movie.”

“I got a notification on my phone last night,” writer Courtney Gillette told HuffPost in an email. “It was from my Google Photos app, and it said, ‘Your Meow Movie is ready.’” The notification included a happy cat face emoji, she said.

A “Meow Movie” is, well, what you might expect. And the soundtrack is pretty top-notch, so turn up the…