The British Film Institute is set to make hundreds of films available online with the launch of the new BFI Player next week. The online platform, which has been optimised for the web and tablets, is due to go live nationwide in the UK on October 9 and will offer content on a free and pay-per view basis.At launch the BFI Player will include seven curated collections of content spanning cult movies, archive film footage from the early twentieth century, as well as interviews and behind the scenes action from this year’s BFI London Film Festival.This will amount to “over 1,000 items, including hundreds of feature films in the launch period,” according to the BFI. Speaking at a launch event in London, BFI chair and former BBC director general Greg Dyke said the service “will fully blossom in 2014” with a second launch phase planned for early next year.“[The BBC iPlayer] transformed broadcasting. It was a public service intervention that enriched the lives of millions by bringing them content when they wanted it. The BFI plan has the potential to do the same for film, all across the UK,” said Dyke.“When we launched our five year strategy plan ‘film forever’ last year, which laid out what we’re trying to do for the next five years, our number one priority was to put audiences at the heart of anything that we did and ensure that as many people as possible had choice and access to films across the UK.”At the player launch, the BFI also announced plans for day-and-date releases for new or reissued films through the service.Filmmaker Clio Barnard’s new movie The Selfish Giant will launch on the BFI Player simultaneously with its UK theatrical release on 25th October. The BFI restoration of the 1924 film The Epic Of Everest will also launch on the BFI Player on the same day as its premiere at the BFI London Film Festival and UK cinema release on 18th October.The seven curated collections of content that will launch on the service are: BFI London Film Festival Presents; Backed by the BFI; Gothic – The Dark Heart of Film; Edwardian Britain; Sight & Sound Selects; Cult Cinema; and Inside Film.Edward Humphrey, BFI Director of Digital said that library titles would cost viewers £2.50 to watch in SD and £3.50 in HD. Shorts will be priced at around £1, while day-and-date releases will cost £10. However, the BFI stressed that approximately 60% of the content available on the site will be free.Content will be streamed using adaptive bitrate technology. The BFI is working with Ooyala, which will provide online video playback, and Capablue, which has designed the web interface of the BFI Player.“The BFI has spent a six-figure sum on this, this year, which is coming from our core budget. DCMS [Department for Culture, Media and Sport] has very kindly granted us some capital funding which arrive in 2015/16 to support this – that’s £500,000,” said Humphrey.
Paul JacksonEx-Eyeworks, BBC and ITV executive Paul Jackson has taken a consultancy role at Videojug as part of a restructure at the online content firm that sees its CEO, Tom Laidlaw, leave the business.Videojug is a how-to site covering a range of lifestyle topics from fashion to food.The company said that Jackson’s brief as consultant, content and channels, is to develop the site into a competitor to the likes of Buzzfeed and Vice.Jackson, the former Eyeworks UK, Granada America and BBC entertainment boss, said: “I think there is a huge opportunity for the business to build on its position as the original ‘how-to’ site and develop into a global entertainment platform for short-form video.“There is a growing demand from brands and agency partners for great original video content with humour and compelling stories that engages consumers and we will move rapidly to answer this need.”Gareth Mugford, commercial director, Videojug Networks, added: “It’s thrilling to have such a great mind working with Videojug Networks on behalf of our client roster of brands and agencies. There is a content battle going on in the world of online video and Paul’s expertise will allow us to offer competitive advantage that will be of huge value to our clients.”Laidlaw has exited Videojug after six years at the helm.
Telefónica-owned UK mobile operator O2 has unveiled a raft of new virtual reality experiences, including one built around the English rugby football team and one enabling music fans to explore the O2 Academy. A third experience showcasing events at The O2 will be coming soon.In what it describes as a “world first”, the mobile operator is combining real-life 360°-video with interactive CGI characters, giving gamers and rugby fans the chance to compete against the English national players.The interactive experience uses Xsense motion capture to provide in-game player movement, taking into accoutn England Rugby players’ weight, mass and average speeds to ensure their character’s movements are as realistic as possible, according to the telco.VR players are challenged to track the player’s movements, and those of the ball, and take part in virtual drills developed in partnership with England Rugby.The O2 Academy experience allows users to live through a pre-performance at an O2 Academy venue as either a music fan or a member of a band.Using an interactive and switchable storytelling technique, users can exchange between the music fan and band perspectives, experiencing what is happening both in front of and behind the stage.The experience is the first time an O2 Academy venue has given 360° ‘behind the scenes’ access, according to O2.“We believe in live, and using the latest VR technology we can showcase our live experiences to O2 customers in our stores across the country. Through a combination of world first CGI characters and unique interactive gameplay, each experience has been designed to give the user unprecedented access to O2 Academy venues, The O2 and our relationship with the England Rugby team. We’re excited to roll our new virtual reality in to O2 stores nationwide, Twickenham Stadium on match days and The O2,” said Gareth Griffiths, head of sponsorship at O2.Paul Gustard, defence coach at England Rugby said: “We really enjoyed working in partnership with O2 to develop this unique virtual reality experience. It’s the only game out there that has had input from England Rugby to create a great experience for fans. I hope the experience gives rugby fans and novices alike an insight in to the way we train and the amount of hard work that is involved in being an International rugby player.”O2 is making its VR experiences available to try in 90 O2 stores, starting yesterday.The VR experiences will be compatible with platforms including Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.