iPhone

Digital Influencers and the dollars that follow them

Sunny Dhillon Contributor Sunny Dhillon is a partner at Signia Venture Partners. More posts by this contributor Security tokens will be coming soon to an exchange near you Amazon’s next conquest will be apparel Animated characters are as old as human storytelling itself, dating back thousands of years to cave drawings that depict animals in…


Animated characters are as old as human storytelling itself, dating back thousands of years to cave drawings that depict animals in motion. It was really in the last century, however — a period bookended by the first animated short film in 1908 and Pixar’s success with computer animation with Toy Story from 1995 onward — that animation leapt forward. Fundamentally, this period of great innovation sought to make it easier to create an animated story for an audience to passively consume in a curated medium, such as a feature-length film.

Our current century could be set for even greater advances in the art and science of bringing characters to life. Digital influencers — virtual or animated humans that live natively on social media — will be central to that undertaking. Digital influencers don’t merely represent the penetration of cartoon characters into yet another medium, much as they sprang from newspaper strips to TV and the multiplex. Rather, digital humans on social media represent the first instance in which fictional entities act in the same plane of communication as you and I — regular people — do. Imagine if stories about Mickey Mouse were told over a telephone or in personalized letters to fans. That’s the kind of jump we’re talking about.

Social media is a new storytelling medium, much as film was a century ago. As with film then, we have yet to transmit virtual characters to this new medium in a sticky way.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t digital characters living their lives on social channels right now. The pioneers have arrived: Lil’ Miquela, Astro, Bermuda and Shudu are prominent examples. But they are still only notable for their novelty, not yet their ubiquity. They represent the output of old animation techniques applied to a new medium. This TechCrunch article did a great job describing the current digital influencer landscape.

More investors are betting on virtual influencers like Lil Miquela

So why haven’t animated characters taken off on social media platforms? It’s largely an issue of scale — it’s expensive and time-consuming to create animated characters and to depict their adventures. One 2017 estimate stated that a 60 to 90-second animation took about 6 weeks to create. An episode of animated TV takes between 1–3 months to produce, typically with large teams in South Korea doing much of the animation legwork. That pace simply doesn’t work in a medium that calls for new original content multiple times a day.

Yet the technical piece of the puzzle is falling into place, which is primarily what I want to talk about today. Traditionally, virtual characters were created by a team of experts — not scalable — in the following way:

  • Create a 3D model
  • Texture the model and add additional materials
  • Rig the 3D model skeleton
  • Animate the 3D model
  • Introduce character into desired scene

Today, there are generally three types of virtual avatar: realistic high-resolution CGI avatars, stylized CGI avatars and manipulated video ava

Read More

Be the first to write a comment.

Leave a Reply

iPhone

Daily Crunch: Cloudflare is going public

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here. 1. Cloudflare files for initial public offering The web infrastructure company has recently found itself at the center of political debates around…


The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Cloudflare files for initial public offering

The web infrastructure company has recently found itself at the center of political debates around some of its customers, including social media networks like 8chan and racist media companies like the Daily Stormer. In fact, the company went so far as to cite 8chan as a risk factor in its public offering documents.

Even so, the company will likely be worth billions when it starts trading on the market. And we have to point out that Cloudflareactually made its debut on TechCrunch’s Battlefield stage back in 2010.

2. Apple is suing Corellium

Corellium allows customers to create and interact with

Read More

Continue Reading
iPhone

Facebook collected device data on 187,000 users using banned snooping app

Facebook obtained personal and sensitive device data on about 187,000 users of its now-defunct Research app, which Apple banned earlier this year after the app violated its rules. The social media giant said in a letter to Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s office — which TechCrunch obtained — that it collected data on 31,000 users in the…


Facebookobtained personal and sensitive device data on about 187,000 users of its now-defunct Research app, which Apple banned earlier this year after the app violated its rules.

The social media giant said in a letter to Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s office — which TechCrunch obtained — that it collected data on 31,000 users in the U.S., including 4,300 teenagers. The rest of the collected data came from users in India.

Earlier this year, a TechCrunch investigation found both Facebook and Google were abusing their Apple-issued enterprise developer certificates, designed to only allow employees to run iPhone and iPad apps used only inside the company. The investigation found the companies were building and providing apps for consumers outside Apple’s App Store, in violation of Apple’s rules. The apps paid users in return for collecting data on how participants used their devices and to understand app habits by gaining access to all of the network data in and out of their device.

Apple banned the apps by revoking Facebook’s enterprise developer certificate — and later Google’s enterprise certificate. In doing so, the revocation knocked offline both companies’ fleet of internal iPhone or iPad apps that relied on the same certificates.

But in response to lawmakers’ questions, Apple said it didn’t know how many devices installed Facebook’s rule-violating app.

“We know that the provisioning profile for the Facebook Research app was created on April 19, 2017, but this does not necessarily correlate to the date that Facebook distributed the provisioning profile to end users,” said Timothy Powderly, Apple’s director of federal affairs, in his letter.

Facebook said the app dated back to 2016.

A portion of Apple’s letter to lawmakers. (Image: TechCrunch)

TechCrunch also obtained the letters sent by Apple and Google to lawmakers in early March, but were never made public.

These “research” apps relied on willing participants to download the a

Read More

Continue Reading
iPhone

Vignette is a handy new app that keeps your iOS contact photos up to date

If there’s a special place in your heart for single-purpose utilities that solve a nagging problem, then you’re going to want to skip your daily Starbucks coffee and instead buy yourself a copy of the new iOS contacts utility Vignette. The new app is focused on doing one thing well: finding photos for your contacts…


If there’s a special place in your heart for single-purpose utilities that solve a nagging problem, then you’re going to want to skip your daily Starbucks coffee and instead buy yourself a copy of the new iOS contacts utility Vignette. The new app is focused on doing one thing well: finding photos for your contacts by scouring social media profiles and updating them.

Many people don’t bother to add a photo when entering in an iOS contact for the first time — it’s often an afterthought at best. And because the iOS Contacts app directs you to your own photo library to find an image when editing a contact, adding a photo tends to be something people only do for close friends and family. (After all, most people don’t carry photos of co-workers, clients or business colleagues on their iPhone.)

But that means when you use Apple’s Phone app or iMessage and others, you see gray boxes with the person’s initials instead of a colorful picture.

It’s a minor grievance, sure, but one that can impact people with wide networks — like those who interact with a range of clients or customers as part of their job, or remot

Read More

Continue Reading
iPhone

Week-in-Review: Apple has a Supreme headache and Bitcoin bites back – TechCrunch

For all of the swirling conversations of tech regulation that have continues the past several years, few of those waxing poetic on the topic likely assumed that Apple would be the first tech giant to capture the government’s ire, but a Supreme Court ruling this week cleared the way for an anti-trust reckoning for Apple’s…


For all of the swirling conversations of tech regulation that have continues the past several years, few of those waxing poetic on the topic likely assumed that Apple would be the first tech giant to capture the government’s ire, but a Supreme Court ruling this week cleared the way for an anti-trust reckoning for Apple’s walled garden App Store.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against Apple on Monday, determining that a group of iPhone users will be allowed to bring an antitrust lawsuit against the tech giant. The group is alleging that Apple’s 30 percent cut in the App Store passes on an unfair cost to users that have no other options to get the apps onto their phone.

The ruling is decidedly not great for Apple, which has long-enjoyed a monopoly on app sales on its devices, with, to be fair, some very clear benefits for users along the way. If Apple were forced to allow other stores on its platform or significantly shape how it monetized app sales, this could have pretty significant effects on how platforms like iOS operate.

Shoot me tips or feedback
on Twitter @lucasmtny or email
[email protected]

While this ruling won’t impact Apple in the near-term obviously, it could have some massive effects if and when other lawsuits in this vein pop up against Apple, especially given the company’s renewed reliance on software services as its iPhone sales slow.

Trends of the week

Here are a few big news items from big companies, with green

Read More

Continue Reading