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Steven Soderbergh’s new HBO show lets you go way deeper with murder mystery app

Charmaine Blake

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Steven Soderbergh’s Mosaic premieres Jan. 22 on HBO, but the entire story is already out there for public consumption. Mosaic was initially launched in November 2017 as an interactive storytelling app; Users choose a character and follow their journey to piece together the mysterious murder of Olivia Lake (Sharon Stone).

Soderbergh and writer Ed Solomon have worked on Mosaic for nearly four years. Soderbergh was invigorated to push current models of storytelling and to explore a show with a “branching narrative” (they detest the phrase “choose your own adventure”) for viewers to explore.

“I’ve never had two versions of the same thing out at the same time, it’s really interesting for me,” Solomon told Mashable. “To me they’re sort of like fraternal twins that were – they have the same genetic material and the same incubation, but they come out of the womb as entirely different humans…so they’re told as stories they’re told in entirely different ways.”

The HBO version is not a recut of footage from the app, but actually a full shot-by-shot rebuild. Solomon suggests watching that first for wary viewers, but to explore Mosaic further in app form.

 

“If you’re a story geek like I am or really interested in exploring just how malleable events can be when you’re reframing them and telling a story about those events, both could be interesting,” Solomon said. Just don’t jump between the app and the show. “They’re structured so differently that they don’t – they’re not additive in that way. It will actually detract from your experience if you go back and forth.”

Solomon has made a career of complicating traditional storytelling. As a screenwriter, he was behind genre-bending projects like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Men in Black 

“Every time I’ve tried to follow rules I think I’ve ended up disappointing myself,” Solomon said. “This required a tremendous amount of pushing and effort because … you had to have all these stories that not only worked as individual stories, but also intertwine so that they made sense from all these different angles. Putting myself through that and coming out the other side of it now has changed the way I write forever, in a positive way.”

Even so, writing something as sprawling as Mosaic, which pushed the creators to contemplate every viewpoint in a given scene or plot line, was a daunting exercise. Solomon likened it to jumping off a cliff – or sinking a game-winning free throw under immense pressure with distractions everywhere. He and Soderbergh only completed their series outline in the summer of 2015, so Solomon found himself writing almost 300 pages in three months. They added another 100 pages after filming started in November, and 150 more during a hiatus between shoots. 

“While it was definitely challenging, there was also something very freeing about the way HBO gave Steven and me complete trust, and the way Steven really encouraged me to dig deep and let myself really do my work,” Solomon said. “That was somewhat life-changing for me, especially having been toiling in the screenwriting trenches where what you write gets vetted by a literal committee of people, not all of whom have your same creative interests at heart. And Steven did.”

‘Mosaic’ writer Ed Solomon in front of the sprawling storyboard for his ‘branching narrative’ app.

Image: claudette barius/hbo

Solomon is already working on at least two more projects like this and is excited to explore the narrative form further.

“Now that my brain is really thinking in this form, I find it a lot easier to come up with ideas that work for this form from square one,” he said. “I find it fascinating as a story geek, as somebody who’s really interested in how stories are created and told, to have gone through the process of having created five or six or seven different characters points of view, mini individual movies almost for each character, and then having to re-break it again as a story to be told in amore objective sense.”

As a six-episode miniseries, Mosaic works in its linear form and makes a compelling case for exploring its story further on mobile devices.

“To me, the real joys of the app version of it get deeper and more rewarding the further into it you get,” Solomon said. “And in fact, you really need to see several of the lines to fully appreciate the nuance and also the full tapestry – or I guess, for lack of a better word, the full mosaic.”

Though the project has been long and taxing, Solomon said it was easily one of the most fulfilling of his entire three-decade career. He normally hesitates to see his projects become realized and released into the wild, but this one is different.

“No matter what happens with Mosaic, no matter where it lands culturally, if it even lands … I had three of the most amazing creative years of my life and I will always be grateful for that,” he said.

Mosaic premieres tonight on HBO.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/22/mosaic-hbo-steven-soderbergh-ed-solomon/

New Movie Tech

8K TVs are coming, but you probably shouldn’t buy one yet

Charmaine Blake

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8K TV. Can you tell?

Image: Stan Schroeder/Mashable

“Every now and then, TV manufacturers start a new trend to keep the hype for their products going. If you bought a TV in the last year, a salesman probably told you that some iteration of HDR is a must-have. Your current TV likely supports 3D — and I bet you haven’t used that feature in ages.

The hot new thing at this year’s IFA, Berlin’s trade show which gathers the largest consumer electronics manufacturers, was 8K TVs. I’ve seen those TVs, and I can tell you, they all had an absolutely stunning picture.

I can also tell you that you absolutely don’t need one.

TVs with 8K resolution — that’s (typically) 7,680×4,320 pixels — have been around for a while, in the form of concept devices and prototypes. But the difference this year is that you’ll actually be able to buy one.

At IFA, Samsung unveiled its first-ever QLED 8K TV, the 85-inch Q900FN. It’s got all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a top-of-the-line Samsung TV, including crazy-good contrast, brightness and HDR10+ support. I’ve seen it, and it’s gorgeous. It displayed a short video showing owls and bridges and a lady walking over a meadow and I could clearly see every blade of grass, every feather.

LG, Toshiba, and other manufacturers also had 8K TVs on display at the show, their picture equally beautiful to my eyes.

Toshiba’s 8K TV, displaying a static photo of buttons.

Image: Stan Schroeder/Mashable

It’s tempting to think that this is the next big thing in TVs — after all, Full HD TVs were so much better than the HD Ready ones, and 4K TVs are so much better than Full HD TVs. It’s just natural that the resolution keeps increasing, right?

Well, no.

While it’s possible to tell the difference between 4K and 8K picture, the difference is nowhere near as stunning as the difference between 4K and 1080p a.k.a. Full HD resolution. Your eyes are the limiting factor here, and while the actual numbers get a little complicated, the simple test of actually going to a store and looking at a 4K vs. 8K TV will show you that the difference is not dramatic………………………”

Read more: https://mashable.com/article/8k-tvs/

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Streaming TV services now reach 5% of U.S. Wi-Fi households, up 58% since last year

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“The number of U.S. households watching streaming TV services – those that deliver cable TV-like programming over the internet – has grown a remarkable 58% over last year, according to new data from comScore. However, these services still account for a small portion of the overall market, as only 5 percent (4.9 million) of U.S. households with Wi-Fi streamed TV over one of these services in April 2018.

In citing that number, comScore was specifically looking at what it called “pure-play” vMVPDs (virtual multichannel video programming distributors) – a variation on a fancy industry term that refers to live TV services like Sling TV. These services stream multiple channels over the internet without supplying infrastructure like coax cable to do so, and don’t offer other content like original programming or user videos.

Today’s lineup of these “vMVPDs” includes: Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Playstation Vue, fuboTV, Philo, YouTube TV, and Hulu with Live TV. These “pure-play vMVPDs,” as comScore referred to them, are basically that same list, excluding Hulu Live and YouTube TV, as those also include access to non-linear, digital-only content like original programming.

The firm found that consumer adoption of these “pure-play” live TV services is growing significantly, as more people cut the cord with traditional pay TV………………”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/08/16/streaming-tv-services-now-reach-5-of-u-s-wi-fi-households-up-58-since-last-year/

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Amazon is looking beyond the small screen with potential cinema chain

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Amazon could be looking to buying a chain of cinemas.

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

“Amazon has already established brick-and-mortar stores selling its products and groceries, and now it apparently wants a slice of the cinema business.

As reported by Bloomberg, Amazon is looking to acquire Landmark Theatres, which claims to be the largest cinema chain dedicated to independent and foreign films, with 52 theatres in 27 markets.

The e-commerce giant is reportedly working with other suitors to buy the chain from Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner-backed Wagner/Cuban Cos. There have been no decisions made, and with talks still to come, it’s not set in stone that a deal will go ahead.

The potential move into brick-and-mortar cinema echoes Amazon’s efforts to look further than its online presence in recent years, as evidenced by its real-life bookstores and its foray into checkout-free grocery shopping, Amazon Go, not to mention its $14 billion acquisition of grocery chain Whole Foods.

But Amazon’s potential entry into physical cinemas could help further sure up the profile of its Amazon Studios films, such as Manchester by the Sea, an Amazon Original which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture in 2017.

Despite the accolades, there is general tension between newfangled streaming services and the film industry. These concerns are primarily directed to the biggest disrupter of them all, Netflix, which is aggressive in its stance to only show its own films on its service.

Steven Spielberg said earlier this year that Netflix films which either don’t show in cinemas, or only for a short time to satisfy movie awards criteria, shouldn’t get accolades like an Oscar.

“Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie. If it’s a good show, deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar,” Spielberg told ITV News.

“I don’t believe films that are just given token qualifications in a couple of theaters for less than a week should qualify for the Academy Award nomination.”

Although Amazon is also a disruptor, it sticks to convention when it comes to distribution. It runs movies in cinemas for months before they sit on Prime Video, and is public about ensuring its films screen in theaters.”

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/08/16/amazon-cinema-landmark-theatres/

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