‘Spider-Man:Far From Home’ and Doritos team-up for upcoming release

Doritos, one of PepsiCo’s snacks brands, has partnered with Columbia Pictures’ upcoming summer release, in association with Marvel Studios, Spider-Man: Far From Home. In more than 35 markets around the world, Doritos will launch a global marketing campaign offering fans a chance to boldly embrace their inner superhero.

Peter Parker returns in Spider-Man: Far From Home, the next chapter of the Spider-ManHomecoming series. Our friendly neighbourhood superhero decides to join his best friends Ned, MJ and the rest of the gang on a European vacation. However, Peter’s plan to leave super heroes behind for a few weeks are quickly scrapped when he begrudgingly agrees to help Nick Fury uncover the mystery of several elemental creature attacks, creating havoc across the continent.

“Both Spider-Man and Doritos are globally known and beloved brands. Doritos is the perfect partner for Peter Parker to take along on his first trip to Europe,” said Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group EVP of Brand Management and Global Partnerships Jeffrey Godsick.

True to the global setting of the film, the Doritos and Spider-Man collaboration will bring excitement to fans around the world. The fully integrated global Doritos promotional campaign will include on-pack design, in-store displays, TV creative, unique digital content and sweepstakes. Doritos packaging in markets across North AmericaLatin AmericaEgypt and Asia will feature exclusive images and thematic from the film, launching worldwide in early July.

“Sold in more than 40 countries, one of PepsiCo’s fastest growing brands and always in search of bold adventures, Doritos is thrilled to be a global promotional partner for Spider-Man: Far From Home,” said PepsiCo Global Foods senior director Asadullah Siddiqui.

In more than 20 countries including AustraliaMexico and Colombia, fans will be able to snack on unique limited-edition Spider-Man: Far From Home themed Doritos that is the hero’s signature colour – red. In North America, the Spidey-Sense Challenge will allow fans to participate in an online game where users playing as Spider-Man will run a series of web-shooter training courses in various cities featured in the Spider-Man: Far From Home film. As an added bonus, specially marked Doritos products in select markets will contain codes that can be entered for an opportunity to win unique superhero inspired prizes, including a grand prize European trip for two.

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Two Bit Circus unveils programme for game developers to test, distribute, and monetise games

Two Bit Circus, an engineering entertainment company, has announced their park as a platform programme, designed to provide game developers with a streamlined approach to adapting games and experiences for location-based entertainment (LBE). The programme leverages Two Bit Circus’ 38k square foot Micro-Amusement Park as physical development and publishing platform, complete with revenue share, built-in customers, and backend API/data collection. Two Bit Circus aims to smooth the path to public exhibition and create a test lab for developers, with the goal of fostering innovative approaches to play and encouraging a constant influx of fresh, diverse content.

“Getting a game in front of the public requires a lot of resources that many developers don’t have access to.Imagine the possible variety of public games and experiences if more developers had the resources to explore LBE. We hope that by erasing some of the obstacles and encouraging the community, we can support developers and increase the diversity of fun,”  said Two Bit Circus co-founder and CTO, Eric Gradman.

Out-of-home entertainment (location-based entertainment) is becoming increasingly popular, yet traditional approaches are limiting the quantity of innovative content that’s available. By connecting developers directly with patrons of their Micro-Amusement Park, Two Bit Circus’ programme creates access to revenue, awareness, and enthusiastic beta testers.

The platform programme launches with numerous projects, including: Death Squared, a puzzle game from SMG Studio, first released for consoles; Hidden in Plain Sight, a stealth party game from indie developer Adam Spragg; ClusterPuck 99, a digital air hockey game from PHL Collective; and Line Wobbler, a one-dimensional dungeon crawler controlled with a door stop from Robin Baumgarten.

As a first step toward entering the programme, developers are invited to submit their products to be featured at one of Two Bit Circus’ Beta Nights — where enthusiastic locals come out to play and test new content. The Two Bit team reviews submissions to find games with the potential to create great new experiences and get people playing elbow-to-elbow. With a community of support, Two Bit Circus aims to encourage developers, increase the potential for innovation, and ultimately allow the world access to a greater variety of engaging and social gaming experiences.

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Gameumentary ‘Shirley Curry: The Gaming Grandma’ receives a commendable response on internet

Enthusiast Gaming Holdings’ video game documentary titled, Shirley Curry: The Gaming Grandma has received over 300,000 views and 2.5 million minutes of watch time since its mid-April launch. Nick Calandra served as director and Omar Ahmed as producer for the documentary which was released under the gameumentary label owned by an enthusiast.

The documentary explores the popularity rise of Shirley Curry, the 83-year-old grandmother, celebrity gamer, and streaming sensation who has earned the nickname Skyrim Grandma for her videos about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The Gaming Grandma started playing video games in 2014, and has built a loyal fanbase of over 558,000 subscribers on YouTube.

The Gaming Grandma reflects the new reality of the gaming community as the demographics within the industry have broadened significantly in recent years. Gaming is becoming a hobby for everyone and age is becoming less relevant. A recent study highlighted that 20 per cent of all gamers in the US are now between the ages of 36 to 49 and 23 per cent of all gamers in the US are over 50 years old. Enthusiast’s platform and significant network provides communities for gaming enthusiasts of all ages and located all over the world.

Gameumentary founder and director of content Nick Calandra, commented, “Since being acquired by Enthusiast in June 2018, gameumentary has seen significant growth. We have launched 18 gaming documentaries worldwide since 2017, and most recently, The Gaming Grandma which already has over 300,000 views. Our documentaries and short films are meant to tell the stories behind the games and its fans, and the support and partnership with enthusiast enable us to continue producing content.”

Enthusiast acquired gameumentary in June 2018, as a property focused on telling the stories behind video games and the communities that play them, through long-form and short documentaries. Gameumentary has already produced 18 documentaries and with the support and management of Enthusiast, has travelled around the world from Los Angeles to Seattle, Austin to Prague, Ghent to Amsterdam to find exciting content.

Since the acquisition, the company has seen substantial growth with an increase in views compared to the same period, Q1 2018. Gameumentary will continue its momentum with three more studio documentaries planned for 2019. The next major documentary will cover the Insurgency series by New World Interactive, expected to premiere this summer.

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ASUS launches new TUF gaming laptops for savvy gamers and enthusiasts

ASUS has announced TUF gaming FX505 and FX705, a pair of laptops that bring together the latest AMD Ryzen processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX GPUs on an up to 120Hz IPS-level NanoEdge display, delivering immersive, high-performance gaming at an affordable price. The laptops are tested and certified to meet military-grade MIL-STD-810G standards, ensuring the toughness and durability needed to withstand the knocks and bumps of everyday work and play.

For years, savvy gamers and enthusiasts have combined AMD processors with GeForce GPUs to create powerful PCs that deliver incredible performance per dollar. Now, ASUS gaming laptops will allow users to take that potent combo wherever they go. The TUF gaming laptops team the latest Ryzen mobile APUs with the new GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU to bring more power than ever to affordable gaming laptops.

Turing architecture geared for gaming

The GeForce GTX 1660 Ti deploys NVIDIA’s latest Turing architecture which upgrades to its CUDA cores, cache hierarchy, and memory subsystem produce a significant per-core performance increase over the previous generation. Live-streamers can also reap the benefits of a new video encoder that improves video quality using hardware-accelerated capture that reduces the burden on the CPU.

The powerful GPU puts triple-digit frame rates within reach in popular games, and it’s paired with a fast display that allows enjoyment of every frame. With up to a 120Hz refresh rate that’s twice the speed of standard screens; FX505 enables smoother gameplay that provides an edge on the battleground. Its high refresh rate is especially helpful in fast-paced shooters and esports titles. The 15.6inch panel also comes in a 60Hz option that’s better for graphically demanding games that run closer to 60 fps. For users who prefer a larger screen, FX705 features a 17.3inch display and is available with a 60Hz panel.

Both screen sizes feel expansive thanks to NanoEdge bezels that focus attention on the display rather than what’s around it. In addition to heightening immersion, the narrow frames shrink the footprints of the chassis, making the laptops more compact. The panels inside are based on vIPS-level technology that maintains vibrant colours over wide viewing angles, allowing a variety of viewing scenarios; such as siting off to the side while playing games or streaming videos with friends. 

Ample processing for any task

Impressive gaming credentials are balanced with everyday versatility powered by AMD’s latest Ryzen processors. Also known as Picasso, these second-generation mobile APUs are based on the updated Zen+ architecture and built using industry-leading 12nm fabrication technology. The TUF gaming laptops are available with up to a Ryzen 7 CPU that features quad cores and eight threads with ample performance for gaming, entertainment, and everyday work. Despite the ability to slice through multithreaded workloads and aggressive multitasking, the processor fits into an energy efficient 35W power envelope that preserves battery life.

With 16GB of DDR4-2400 memory, there’s enough RAM for productive multitasking and light content creation. A range of storage options accommodates varied needs and budgets: solid-state drives up to 512GB boast high speeds across the board, a 1TB FireCuda SSHD accelerates access to frequently used data, and one TB HDDs offer affordable storage at 5400 rpm. The storage bays and memory slots are readily accessible with a standard screwdriver, so it’s easy to upgrade as needed.

Self-cleaning cooling that stands the test of time

Effective cooling is crucial to maintaining strong performance, so HyperCool technology covers the CPU and GPU with independent fans and heatsinks. A shared heat pipe links them all together to maximise cooling in situations where only one processor is under load.

Warm air vents out the back under a patented trapezoid cut in the lid that ensures exhaust escapes unobstructed, even with the screen tilted back. Special anti-dust tunnels on the edges of the fan housings catch and direct particles out of the laptop to prevent them from clogging the heatsinks and fans. This self-cleaning design prevents buildup that could impede performance and stability over time.

Fan speeds adapt automatically to component temperatures. With a quick keyboard shortcut, users can switch between three operating modes that mix different cooling and performance profiles. Turbo mode delivers maximum performance and fan speeds for intensive tasks, while a Balanced mode optimises speed and acoustics for the best gaming experience. A Silent mode  backs off to reduce noise for lighter loads like day-to-day productivity, web surfing, and video streaming.

Military-grade toughness

Two chassis variations bring different looks to the TUF Gaming laptops. One features a Gold Steel and Gunmetal Grey aluminium finish on its lid and is complemented by customizable colours through Aura RGB lighting in the keyboard. Stealth Black keeps a lower profile with a shadowy exterior punctuated by keyboard backlighting. Both exhibit the sharp lines and angular accents that define the TUF Gaming aesthetic, right down to the distinctive Radiating-X design on the lid.

The bottom of the chassis adds structural strength and rigidity with a hexagonal design that helps the laptops live up to the TUF name. These machines meet military-grade MIL-STD-810G standards, passing demanding tests that ensure survival in extreme environments, and with ambient vibration and accidental knocks. Both versions bounce back from short drops to a desk, and the 15inch models can handle higher falls.

A familiar, desktop-inspired keyboard

The keyboard is optimised for gaming with a layout reminiscent of standard desktop designs. Function keys are separated in the usual groups to make shortcuts more intuitive, arrow keys are offset for effortless navigation, and a full number pad makes number crunching a breeze. Highlighted WASD keys clearly identify the home row for gaming, while a wider space bar provides a larger target for thumb presses.

Each keycap is gently curved to more easily cradle fingertips. The underlying switches have 1.8 mm of travel enhanced by Overstroke technology that offers responsive input with an improved overall feel. Overstroke raises the actuation point so that presses register sooner, and the resulting increase in post-actuation travel makes typing more comfortable. With a rated lifespan of 20 million presses, the switches are durable enough to hold up to years of heavy use.

Models with RGB backlighting let users add an element of personalised style across the keyboard as a whole. Users can customise RGB colours and effects with the Armoury Crate utility, which unifies vital functions like lighting control, system monitoring, and configurable game profiles that automatically load preferred system settings for different titles. 

Robust connectivity to enhance the gaming experience

Gaming is more immersive with DTS Headphone: X technology that brings 7.1-channel virtual surround sound to stereo headsets or speakers plugged into the laptop. Users can choose between built-in presets for games, movies, and sports or perform custom tuning with the embedded equalizer.

The 3.5-mm audio jack is joined by enough USB ports for vital peripherals like a gamepad, mouse, and external storage. HDMI 2.0 allows a user to drive a wide range of displays at resolutions up to 4K, from the desktop monitors, big-screen TVs in living rooms, or projectors at school. Getting online is easy with the integrated 802.11ac WiFi. It’s hard to beat the convenience of wireless networking, but wired connections have lower latency for serious multiplayer gaming, so Gigabit Ethernet is also included.

ASUS TUF Gaming FX505 and FX705 will be available  for preorder from today and will be on sale from early May and the prices start from $1035.01 .

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Guest Column| Comics and graphic novels got a new lease of life

“Comics are words and pictures. You can do anything with words and pictures”—Harvey Pecker

 And they were just treated like that for a long time. The medium of comics can be traced back to the mid of 19th century. In America and Europe, they started as just strips in newspapers as fun elements. It reached the peak of their fame in 1930s with characters like Tintin in Europe, till superheroes came along and changed the game for a long time. The heroes and a few female heroes fought the bad guys and saved their country time and time again. In 1950s, superhero comics were placed under surveillance by Comics Code Authority, who claimed that they were poisoning the young minds by validating violence. 

In 1960s and 1970s, the superheroes became more than just friendly and morally good. There was diversity in the superheroes with the inclusion of heroes from different countries, genders and sexuality. The heroes also dealt with actual losses and issues and their morality were tested. Beside the superheroes, there were many underground movements which were published alternatively comics that addressed issues like sexuality, politics and social norms in a direct manner. 

 All the changes in the comic books didn’t happen suddenly, but because the readers demanded the changes. The 60s and 70s witnessed many political revolutions and changes, which affected the readership too. The comics and graphic novels became grittier, and the entire myth that they were meant only for children went out of the window. The artwork became darker, symbolic and experimental. Publishers were not afraid to bring out books which were thought-provoking, serious and disturbing. 

 In India, comics had either been for children or a tool for political satire in newspapers. There were books which were meant to be educational and fun for children. And then there were the comics with superheroes who fought the villains from space or supernatural creatures. They catered to the already existing market, without creating controversies or upheavals. 

 But the readership changed when the independent writers and readers, who were the consumers of the international products, started demanding home-grown products of similar nature. They ventured into the less-trodden themes of character-driven stories and satire. But they were still not able to foray into the commercial market, and stayed in the collector’s items, with unique art styles and storytelling formats. 

 With the advent of comic related forums and workshops being held all over the country, and the various internet platforms, comics and graphic novels got a new lease of life. Now, authors and artists are collaborating to come up with more strips, books, and hard copies of books which explore a varied range of topics like social norms, political outrage, sexuality, economic disparity and so on.

 As the books don’t have the restrictions to be published on paper and can be put online, the genre has become more inclusive and experimental. The ‘woke’ readers and the changing times, reflect on the kind of content which is being published throughout the world. This change is not only restricted to a country, but it’s global. As Scott McCloud said, “Today, comics is one of the very few forms of mass communication in which individual voices still have a chance to be heard.” According to him, there is so much of content available online that it can take “a lifetime to read all the webcomics published in a year.”

 The comic writers now seem more hopeful about getting their work published and read, and reaching an audience. But it also increases the competition and challenges of the visibility of the creators. Despite the pros and cons, the comics are undergoing a lot of changes. They have come a long way, and still, have a long way to go. 

This article has been contributed by Campfire Graphic Novels director Girija Jhunjhunwala, and AnimationXpress.com doesn’t necessarily subscribe to these views

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‘Game of Thrones’ episode two of the final season limbers up for the ominous battle, revealing a larger landscape

Game of Thrones season eight’s second episode opened with a larger Winterfell than the one we are familiar with. And justifiably so, since almost everyone has congregated at one place where the winter has finally descended with chills running down the spines of characters that are limbering up for the final culmination of a decade-long build up.

Winterfell

The wall has fallen and its terrifying implications are set to unfold over the next few weeks starting from the next episode. The entire set had to be redesigned and expanded to fit in the breadth of characters that have converged at Winterfell. The lull before the storm is what the characters are capitalising on as they make their way through the night. The judgement on whether or not Jamie Lannister can be trusted transpires with the dragon queen sitting flanked by Sansa Stark and Jon Snow.

Jamie’s Trial

The thrum of scrutiny is interrupted by Lady Brienne and Tyrion vouching for the ‘Kingslayer’ in the teeth of opposition and spite, leading to his acceptance in the team.  As the pall of doom looms over Winterfell, we see some much-needed confrontations.

Sansa and Danny

We almost see Daenerys and Sansa bonding over their common interests until Sansa asks her about the fate of Winterfell.

Silence before the storm is filled with a long night packed with some quaffing ale over the reflective conversations, the best one being the irony of the set of characters who had once been at odds with the house now pledging to defend it.

Assembled characters get together

Lady Brienne’s recognition invokes endearment as we see Jamie ceremoniously conferring the knighthood on the one that has only ever spent her life in the service of others. In the spirit of carpe diem, Arya explores her bolder side with Gendry as they are all uncertain about whether they will see the light of day.

Knighthood scene

We see Bran helping out with the strategy of countering White Walkers as he points to the motives of the Night King who is after the Three-eyed Raven that Bran has become.

Jamie Lannister’s acquittal sets him off on a repentance trip as he makes amends with folks while wandering the snowed streets of Winterfell. Here you see some green screens to enhance the scenes.

The revelation of Jon’s Parentage

Daenerys Targaryen seems to be driven by her lust for the throne more than her love for Jon as we see her feeling almost miffed and threatened when she learns the truth about Jon’s Parentage.

We are expecting the next episode to be packed with visual effects and war situations. Stay tuned.

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When technology becomes human

Cartoon Network collaborates with POPxo to launch ‘The Powerpuff Girls’ collection

Cartoon Network continues its 20th anniversary celebrations of The Powerpuff Girls by unveiling an exciting collaboration with POPxo. The tiny superheroes who have been saving the world (before bedtime) for the last two decades are ready to spread their awesomeness through an inspiring all-new collection of apparel and accessories available now on POPxo Shop.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with Cartoon Network on The Powerpuff Girls franchise – it has inspired generations of young women! At its core, the series celebrates female strength which fits seamlessly with POPxo’s values. We look forward to offering our audiences an exclusive collection of sweatshirts, hoodies, t-shirts, phone covers, diaries and wall clocks,” said POPxo chief business officer Rana Handa.

Fans can express their love for the globally-loved franchise and own a piece in the form of stylish sweatshirts, cute phone covers, wall clocks and colourful notebooks all available on POPxo Shop.

Cartoon Network Enterprises Asia Pacific vice president Vikram Sharma added, “The Powerpuff Girls celebrates female empowerment and girl power like no other brand. POPxo is perfectly suited to reach India’s passionate and fashion-conscious youngsters, and we think the range will really appeal to our superfans.”

The super-cute/super-fierce assortment is inspired by the animated crime-fighting trio Bubbles, Blossom and Buttercup, as well as arch-rivals Mojo Jojo, HIM and Fuzzy Lumpkins.

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Star Trek: Discover- Aftermath has been announced

Star Trek: Discovery will delve into Spock’s relationship with Michael Burnham in a new miniseries from IDW Publishing.  Three-issue comic book miniseries from writers Kirsten Beyer and Mike Johnson and artist Tony Shasteen, the series picks up after the surprising events of Star Trek: Discovery’s second season finale in which Spock mourns the loss of his sister.

According to StarTrek.com, the series finds Capt. Christopher Pike and High Chancellor L’Rell trying to improve the dimming peace between the United Federation of Planets and the Klingons Empire. Whereas Spock discovers new mysteries with respect to his sister that needs to be investigated.

“The new series shows how Pike, Spock, L’Rell, and the rest of the cast deal with the fallout from the mind-blowing events of Season Two,” Johnson said in a statement. “And we couldn’t be happier that Tony Shasteen is beaming back onboard for this story!”

“To be able to follow up on the huge status-quo shift presented in that finale is a dream come true, especially with a team as talented as Kirsten, Mike, and Tony,” said IDW editor Chase Marotz.

We will keep you updated as and well Star Trek: Discovery – Aftermath releases

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ZED partners with Show of Force on a TV series on Notre Dame Cathedral

Paris-based global media company, ZED has associated with NYC Show of Force and begun production on a multi-hour television series celebrating Notre Dame Cathedral. This many-tiered platform brings architects, engineers, historians together with imbedded filmmakers for the Herculean task to restore the Gothic masterpiece which will broadcast world-wide.       

ZED’s Oscar-winning Christine LeGoff who has two films about Notre Dame under her belt, is honoured and excited to be spearheading this amazing opportunity. She said, “For the last 10 years I have been filming Notre Dame’s hidden corners and passageways. It is more than a cathedral, it is a symbol of France that all the world recognises and loves. Last week’s tragic fire reminds us that even the most iconic monuments can disappear. Now comes the time to rebuild it for the future.”    

Capturing revolutionary restoration techniques as Notre Dame de Paris returns to life, and capitalising upon exclusive access to detailed scans of the cathedral before the fire, “in-the-moment” onsite access reveals an icon that transcends stone, water, fire and time itself.  

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