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Cosmos-Maya’s ‘ViR: The Robot Boy’ and Alexa are the new artificially intelligent best friends

With the new Amazon Echo Show, young viewers can now watch their favorite ViR: The Robot Boy episodes using nothing but their voice. Cosmos-Maya’s recent skill for Amazon Alexa is indicative of its 360-degree-presence approach.

Amazon India Alexa Skills country manager Dilip R.S. said, “Many customers have shared that their kids love engaging with Alexa. ViR: The Robot Boy is one of the most successful Indian shows and we are happy to have its presence on the Echo Show.”

Young viewers can use brand new ViR: The Robot Boy skill for Alexa to watch episodes of the show on Amazon’s range of Echo devices with a screen. The interactive skill makes it fun for users by integrating a simple quiz with each episode. Just say “Alexa, open Vir the Robot Boy” to start enjoying.

Speaking on the development, Cosmos-Maya CEO Anish Mehta said, “We are thrilled to launch the Alexa skill. Cosmos-Maya’s ethos of providing best in class entertainment to audiences seamlessly, matches that of Amazon Echo. Alexa and ViR will be the young users’ new best friends. They will interact with the users, entertain them and keep them engaged with enthralling narratives and storytelling.”

ViR: The Robot Boy, an eponymous sci-fi show chronicling the exploits of the artificially intelligent humanoid, is one of the most successful Indian shows and has been on air for the past six years on Disney’s Hungama TV. The show has garnered more than four billion views on Cosmos-Maya’s YouTube platform, WowKidz and is also available for viewing on Netflix and Zee5. It has been syndicated to more than 50 countries worldwide.

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Walt Disney Studios reveal plans ahead of the D23 Expo 2019 in August

Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios are teaming up with Disney’s live action team for a whole host of announcements at the D23 Expo 2019, alongside unveiling several never-seen-before footage, giveaways, and opportunities to photograph with various artists.

In Hall D23 on Saturday 24 August 2019, fans will be treated to some exclusive sneak peek into upcoming productions such as Frozen 2, as well as introduce to the characters of Pixar’s original feature film Onward.

Pixar Animation Studios’ chief creative officer Peter Doctor and producer Dana Murray will also reveal exclusive details of the next summer’s release Soul.

Sunday, 25 August 2019, will witness the world premier of Short Circuit, an experimental short film by Walt Disney Animation Studios that will be available for streaming on Disney+ in 2020. Several artists and filmmakers who’ve worked with Disney before, will join forces on stage to share their experience as well as some behind-the-scene stories.

The same day, Disney Expo is also set to host a pair of discussion panels: The Little Mermaid– The Thirtieth Anniversary Celebration! presented by H2O+, to commemorate three decades of the Walt Disney classic, and ‘Hidden Gems of the Walt Disney Animation Research Library: Preserving and Inspiring the Disney Legacy’, where fans will discover how the Animation Research Library preserves millions of original Disney Animation Art.

D23 Expo 2019 runs from 23 August 2019 to 25 August 2019 at the Anaheim Convention Centre in California. For more details, fans can log on to the event’s official website.


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IIM Calcutta presents a report on BARC India’s TV panel size

BARC India has joined hands with the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, one of the country’s premier management education institutes, to curate a report on BARC India’s TV panel sample sizes.

The report presented to BARC India summarises the review, analysis, and recommendations for the sample design of BARC India’s panel. On sample sizes in general, the report states that an ideal sample size depends on many factors and, “there is no unique nor ideal solution”.

Instead, sample size should be based on aspects such as the sample design, cost of sampling, overall budget, population characteristics and other internal considerations BARC India needs to account for.

IIM Calcutta professor of Statistics Saibal Chattopadhyay and the team leader said, “Three months of brainstorming and interaction with BARC India officials have been a very rewarding and enlightening experience for us. The assignment gave us a golden opportunity to directly apply our theoretical knowledge in the domain of Statistics to a complex practical problem involving TRP measurements in a country like India with enormous diversity among TV viewers. We are thankful to BARC India’s management for entrusting us with the task and are highly appreciative of their officials who have spent their valuable time to help us carry out the task to our satisfaction. BARC India has a good sample design framework in place and we have reasons to believe that they will find our report very useful and insightful.

 About sample allocation, the team observed mechanisms in place by BARC India toward ensuring that the sample is ‘truly representative of the population’.

 Some of the observations made in the report by IIM-C on BARC India’s sample size include:

  • Appreciation of the existing practice and no need for any significant departure from the current sample sizes
  • Opportunity of gaining additional insights by 15 per cent to 20 per cent increase in sample size
  • The choice of 55,000 sample size for the next round appears quite reasonable

 The professors even commended BARC India on its way of clearly and concisely documenting information of sample design and its overall data collection procedures.

BARC India chief of Measurement Science Derrick Gray noted, “It is definitely a great honour that IIM-C, the country’s premiere management education institute has validated and endorsed our panel size and sampling methodology. This report by IIM-C has boosted the confidence of the entire BARC India team who work round the clock to deliver accurate, credible and robust viewership data, day-on-day, week after week. In a highly dynamic and diverse market like ours, it is a constant challenge to map the viewership patterns of 836 million individuals. But recognition like this always only makes us proud of the systems and technology set up that we have, which are at par with global standards.”

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Sony YAY! and Gelato Italiano partners for new treats this summer

The vacation season just got more mouth-watering!

Popular kids entertainment channel Sony YAY! Has teamed up with Gelato Italiano to introduce two special flavours of the month across 12 cities in India.

Fans can find delight with the flavour of Silk Chocolate in its every bite, just like KickO and Super SpeedO’s fights. The feline twin delights from Honey Bunny ka Jholmaal inspire a flavour that is undoubtedly the king of summer desserts, ‘Mango Ka Jholmaal’. These popular duos and their inspired flavours will definitely leave young kids go YAY! in delight!

Speaking on the association, Sony YAY! VP Marketing and OAP Sujoy Roy Bardhan said, “We are delighted to associate with Gelato Italiano as we continue to deliver on our promise to add happiness in kids’ lives!”

With a super successful canter activation, the two special flavours of the month at Gelato Italiano is another important activity being undertaken by Sony YAY! So, head to the nearest Gelato Italiano for a double dose of fun, with Honey Bunny and KickO and Super Speedo.

Targeted at kids aged two to 14 years, Sony YAY! has set new standards and benchmarks in kids’ entertainment. The channel, within one year, produced 6 original shows which include Guru Aur Bhole, Honey Bunny ka Jholmaal, Paap-O-Meter and KickO and Super Speedo.

Available in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bangla, Marathi, Malayalam and English. Sony YAY! is the first kids’ channel to be available in 7 languages. This year, the channel has also entered into licensing and merchandising, making their endearing characters a part of kids’ lives wherever they are.

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‘Game of Thrones’ prequel is all set to be filmed in Italy this month

It’s only been a few months since Game of Thrones ended, leading to mixed reactions. But it seems like Game of Thones fever has only started to blaze through the OTT space.

Reports from IlMessaggero and HNEntertainment suggest that the upcoming Thrones prequel series is all geared up to begin filming on the Italian coast sometime in the space of next month. HNEntertainment claims that production will start in mid-July, after filming in Northern Island wraps up on 10 July.

As of now, all we know about the upcoming prequel is that it will be set in thousands of years before the events of the original show. The currently-untitled prequel will feature Naomi Watts, Josh Whitehouse, Miranda Richardson, Jamie Campbell Bower, Toby Regbo, Georgie Henley, Alex Sharp, Naomi Ackie, Marquis Rodriguez, John Simms, Richard McCabe, John Heffernan, and Dixie Egerickx.


Considering the world of television production – and the fact that Thrones has dominated the pop culture consciousness – some will argue that it is for the best if a bit of time passes before the spinoff begins airing. We will keep you updated on further development.

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Netflix confirms the number of episodes for the Vertigo Comics adaptation ‘The Sandman’

Earlier this week, it was revealed that DC/Vertigo Comics series The Sandman is turning into a live-action adaption at Netflix, and that the streaming giant has signed a multi-million dollar deal with Warner Bros. for its production.

However, no details about it’s script or the number of episodes emerged. But Neil Gaiman, the award-winning writer who penned the comic series and who will now serve as the executive producer as well as co-write the adaptation, took to Twitter soon after the news broke and shared some more details about the upcoming series.

Gaiman confirmed The Sandman will run for 11 episodes, and would be premised on the book’s first story arc Preludes and Nocturnes, though he averred that a script it yet to be written.

“I’m hoping we can make something on television that feels as personal and true as the best of the Sandman comics did,” Gaiman explained. “Just set thirty years later than the Sandman comic.”

“The first season will be eleven episodes. That’s the start of it all. Preludes and Nocturnes and a little bit more,” Gaiman further added.

Developed by Allan Heinberg, who also serves as the series’ showrunner, a premier date for the The Sandman series is yet to confirmed.


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Girgit Studios’ animated short, ’09: 09 F’ to be screened in Rio de Janeiro

Girgit Studios’ animated short titled 09: 09 F is selected officially at Anima Mundi, the second biggest animation festivals in the world and one of the Academy awards qualifier festivals. This year the festival will take place in Rio de Janeiro from 17 to 21 July.

” Our work getting screened in front of animation enthusiasts and professionals at this festival and knowing that it’s the only film from India is a really big deal. We are eager to see their reactions and feedback on the film,” said 09:09F executive producer and Girgit Studios co-founder Swarup Deb.

The animated short is a journey in a local train of Mumbai showing the universal human behaviour where an outsider struggles to make space for himself.

Directed by Avinash Medhe with creative producer Anuj Kumar and music by Roto Shah, the short depicts the bitter truth struggle Mumbaikars face everyday to earn bread and butter. Medhe has managed to give apt and relatable lyrics for the end credits music.

“Using the example of journey in a Mumbai’s local train I am presenting a slice of life  trying to point at the attitude of people and allow the audience to get an objective third point of view to realize how overlapping right and wrong can be and judge where they stand,” added Medhe.

Kudos to Girgit Studios team for being the only Indian film being selected for screening at Anima Mundi. The studio has released the teaser of the making of the short and it looks exciting.

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#FeatureFriday: Things a game designer should keep in mind while designing a game

Game designing? Sounds like fun! That’s the reply a game designer gets from others when they say that they design games for a living. The reply can be interpreted into two different ways either the one who is giving reply think game designing is child’s play or they are still far away from the reality that game designing is a viable career option today. Game designing jobs can be, in fact, one of the most rewarding jobs in the industry and it is more challenging than people realise.

Documentation and layout to gameplay and balancing, a game a designer looks up for every nitty-gritty. Animationxpress reached out to a few of the gaming studios to know details about the areas that a designer has to focus while designing a game.

Game flow and game art
SM Multimedia founder and CEO Saurabh Misra believes that a game designer has two main key areas to look at while designing a game which is Game flow and Artwork. “Firstly, game art should be attractive and soothing. For example, an educational game does not require heavy art design or animations. Secondly, the game flow should be smooth and simple which means the player does not have to think a lot about where to go first and how to play. He or she should get an idea of playing the game by the theme itself” he added.

Maintaining the suspense and surprise
For Neosphere Studio founder Hitesh Ramchandani  game designing “is been pretty much old school thoughts, keeping it simple with factors like suspense and surprise, risk vs reward, Avoiding complex controls, Interactive, not letting the gameplay on its own always trying to keep the user engaged with dialogues and voice-overs even when cut-scenes are playing, focus on audio and music, and a minimalistic yet effective HUD. ”

Onboarding and control
SidKing Studio founder and CEO Kishor Berde believe onboarding and controls are the areas where a designer should focus while designing a game. “If you fail to entertain players in first few minutes or players don’t understand your game, you lose their interest and ultimately them  SidKing studio” he added.

Keeping in mind player’s experience and journey
QYJO Studio founder Tejas Shirodhkar believes, “we believe that the player should always come first. A game should be designed with the player experience and journey in mind. Easy and simple on the surface but deep to master once the player gets really engaged. These are the things we aim for but admittedly it can be quite difficult to achieve as we are continuously iterating  to reach towards. Players play games for enjoyment and if we as developers can create situations where people feel accomplished and smart for having figured out things in the game or achieved goals that we or they themselves set for them they have a much better experience than a game that leaves them to their own devices.”

Create a game prototype get it out to multiple people

Switzerland based studio Halonautic founder and CEO Roger Küng, founder and COO Dennys Kuhnert, sound engineer Phil Küng, believe that the “game should be fun. If you have an idea, make a quick prototype and get it out to multiple people as early as possible to get feedback. And never be afraid of abandoning a project when it doesn’t play as well as you imagined it. VR is a new medium. Just because it feels awesome in your head doesn’t mean it translates well into VR. Building a prototype and killing it might appear like a waste of time but finishing a product takes months, sometimes years. So investing three to six months in finding the right concept is worthwhile. In a later development, make sure that your game has something unique that differentiates it from other games out there. Game mechanics come first, the story comes last. If you develop for a VR platform, the game should only make sense of playing in VR and not be possible on any other system.”

Even after that, there are a lot of other things which a designer should keep in mind while designing a game. Speaking of which Street Lamp Studio founder CEO Deepak Gurijala believes “There is a huge list of key areas where every developer must make sure they have ticked every single box before releasing the game. Such as in-game Physics, creative appeal, unique game-art, understandable gameplay, soothing music and SFX, smart ad-placements, good pricing-policies(for IAP), and with an interesting storyline. These are a few points which will make a Game looks more appealing to the users/ players.”  The moral of the story what looks fun is not always fun to create.



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DHX Media appoints Stephanie Betts and Todd Brian to drive original animated content

DHX Media is pleased to announce that Stephanie Betts has been promoted to the role of executive vice president content, and will be responsible for development and production of DHX Media’s slate of original animated content, reporting to DHX Media president Josh Scherba.

Todd Brian and Stephanie Betts

Betts applies her many years of experience in kids’ and family content, fostering, managing and expanding DHX Media’s animated content slate. Her expertise lies in building strong, creatively driven teams, and in developing series that kids around the world love. Betts said, “I’m excited to continue finding new approaches to developing our evergreen brands for a contemporary kids and family audience, while expanding our slate of original content by collaborating with the creative community to develop ideas into the next big global franchises.”

Drawing on more than a 16 years’ experience developing and producing award-winning series, she has spearheaded numerous DHX Media shows, including new Peanuts content, Strawberry Shortcake, Cloudy with a Chance of MeatballsInspector GadgetTeletubbiesPolly Pocket, and Chip and Potato. Prior to joining DHX Media, Betts worked as a producer and development executive at Breakthrough Films and Television, and previously at Atomic Cartoons.

Scherba added, “We’re producing an amazing slate of original content for the world’s top streaming platforms and broadcasters, and our development pipeline is rich with exciting new projects. Stephanie has been integral to the DHX Media story for many years, and as we increase our focus on high-quality original content, her vision and expertise in development and production make her an ideal leader for our talented content team.”

In addition, Todd Brian has joined the company in the newly created role of director of development, animation, reporting to Betts. A graduate of Ryerson University’s Film Studies program and the Canadian Film Centre, Brian has spent years building strong industry relationships while working in various senior creative positions on both animation and live-action productions. A few of his notable past roles have included time spent at Corus Entertainment as Corus Kids (YTV; Teletoon; Treehouse) production executive, where he oversaw a robust slate of projects in development and production; at Marble Media as development executive kids and family; at Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) as senior writer; and he owns multiple credits as a writer/story editor ranging from preschool to tween/family co-view programming. Brian is thrilled to join the DHX Media team and share his passion for kids and family content.

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