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Russia brings an interactive VR series to Cannes Film Festival



Director Georgy Molodtsov
Russian film director Georgy Molodtsov | Photo: Vincent Cros

This year, within the framework of the Cannes Film Festival, the Cannes XR VeeR Future Award competition was created. One of the animations presented as part of the project was the multiformat ‘Under the Pillow’, a project by Russian film director Georgy Molodtsov.

The animated story is based on a fairytale by journalist Sergey Molodtsov, Georgy’s father, where a handmade cuddly kitten-like toy encourages children to explore a hidden magical world under the pillow of an old sofa, while also helping them to overcome difficult periods in their lives along the way.

The event to present Under the pillow at the Marche du Film was held in an unusual format. Part of the presentation took place right inside a virtual reality scene, demonstrating how new technologies offer innovative opportunities to be present without the physical barrier of crossing borders. Particularly handy during a pandemic!

“For the first time in a while, Russia is widely represented at the Cannes Film Festival – both in the official and parallel programs. From the films of leading directors to animated series made with VR technology, we had Russian projects of various formats this year” – says Evgenia Markova, the CEO of Roskino, the state body representing the Russian industry of audiovisual content in the international markets.

“As new technologies are gradually becoming part of our lives, industry leaders are already using VR technology very successfully. But there is still a huge space ahead for the implementation of the most daring ideas. Today we see this with the example of a unique animated VR project, which confirms that the combination of advanced IT developments and a fascinating story gives birth to a real work of art. The widespread recognition of VR by the professional film community and by the audience themselves is only a matter of time.’ – believes Markova.

Evgenia Markova, the CEO of Roskino

Evgenia Markova, CEO at Roskino

“The Under the Pillow project is the first episode of an interactive VR film at the intersection of storytelling and gameplay. But it was important for us not to create this entire universe that was going to be limited only to content available in virtual reality helmets. The model of the use of game engines underlying the project will allow us, with much less effort than in traditional animation, to create adaptations of this story with the same characters, locations and plots within other formats that will help us to immerse a much wider audience in the world of cat Mormitten. Participation in the Cannes Film Festival program draws international attention toward the Russian animation and film industry and to the possibilities of using VR to create both innovative and traditional projects.” – celebrates Georgy Molodtsov.

This is not the first time that this Russian director has brought a virtual reality world to the Cannes Film Festival. Having been involved with VR since 2015, Georgy came to Cannes in 2017 to display the Russian VR Seasons program. Back then, projects were exhibited in 360 format, only allowing people to watch them with the use of VR helmets. Fast forward four years, projects such as ‘Under The Pillow’ offers completely interactive episodes, which begins its own distribution destiny thanks to a partnership with the Chinese company VeeR. VeeR has bought the first episode for a two-year distribution. But the presence of Russia on the international market is not limited to one animation VR project: new co-productions are being launched, and a boom of virtual (XR) production studios is to take place in Russia.

‘Last year in Venice and now at the Cannes Film Festival, a very important process is taking place for the industry – now VR projects can be watched at the comfort of your home by purchasing a subscription to the virtual exhibition centre. Another option for their demonstration is the organization of exhibitions in partner countries in parallel with the dates of the main festivals. People come to such events with pleasure, realizing that this is not just entertainment, but also art’, – says Georgy Molodtsov.


How to earn a YouTube Creator Award plaque?



A gold and silver YouTube plaques on display
Genshin Impact, a game channel with 7 million subscribers, received a second YouTube plaque in 2021.

Since its launch in 2015, YouTube has amassed millions of views on content uploaded to the Google-owned platform every single minute. And the creators behind the diverse array of content are often recognized by the world’s leading video-sharing platform for milestone achievements. Enter the YouTube Creator Award plaque, an exclusive reward system featuring plaques of different categories and tiers that content creators regularly uploading to the platform can receive.

So, what are these coveted plaques, and what to do to earn a YouTube Creator Award plaque?

YouTube Creator Award plaques are divided into distinct categories, each representing a specific achievement level in number of subscribers to a channel. According to the official YouTube Creators page, those who “pour their heart and soul into their videos” are celebrated once they reach Creator Award subscriber milestones.

YouTube Creator Award categories

Silver Creator Award

The Silver Creator Award is the initial milestone, awarded to creators upon reaching 100,000 subscribers. Around 321,000 channels available on YouTube have 100,000 subscribers or more.

Gold Creator Award

The Gold Creator Award is a coveted accolade presented to creators who achieve one million subscribers. It is a remarkable milestone and a substantial impact within the YouTube community, as well as possible earnings.

Diamond Creator Award

Reserved for the crème de la crème, the Diamond Creator Award is offered to creators who achieve 10 million subscribers – not an easy task. The category was first introduced in 2015 when YouTube unveiled the YouTube Diamond award at VidCon.

But don’t start to plan where you will hang your award so soon.

Like all other previous categories, Creator Awards are given at YouTube’s sole discretion and the platform only recognizes creators that have played by the rules. Channels are subject to review before awards are issued. That means that only creators that keep their accounts in good standing without copyright strikes, community guideline violations or artificially increased subscriber counts, among other criteria, are likely to get one of these plaques.

You don’t have to be a member of the YouTube Partner Programme (YPP) to be eligible for an award. But, besides fully complying with the platform’s strict guidelines, to get the award a channel must be active (has uploads within the last six months prior to reaching a milestone), and creators can’t have an active Community Guidelines violation, and haven’t received any in the last 365 days.

How to claim a YouTube Creator plaque

If a YouTube channel reach the threshold to be eligible to silver, gold or diamond award, the channel’s owner will get a notification via the Creator Studio within one week of passing a Creator Awards milestone. The notification will include a unique redemption code that the content creator will need to enter on YouTube’s redemption portal, including informing YouTube about the channel name and delivery information.

Once all steps are completed, YouTube will then begin handcrafting the Creator Award. Depending on where in the world the channel owner lives, YouTube estimates that it can take up to four weeks to build and dispatch a Creator Award.

500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute worldwide – Source: Oberlo | Photo: Mikhail Nilov

In 2022 YouTube commemorated 10 years of its awards with a mini exhibition, highlighting the evolution of YouTube Awards. The awards themselves may have gone through some design changes, but is remains a symbol of a creator’s accomplishment, including not only a sizeable number of followers, but also a recognition for countless hours of time, effort and creativity that went goes developing content, growing a channel and actively engaging with viewers on the platform.

YouTube had more than 2.70 billion active users as of 2023, including 80 million Premium active users worldwide. However, although receiving a YouTube reward plaque is a testament to a creator’s dedication, talent, and impact within the online community, it is important that any online channel spend times focusing more on content quality than numbers or prizes made of metal.

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Social media research threatened by new data limitations



The EU Digital Services Act, which came into effect in August 2023, will provide vetted researchers with access to large online platforms | Photo: Robin Worral

Academics around the world have warned of a threat to scientific research as major social media platforms limit access to user data.

Over the course of 2023, numerous social media platforms including X (formerly known as Twitter), TikTok, and Reddit made substantial changes to their Application Programming Interfaces, known as APIs.

Researchers have routinely tapped APIs for large-scale data on social media users into behavioural patterns at individual, group, and population levels. This work has included predicting where conflict may occur and allocating disaster aid; and understanding the impacts of online polarization or misinformation on voting patterns.

However, the changes to APIs have led to data access being drastically reduced, or becoming more costly due to increased charges, meaning that this kind of research is now much harder to conduct. It also inadvertently impacts app developers who have built their service on this source of information.

A new study outlining the implications of changes to how data is extracted and shared within and across social media platforms has been published in Nature Human Behaviour.

Dr Dirk van der Linden from Northumbria’s Department of Computer and Information Sciences was one of the contributors to the study. Dr van der Linden is part of Northumbria’s Social Computing (NorSC) group, which studies social technology and the idea that designing it requires critically understanding the people that use it, the ways in which they live and interact with one another, and the impacts that it can have on our behaviours and interactions with the world.

“It is ever more important to be able to study what is happening on social media networks, as so much of our lives are lived online”, says van der Linden. “It’s already complicated for scientists to deal with an increasingly fragmented landscape of different social media networks in use today, where much of the data is inherently ephemeral. But when the networks controlling this data further complicate matters with more restrictive terms and conditions, we risk running into situations where research skirts the borders of what is ethical, or worse (depending on your point of view), not done at all.”

The research team on the study, which was led by the University of Bath, said that the changes are adversely affecting academics who want to study the impact of social media on mental health, misinformation, political views and more.

“It’s critical that research on people and society can access these large-scale data sets as there can be policy implications and far-reaching consequences if we get it wrong,” said Dr Brit Davidson, from the University of Bath’s School of Management.

“Over time, we have many cases of where the lack of open science (sharing data, analysis, materials) impacts our ability to verify and check for science credibility. We’ve seen science discredited, which causes concern as to whether work can be reproduced or replicated.”

However, there are instances where changes to API access is necessary. For example, the Cambridge Analytica Scandal in 2018 led social media platforms to implement strict measures to prevent third-party users from gaining access to personal data without consent. They then enabled users to revoke app permissions, which gave users more control over their data to protect user privacy.

The EU Digital Services Act, which came into effect in August 2023, aims to provide vetted researchers with access to ‘very large online platforms’, with similar updates to GDPR Article 40. However, researchers are still waiting to hear more about what vetting means in practice and the conditions of using the data.

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X app may lose up to $75 million in advertising revenue in 2023



A man holding a phone displaying the social media app X, formerly Twitter.
Twitter, rebranded as X, was acquired by Elon Musk in 2022 for $44 billion | Photo: Julian Christ

Elon Musk’s next-generation craft reached space for the first time on November 18th. But when it comes to the digital world, Musk-owned social media platform X, formerly Twitter, could lose as much as $75 million in advertising revenue by the end of 2023, the New York Times has reported on Friday.

The entrepreneur backing an antisemitic post on the platform last week has led several companies including content giants Walt Disney and Warner Bros Discovery to pause their advertisements on the site – and these were not the only ones.

According to the New York Times, Internal X documents reviewed by the publication reportedly showed more than 200 ad units of major brands such as Airbnb, IBM, Coca-Cola and Microsoft that have either halted or considered pausing ad spending on the platform recently. On Friday X said that a whopping $11 million in revenue was at risk and the exact figure fluctuated due to some advertisers returning to the platform and others increasing their spending, according to the report by the Times.

After the backlash, Elon Musk said that X Corp. will donate any revenue the social media platform generates from advertising and subscriptions linked to the war in Gaza to hospitals in Israel as well as to the Red Cross in Gaza.

This is not the first time revenue at X had revenue worries in the past few months, with Reuters previously reporting that X’s ad revenue has declined at least 55% year-over-year each month since Musk’s takeover.

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