Anime Avatars Are Going Mainstream on Twitch

“I will never have to work out again!” Twitch streamer Imane “Pokimane” Anys said on her stream Sunday. She zoomed the camera out to show her full form: waved brown hair, enormous teak eyes, and a cropped purple top showing a flat tummy. Anime as hell, all of it. In lieu of her face, Anys had commissioned a 3D anime model of herself that tracked her words and movements, enacting them live. Anys was scrolling through Reddit and chatting with viewers, as usual, when one asked what in God’s name was going on. “Usually I stream with a cam,” said Anys matter-of-factly. “Sometimes if I don’t want to use a cam, maybe I’ll just use this! Nyah!” Her 3D model’s eyes closed, looking like a complacent cat’s. Anys was debuting “Vtuber Pokimane,” adopting a form popularized by the Vtuber communities of YouTube, Twitch, and other video-based platforms. Technologically adept operators use face- and voice-tracking systems to dance, sing, chat, play games, and emote like any other online personality—only through these 2D or 3D anime avatars. Their mouths move as they talk; their eyes widen with curiosity and narrow with anger. (Anys tested her hand-tracking tech by successfully giving the middle finger.) Often the operators are anonymous, their voices modulated onto kawaii frequencies. “Vtubing gives you a whole bunch of freedom that normal streams don’t.” Bunny_Gif, Vtuber To get started, Vtubers commission virtual, interactive models with a variety of animations and facial expressions. Then they map their facial expressions and mouth…Continue readingAnime Avatars Are Going Mainstream on Twitch


‘Mainstream’ reviews don’t subscribe to Gia Coppola’s social satire

Director Gia Coppola’s second feature length film Mainstream is an intentional send-up of internet culture, viral celebrity, and the depths to which people plunge in pursuit of likes and subscribers. Between the silent film–style interstitials and emoji-laden visual style, its merits appear to have confused critics as to what exactly Coppola is trying to say.  Mainstream stars Andrew Garfield as Link, a provocative performance artist who captures the eye of Frankie (Maya Hawke), a wannabe YouTube celebrity looking for inspiration. When Frankie and Link team up to create viral content, Mainstream‘s satirical outlook chronicles their trending rise and inevitable downfall.  Here’s what critics are saying: Andrew Garfield’s character is mesmerizingly hateable  Screendaily, Jonathan Romney Mainstream’s commercial chances will ride mainly on its central performance by Andrew Garfield, a turn that’s hard to like –knowingly so – but which certainly demands respect for its take-no-prisoners abrasiveness. The Hollywood Reporter, Deborah Young And yet, no matter how much you may hate the character’s exhibitionist antics and self-serving choices, it has to be admitted Garfield can be funny as hell. He is that rare actor who forces you to laugh against your will — maybe not all the time, but sometimes. Mainstream’s observations about social media are behind the times Indiewire, Nicholas Barber There are a handful of sharp asides about YouTube, such as a Christian makeover specialist who teaches girls how to “look fresh for Jesus,” but most of the insights into social media’s appeal are banal to the point of feeling…Continue reading‘Mainstream’ reviews don’t subscribe to Gia Coppola’s social satire


How QAnon went mainstream | Engadget

How QAnon spread That QAnon, a far right conspiracy theory that originated on 4Chan in 2017, could gain so much prominence might sound ridiculous. Proponents of QAnon believe the government is run by a ring of pedophiles/child-eating cannibals who will ultimately be brought down by Donald Trump. QANon’s favorite targets are somewhat predictable: the Clintons, George Soros and Bill Gates frequently star in their memes. But Hollywood celebrities like Tom Hanks, Chrissy Tiegien and Oprah also play a central role in the conspiracy.  The conspiracy theory may have started on the darker corners of the internet, but it flourished on social media. Facebook and other platforms have played a central role in fueling the growth of QAnon, and the coronavirus pandemic has only accelerated its spread.  “It is certainly more mainstream than it’s ever been before, says Katy Byron who runs the digital literacy initiative MediaWise, which teaches people how to spot misinformation and disinformation online. “You can find support for the theories that feed the QAnon beast on any given day, it’s not that hard. It is hard to bat down.” QAnon is also unique compared with other conspiracy theories in that it’s constantly evolving, says Mick West, a conspiracy theory researcher and author of Escaping the Rabbit Hole, a book about debunking conspiracy theories. “It’s very up to the minute, whereas most conspiracy theories are about things that happened in the past, like JFK or 9/11,” West says. “QAnon is day-to-day, everything is happening on a daily basis.…Continue readingHow QAnon went mainstream | Engadget


Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 690 promises mainstream 5G phones with 192MP cameras

Fulfilling its promise to bring the latest 5G cellular technologies to mass market consumers in 2020, Qualcomm today announced the Snapdragon 690 — a more affordable mobile platform with integrated global 5G connectivity, plus a variety of higher-tier features that premiered in 8- and 7-series devices. Chief among them is support for cameras with up to 192-megapixel photos and 30-frame-per-second 4K HDR videos, including the necessary AI chip improvements to process such high-bitrate photos and videos. Snapdragon 690 will continue 5G’s evolution from a rare, ultra-premium feature into table stakes for modern smartphones, a process that began with Qualcomm’s release of premium Snapdragon X50 modems and continued with its X55 successor. The Snapdragon 690 incorporates a new modem, the X51, which promises global 5G band and global multi-SIM support, but is notably only capable of connecting to sub-6GHz 5G networks — not millimeter wave towers. This means that the 690 is initially likely to appear in devices targeted at non-U.S. markets. For businesses, the impact of mainstream 5G smartphones will be a critical raising of the floor for cellular network performance, enabling content creators and service providers to confidently deliver to a much larger audience offerings that depend upon greater bandwidth and responsiveness than 4G’s bare minimums. Qualcomm says that the Snapdragon 690 will enable 5G to come to smartphones priced to be affordable to over 2 billion users across the world. Video, AR, or gaming streams that might have been unreliable on 4G will be assuredly solid on 5G, enabling both…Continue readingQualcomm’s Snapdragon 690 promises mainstream 5G phones with 192MP cameras