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Disney to back SA animation

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After the international success of its first two feature films, Triggerfish Animation Studios is establishing The Triggerfish Story Lab with the support of The Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) and The Walt Disney Company.

Triggerfish will be investing up to R44m over the next three years in The Story Lab, which aims to give Africa’s most talented storytellers and filmmakers the opportunity to develop their ideas alongside Triggerfish’s international network of mentors. Selected storytellers will potentially have their concepts developed into episodic TV content or an animated feature film for the global market.

Triggerfish is conducting a continent-wide search for storytellers. These storytellers will be carefully selected, based not only on the creative and commercial merits of their concept, but also on their track record.

The entries will be evaluated by a high-profile panel of both local and international experts, including British director and co-founder of Aardman Peter Lord (Chicken Run, The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists), Hollywood writer Jonathan Roberts (The Lion King) and script consultant Karl Iglesias (Writing For Emotional Impact), and a panel of development executives from The Walt Disney Company, as well as South African storyteller Gcina Mhlope, comedian David Kau and Triggerfish’s development team of Anthony Silverston, Wayne Thornley and Raffaella Delle Donne.

Shortlisted storytellers will take part in workshops with leading Hollywood script consultant Pilar Alessandra, author of The Coffee Break Screenwriter.

The selected Story Lab participants will also receive two weeks of mentoring with key studio and television executives at Disney’s headquarters in Burbank, California.

“We are ready to bring a fresh voice to the world,” says Anthony Silverston, head of development at Triggerfish. “We believe there is extraordinary talent in Africa and the Story Lab is the perfect way to partner with them.”

“We are excited to be supporting Triggerfish on this innovative project,” says Christine Service, senior vice president and country manager of The Walt Disney Company Africa. “We believe the Story Lab provides a unique opportunity to discover this continent’s next generation of storytellers.”

“The dti is committed to developing a pool of creative talent that can produce international quality animation production scripts,” says Nelly Molokoane from the dti’s Film and TV Incentives Unit, adding that the department is honoured to support projects that will contribute to job creation.

“The Story Lab will be a great catalyst for African creativity on the global stage,” says Triggerfish CEO Stuart Forrest. “We look forward to opening up the Triggerfish production platform and our networks to the continent’s top creative talent.”

The development process can take a number of years. For each phase of development, Triggerfish will provide financial support, workspace, and expert guidance by internal and international consultants and mentors, as well as a route to market through top-tier relationships with Hollywood agency William Morris Endeavor.

Animation has proven to be a successful medium for South African films to travel internationally, with Triggerfish’s films Adventures in Zambezia and Khumba being distributed in over 150 countries and dubbed into over 27 languages.

Applications are welcome from all writing and creative disciplines, not just experienced film and TV screenwriters. Applicants must be over 21 and either African citizens or permanent residents. Entries must be in English. Entries close 31 August 2015.

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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