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Showmax’s third Original
a vernacular travel show

Filming is underway on Showmax’s first travel show, Trippin’ With Skhumba.

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Filming is underway on Showmax’s first travel show, Trippin’ With Skhumba. In each 30-minute episode, the Comic’s Choice Comic of the Year 2017 will get down and dirty with a fellow South African comedian in their hometown, exploring places that won’t make any tourism brochures and stories that would be edited out of any authorised biographies.  

“As much as we love South African comedians, we are only exposed to what they do on stage as opposed to their backgrounds,” says Skhumba. “So on Trippin’ With Skhumba, I wanted to dig deeper into their lives and where they come from – far more than what I could ever get out of them by doing a normal interview, like on my radio show on Kaya FM.”

The first season’s guests are Celeste Ntuli (Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal), who was the most nominated comedian with Skhumba going into the 2018 Comic’s Choice Awards; the last three Native Tongue winners, Siya Seya (Walmer Township, Port Elizabeth), Salesman (Pretoria) and Mashabela Galane (Moletjie, Limpopo); 2016 Comic of the Year winner Tumi Morake (Bloemfontein); and 2015 Intermediate winner Schalk Bezuidenhout (Kempton Park, Gauteng).

“Trippin With Skhumba is flipping funny,” says director Vincent Moloi, who helmed the 2018 Best Drama SAFTA winner Tjovitjo and also took home Best Documentary Director last year for Skulls of My People. “It’s real. It represents, to me, the ultimate exploration of South Africa’s humour in a very honest and truthful way. It has an uncompromisingly authentic texture. Be ready to laugh at our misfortunes and our greatness.”

The first season will end with an hour-long stand-up special, featuring Skhumba and his guests, as well as one new comedian from each hometown visited.

Trippin’ With Skhumba will be the third Showmax Original, building on the success of Tali’s Wedding Diary (2017)and The Girl From St Agnes (2019), which both set the record for the most first-day unique views of any show on the platform.

“Showmax is rapidly becoming the home of South African comedy, with the roasts of AKA (coming soon), Somizi and Kenny Kunene; Trevor Noah Presents NationWild; and stand-up specials from the likes of Barry Hilton and David Kau,” says Candice Fangueiro, head of content at Showmax. “You loved Tali and we’re going to do everything we can to keep you bingeing the local talent out there, like Skhumba.”

Trippin’ With Skhumba is being produced for Showmax by Diprente, which is co-owned by 2018 Comic’ Pen winner Kagiso Lediga and is also producing Netflix’s first original African series Queen Sono.  

Trippin’ With Skhumba will be coming first and only to Showmax from 28 February 2019, with new episodes every Thursday.

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ConceptD: Creatives get a tech brand of their own

The unveiling of a new brand by Acer recognises the massive computing power needed in creative professions, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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It’s a crisp Spring morning in Brooklyn. The regular water taxi from Manhattan pulls up at Duggal Greenhouse on the edge of the East River. It’s a building that symbolises the rejuvenation of Brooklyn as a hub of artistic and creative expression.

Inside the vast structure, global computer brand Acer is about to unveil its own tribute to creativity. Company CEO Jason Chen takes to the stage in faded blue jeans and brown t-shirt, underlining the connection of the event to the informality of the area.

“Brooklyn is become more and more diverse,” he tells a gathering of press from around the world, attending the Next@Acer media event. “It’s an area that is up and coming. It represents new lifestyles. And our theme today is turning a new chapter for creativity.”

Every year, Next@Acer is a parade of the cutting edge in gaming and educational laptops and computers. New devices from sub-brands like Predator, Helios and Nitro have gamers salivating. This year is no different, but there is a surprise in store, hinted in Chen’s introduction.

As a grand finale, he calls on stage Angelica Davila, whose day job is senior marketing manager for Acer Latin America. But she also happens to have a Masters degree in computer and electric engineering. A stint at Intel, where she joined a sales and marketing programme for engineers, set her on a new path.

Angelica Davila, marketing manager for Acer Latin America

For the last few months, she has been helping write Acer’s next chapter. She has shepherded into being nothing less than a new brand: ConceptD.

Click here to read more about ConceptD.

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Which voice assistant wins battle of translators?

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Take the most famous phrase from the Godfather – “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” – or “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” from the inaugural address of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and see just how the virtual assistants do in translating them using their newly introduced Neural Machine Translation (NMT) capabilities. One Hour Translation (OHT), the world’s largest online translation service, conducted a study to find out just how accurate these new services are.

OHT used 60 sentences from movies and famous people ranging from the Godfather and Wizard of Oz to Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, US presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy and historical figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Aesop. The sentences were translated by Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri from English to French, Spanish, Chinese and German and then given to five professional translators for their assessment on a scale of 1-6. 

Google Assistant scored highest in three of the four languages surveyed – English to French, English to German and English to Spanish and second in English to Chinese.  Amazon’s Alexa, whose translation engine is powered by Microsoft Translator, was tops in the English to Chinese category. Apple’s Siri was second place in English to French and English to Spanish and third place in English to German and English to Chinese.  (See chart). All three virtual assistants are compatible with mobile phones.

“The automated assistants’ translation quality was relatively high, which means that assistants are useful for handling simple translations automatically,” says Yaron Kaufman, chief marketing officer and co-founder of OHT. He predicts that “there is no doubt that the use of assistants is growing rapidly, is becoming a part of our lives and will make a huge contribution to the business world.” 

A lot will depend on further improvements in NMT technology, which has revolutionized the field of translation over the past two years.  All the companies active in the field are investing large sums as part of this effort. “OHT is working with several of the leading NMT providers to improve their engines through the use of its hybrid online translation service that combines NMT and human post-editing,” notes Kaufman. He adds that this will no doubt have a huge impact on the use of assistants for translation purposes.

OHT has made a name for itself in assessing the level of translations by NMT engines.  Its ONEs Evaluation Score is a unique human-based assessment of the leading NMT engines conducted on a quarterly basis and used as an industry standard. 

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