Interactive TV News Round-Up (V): Octoshape, Craftwork, SeaChange, Shaftesbury, Smokebomb, XMG

--Octoshape, Craftwork Form Strategic Partnership to Target OTT Video Market
--SeaChange to Cut Costs by $5 Million+, Primarily through Headcount Reduction
--Shaftesbury Films, Smokebomb Entertainment, XMG Studio Launch Interactive Sitcom for iOS Devices

Due to the large volume of news generated by the recent 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and other factors, we are covering stories in this issue in round-up/summary format. We anticipate that it will take us several more days to process all the news from the show: so if your company has sent us a press release or briefed us on an announcement, and you don't yet see your news covered in this issue, please bear with us.

  • Octoshape, an Atlanta-based provider of cloud-based streaming technologies, and Craftwork, a Copenhagen-based developer of software solutions for the digital-TV industry, contacted [itvt] Tuesday to let us know that they have formed a strategic partnership to target the OTT video market. "Over-the-top (OTT) consumer offerings are rapidly evolving in the industry, bringing with them a host of challenges," the companies state in their press materials. "Video quality, network capacity, profitable business models, and time-to-market concerns are each issues the industry faces everyday. Producing TV-quality living-room experiences on high-resolution devices is a clear milestone to reach in the industry...The partnership between Craftwork and Octoshape makes these goals attainable. The Octoshape Infinite HD platform brings the highest-quality video in the space into the living room. Different than traditional OTT adaptive bit rate technologies, Infinite HD is able to sustain quality without the need to shift in and out of HD resolution. This replicates the experience the consumer is accustomed to in the living room. Infinite HD also brings an innovative suite of multicast technologies offering efficiency models to the last mile, enabling the telco/operator to roll out these services without upgrading their infrastructure. Craftwork brings a wealth of experience in integrating linear and VOD digital TV services for large operators and content providers. Craftwork is providing pre-integrated ARM Cortex A9 STB's to rapidly deploy these cost-effective OTT solutions for providers. The pre-packaged and custom UI development options have already resulted in several key client integrations around the world." Said Craftwork's sales and marketing director, Greg Pannell: "Delivery of OTT video content is becoming a critical element to many operators in the digital TV industry, with Octoshape's unique streaming technology and Craftwork's proven experience in integrating leading-edge technology, the partnership between our two companies was an obvious choice. Working closely together, Octoshape and Craftwork have demonstrated the potential for coupling key technology with cost-effective set-top boxes to deliver compelling OTT solutions."
  • Multiplatform video software company, SeaChange International, said Tuesday that it has taken actions in the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2012 that will result in over $5 million in annualized cost reductions. "These cost reductions come principally from headcount reductions related to streamlining operations and reducing the overall cost structure of the company," it states in its press materials. "The company will incur restructuring and severance charges in the fourth quarter reflecting these actions." Said SeaChange's recently appointed CEO, Raghu Rau: "As we realign our resources to focus on delivering on customer commitments, we have targeted operating cost reductions as well as some facility rationalization. It is important to note, however, that our commitment to research and development remains strong and we continue to invest heavily in innovative, next-generation solutions that will provide significant competitive advantage to our customers. The cost reductions we are announcing today are part of our overall strategy to enhance shareholder value, drive operational efficiencies and deliver improved financial results."
  • Canadian production company Shaftesbury Films, its digital media arm Smokebomb Entertainment, and mobile games developer XMG Studio, have launched an interactive sitcom for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch in the Apple App store. Entitled "Totally Amp'd," the sitcom "invites kids and tweens to follow an up-and-coming band and try their hands at being music producers, fashion stylists, video directors and more," the companies state in their press materials. "An innovative creation for the digital generation, the entertainment app combines a 10-episode live-action music comedy series featuring an all-star cast with an original soundtrack and an innovative suite of interactive tools across a range of music, movie, and design activities. The first episode and related activities of 'Totally Amp'd' are available for free download, and the remaining content can be unlocked for a one-time fee of $4.99 (US/Canada). The 10 six- to nine-minute live-action episodes of 'Totally Amp'd' tell the story of five talented teenagers who come together in the hopes of becoming the next big pop group. When XMP! Music announces a contest for a new band to win a spot opening for pop sensation Charlie Fever, the label's savvy receptionist-turned-manager, Zoe (Ashley Leggat from the hit series 'Life with Derek'), taps a group of talented teen performers to form the band Totally Amp'd to bring home the prize--and show up her arrogant boss. But they must overcome their differences, as well as many obstacles along the way if they want a shot at winning the musical competition of their lives. Through the course of the series, Zoe and her handpicked crew (Cristine Prosperi of 'Degrassi: The Next Generation,' Demetrius Joyette of 'Wingin' It,' Camden Angelis, Brock Morgan and Amanda Thomson) navigate the rocky--and hilarious--road to fame while trying to make their dreams come true. Once each 'Totally Amp'd' episode is viewed, interactive content is unlocked to turn iOS devices into hi-tech music, movie, and design studios. Users can create posters and album covers, customize the band's look, direct music videos, remix and upload their own vocals for seven original songs, and more...The entertainment app is executive-produced by Christina Jennings, Scott Garvie, and Shane Kinnear; produced by Daniel Dales, Jarrett Sherman and Jay Bennett; and published by XMG Studio. The live-action series is directed by Benjamin Weinstein ('Life with Derek,' 'Baxter') and written by Karen McClellan ('Being Erica'). All original music performed by the cast was written and composed by award-winning composer Jared Gutstadt, CEO and co-founder of Jingle Punks ('The Voice'). 'Totally Amp'd' is a joint initiative of Shaftesbury and Smokebomb Entertainment. Published by XMG Studio, the project has been funded with the participation of the Canada Media Fund's Experimental Stream and the OMDC's Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit." The first episode of the show (non-interactive version) can be viewed above. The show's extensive online presence includes the following sites: http://www.totallyampd.com, http://www.youtube.com/totallyampd, http://www.facebook.com/totallyampd, http://www.twitter.com/totallyampd, http://totallyampd.tumblr.com/, http://www.soundcloud.com/totallyampd
North America