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Microsoft Teams With Content Developers on Interactive TV For AFI's Enhanced TV Lab

(November 19, 2001)
Microsoft Corp. announced that Animal Planet (a Discovery Network), direct-response agency Tyee Euro RSCG, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Comedy Central are working with the Microsoft TV Developer Program to develop innovative new interactive television (iTV) prototypes for the American Film Institute's (AFI) Enhanced TV (eTV) Workshop. The projects include a Tyee-created infomercial for Callaway Golf Co.'s "Rule 35" golf ball, Animal Planet's special "Eukanuba Tournament of Champions," Comedy Central's Peabody and Emmy Award-winning series "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) documentaries "Accordion Dreams," "People Like Us: Social Class in America" and "The New Americans."

For the workshop, the content developers have been given access to Motorola DCT-5000 set-top boxes running Microsoft TV Advanced, making it possible for them to develop and test interactive prototypes in a true advanced iTV environment. The developers also have access to Microsoft TV tools, training, iTV templates and hands-on Microsoft TV technical support, enabling them to leverage Microsoft's years of experience deploying iTV on the WebTV(R) (now MSN(R) TV) and UltimateTV(R) services.

"We believe that AFI's eTV Workshop provides a strong opportunity to showcase 'What TV can be' with interactivity," said Paul Mitchell, senior director of content, standards and tools for Microsoft TV at Microsoft. "Advanced iTV solutions are beginning to be deployed today, so it is very important that industry leaders begin to get involved. We are working with some very compelling projects as part of this program and look forward to seeing the innovative ways that television's leading creative minds use the increased capabilities for interactivity."

"The Microsoft TV Developer Program is a great opportunity to bring iTV features to the Animal Planet audience," said John Herne, director of New Media at Discovery Networks Inc. "We appreciate the commitment Microsoft is making to iTV and hope this will be the first of many future projects."

"The AFI eTV Workshop is that vital spark that's necessary for evolving these exciting new technologies," said Andy Askren, creative director for Tyee Euro RSCG. "Politics, egos and preconceptions get checked at the door and everyone -- to a person -- is after one thing: the best. Creating it, shaping it, mentoring it. Let this group of passionate professionals loose with the kind of insight and support that Microsoft TV has provided and watch what happens!"

Microsoft TV is a Gold sponsor of this year's AFI eTV Workshop, which launched in July. The AFI has matched selected project teams with iTV support teams, including Microsoft TV, to provide the tools and training needed to enable development of compelling iTV content. The project teams will present their completed projects at the AFI eTV Prototype Showcase, an all-day event (from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.) Nov. 27 at the AFI campus in Los Angeles.

Microsoft TV assisted projects include the following:

  • "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," a reality-based look at news, trends, pop culture, current events, politics, sports and entertainment with an alternative point of view. It was produced by Comedy Central.

  • "Accordion Dreams," a documentary that chronicles the history of the accordion as it journeys from central Europe to central Texas, where a unique American musical genre called conjunto was created. The documentary looks at those who contributed to the genre, from the trailblazers who created the Texan-Mexican music to today's young rebel accordionists who have expanded it by mixing in rock, blues and pop.

    "Accordion Dreams" was produced by Hector Galan of Galan Inc. for PBS.

  • "People Like Us: Social Class in America," a two-hour documentary that looks at how social class works in America. Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker with The Center for New American Media produced the documentary for PBS.

  • "Callaway Golf, 'Rule 35,'" a 30-minute infomercial for Callaway Golf's revolutionary golf ball -- the game's first ball with a solid-core, three-piece thermoset urethane cover. It was produced by Tyee Euro

  • "Eukanuba Tournament of Champions," a sporting event in which all the competing athletes are canine. It was produced by Animal Planet.
  • "The New Americans," a multipart series that captures the complexities of contemporary immigration by taking television viewers inside the lives of six immigrant families. The series dramatically showcases the lives of these families between 1998 and 2001. It was produced by Kartemquin Educational Films.

    With active members in 20 countries, the Microsoft TV Developer Program brings together companies across the television and technology industries, as well as hardware vendors, systems integrators and others, to create iTV programming, services and applications that run on the Microsoft TV platform. The Developer Program also includes member companies that develop tools for iTV content creation and delivery, and companies that develop Windows(R) operating system-based games and edutainment software that can be adapted for television using Microsoft TV server products.

    The Developer Program has launched a series of interactive, live, online training webcasts featuring expert instructors from Microsoft and leading program members on various topics. Authoritative technical documentation for Microsoft TV and other resources in the program are updated continually to provide members with the training and materials they need to gain hands-on expertise in developing for Microsoft TV platform offerings. Microsoft is also working with companies across the entire spectrum of television and related technologies to help make iTV a reality.

    AFI is the pre-eminent organization dedicated to advancing and preserving the art of film, television and other forms of the moving image. AFI trains the next generation of filmmakers, coordinates nationwide film preservation efforts and explores new technologies in moviemaking. AFI also presents the best of film through the AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival, the AFI National Theater at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and the annual AFI Life Achievement Award, the highest honor given for a career in film. More information about AFI can be found by visiting its award-winning Web site at .

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    Related Keywords:interactive TV, broadcast film institute

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