Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Jordan Vogt-Roberts to Helm Netflix’s Live-Action Gundam Movie

(Photo Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)Jordan Vogt-Roberts to helm Netflix’s live-action Gundam movieIt has been four years since the successful release of Kong: Skull Island, and now director Jordan Vogt-Roberts has finally found his next big project with Legendary. Vogt-Roberts has officially signed on to direct the studio’s first-ever live-action feature film version of Gundam for Netflix, which will be based on the universe of Sunrise’s iconic Japanese robot franchise.This marks Legendary and Netflix’s latest collaboration together, the two companies previously worked on films such as 2016’s Spectral and last year’s Enola Holmes as well as shows like Lost in Space and Pacific Rim: The Black. They are also currently working on the anime series adaptation of Skull Island and Tom Raider.RELATED: Netflix’s Live-Action Cowboy Bebop Series Wraps Production!Plot details for the Netflix film are being kept under wraps but the original Gundam series is set in the Universal Century, an era in which humanity’s growing population has led people to emigrate to space colonies. Eventually, the people living in the colonies seek their autonomy and launch a war of independence against the people living on Earth. Through the tragedies and discord arising from this human conflict, not only the maturation of the main character but also the intentions of enemies and the surrounding people are sensitively depicted. The battles in the story, in which the characters pilot robots known as mobile suits, are wildly popular. The Gundam universe is replete with numerous storylines of love and conflict along with the popular Gundam battles, in which the characters operate robot suits called Mobile Suits.The live-action Gundam film will be penned by Brian K Vaughan. It will be produced by Vogt-Roberts with Vaughan set as executive producer. Legendary’s Cale Boyter will oversee the project along with the Sunrise creative team. The project was actually first announced in 2018 at the Anime Expo.RELATED: Sony & Netflix Ink First-Pay Streaming Licensing DealCreated by Hajime Yatate and Yoshiyuki Tomino, the franchise first started in 1979 with the TV series titled Mobile Suit Gundam. The massively popular Mecha anime and science fiction media franchise is Sunrise’s multi-billion-dollar property that has spawned a multi-platform universe encompassing televised anime, manga, animated films, video games, plastic models, toys, and novels among other media. Gundam continues to dominate Bandai Namco’s earnings almost forty years after its inception.
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    Oppo's Find X3 Pro includes a 30x 'microscope' camera

    Following the teaser way back in November, Oppo is finally launching the Find X3 series today, starting with the flagship Find X3 Pro. The main focus of this Snapdragon 888-powered device is photography. It packs the same flagship sensor in both the main camera and the ultra-wide camera, as well as the addition of a rare 30x "microscopic" camera. Oppo calls this the "Billion Color Phone," as it supports 10-bit color across the primary cameras and display for more faithful color reproduction. While we've seen this combo on some high-end phones like the iPhone 12 Pro, it goes without saying that this is an upgrade from the 16.7 million colors of most smartphones. Gallery: Oppo Find X3 Pro hands-on | 17 Photos Gallery: Oppo Find X3 Pro hands-on | 17 Photos The front side of the Find X3 Pro is very much a carbon copy of its predecessors', featuring a 6.7-inch curved LTPO AMOLED panel with a sharp QHD+ resolution (3,216 x 1,440), a 120Hz variable refresh rate, 1,300-nit peak brightness and 100-percent coverage of the DCI-P3 gamut. You'll also find a 32-megapixel f/2.4 selfie camera in the top-left punch hole here, as well as an in-display fingerprint reader in the usual spot. Everything here is, as you'd expect nowadays, IP68 rated for water and dust resistance. Things get a lot more interesting on the back. Rather than cutting out a corner to form a "camera island" like most phone makers do these days, Oppo crafted a single piece of glass — a 40-hour process per piece, apparently — that flows naturally over the camera bump and tapers into the metallic frame. The "Gloss Black" unit I got does look elegant, and the curvature of this 8.26mm-thick body feels good in hand, though the glass is also a huge fingerprint magnet. Good thing the phone comes with a soft case. The camera bump contains four cameras, three of which are laid out in a similar manner as the recent flagship iPhones, but mirrored. When I pointed out this awkward similarity, Oppo explained that a triangular arrangement is the most efficient way to place the cameras as close together as possible, which is key to seamless zooming and accurate portrait mode. The spokesperson added that he believes more manufacturers will eventually follow this practice. Gallery: Oppo Find X3 Pro primary cameras sample shots | 24 Photos Gallery: Oppo Find X3 Pro primary cameras sample shots | 24 Photos Building on top of the impressive cameras on the Find X2 Pro, Oppo stuffed a new flagship sensor — the 50-megapixel Sony IMX766 — into both the main camera (f/1.8, with optical stabilization) and the ultra-wide camera (f/2.2, 110 degrees) on the Find X3 Pro, so that they would perform similarly and support 10-bit color capture (HEIF format only). Many of my 10-bit sample shots from both cameras look very realistic on the phone's screen, to the point where close objects such as food and ornaments almost pop out. But even when viewed on other devices, photos still benefit from Oppo's natural color reproduction. Low-light performance is also pretty good, though I wish the phone went a little easier on the noise reduction to better preserve fine details. The beefed up ultra-wide camera also came in handy when I wanted to record my friend's singing recital in a small hall. To my surprise, the 4K video came out nicely with accurate colors and little distortion, as if it was taken with the main camera. This is also thanks to the freeform surface lens and anti-reflective coating, both of which reduce distortion and color fringing. Gallery: Oppo Find X3 Pro microscope sample shots | 15 Photos Gallery: Oppo Find X3 Pro microscope sample shots | 15 Photos The third big camera on the hump is a rare 3-megapixel f/3.0 microscopic camera, which does 30x magnification natively (Oppo's "60x" claim here applies to the 2x zoom) and supports FHD video recording. Since the focal distance is between 1mm and 3mm only, this camera is equipped with a small ring light to illuminate your subject. I was surprised by how much fun I had with this pocket microscope. Despite the relatively low resolution, the photos turned out sharp, so long as I kept my hands steady. I was able to capture impressive shots of the sub-pixels on my laptop's LCD, my phone's OLED screen, flowers, wooden blocks, sponges and more. I'm not sure how useful this microlens comes into our daily lives, but if you have children, this feature may keep them entertained for a while. Richard Lai/Engadget For reasons unknown, Oppo ditched its 5x periscopic telephoto camera in favor of a 5x hybrid zoom shooter, and the results were disappointing. Like before, hybrid zoom often washes out fine details, namely text on one's badge, lines on hair and patterns on clothes. In those cases, I'd rather use the main camera's 2x digital zoom to shoot, and then use my fingers to zoom into the photos. Had the Find X3 Pro kept a 5x optical zoom camera or, better yet, a 10x version like the Huawei P40 Pro+, then it'd easily cover all bases. As with other Oppo phones from recent years, the Find X3 Pro supports VOOC fast charging. Using the bundled 65W SuperVOOC charger, the 4,500mAh battery takes just 10 minutes to go from zero to 40 percent. It also supports AirVOOC wireless charging, with a 30W output being able to fully charge the battery in 80 minutes. The phone itself can do 10W reverse wireless charging as well, should you need to help a friend out. Richard Lai/Engadget On the software side, the Find X3 Pro comes preloaded with the Android 11-based ColorOS 11.2, which feels well oiled thanks to the 120Hz display and lean coding (a source told Engadget that OnePlus' software team had been helping Oppo since the Find X2 Pro). This build offers some new wellness features, including Oppo Relax 2.0 which helps you unwind using sound and games, plus a comprehensive built-in color vision test for color vision enhancement. One last thing to talk about is a bit unexpected: A set of ringtones and notification sounds created by award-winning composer Hans Zimmer, who was quoted by Oppo as saying that "ringtones should not bring anxiety." These will arrive at the end of the month in an OTA update, and should be quite interesting, considering Zimmer's dramatic film scores in the likes of Inception and The Dark Knight trilogy. Given Oppo's track record in recent years, chances are the Find X3 Pro won't be headed to the US, but the company has announced that it'll be available in the UK on April 14th starting at £1,099, which is around $1,250 before sales tax. The company also said it'll have more information on global availability early next week.

    Plans for an in-person MWC continue as Sony, Nokia and Ericsson out bow

    After scuttling one massive international trade show last year, the GSMA is sticking to plans for an in-person Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this June — just without a few marquee names. A handful of companies, including Oracle, smartphone maker Sony, and networking firms Nokia and Ericsson, have all confirmed that they will not be attending the show in the flesh.  This isn’t the first time the GSMA has put on an in-person event during the pandemic — it held a Mobile World Congress in Shanghai in late February, with a spate of virtual panels and addresses supplementing the on-the-ground experience. According to a statement provided to Bloomberg, around 17,000 people attended the Shanghai event and no positive COVID diagnoses have been reported so far, though it’s worth noting that many of the attendees didn’t have to travel internationally to attend.  To help mitigate risk, the show organizer is planning a similar online component to accommodate remote attendees this summer, and plans to host a significantly smaller number of people on-site in Barcelona: think 50,000, down from the more than 100,000 who typically attend. Compounding the difficulties of running an in-person trade show are the strict travel restrictions still in effect around the world. The website for the US Embassy in Spain and Andorra tells would-be attendees that entry into the country is not allowed unless they meet “very specific requirements or have already obtained special permission from the Government of Spain.” And at time of publication, residents of the UK, Brazil, and South Africa are barred from entering Spain until March 30th. That ban had already been extended, and may well be extended again — at the time, Spanish officials expressed concern over more virulent COVID strains finding a foothold in the country. (Considering the possibility that MWC could be a superspreader event, Engadget will not be attending the show.) Despite the GSMA’s insistence that a safe, in-person show is possible, some companies that have historically used Mobile World Congress as a launchpad for new products have spent the last year figuring out how to go it alone. Samsung, for instance, staged multiple virtual launch events for its high-profile smartphones in 2020 and plans to host another next week. Huawei ferried reporters to a warehouse in London in luxury cars, where they tested the then-new Mate 40 Pro without ever leaving their vehicles. Factor in a bevy of announcements from MWC mainstays like Oppo and ZTE at the earlier Shanghai event, and we’re left with one big question: even if Mobile World Congress isn’t ultimately canceled this year, will there even be any major announcements to look forward to?

    iPhone 12 mini 'production cut' hints demand was less than hoped

    Apple is slashing production of the iPhone 12 mini through the first six months of the year, according to Nikkei. The company will reportedly produce at least 70 percent fewer units than it initially planned. That will account for most of a 20 percent drop in overall planned iPhone 12 production until June. Apple is even said to have told some suppliers to temporarily stop making specific parts for the iPhone 12 mini. Some other components have been reapportioned for the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. Even with the cuts, Apple is still on track to make more iPhones this year than it did in 2020. Nikkei suggests the company plans to manufacture 75 million units in the first six months and 230 million handsets in total, representing an overall increase of 11.6 percent. This is reportedly to help Apple get ahead of possible parts shortages as well as possible economic recovery (and more people perhaps having enough spare cash to buy a new phone). The report backs up previous suggestions that the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini isn't selling all that well. Although the iPhone 11 is a year older than the 2020 lineup, it offers superior battery life to the iPhone 12 mini and it costs $100 less. That, aligned with the fact many people are opting for phones with larger screens, could be one reason why the iPhone 12 mini seemingly isn't selling as much as Apple would have hoped.

    The OnePlus 9 series shall debut with Hasselblad-tuned cameras on March 23rd

    OnePlus will unveil its latest flagship smartphones — the OnePlus 9 5G series — during a streaming launch event at 9 AM Eastern on March 23rd. And when those phones make their debut, they'll pack cameras tuned by 180-year-old Swedish camera maker Hasselblad. “With OnePlus’ top-of-the-line hardware and computational photography and Hasselblad’s rich aesthetic knowledge in traditional photography, I am confident that the OnePlus 9 Series will be a major leap forward in our ability to deliver a premium, flagship camera," said OnePlus CEO Pete Lau in a press release. Word of the partnership won't come as much surprise to the company's fans: leaked images of an unreleased OnePlus device sporting Hasselblad branding have been circulating for weeks. And more recently, OnePlus has shared a number of space-themed teasers that obliquely reference the deal. (Hasselblad has supplied NASA with cameras for use in space for decades, including the venerable Hasselblad 500ELs that landed on the moon with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.) But what does this deal actually mean for the OnePlus camera experience? To start, the OnePlus 9 series should benefit from "advanced color calibration" jointly developed by the two companies. Long story short, users should expect more accurate, natural-looking colors in photos taken with the OnePlus 9 Pro and beyond. And since Hasselblad deals almost exclusively in pro-grade, medium-format cameras, it's perhaps natural that special attention was paid to the OnePlus 9 series' Pro mode. In addition to typical features like direct control over ISO, focus, exposure time, and more, the Hasselblad Pro mode also lets users shoot photos as 12-bit RAW files and work with an editing interface inspired by Hasselblad's own Phocus image processing app. Meanwhile, on the video front, OnePlus says its Hasselblad-branded cameras will offer "improved" HDR video recording, plus support for 4K 120FPS and 8K 30FPS recording. Hasselblad bits aside, the OnePlus 9 Pro is widely expected to ship with four rear cameras, and the company revealed a few new details about them this morning. The phone's main camera will use one of Sony's new IMX789 sensors, which we've heard was custom-developed for the upcoming OPPO Find X3. (Given OnePlus's shared corporate parentage with OPPO, this really shouldn't be a shocker.) OnePlus also confirmed that its latest ultra-wide camera will use a so-called "freeform" lens — as seen on the Huawei Mate 40 Pro+ — that and all but eliminates barrel distortion in those spacious photos. With all this in mind, there are a few things worth noting. For one, despite OnePlus's embrace of space imagery in its recent teasers, the company has made no mention of a Pixel-like astrophotography mode. What's more, Hasselblad's deal with OnePlus will last for three years, and it's unclear how OnePlus's approach to color science may shift after the partnership expires. And this isn't Hasselblad's first attempt at a smartphone partnership, either — years ago, it teamed up with Motorola to create a separate 12-megapixel camera that magnetically attached to Moto Z smartphones. (Spoiler alert: It was just alright.) As it turns out, the OnePlus 9 is only part of the company’s plans to set new standards for smartphone photography. Over the next three years, OnePlus has pledged $150 million to “further develop” four camera research and development centers around the world, as well as experiment with new camera components and technologies to debut in future devices. On the docket right now: developing panoramic cameras with a 140-degree field of view and new lenses to improve autofocus for selfies, though the company was quick to note its efforts may extend well beyond these projects. OnePlus cameras have steadily improved over the years, but they have so far lagged behind competing offerings from companies like Samsung and Apple. With this multi-year deal in place, OnePlus seems ready to dramatically up its photography game, but for now, consider us cautiously optimistic. With any luck, the company's March 23rd launch event will have plenty of sample images — and more juicy details about its Hasselblad deal — for us to pore over.

    Huawei's smartphone struggles are hitting it hard in China

    US trade bans against Huawei are having a very tangible effect on the company's sales at home. Counterpoint Research now estimates that Huawei's China market share dropped to 16 percent in January 2021. For context, the tech giant had a 41 percent share in the first quarter of 2020. Even though the metrics aren't completely comparable (and Counterpoint is shy on numbers), there has clearly been a sharp drop. Huawei's decision to sell the Honor brand played a part, but Counterpoint pinned the decline largely on US restrictions. With components like processors and 5G modems in short supply, Huawei is focusing on premium, low-volume phones like the Mate 40 Pro to make the most of its limited stock. The fall from grace has already changed the dynamics of the Chinese market. Oppo became the country's top brand for the first time ever in January, claiming 21 percent share, while its sibling brand Vivo wasn't far behind with 20 percent. Huawei was tied for share with Apple and Xiaomi at 16 percent each. The future doesn't look bright for Huawei. Analysts expect it to continue its decline throughout 2021. The competition isn't standing still, either. Oppo is poised to launch its flagship Find X3 phones on March 11th, and has been scooping up sales of more affordable devices with the Reno 5 and A series. Xiaomi, meanwhile, recently launched the Mi 11. While Honor might carry on the spirit of Huawei's work, it's evident that Huawei itself faces bleak prospects in the months ahead.

    Apple's next iPhone could include a smaller display notch and larger battery

    Apple may not announce the 2021 iPhone until the second half of the year, but that hasn't stopped the rumor mill, with a new report this week coming out from reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note obtained by MacRumors, Kuo says Apple will release four different iPhone models in 2021 that will come in the same sizes as the 2020 lineup. That means the mini variant will stick around for at least another year. Corroborating a report last month from well-known leaker Max Weinbach and others, Kuo said the iPhone 13 Pro models will feature energy-efficient 120Hz LTPO (low-temperature polycrystalline oxide) displays. The Pro models will also include an updated ultra-wide camera that will feature a faster f/1.8 aperture lens that includes autofocus. The 2021 models won't feature a drastically different design than their 2020 counterparts. However, thanks to some small engineering breakthroughs, they'll reportedly include bigger batteries and smaller display cutouts. Kuo said the iPhone won't move to USB-C in 2021, but nor will Apple introduce a phone this year that doesn't include any ports at all. Internally, all four phones will feature Qualcomm's X60 5G modem. The 5nm radio is smaller and more power-efficient than the X55 modem found in the iPhone 12 lineup. Notably, the note doesn't make any mention of Apple adding an in-display fingerprint scanner to the 2021 models. According to a report Bloomberg's Mark Gurman published at the start of the year, that was one of the main upgrades Apple was considering for 2021. It also looks like Touch ID is off the table, with Kuo noting that the company doesn't plan to take a page from the iPad Air and integrate the technology into the 2021 model's power button. Kuo's note also includes some tidbits about Apple's 2022 and 2023 iPhone lineups. According to the analyst, at least some iPhone models next year will feature a Samsung-style punch-hole display cutout. Whether the entire lineup abandons Apple's divisive notch will depend on panel production yields. Kuo didn't say what the move will mean for Face ID. Apple is also reportedly preparing a new SE model with 5G connectivity and a faster processor the company could release in the first half of 2022.

    Huawei may spin off its Mate and P smartphone brands

    After selling Honor last year, Huawei may spin off its premium Mate and P smartphone brands next to get around crippling sanctions, according to Reuters. The company has reportedly been talking to a consortium led by investment firms backed by the Sh...

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