Mecanex @ Innovathens

On Thursday, June 9th, the Mecanex team convened at the INNOVATHENS Hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Gazi, Athens for an event titled Creative Audiovisual industry: A Smartly Booming Sector. The goal: to bring together experts from multiple facets of the audiovisual business for a series of talks on the future of the industry and how new technologies can help facilitate its growth over the next few years. The event was organized in conjunction with the Hellenic Association of Mobile Applications Companies (HAMAC) and Technopolis. It was split in two parts, the first moderated by Chris Vasilopoulos, a journalist with Michani tou Chronou.

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The opening address was given by Panos Papachatzis, the Chairman of the Hellenic Film Office Cluster, whose goal is to increase exposure for Greek film ventures. This does not only serve to aid the film industry itself but also helps stimulate the Greek tourism industry by attracting foreigners to the filming locations. He underlined the importance of providing incentives to foreign filmmakers to shoot in Greece and to take advantage of the latest advances in technology to improve the cinematic experience.

Next up was Giorgos Argiris, better known as the Greek stand-up comedian and YouTube sensation Jeremy. His view was much more personal and revolved around his experiences as a digital age performer born out of the rise of a new paradigm in film and audiovisual entertainment.  With production values that would not even cover the catering budget of a major Hollywood production, a new generation can create interesting, funny, thought provoking videos.

Vangelis Tsaras presented a completely different side of the issue with a case study of an initiative undertaken by the Coralia GI Cluster. In order to modernize the experience of visiting an archaeological site, the cluster created an augmented reality visual experience centered on the Parthenon which could be accessed from free iPad mini’s lent out to tourists. The results were promising, proving that moving forward, such community funded initiatives have a good chance of taking off and finding support within the market without the need for governmental backing.

This talk was followed by the main event, an in depth presentation of the Mecanex project by MOTIVIAN’s Panagiotis Varlagas, as well as a live demo of the toolkit by Daniel Ockeloen of Noterik BV and Miggi Zwicklbauer of Fraunhofer FOKUS. The demo focused on smart tagging of videos and the potential applications of the state of the art techniques developed by the Mecanex team for the exploitation of vast archival audiovisual libraries that have remained unused for decades because of the amount of work required to manually tag them. Also important was the part of the presentation which revolved around ad recommendation systems, showing how the existing system could be revolutionized by automatically analyzing videos and presenting ads based on its actual content and not just its tags. The audience members were invited to sample the toolkit by themselves by visiting a specific URL where the presentation shown could be extended into any secondary screen, showing one of the concrete, practical applications of MECANEX.151

The second part was moderated by George Strogylopoulos, an innovation policy expert and began with two talks by Dimitris Drosis (Head of the Special Managing Authority of Attica Region) and G. Giannarakis (General Manager of HAMAC), focusing on the exploitation of creativity as a value generating resource with the help of HAMAC. HAMAC has funded more than a hundred small ventures in the past 12 months and will continue to work towards their objective: To transform Athens into a smart city with billions in potential revenues and to boost investments in the creative industries.

Subsequently, Konstantinos Koskinas, a Professor of Sociology of Virtual Communities in Panteion University, presented his view on the need for restructuring education from the ground up to take advantage of the various technological advances presented during the talks. Such a monumental task might be achieved by establishing common strategic goals for corporations with the help of the government.

Finally, a discussion took place between the many experts present, providing interesting ideas for the follow up of the various initiatives and the myriad possibilities for collaboration following the event. It is noted that Prof. Papavassiliou from MECANEX in his position statements briefly referred to issues associated with the benchmarking process of several of the tools developed in MECANEX, while he also pointed out the importance of dealing with the issue of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) especially in cases where User Generated Content (UGC) is utilized as part of the content delivered at various platforms.  Each of the participants was also allowed a short time to sum up his views on the event, before giving the opportunity to the CEO of MOTIVIAN, George Karantonis, to close out the event with his take on the importance of emerging technologies in the creative audiovisual industries and how they will force all prominent figures in the field to innovate or be left behind.

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